The July 3rd discharge without conviction of Korotangi Paki on charges of burglary, theft, and drink driving, on the grounds that he is the son of the Maori King, has caused widespread outrage.
The presiding Judge, Philippa Cunningham, justified her decision by saying, “There’s only two sons and in my view it’s important that the king at the appropriate time has the widest possible choice of a successor and it’s important for Mr Paki, as one of those two sons, to have the potential to be a successor in time.”
The judge claimed that while the drink driving was moderately serious, the direct and indirect consequences of a conviction were “out of all proportion” to the offence, since any conviction for criminal offending would render him ineligible to be king.
The drink-driving offence, which took place last October, had been suppressed. Nineteen-year-old Paki was stopped on a Gisborne street at 2.15am, with a breath test reading of 761 – almost twice the adult legal limit. The current limit for drivers under the age of 20 is zero.
With the burglaries and theft in March having taken place while he was on bail and after a night of drinking, the judge imposed a special condition: he must provide the court with evidence that he does not have an alcohol problem or if he does, that he has addressed it with counselling. If the condition is met within two weeks of the sentence, the discharge without conviction will be granted.
The Police believe Paki should have been punished, and they are considering whether to appeal the decision. They opposed the discharge without conviction, arguing that it would set a negative precedent and send the wrong message to society. They described his attitude during the time of the second offences – while on bail – as ‘reckless’: “He knew at the time what would be the consequences and what would be the implications of the conviction.”
Crown Law is also considering whether to lodge an appeal against the judge’s decision.
Tuku Morgan, the Maori King’s representative, called the decision a victory for Maori. “I think that is a recognition of the uniqueness of this country. Maori tikanga, Maori culture has been recognised today by a very senior court.”
The public disagreed. The decision has sparked widespread outrage.
There is something deeply amiss when the judicial system lets someone off serious charges on the basis of their culture and status. Given that the Maori King does not hold authority across all iwi, does this decision signal that from now on, the elite of other tribes will also be treated as being above the law?
The rule of law is a safeguard of crucial importance in a democracy. It ensures that all citizens are treated equally.
The role of the independent judiciary is to ensure that no-one is above the law. If the rule of law is to be upheld in New Zealand, this decision to discharge the Maori King’s son without conviction must be overturned.
Back in April, the NZCPR looked at the importance of the rule of law, publishing a paper Privilege and the Rule of Law, by Guest Commentator Judge Anthony Willy, a retired District Court Judge and former Canterbury University Law Lecturer.
This week, Judge Willy has been kind enough to provide us with a follow up Guest Commentary: The Rule of Law or The Supremacy of The Law. He explains:
“Since writing the article on the Rule of law and Maori privilege a number of people have asked what is this Rule of law and why does it have any significance in the modern New Zealand world. It is a good question, the answer to which lawyers tend to take for granted imbibed as it is with their mothers milk, but given the absence of any civics education in the school curricular it is unsurprising that there is no widely held understanding of the content and significance of the Rule of Law. This article is an attempt to repair that omission.”
“In a nutshell The Rule of Law is the antithesis of the ‘rule of man’ and in some ways it is best understood by its absence that is by examining what occurs in societies governed by dictatorships (elected or otherwise). To take a few current and recent examples:
“In Germany between the wars the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi party as it became better known polled 43.9% of the votes in the German Parliament in 1933 enabling Adolph Schicklgruber, or as he preferred to be called Hitler, to become the German Chancellor, and the Nazi Party to become the largest voting block in the Reichstag. Hitler’s success was made possible by the Rule of Law which prevailed in the WeimarRepublic following the end of World War One. Among other rights this accorded him and his gang of “Brownshirts” the right to freedom of association, and of speech – vile as it was. This enabled the Nazi Party to participate in a political process and to increase its vote from 3% in 1924 to the success of 1933. Having secured his place by an impeccably democratic process Hitler and his gang immediately set about demolishing every vestige of the Rule of Law by which the Weimar Constitution had protected the rights of the individual leading to the Nuremberg decrees of 1933 which effectively removed all civil rights from Germans of Jewish blood, and in 1935 extended this to Negroes and Gypsies. This was followed by The Nacht and Nebel (Night and Fog) decrees of1941. These examples illustrate most brutally what occurs when the rule of man is substituted for the Rule of Law.” The full paper can be read HERE.
In discussing modern definitions of the rule of law, Judge Willy leaves little doubt about the vital importance of this concept to our democracy. But his paper also raises questions about how tyrants are able to rise to power – in the case of Hitler, through a legitimate democratic process.
