Is Hobsons Pledge a hate group?

Today it was announced that the Maori Council wants Hobsons Pledge to be investigated for hate speech. The call comes after concerns about an accumulating body of commentary suggesting Maori are somehow more privileged and entitled than other New Zealanders.

So who are Hobsons Pledge (H.P)?

H.P. are a group which various New Zealand politicians have been linked to, including former National Party leader Dr Don Brash. The organization is named after Commodore James Hobson, who signed the Treaty of Waitangi on behalf of the British Crown. Their purpose is to oppose alleged Maori favouritism, citing concerns about how much public funding their causes receive, that the Treaty of Waitangi grievance settlement process is some sort of gravy train and that the accepted history of Maoridom is revisionist. Their Twitter account description says that they advocate for a New Zealand in which all citizens have the same rights irrespective of where they or their ancestors came from, or when they arrived in New Zealand.

I personally find their conduct to be borderline, divisive and have tried not to give their social media any of my time. H.P. have a Facebook page on which they frequently post. A quick survey of the posts yesterday showed comments of an angry or ridiculing nature on nearly every one.

Hobsons Pledge ignore the social context in which much of the perceived grievance occurs. I wonder when it comes up how the British settlers would have felt if the roles were reversed and the Maori were coming to take their land. I wonder how history would have viewed incidents like Parihaka where hundreds of colonial soldiers were sent to occupy lands and destroy much of the village. Or what about the Wairau Affray where Maori had been coming to survey the land and had reneged on conditions agreed to in negotiations, like the New Zealand Company allegedly did.

I utterly refute the idea that the Treaty of Waitangi is a grievance gravy train. Over the course it has run thus far, six of the seven major Iwi have been able to reach settlements with the Crown – Ngai Tahu, Ngati Porou, Tainui, Ngati Whatua, Ngati Tuwharetoa, and Ngati Arawa. The remaining iwi to settle are Ngapuhi in the far north of the North Island, whose ancestral lands include the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi. Whilst a few have had a couple of teething problems with their Treaty settlements, all have accepted that they are full, fair and final.

The final point I want to contest is about whether or not iwi owned businesses pay tax or not. As charities they are exempt to paying income tax and Tainui Group Holdings Limited supply health, education, religious, cultural and other services. I have never seen an acknowledgement from H.P. about what Iwi and businesses they own actually do for their communities.

I cannot help but wonder what the reaction would be if H.P. were invited to a Hui to discuss concerns about supposed favouritism. Who would go? Would anyone turn up?



No favours for New Zealand in C.P.T.P.P.

Yesterday an unfortunate thing happened. New Zealand Parliament accepted the third reading of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership Amendment Bill. It was passed through Parliament with only the 8 Green Members of Parliament voting against it. This now makes the passage into law of the C.P.T.P.P., which succeeded the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement a virtual certainty.

I opposed this when it was the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (T.P.P.A.). I oppose this now when it is the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (why negotiators feel the need to come up with such long, convoluted names is beyond me).

I opposed this when it was first conceived because there were – among other things – the following:

  • The possibility that New Zealanders would be made to pay more for medication from Pharmac, whose ability to negotiate good deals for New Zealand would be significantly reduced
  • The possibility that Investor State Dispute Settlement clauses would be inserted – and I think probably have snuck in despite the opposition that has been raised – which would potentially expose New Zealand to court action from multinationals for enacting laws that by their judgement somehow affect their ability (true or not) to make a profit
  • That New Zealand’s numerous international commitments, for which we earn much credit on the international stage, and our ability to uphold them would be undermined

I oppose this now for several reasons, not least because to the best of my knowledge and contrary to the statements from New Zealand First, Labour, National and A.C.T., the C.P.T.P.P. still has the contentious clauses that made it essential to resist in the first place. This is based on having searched through the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Act 2016 and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership Amendment Act 2018. During that search I was looking for provisions specifically protecting the Treaty of Waitangi, eliminating Investor State Dispute Settlement clauses.

I found that much effort was given to provisions relating to copy right, performance.

