Harawira’s conflicting Treaty of Waitangi and socialist ambitions

Hone Harawira seems to want his Mana party through his Ngapuhi tribe to leverage the Treaty of Waitangi to transform New Zealand’s constitution so Maori have some degree of absolute rule, with funding advantages from higher taxing of others, somehow in a more socialist society.

It’s hard to see how minority rule and preferential funding of one group can co-exist with socialism.

At the Waitangi Day events this year John Key tried to nudge along a treaty settlement with Ngapuhi, the local tribe and the largest in the country.

In a column in NZ Herald  Ngapuhi’s settlement role critical to future of Treaty Hone Harawira tries to claim far more – that the future constitution of New Zealand is dependent on Ngapuhi.

And as fate would have it, Ngapuhi’s place in the whole Treaty saga is about to come full circle for, just as Ngapuhi was the birthplace of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, so too does Ngapuhi provide the basis for our future understanding of Te Tiriti.

The Harawiras are well known Ngapuhi but are voices within a large tribe with a variety of opinions.

And other tribes around New Zealand would presumably value their own importance and input into the future of the Treaty and the constitution of New Zealand.

I don’t think our tupuna signed Te Tiriti in 1840 so “full and final” settlement would be reached in 2014 or that Te Tiriti becomes “null and void” when the settlement process is over, or that the promise of partnership raised is ended at the signing of a settlement.

And that’s why Ngapuhi’s role is so critical to the future of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

While some would like the Treaty to be null and void there is wide support for the Treaty remaining as important once the settlements are complete.

I pray that the leadership of Ngapuhi is bold enough to step away from the mandate, to defer negotiations until the hearings are over, to create space for Tuhoronuku and Kotahitanga to settle the terms of a structure that can act in the best interests of all descendants of Ngapuhi, and to lead the national debate about the proper future of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

For all its chequered past, Te Tiriti o Waitangi is rightfully regarded as the founding document of this nation.

And will remain so after the settlements. But it seems that Harawira wants to use the Ngapuhi settlement negotiations to be used to leverage wider constitutional goals.

The timing is right for Ngapuhi to step up to the challenge of ensuring Te Tiriti becomes a central plank in the constitutional transformation of Aotearoa, and the opportunity that it presents to redefine the future for its own descendants.

It will be difficult enough getting agreement within Ngapuhi. And other tribes of New Zealand will presumably want to have their own input into our country’s future. As will the rest of New Zealanders.

What sort of constitutional transformation of Aotearoa does Harawira have in mind? His politics and his party give us an idea of that. It’s not just a party, it is promoted as the Mana Movement – “MANA, a Movement truly of the People”. Which people?

The Mana Kaupapa/Vision is generally vague but gives us some idea.

“MANA is born from a need/ or desire to be a truly independent Maori voice in parliament.”

MANA also speaks to the pride and dignity of workers who built this country into the special place that we all call home.

Mana does not represent “the people”. Harawira represents the Te Tai Tokerau electorate which is in the Ngapuhi north.

In the 2011 election in Te Tai Tokerau Mana got 4,844 votes (24.49%) compared to Labour with 6,855 (34.65%) and the Maori Party with 2,208 (11.16%), NZ First 1,950 (9.86%), National 1,814 (9.17%) and Greens 1,704 (8.81%) in a typically low Maori electorate turnout of 19,782. Most general electorates get a 30,000+ turnout.

Ngapuhi stretches down to Tāmaki Makaurau in Auckland (where Pita Sharples is the sitting MP). In 2011 Mana got 2,552 votes (13.68%) compared to Labour 7,739 (41.50%), Maori Party 2,694 (14.45%), NZ First 1,948 (10.45%), Green 1,810 (9.71%) and National 1,569 (8.41%).

In the Te Tai Tonga Maori electorate (covering the South Island and a large part of Wellington) Mana got 1,042 votes (5.92%).

  • In the overall 2011 party vote Mana got 24,168 (1.08%) compared to Maori Party with 31,982 (1.43%).
  • In the latest Roy Morgan poll Mana was on 1% (Maori 1.5%). Since the election Mana have twice peaked at 1.5% but are mostly on 0.5-1.0% (Maori 1.0-3.5%)
  • In last week’s 3 News/Reid Research poll Mana was on 0.3% (Maori 1.0%).
  • IPredict currently has Mana at 0.5% (Maori 1.3%).
  • Facebook Likes – 4,715

So even in Ngapuhi country Mana has been supported by less than a quarter of voters and it’s likely not all of them would totally support Harawira’s ambitions.

Mana constitutional aims

Part of Mana’s Treaty Settlements Policy is:

  • Begin a process to settle the way in which political and legal power is structured in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Settlement must include meaningful constitutional transformation.