Much has been written about such matters, of course, but a significant factor is the reporting of propaganda as if it was fact in the mainstream media. This brings to mind propaganda techniques discussed by Hitler in his 1925 book Mein Kampf, that describes big lies so ‘colossal’ that no one would believe that someone ‘could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously’. The version, “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth” is attributed to Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels.
The power of indoctrinating the young was not lost on Hitler. From the 1920s onwards, young people were targeted through messages that claimed the Nazi Party was a movement of youth: ‘dynamic, resilient, forward-looking, and hopeful’. By January 1933, Hitler Youth had 50,000 members, but following his rise to Chancellor, the number increased to more than 2 million by the end of the year, and by 1936 to 5.4 million. Membership became mandatory in 1939.
The Third Reich used the education system to indoctrinate children with the National Socialist world view. From their first days in school, German students were imbued with the cult of Adolf Hitler through classroom instruction aimed at producing race-conscious, obedient, self-sacrificing Germans who would be willing to die for the cause.
It is said that after the German armed forces surrendered in May 1945, the Allies required young Germans to undergo ‘de-Nazification’ and training in democracy to counter the effects of twelve years of Nazi propaganda.
While modern democracies clearly strive to ensure that school children are protected from such dangerous propaganda, preventing political bias in education remains an on-going battle.
In 2007, propaganda in schools became the subject of a court action in Britain, when a father complained about the screening of An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s highly propagandist film depicting runaway global warming. The British Government was accused of using the film to brainwash pupils.
The High Court Judge determined the film promoted “partisan political views” and that schools would need to issue a warning to students before it was screened. The Government was ordered to amend the Guidance Notes to Teachers to make it clear that the film was a political work that promoted only one side of the argument. In addition, the eleven serious inaccuracies in the film, identified by the Court, had to be pointed out to children who watched the film. (More information can be found HERE)
Challenging global warming propaganda in schools was only possible because the British Education Act safeguards children from political indoctrination, through section 406, which forbids the teaching of propaganda, and section 407, which requires a balanced presentation of views, whenever political issues are discussed.
Following revelations that Al Gore’s film was also being screened in New Zealand schools, the NZCPR launched a petition to Parliament to protect New Zealand children from propaganda, by introducing legislative safeguards into our Education Act, similar to those found in Britain. We gathered a wide range of evidence of propaganda in the curriculum, including materials from the unions, radical Maori sovereignty groups, and environmental extremists.
The petition was heard by Parliament’s Education and Science Select Committee in 2009, but they were persuaded that there wasn’t a problem: “The Ministry of Education considers that there are sufficient safeguards in the New Zealand education system to avoid the promotion of partisan political views or to deal with it if it arises, and that addressing the problem through legislation would not be desirable or effective. It includes among these safeguards the code of ethics for registered teachers, provisions in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and the degree of parental involvement in New Zealand schools. The Ministry responds to any complaints it receives, but has received no complaints of schools promoting partisan political views.”
Last month I was contacted by distraught parents whose son had been forced to watch Al Gore’s film. When he questioned the veracity of run-away global warming in his paper, he received a failing grade. Complaining about the situation to the principal or the Board, or even the Ministry of Education, was clearly not an option, as the parents felt it would simply make matters worse. With many other parents having raised similar concerns, especially regarding the marked increase in Treaty propaganda in schools, the time has come to revisit our petition.
Accordingly, the NZCPR has now launched an on-line petition calling on the Government “to protect school children from political indoctrination by inserting into the New Zealand Education Act, provisions similar to those in the British Education Act: clause 406 forbids ‘the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school’ and clause 407 requires that if political matters are raised, children ‘are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views’.”
Whenever the issue of a breach of our democratic rights is raised, whether it is a judge failing to uphold the rule of law or a school teaching propaganda to children, it is important that the public responds. To have an enduring democracy, it is not enough that our representatives are elected through a free ballot; the principles of a free society must also be upheld in law.
THIS WEEK’S POLL ASKS:
Do you believe New Zealand students are subjected to political indoctrination in schools?
Click HERE to vote – and look on the right hand sidebar
Read this week’s poll comments daily HERE
Click HERE to see all NZCPR poll results
1. Stuff, Maori king’s son avoids conviction
2. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Shaping the Future: Indoctrinating Youth
3. Parliament, Petition 2008/25 of Dr Muriel Newman
4. British Education Act 1996, Political Indoctrination
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