There are other reasons why New Zealand has made a mistake passing this legislation into law:

  • Japan and the United States are highly protectionist, and to a lesser extent South Korea – for significant gains to be made there has to be changes in their domestic legislation and posturing around this
  • Philip Morris attempted to sue the Australian Government over tobacco advertizing; a mining company tried to sue Costa Rica over its attempts to protect its environment – whilst Philip Morris lost, there is a risk that despite assurances to the contrary such moves might be made by a multinational against New Zealand
  • I cannot agree with the claims that the Treaty of Waitangi is not impacted unless there are explicit clauses saying so in the legislation – I did not see anything of that nature

All trade agreements that go before Parliament should not become law unless they have the following guarantees:

  1. That a review clause becomes active after 10 years, at which point a select committee reviews the legislation and enacts any recommendations
  2. That its continuance can be voted on after 20 years, with a sun set clause tripping if the result is NO

A trade agreement is only as good as the people who negotiated it at the time. Like laws they can become dated or be found to be defective. No responsible Parliament or elected Government should ignore defective legislation or trade agreements.

A national holiday needed for ALL New Zealanders

Today is Waitangi Day. It is the day in 1840 on which Commodore James Hobson signed the Treaty of Waitangi with Maori chiefs. Te Tiriti O Waitangi was intended to give the British sovereignty over New Zealand, and the Governor the right to govern the country. The Maori view differed somewhat in that they had ceded the right to governance without giving up the right to manage their own affairs.

I cannot help but wonder what the non-English immigrant populations who have settled in New Zealand think of Te Tiriti O Waitangi, and of relations between Maori and non-Maori. Has any academic conducted formal kaupapa Maori research with leaders in Maoridom to see what the perceptions of their people are about the understanding New Zealand’s immigrant population has when it comes to the Treaty? Do they believe it should be kept separate from celebrating New Zealand’s overall identity?

But at the same time, who has talked to all of the many ethnic groups living in New Zealand, be they Chinese or Colombian, Fijian or Somali, Iranian or Serbian. What do they think of the Treaty of Waitangi? What do they actually know about the history behind it? Do they feel a need for a day where they can celebrate their sense of belonging in New Zealand.

On A.N.Z.A.C. Day many more people show a much greater degree of respect towards New Zealand as a nation. We turn up in our thousands to dawn services. The great/grandchildren of war vets wear their great/grandparents medals. New Zealand schools spend time and effort coming up to each A.N.Z.A.C. Day learning about the day and our military history. Media devote columns and air time to documenting new discoveries about our war time past.

Some people say A.N.Z.A.C. Day is a more New Zealand day. Certainly it is one of general unity. With one or two exceptions from peace activists who should have known better than to do so, it is protest free. But in the same sense that Waitangi Day is primarily about the Treaty, which has little real significance to those of ethnic groups not from New Zealand, how much do non-New Zealanders relate to A.N.Z.A.C. Day?

This is why I support New Zealand Dominion Day (26 September)becoming a day that all New Zealanders can come together on and celebrate our nation, our way of life. There are 364 other days of the year when Treaty politics can be debated, where iwi can debate the ins and outs of wrapping up the remainder of the grievance settlements. But a day when all New Zealanders, tangata whenua or not,come to celebrate being one of the brightest prospects in the international community is not that day.

So let us enjoy Waitangi Day tomorrow. I hope the ceremonies at the Marae go well . But let us remember Waitangi Day is not about ALL New Zealanders. And that there are other days on the calendar which CAN be.

A depiction of the Treaty of Waitangi being signed 06 February 1840.

Individual Transferable Quota’s in fishing: Part 2

In my previous article I introduced Individual Transferable Quota’s in regard to our fisheries as a resource. This article looks at some of the problems with I.T.Q.’s.

It is first important to know that there is no such thing as “the perfect system”. Any number and potentially any combination of variables, foreseen and unforeseen can interfere with the I.T.Q. system. They can be environmental, or economic, social or political, driven by local, national or international issues.