Treaty of Waitangi

  • Give hapū and iwi decision making powers equal to government and local government in developing environmental policies relating to biodiversity, prospecting, the management of coastal areas and RMA plans so they can exercise kaitiakitanga over lands, coastal areas, and waterways.
  • Action Section 33 of the RMA which allows local authorities to hand over functions, powers and duties to iwi.
  • Resource hapū and iwi to carry out the above.

Livelihoods Policy priorities include:

  • Pursue measures to provide full employment (with full employment the unemployment benefit would not be needed).
  • Support changes to employment relations laws that give workers greater bargaining power to negotiate wages and conditions with their employers, and oppose changes that reduce the bargaining power of workers and unions.
  • Introduce a requirement for all State-Owned Enterprises and Māori corporate entities to prioritise the employment of New Zealand residents or face significant financial penalties.

Economic Justice:

  • Abolish GST
  • Significantly increase the tax take by introducing a tax on financial speculation, called the “Hone Heke tax” (chopping down GST and income tax), which will be designed using examples of similar taxes introduced overseas.  Initially it will be used to replace the annual $15 billion collected by GST.
  • Increase benefit incomes to a living income, including extending the in-work tax credit to the children of beneficiary parents.
  • Abandon the market-based provision of essential services such as electricity and water in favour of non-profit and sustainable provision of those services.
  • Reduce the tax paid by low income earners by not taxing the first $27,000 earned and introduce a more progressive tax scale where the wealthy accept the responsibility to pay the largest share of the tax income.
  • Introduce a capital gains tax on all but the family home and Maori land.

Education Policy:

  • Support the principle of free state and community owned schools.  Cancel public private partnership contracts for schools.
  • Build schools into Taiao Hauora centres with free dental, healthcare, and social support.  This includes free breakfasts and lunches for all children.
  • Reduce and then end all tertiary education fees over time.  In the meantime, there should be no further interest on student loans.
  • Provide students with community-based jobs to help them complete their courses and reduce their debt.
  • Māori providers of tertiary education to be funded as a Treaty partnership responsibility of the Crown.

Seabed Mining

  • Ban fracking.
  • Cancel deep sea oil exploration and drilling.

Food sovereignty

  • Develop alternative food production, ownership and distribution methods to free New Zealanders from the clutches of international food companies and local supermarket chains.

Housing policy

  • Acknowledge the reality of homelessness in Aotearoa by making it a duty of Government to ensure every individual and family is housed, in secure, safe and affordable accommodation.
  • Build 20,000 more state houses within the next two years.
  • Maintain income related rents at no more than 25% of income for state, local government and community and iwi social housing.
  • Enabling genuine community ownership through democratically elected, accountable shareholder directors.
  • Establish the right of people to remain in or return to their home rohe without penalty from the state, and increase government support for rural districts.

Social Wellbeing

  • Work towards implementing a Universal Tax Credit/Universal Basic Income where everyone in Aotearoa aged 18 and over would receive a minimum, liveable, tax free income after which progressive tax would kick in.
  • Extend the In Work tax credit to the children of beneficiary parents.  This would immediately lift incomes for beneficiary families.

Many of the Mana aims and policies are laudable but some lean significantly towards to socialist side of the political spectrum.

There is also some strong socialist connections with the Mana Movement.

What is Socialist Aotearoa?

Socialist Aotearoa is an activist organisation of anti-capitalist workers and students. We are involved in the union movement as activists, delegates, and organisers. We support the Aotearoa is Not for Sale coalition against privatisation. We work with Global Peace and Justice Auckland against imperialism and war.

We are part of the MANA Movement.

Our members are involved in the student movement, environmental action, anti-austerity and human rights campaigns. We support people fighting imperialism from Palestine to West Papua. We support Tino Rangatiratanga and oppose all forms of oppression such as racism, sexism and homophobia.

We believe that struggles for justice and liberation should be guided by an anti-capitalist vision of the future. We fight for socialism from below.

Mana policies giving priority to Maori interests and Tino Rangatiratanga – the term’s closest English translation is ‘absolute sovereignty’, although many also refer to it as self-determination, autonomy, or Māori independence – seem at odds with socialist principles.

It’s worth looking back at Harawira’s closing remarks in his column.

The timing is right for Ngapuhi to step up to the challenge of ensuring Te Tiriti becomes a central plank in the constitutional transformation of Aotearoa, and the opportunity that it presents to redefine the future for its own descendants.

It would be interesting to get more detail from Harawira on what his central plank in the constitutional transformation of Aotearoa actually means.

He seems to be proposing a sort of socialism that gives overall power plus preferential treatment and funding to Maori descendants (funded by much higher taxing of the predominately non-Maori ‘rich’)  with Ngapuhi playing a leading role.

Is this the sort of country that the majority of Ngapuhi, Maori or all New Zealanders would want?

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1 Comment

  1. Yes, thanks for this big article. Most of us don’t care about Harawira, but he is getting in our face, and maybe soon we do something about him

    Reply

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