Trans-Pacific Partnership text to be released today

Scoop: Govt to release CPTPP national interest analysis on Wed

The government will release the national interest analysis for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership on Wednesday, and the full text too if the other nations agree, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The Labour-led administration signed up to the regional trade and investment pact after the renegotiated deal let it restrict foreign buyers of existing residential property and watered down some of the more onerous Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions imposed before the US withdrew under President Donald Trump.

Ardern today said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s analysis unpicking the pros and cons of the deal for the country will be released on Wednesday, and she’s hopeful of publishing the full text the same day if certain translation issues are overcome.

“We have been urging all parties to reach agreement because of our strong desire to be absolutely transparent around the text as soon as possible,” Ardern said at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference. “It is our hope it will be available at the same time as the national impact assessment, but either way, we’re looking to release the national impact assessment this week.”

The deal is expected to be signed in Chile on March 8, but Ardern said it won’t come into force until it’s ratified by 50 percent of the partners. Parliament will debate the agreement and that it will also go through select committee scrutiny for a full public examination, she said.

From New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade: Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a free trade agreement involving 11 countries in the Pacific region, including New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Viet Nam.

Partnering with these countries represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand. The Agreement has the potential to open up new export destinations for our businesses, create jobs, and help generate a better standard of living for all New Zealanders.  At the same time, the Government‘s right to regulate in the public interest and the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi have been protected.

The government is releasing the Cabinet negotiating mandate for CPTPP and the minute of the Cabinet decision. In releasing this information, the government is seeking to balance introducing greater transparency around trade negotiations with a need to take into account the sensitive nature of the negotiations. Some of the information within the Cabinet paper is being withheld in line with the principles of the Official Information Act. The government will release further information on CPTPP as it becomes available, including a full National Interest Analysis.

Read the Cabinet negotiating mandate here [PDF, 6 MB].

Ardern speaks to students in Dunedin

ODT: First-year students urged to tackle NZ’s biggest problems

New Zealand needs you.

That was the simple message Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave the country’s future leaders gathered at the University of Otago’s convocation ceremony last night.

During her speech Ms Ardern encouraged the 4000 first-year students in Forsyth Barr Stadium to make the most of their abilities and not let self doubts impede their potential.

“You may assume I had embarked on a degree in politics with some assurance of where I would go, that I was confident, I was on a path to be an MP or at least work in politics.

“You would be wrong.”

Ms Ardern told the new students the country needed them to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing New Zealand, such as climate change, inequality and child poverty.

“That is why we need you, it is why we need your education and why we need your confidence.”

In return, Ms Ardern promised her Government would take the same approach.

One of the biggest cheers of the night came after Ms Ardern mentioned her Government’s policy of first-year, fee-free tertiary study.

“You’re welcome,” she said with a smile.

That’s not a surprise, given that the students are the first recipients of a major government handout.

Refreshing taking fight to Ardern’s celebrification

Jacinda Ardern has taken ‘celebrity politics’ to a whole new level since. This began before she became Labour leader and Prime Minister. Her media management had already included celebrity style magazine coverage. That has continued, with the latest example being Ardern featuring in a US magazine, Vogue.

In general the New Zealand media has both lapped it up and egged it on, and this looks to be increasing with the pregnancy of Ardern being given far more importance than governance of the country.

It’s bit of a big deal in New Zealand politics that Ardern became pregnant while taking on the most important role in the country. Pregnancy and giving birth is a big deal for any mother – but in the whole scheme of things having babies is very routine, it has been happening for a lot longer than the New Zealand has had Ardern and the world has had princesses.

For New Zealand how Ardern functions as a Prime Minister running the country should be of far greater importance than what she names her kid and other mundane trivia outside immediate family.

Fran O’Sullivan writes against the current: Time Jacinda Ardern eases back on celebrification?

Jacinda Ardern can thank Judith Collins’ incisive political attack for reminding her of her biggest job: get on her game as Prime Minister.

The media-endorsed “mother of the nation” celebrification — which has been wall-to-wall since Ardern announced her pregnancy — could (if she is not mindful) undermine her impact as NZ’s political leader.

Opposition politicians have since tip-toed around Ardern. They have not wanted to be seen to land blows on a young pregnant woman who happens to be enormously relatable and popular.

Most have played into the “generational change” meme without pointing out that the only reason we have a 37-year-old female Prime Minister is because a septuagenarian put her there.

But when Collins — some 20 years Ardern’s senior — launched her campaign for National’s leadership, she took a different approach by taking the fight directly to the Prime Minister.

It was refreshing.

After weeks of media coverage suggesting Ardern’s pregnancy meant she was now a shoo-in to lead the Labour-NZ First coalition to win another term at the 2020 election, an Opposition politician had finally broken cover from their self-imposed PC straitjacket.

