While submitting against council amalgamation in Hawke’s Bay I argued against the creation of a Maori Board. A Local Government Commission member told me to re-read Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi that he asserted promised to Maori co-governance.
Proposals for council amalgamations are in progress in Northland and in Hawke’s Bay. The commission heard oral submissions in Napier and Hastings this week.
In my submission I argued against amalgamation for four reasons, that the proposal: Included little evidence of improved economic performance, would bring bigger and more costly local government, higher rates, and a Maori Board subverts one-person-one vote democracy.
My response to the commissioner was a request for him to show me where in Article 2 the treaty promised co-governance. I also asked the commission chair Basil Morrison, who sits on the Waitangi Tribunal, to explain to his colleague the error of his views.
Article 2 says in the English text that is closest to the Maori:
The Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the chiefs and the tribes and to all the people of New Zealand, the possession of their lands, dwellings and all their property. But the chiefs of the Confederation of United Tribes and the other chiefs grant to the Queen, the exclusive rights of purchasing such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to sell at such prices as may be agreed upon between them and the person appointed by the Queen to purchase from them.No mention of co-governance there. So where could such an idea come from? A look at the Waitangi Tribunal website section on the meaning of treaty shows that the tribunal says
As a result, in this article (Article 1), Maori believe they ceded to the Queen a right of governance in return for the promise of protection, while retaining the authority they always had to manage their own affairs.No co-governance there either. Not even the Waitangi Tribunal, with its redefined treaty, supports the view that a local government commissioner is pushing around the country -- that Article 2 of the treaty promises co-governance.
The Maori version of article 2 uses the word “rangatiratanga” in promising to uphold the authority that tribes had always had over their lands and taonga. This choice of wording emphasises status and authority. (1)
Because a local government commissioner has standing on questions of local government above that of a regular citizen, his utterances on local government may be taken as more authoritative than those of an ordinary fair-minded citizen. Unfortunately in this case, his utterance is demonstrably wrong. Why is he pedaling this nonsense around the country?
Such utterances are seized upon by those who stand to benefit from extra seats as of right with voting powers and funding for people appointed by local tribal corporations. This extra "right" puts those appointees ahead of everyone, including most Maori. This extra "right" subverts our system of governance that operates on the principle of one-person-one-vote for everyone aged 18 and over, including all Maori.
The Waitangi Tribunal interpretation cites the words "kawanatanga" and “rangatiratanga". What do these mean? The treaty was drafted in English and translated into Maori. The word “kawanatanga” in Article 1 was used to translate the word “sovereignty” and “rangatiratanga” in article 2 for “possession”.
As the tribunal opined in the above quote Maori (in 1840) "believe they ceded to the Queen a right of governance in return for the promise of protection, while retaining the authority they always had to manage their own affairs".
It’s a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too argument in which late 20th century tribunal members put their wishes into the thoughts of mid-19th century chiefs to create a treaty in which Article 1 gave a limited right for the Queen and governor to govern the few settlers that were in New Zealand while the chiefs could carry on being chiefs.
But that does not correspond to the eyewitness account of missionary William Colenso of the debate that shows that some chiefs objected to having the governor or the Queen as an over lord but by the end of the day the benefits of the deal outweighed the costs so they signed.
Chiefs did not carry on being chiefs. They gradually freed their slaves, turned over wrongdoers to British justice, stopped killing and eating each other, and embraced a new way of life based on law rather than the law of the club.
With the word “co-governance” absent from Article 2 of the treaty, and with the Waitangi Tribunal view that chiefs retained “the authority they always had to manage their own affairs” unsupported by history, why is the Local Government Commission pushing separate appointed Maori boards with voting rights and funding as a treaty right in amalgamation proposals?
1. Meaning of the treaty, http://www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/waitangi-tribunal/treaty-of-waitangi/the-meaning-of-the-treaty