Divided Agenda

New Zealand Centre for Political Research

The New Zealand Centre for Political Research is a web-based think tank that takes a research-based approach to public policy matters and encourages the free and open debate of political issues.

Last month, the British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a hard-hitting speech outlining the dangers to a nation of radical extremism. While he was focussing on the threat of radical Islam and the importance of eliminating extremist indoctrination from all aspects of British life and culture, his address, which is featured as this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentary, has implications for every free democracy:

“I said on the steps of Downing Street that this would be a ‘one nation’ government, bringing our country together. Today, I want to talk about a vital element of that. How together we defeat extremism and at the same time build a stronger, more cohesive society.

“My starting point is this. Over generations, we have built something extraordinary in Britain – a successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracy. It’s open, diverse, welcoming – these characteristics are as British as queuing and talking about the weather. It is here in Britain where different people, from different backgrounds, who follow different religions and different customs don’t just rub alongside each other but are relatives and friends; husbands, wives, cousins, neighbours and colleagues…

“Wherever we are from, whatever our background, whatever our religion, there are things we share together. We are all British. We respect democracy and the rule of law. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of worship, equal rights regardless of race, sex, sexuality or faith. These are British values. And are underpinned by distinct British institutions. Our freedom comes from our Parliamentary democracy. The rule of law exists because of our independent judiciary. This is the home that we are building together.”

While David Cameron has high aspirations for a united Britain, things are very different in New Zealand. Here, successive Prime Ministers have turned their backs on equality under the law, focussing instead on appeasement policies that divide our country along racial lines. As a result of their actions, New Zealand is now out of step with the direction of most modern nations.

The problem is that the demands of the sovereignty movement never end. Over time they grow stronger and more extreme. As a result, increasingly radical ideas are now permeating the country’s institutions.

For example, the inscription on a new plaque that has been hung in an official position on the wall of a local authority council chamber next to a photo of the Queen reads:

The Treaty of Waitangi was first signed on the afternoon of the 6th of February 1840, in the Bay of Islands. It did not arise from warfare, as a Treaty of surrender, but was signed in a spirit of goodwill under the reigning conditions of Peace.

The Treaty was a Declaration of the traditional Maori rights of absolute authority over Aotearoa. Within this authority the signing chiefs generously permitted the Crown a role. The Treaty document is a statement of this concession and forms the fundamental constitutional basis of the Nation.

The Treaty was signed by the representative Chiefs, in the belief that it documented the natural and inalienable Maori rights of land and resource ownership, self determination and the Maori way of life. Simultaneously the Treaty assured Maori of continuing authority and unrestricted access, over all natural resources of Land, Sky and Sea, including Forests, Lakes and Waterways.

Additionally, the Treaty guaranteed to Maori the same protection and rights as British citizens. It permitted the Crown to act as the sole agent in land dealings. It also required the Crown to establish a lawful and just system of shared Governance, in compliance with the Treaty conditions.

The Treaty of Waitangi re-stated and re-inforced the position and authority of the Chiefs. It confirmed their right to exercise shared control over the powers of Governorship granted to the Crown.

Is this radical view, that our Queen is no longer sovereign but must share governance with the self-appointed leaders of private race-based business corporations, now the official doctrine of the country’s local authorities? Or is this being driven by radical iwi leaders and their extremist supporters within local government?

Pockets of racial extremism can be found in many government institutions, with one of the country’s top universities now leading the way.

From next year, every student who enrols at Canterbury University will be required to become “biculturally competent” by the time they graduate. Essentially, this means that students will be force-fed separatist dogma on a compulsory basis.

The initiative is the brainchild of Ngai Tahu. The University of Canterbury established the Ngai Tahu Research Centre in partnership with the tribe in 2011, with the objective, “To create intellectual capital and leadership able to lead and support tribal development”. But their aspiration was to have their bicultural ‘world-view’ dominate the institution.

Last year’s annual report explains that the University has a “memorandum of understanding” with Ngai Tahu and is working cooperatively with the iwi. In 2012, the Strategy for Maori Development – Te Rautaki Whakawhanake Kaupapa Maori – was developed and adopted by the University Council. Additional funding was allocated for the project.

Essentially the Strategy requires all university programmes to support bicultural competency. In practice, that means Matauranga Maori must be incorporated into all policies and processes across the curricula – including course content, new course approval, academic reviews and accreditation. In addition, the revitalisation of the Maori language must be supported in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and qualifications. Furthermore, cultural competency must be acknowledged and demonstrated in the ‘learning objectives’ of the university’s graduate profile.