Others might have a problem taking on Ardern out of concern that they would look heavy-handed or be seen to pick on the young, pregnant woman.

But Collins said: “I have been pregnant running a law firm and studying as well. As a young mum I understand exactly how tough it is to do that. But she understands that too.

“That is not the role she’s asked New Zealanders to support her for.”

“She has asked them to make her and keep her as Prime Minister of New Zealand.

I think that’s a fair call.

“And that is the role I would hold her to account for.”

Collins’ forthright attack has clearly resonated within the ninth floor of the Beehive.

It was notable that when Ardern addressed senior members of the Auckland business community at breakfast yesterday, she was completely on song in delivering a speech that set out the Government’s focus for the next three years.

She gave a polished and confident delivery.

Notably, there was no mention of her pregnancy. Nor were there any jokes about Clarke Gayford — the upcoming stay-at-home dad. Her Vogue cover was not mentioned (apart from a closing comment by Westpac chief executive David McLean that some of his staff were lining up for selfies with the PM who had been in Vogue).

This shift in key enabled the business community to focus on what the Prime Minister had to say.

It was an important speech that conveyed important messages. It did not warrant being buried by distraction — nor was it.

Ardern has been a quick learner and an astute reader of public sentiment. She has played the celebrity card with aplomb, with the help of a more than willing media.

Here she seems to have switched to serious Prime Minister. Are the media able to switch off the celebrity button as easily? I doubt it.

Ardern — still establishing her prime ministerial platform — must get runs on the board while maintaining her relentlessly positive approach.

It is a balance.

Vogue called Ardern the anti-Trump. She plays the media differently, but she still plays the media bigly like Trump.

What New Zealand needs is an anti-celebrity.

Ardern’s positioning as Prime Minister is at times also undermined by a media fascination which borders on being fatuous.

This was embarrassingly obvious last weekend, when Julie Bishop was questioned about the shoes that Ardern wore when she popped in on a dinner that Winston Peters hosted at his home for the visiting Australian Foreign Minister.

“Seriously?” asked Bishop.

Seriously, New Zealand’s media is at severe risk of collapsing into cringe.

We would benefit from an anti-gaga media.

Labour moves to legalise abortion

New Zeasland’s laws that cover abortion are a sham – they are effectively largely ignored, although they make women go through a demeaning process.

But they may soon be addressed by Parliament, something that’s long overdue. Past governments have chosen to sweep the sham under a big rug.

Newsroom: Labour moves to legalise abortion

Andrew Little surprised observers today when he revealed that a draft referral on reforming New Zealand’s abortion law had been circulated to New Zealand First and the Greens. Little said today that he received a letter from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the coalition was formed directing him to begin the process of reforming the law. Once the two parties give feedback, the referral will be sent to the Law Commission to make a recommendation.

Abortion in New Zealand is a crime under the Crimes Act, although the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act of 1977 allows a woman to have an abortion if she meets certain criteria and proves her need to two physicians.

Critics argue that the current legislation is out of date, inequitable, and the cause of unnecessary distress.

Currently, abortion can be granted on the grounds that the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother; that there is a substantial risk the child will be seriously handicapped; that the pregnancy is a result of incest; or that the woman is deemed to be “severely subnormal”.

In 1980, a medication called RU-486 was developed allowing non-invasive medical abortions to take place for the first time. In 1987, France became the first country to legalise medical abortions.

Thirty years later New Zealand still has unfit for purpose law.

New Zealand’s law, written three years before RU-486 was developed, stipulates that abortion must take place in a clinic. This provision, intended to prevent dangerous back alley abortions, means that patients must travel to the clinic twice, simply to take a pill. For patients in rural areas, this can be a long and expensive exercise.

Dr Christine Roke, National Medical Advisor to Family Planning, said the added steps were a barrier to best practice.

“It adds time and it adds cost,” said Roke.

New Zealand is an outlier among OECD countries for the time it takes to get an abortion and the way abortions are provided to patients.

In New Zealand, a patient must be referred to two specialists to sign-off on the abortion. If one refuses, the woman may need to find a third specialist. The average time from referral to procedure is 25 days.

In New Zealand, only 15 percent of abortions are medical abortions. By contrast, 62 percent of abortions in the UK are medical abortions and 45 percent of abortions performed before nine weeks (two-thirds of the total number) in the United States are medical abortions.

We are a long way behind the times on this.

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed her personal view that should abortion be taken out of the Crimes Act so it is likely that this will form some part of the reform.

On Tuesday, Andrew Little refused to give much detail on what reform might look like, but suggested it might be broader than taking abortion out of the Crimes Act.

“There are more issues than just what’s in the Crimes Act … it’s also the hurdles that have been put in the way of women who are faced with making that decision,” he said.

