Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

Muriel Newman: Derailing the Treaty gravy train

Muriel Newman,
Publish Date
Tue, 6 Feb 2024, 5:00am

Muriel Newman: Derailing the Treaty gravy train

Muriel Newman,
Publish Date
Tue, 6 Feb 2024, 5:00am

There’s been a great deal of huffing and puffing over the last few weeks as the tribal elite respond to the threatened erosion of privileges. The coalition Government’s commitment to equal rights will undermine their lucrative Treaty grievance industry and they are in full defence mode.

They claim the new government is racist and wants to impose oppressive policies that will disadvantage Māori. They are doing their best to stir up discontent.

Of course, by blaming everyone else for Māori disparity, they remain blind to the reality that their own elitist race-based attitudes that encourage collectivism instead of personal responsibility – defining a person by their lineage instead of their character and contribution – may be exacerbating the problem.

And while they posture about the misfortunes of “their people”, the tribal elite enrich themselves with the perks and privileges of their status. It’s disgraceful hypocritical behaviour that has been politely tolerated for far too long.

As former US President Barack Obama warned, tribalism itself is the problem: “Ethnic-based tribal politics has to stop. It is rooted in the bankrupt idea that the goal of politics or business is to funnel as much of the pie as possible to one’s family, tribe, or circle with little regard for the public good. It stifles innovation and fractures the fabric of the society. Instead of opening businesses and engaging in commerce, people come to rely on patronage and payback as a means of advancing. Instead of unifying the country, it divides neighbour from neighbour.”

Equal rights, not race-based rights, was the consistent promise made by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in his speech at Ratana. It was aspirational, outlining a vision for a better New Zealand.

But as admirable as his sentiments may be, he will not appease or silence Māori sovereignty activists and the tribal elite, who do not want their gravy train derailed.

Their aim is not only to perpetuate the grievance industry for profit, but to advance a radical agenda to oust those who are not in favour of Māori privilege from positions of influence.

But the truth is that fair-minded kiwis, including many of Māori descent, have had enough of tribal activists using culture as a vehicle, not only for personal enrichment, but also to impose their radical agenda onto the country.

Their extremism is plain to see.

Just last week members of a northern iwi tried to stop a fishing competition that had been going for 40 years. They are reported as saying their grievance was that their mana had been disrespected because the competition organisers had not consulted them. Their protest action was designed to send a message to the fishermen taking part in the competition - and also to the Government for its plans to “abolish the Treaty”.

Clearly the PM’s commitment to “honour the Treaty” did not resonate with these radicals.

Local iwi also claim they intend having all fishing competitions in the future banned, “to preserve fish stocks”. Such rorts usually involves the imposition of blanket bans for “sustainability” purposes that cover the public, but which exclude Māori through exemptions for “customary fishing”.

Unfortunately, this sort of action will be legitimised when tribal groups are given control of New Zealand’s coastline right to the edge of the 12 nautical mile territorial sea - if a recent Marine and Coastal Area Act Court of Appeal judgment is not overturned by Parliament.

This has become a matter of the utmost urgency, since the next large groups of claims for the coast under the flawed Marine and Coastal Area Act are due to be heard in the High Court this month.

In the health sector, alleged racism has been used by the new Māori Health Authority to introduce a multitude of privileges for Māori – transforming healthcare into an apartheid system where access to medical treatment is now based on race.

An “equity adjuster score” has been introduced that prioritises Māori patients on hospital waiting lists ahead of other patients in far greater clinical need.

The costs of accessing a variety of health measures that others have to pay for, have been removed for Māori.

New Zealand’s drug-buying agency, Pharmac, also appears to have been “captured” with funding now redirected into treatments that prioritise Māori.

All of this has been going on despite the fact that the fabricated claims of systemic racism in the health system have no basis - as numerous researchers have shown. Medical practitioner Dr Lawrie Knight points out that since the comprehensive network of Māori health providers set up by Helen Clark’s Labour Government to “close the gaps” 20 years ago has made little difference to health outcomes, it is misleading to claim a race-based approach works.