In New Zealand, perhaps the biggest problems with I.T.Q.’s are:

  • Enforcing them
  • Maintaining their sustainability against increasing demand both locally and internationally
  • Balancing the resource for commercial and non commercial interests

New Zealand’s economic zone has a varied marine life inhabiting it, from hapuku and hoki to Bluff oysters and crayfish

Enforcing New Zealand fisheries has been a problem. Other articles I have written allude to a problem with foreign flagged vessels that have been operating in New Zealand. Because of the vast area under New Zealand jurisdiction, it is necessary to involve both the New Zealand police and Royal New Zealand Navy in these operations as only they have the logistical and legal means. With regards to the I.T.Q.’s, these foreign flagged vessels have been caught catching over their quota’s and the crews have admitted to dumping the excess so as not to be caught.

It is not just a foreign vessel issue though. Many locals feign ignorance of the local rules irrespective of species. This is mainly around coastal fisheries and not on the open sea. Normally Ministry of Primary Industries rangers and local police monitor activity. They are looking out for over catching, undersized shells, inappropriate equipment and catching outside of designated areas or seasons.

New Zealand fisheries are highly rated overseas because of their purity and attempts at being sustainably managed. It is an increasingly important challenge to ensure that the catches reported each year fall within the yields permitted. Just because New Zealand has taken steps that acknowledge the fallacy of the tragedy of the commons, other nations trying to maintain their economic growth, for whom sustainability is a westernized concept, getting as much as they can is more important.

Domestically the biggest challenge is balancing recreational interests with commercial fisheries. This just happens to be a part of a course assignment I am doing at the moment, putting a case forward for the use of I.T.Q.’s, and in doing so, I am addressing a stand off between these factions, along with iwi and hapu whose food gathering areas may have rahui applied that mean non-Maori have to stay out of certain areas.

So as we move forward in the 21st Century against a backdrop of other nations still being afflicted by the thinking that goes with a “get as much as I can” mentality, New Zealand has its own challenges. Burgeoning demand for New Zealand fish stocks, balancing that demand with local and customary needs means although I.T.Q.’s might be a significant step forward, they can only work if all parties concerned are on board.

Time to change Waitangi Day format

How rare it is to have a Waitangi Day go past without some sort of controversy. Whether it is grandstanding local Maori kicking up a fuss because they feel they have been hard done by a grievance settlement system; protests by disgruntled Iwi or a Marae trying to tell media how to cover this significant New Zealand anniversary, few in the last 3 decades have been wholly peaceful.

Some of the protest events have been entirely legitimate, reflecting concerns of the day about how the Treaty of Waitangi grievances settlement process is getting on. Some of the others were no more than adolescent males looking for a confrontation with the police, who for their part have done admirably, walking a fine line between keeping the peace and sending rowdies packing. The most notable incidents have involved nephews of former Maori Party Member of Parliament (and later Mana Party leader)Hone Harawira, who was expelled from the Maori Party for poor conduct and whose Mana Party was destroyed in the 2014 election.

And then there have been the Marae politics. Some have involved controversy as a result of politicians having speaking rights denied. Others involved misinterpreting the purpose of a powhiri (to welcome, and accept the welcome – not make a political discourse).

It is however quite improper to shut out the media on the most important day of the New Zealand calendar at the most important site in New Zealand. If the Marae kaumatua are not willing to permit streaming coverage going live on the internet and on the free to air channels, perhaps it is time to consider whether to change the format of the celebrations.

Whilst it would be a shame to do this, 06 February 1840 is New Zealand’s national day. There are 364 other days this year that there could be/could have been protests on.

I therefore propose that Waitangi Day becomes a travelling event, with the major marae in each of the large centres or a signifcant regional marae taking turns at playing the host. There are for example well organized celebrations at Okains Bay Marae on Banks Peninsula every year that are attended by hundreds. I am also quite sure that Ngai Tahu, Ngati Arawa, Tuhoe, Ngati Porou, Tainui, Ngati Tuwharetoa would be interested in having input into how national commemorations are run.