The vote would be a conscience vote, meaning MPs would be given the ability to vote freely without following a party line. Reform is likely to be supported by the Prime Minister, liberal members of her party and the Green Party.

It would also require support from some NZ First and/or National MPs if it is to progress New Zealand abortion laws and practices into the 21st century.

 

English versus Ardern on Partnership Schools

Soon departing Leader of the Opposition Bill English questioned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about Partnership Schools yesterday.

1. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all of her Government’s policies?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister):Yes.

Rt Hon Bill English: In light of her statement that, “we want to say hand on heart we want to be a society judged on how we look after our vulnerable”, is she aware that many of the children in partnership schools are vulnerable, so why is she moving to close those schools?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I said yesterday, we are working as closely as we can with those schools to transition them, to make sure that those children have the best quality education, and that includes making sure they have registered teachers and they’re being taught the curriculum.

Rt Hon Bill English: When the Prime Minister uses the word “transition”, is she aware that the legislation her Government introduces certainly closes the partnership schools—it makes their closure absolutely certain because legislation will be passed to achieve it—but there is no guarantee those schools will be able to reopen?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: It ends the model. It stops future contracts. But it still allows this Government to negotiate with those schools to try and keep them open if they are willing to have registered teachers and to teach the curriculum.

Rt Hon Bill English: What guarantee can she give to the students and parents of the partnership schools, which she is legislating to close, that they will be allowed to reopen with some other status?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As we’ve said, we’re stopping any opening in the future. With those who are currently operating, we’ve said we want to work constructively with them. There is the ability for them to operate as special character schools or even, perhaps, as alternative education operators and providers, and that’s the work that the Ministry of Education is undertaking with them, as we speak. What I would like to give them is the assurance that we are working diligently on this. I know that some of the rhetoric coming from the Opposition isn’t helping with their security, but that’s what we’re doing.

Rt Hon Bill English: Can I ask the question again. What guarantee can the Prime Minister give that a partnership school will be able to reopen, a guarantee that is necessary for the peace of mind of the students, and the parents, who attend those schools and may not be familiar with the legal niceties she’s referring to?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As we’ve said, I can assure those parents, if the school in which their child is attending is willing to have registered teachers to teach to the curriculum and to operate with the same kind of funding parameters, generally speaking, as State schools, then that is exactly what we are seeking from those schools. Ultimately, those parents will want to probably have those same assurances from those current providers because a lot of this decision sits in their hands too.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is it now the case that if the schools close, it’s the schools’ fault not the Government’s and that she won’t actually offer a guarantee that schools will be able to reopen and, therefore, parents and students should be told the truth now rather than be misled through months of complex legal negotiations?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If these schools have at their heart the best education for their kids, then I imagine they should be able to transition.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Is the Prime Minister aware that existing partnership schools are being urged to close rather than negotiate with the Ministry of Education in good faith, and that that urging is coming from Opposition members of Parliament?

Mr SPEAKER: No, no. I’m going to disallow that supplementary. I think the Leader of the House has a special standard, and he’s going to stick with it.

Rt Hon Bill English: Will the Prime Minister take the opportunity to visit Pacific Advance Senior School, as I did on Monday, talk to the staff and the students, hear the stories of the way that school has changed the lives of those 13-, 14-year-old girls, and 16-, 17-year-old boys, of whom, as the Government says, there’s only 1,000, so it won’t matter much—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon Bill English: Will she visit a school, look them in the eye, hear the stories, and reassure them that the Government guarantees the continuation of that school?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I am going to let the Prime Minister answer it, but I am also going to remind the father of the House that in the last couple of weeks I’d like him to set a very good example, which involves succinct questions, and just to warn people, especially sitting very close to him, if they ask one that long, it will be ruled out.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That assumes that I haven’t met and spoken to students from charter schools and those who teach there before—I have. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone who works in a charter school where they said they were absolutely confident that because they have registered teachers and teach the curriculum, they could transition and will.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister aware that as part of this shambles, education officials told a select committee this morning that the closures could cost up to $15 million?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the constant framing from the Opposition around closures when this Government is working—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: It’s your law. It’s your bill.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Let me explain to Mr Smith, if he listens closely: we will not enter into any future contracts. We will negotiate with existing schools to try and transition them. It is that side of the House that is scaremongering and trying to cost the taxpayer money.

Rt Hon Bill English: So is the Prime Minister unaware, first, that her legislation guarantees the closure—legislates the closure—of the schools and, secondly, that the Government will have contractual obligations of up to a million dollars per school if the schools are closed as partnership schools, regardless of the nature of a transition?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I know that the member understands this. We’re ending the model. That doesn’t stop the ability of a school to start operating as a school of special character.

Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: A point—was Nikki Kaye’s a point of order or a question?