Furthermore, research from the Ministry of Health, which shows only 20 per cent of a patient’s health outcome is determined by medical care, with around 40 per cent by socioeconomic factors such as education and income, 10 per cent by physical environment including the quality of housing, and 30 per cent by lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and the use of drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, provides perspective.

The message to advocates of better health for Māori is that they should be focusing on the importance of a good education and a decent job, as well as more personal responsibility including regular health checks, attending medical appointments and taking medication that’s been prescribed, instead of attempting to deny non-Māori patients the essential healthcare they need.

And let’s not forget racial quotas for medical school: Auckland University’s medical school advises that of the 287 places on offer in 2024, 40 per cent or 115 places are reserved for Māori and Pacific Island students – up from 70 in 2022 - while “general entry” places have dropped from around 120 to 98. And while A grade levels are necessary for “general entry” candidates, C grades appear sufficient for Māori and Pacific students.

New Zealanders surely deserve the brightest and best doctors irrespective of ancestry, yet merit appears to have become a secondary consideration to race.

Claims of institutional racism in the state sector has led to racial privilege being embedded within its procedures, manifesting itself in staff hiring practices, remuneration and the awarding of contracts based on race. Private businesses that depend on the government for registration or funding have also been caught in the net.

An array of de-facto governance roles has also been created to give Māori greater influence than other New Zealanders, including in the management and allocation of fresh water by regional councils, in resource management decision-making by local authorities and in the management and operation of the conservation estate.

New Zealanders have also witnessed the hypocrisy of iwi leaders demanding more and more public funding for “their people”, while the billion-dollar business corporations they run pay no tax. Iwi have made no contribution to the running of the country since 2005, when Helen Clark’s Labour Government exempted tribal businesses from a long-standing charity law requirement that prevents organisations from being able to gain tax-free charitable status if their beneficiaries are relatives.

This is another gravy train initiative that now needs to be withdrawn.

Many race-based privileges have been introduced under the guise of Treaty “principles”.

Yet the Treaty itself doesn’t have any principles - only three articles: Māori ceded sovereignty; property rights were protected; and all New Zealanders were treated as equals. There was no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens - New Zealand was a colour-blind society where individuals had equal dignity and equal rights.

The Waitangi Tribunal, which was established almost 50 years ago as a permanent commission of inquiry for Māori into alleged breaches of the Treaty by the Crown, was “captured” long ago by activists to become a taxpayer-funded advocate for Māori supremacy. As such it has been influential in embedding race-based privilege - at the cost of equal rights and democracy itself.

It is therefore fitting that the coalition agreement between National and New Zealand First includes a commitment to review the tribunal’s operation.

The coalition also intends reviewing all legislation (excluding Treaty settlements) that includes the “principles of the Treaty”, with a view to replacing vague references with specifics - or repealing the references altogether.

The Act Party, of course, is also committed to progressing its Treaty Principles Bill, which aims to codify the principles to mean what the original Māori version of the Treaty says – that the government has the right to govern, that property rights are protected, and that all New Zealanders are equal under the law.

Under their coalition agreement, their bill will be supported to a select committee and if it later gains the backing of National and New Zealand First and is passed into law, a nationwide public referendum would then be held so New Zealanders can either accept or reject the new law.

What is crucially important is that none of these measures being undertaken by the coalition Government changes the Treaty itself.

Those making such claims are deliberately scaremongering and misleading the public. They don’t want New Zealanders to have a debate about where the current Treaty arrangements are taking the country. Nor do they want public scrutiny of the vast array of race-based privileges that have already been established.

But the public have spoken and the new Government has been given a mandate to reset this country, removing race-based oppression, and returning New Zealand to a country where we are all equal in the eyes of the law and where our long-standing democracy can flourish.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you