Accordingly, the University of Canterbury’s Graduate Profile now states that the university is committed to ensuring that students obtain a number of “attributes” when they graduate in 2018, one of which is that they will be “Biculturally competent and confident”.

The ‘Learning Outcomes’ for bicultural competency for a Bachelor of Commerce degree includes, “Students can explain how Maori values could be incorporated into Aotearoa New Zealand workplaces and the reasons for their incorporation; how the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi underpin the relationship between Maori and the Crown in the management of national resources; students can explain the evolution of iwi corporations and their role in contemporary (inter)national commerce.”

The problem for the University of Canterbury is that their newfound commitment to biculturalism is unlikely to be the end of the matter. They should look at the experience of the Anglican Church to see where it all may lead.

The Anglican Church was persuaded to adopt racial objectives in 1992. The initiative was driven by Professor Whatarangi Winiata, the founding President of the Maori Party. He pushed for the Treaty of Waitangi to be embedded in the constitution of the Church. However, while they agreed to a race-based constitution, it was divided in three – Maori, Pacific Islander, and ‘Pakeha’.

According to the Church’s website, this constitution “provides an opportunity for each of the three partners, tikanga Maori, tikanga Pakeha (European), tikanga Pasifika, to express its mind as an equal partner in the decision-making process of the General Synod…”

However, having Maori as one of three branches of the Church, was not enough. The separatists driving the agenda wanted half of the power and control, especially over ‘taonga’ – the $300 million Church trust fund.

As a result, they are claiming that under the principal of tino rangatiratanga, Maori should have absolute sovereignty over their own affairs, and they say that the present structure, which splits power in three ways, breaches that.

Professor Winiata proposed two radical motions to be put to last year’s General Synod meeting:

The first was the “the constitution… be amended to provide for a two-Tikanga Church for Maori and Pakeha (being all other citizens in Aotearoa New Zealand)…”

And the second was that “the General Synod acknowledge in its constitution the right of whanau, hapu, iwi and Maori to exercise tino rangatiratanga over taonga as guaranteed in Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi, and undertake to confront unjust structures that impede the exercise of these rights.”

In the end, the motions were withdrawn, but they are unlikely to have gone away.

Anglicans, uneasy about the division along racial lines moved in 2005 to have the three tikanga constitution dissolved – but the motion failed to win the support of the Church’s hierarchy.

Meanwhile, due no doubt to a sense that their Church is practising a form of religious apartheid, the number of people calling themselves Anglicans in the Census, has declined by a dramatic 27 percent from 631,000 in 1996 to 459,000 in 2013.

This compares to a 4 percent increase in the number of people identifying as Catholic over the same period, from 473,000 in 1996 to 492,000 in 2013.

New Zealanders remain deeply concerned over the country’s racial divide. You only have to look at the outcry generated by the revelation that young Maori drivers caught behind the wheel without a license were being warned and referred for training instead of being ticketed and fined, like everyone else, to realise how deeply held this view is.

So why are our political leaders not calling for unity and equality – and an end to race-based division? After all, Don Brash did just that, as leader of the National Party in 2004, gaining widespread public acknowledgement and support.

What we need from our Prime Minister is the courage to do what the leaders of other nations are doing, and speak out about such matters – especially the dangers of tribalism. In the words of Barack Obama:

“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 to move forward on solving problems, it divides neighbor from neighbor.

“An accountable, transparent government can break this cycle. When people are judged by merit, not connections, then the best and brightest can lead the country, people will work hard, and the entire economy will grow – everyone will benefit and more resources will be available for all, not just select groups.”

On election night last year, John Key said, “For the past six years I’ve enjoyed a privilege afforded to only a very small group of New Zealanders – and that’s to lead our country. In that time I’ve never stopped marvelling at the creativity, the ingenuity, the compassion, the generosity, and kindness of New Zealanders. We are the finest little nation on the planet – and I truly believe that. And our future as a country is bright, our opportunities are unlimited.

“So tonight, whoever you voted for, I can pledge this to you, that I will lead a government that governs for all New Zealanders. And although as New Zealanders we hold a range of political views, I think we can all, as a nation, agree on one thing – we are lucky and rightfully proud to call New Zealand home and to be Kiwis.”

We are indeed a lucky country, but we will only be great if we are united as Kiwis rather than divided by race and privilege.

When John Key and our other political leaders start straight talking like David Cameron and Barack Obama about the dangers of radicalism and tribalism, then we will know that New Zealand has turned a corner and that a brighter future indeed lies ahead.

THIS WEEK’S POLL ASKS:

Do you agree with the University of Canterbury’s decision to introduce compulsory bicultural competency courses for all students?

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