Hon Nikki Kaye: A point of order. The Prime Minister did not answer the question by the Leader of the Opposition. There were twofold points there, and she should answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: I think she addressed the question, which is the requirement.

David Seymour: I seek your guidance: at what point—

Mr SPEAKER: No. The member will sit down. It’s not the Speaker’s role to do tutorials here; I’m willing to give the member one in my office later.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m not seeking your guidance. I want to know: at what point is the Prime Minister misleading the House when she introduces legislation—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat, and he’s lost his supplementaries for this week. He knows well that to accuse a member of misleading the House in the House in that manner is disorderly. If he’s got any supplementaries left for this week, he doesn’t anymore.


Of note is Chris Hipkins adding a question that was disallowed. He had an opportunity to push his case for his actions as Minister of Education  on Partnership Schools in the General Debate that followed, but he chose to waste Parliament’s time with pettiness instead – see Petty Parliament

Ardern mania a self fulfilling media prophecy?

A gushy Barry Soper writes about whether journalists will keep writing gushy stories about Jacinda Ardern.

Also from NZ Herald in the weekend:

When Woman’s Weekly won over the Parliamentary Gallery, or the Herald at least.

Charter school clash between Labour’s education and Maori interests

As Labour’s education spokesperson last term Chris Hipkins always seemed to represent the education unions. They and he have always opposed the Partnership Schools (charter schools) championed by ACT and introduced by the National led government.  But this has clashed with Labour’s Maori constituency who like the educational alternative charter schools have given them.

Hipkins always signalled that a Labour government would scrap the charter schools, but that didn’t go down well with Labour’s Maori MPs. From 2015:

And last July:

Davis threatens to resign if charter schools closed

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has said he would resign if two Northland partnership schools (the media persist in calling them charter schools) were closed down, but he would be happy if they remained but were renamed.

But this week (Stuff): Government moves to scrap national standards and charter schools

The Government has introduced a bill to scrap national standards and charter schools in New Zealand.

However, charter school operators wanting to be involved in education could apply to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The new legislation was introduced by Hipkins on Thursday, who said it was backed by the vast majority of the education sector.

“Both National Standards and charter schools were driven by ideology rather than evidence. Both were rejected by the vast majority of the education sector. The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system.”

And the opposition to charter schools of Hipkins and the education unions also seems driven by ideology.

ODT editorial: Ideology-driven education changes continue

Education Minister Chris Hipkins made his intentions about the future of New Zealand’s education system very clear before the election. And he is now starting to deliver on his promises.

The changes, although well signalled, are said to have caught some of his opponents unaware.

At the top of the list is Mr Hipkins’ requirement for private charter schools to change direction, quickly.

Mr Hipkins is quick to condemn the National and Act charter schools, despite evidence non-achieving pupils were reaching levels of achievement previously unheard of. It seems wrong for Mr Hipkins to complain about ideology-driven decisions when, clearly, his dislike of the charter schools is a major reason he is demanding changes.

The preferred option for Mr Hipkins is to explore early termination of contracts by mutual agreement. Operators wanting to be involved in education can apply to the minister to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school.

Strong concerns and resistance has already been expressed by some partnership school operators – who tend to be private trusts rather than money grubbing businesses that opponents of charter schools claim.

As part of the process, applications will need to meet the relevant and so-far unspecified requirements.

It sounds like Hipkins is rushing into this.

The establishment of charter schools gave parents the right to decide how their child was to be educated. Unions criticised the amount of money used for establishing the schools, ignoring the fact it was much less than to establish a state school.

A lot of criticism has been wrong, if not deliberately misleading.

And the Opposition has waded into it: Bill English attacks Labour ministers as ‘the worst kind’

Opposition leader Bill English has lashed out at Government ministers Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson and their stances on charter schools, accusing them of being “the worst type of politician” by turning their backs on the pupils they used to serve.

Davis, who is Labour’s deputy leader, said last year that he would resign if the charter schools Te Kura Hourua O Whangārei and Te Kāpehu Whetū in Northland closed down.

Labour MP and Employment Minister Willie Jackson has also shown support for charter schools. He used to run the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (Muma), which sponsors Te Kura Māori o Waatea in South Auckland and last year successfully applied to open a second charter school.

English lashed out at the ministers today, saying the decision to close the door on charter schools was “nasty and vindictive, and the victims will be the kids”.

“The people in those schools will be very disappointed to find that Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis didn’t mean a word of it. Despite the fact they went to set up the schools, now they’ve become politicians of the worst sort – turning their backs on the people they used to serve, and worst than that, shutting down the schools they founded.

“For a Government that says that children are at the heart of everything they’re doing, the Prime Minister has not been able to give one reason why it’s good for those kids to have their school closed. It’s a disgrace.”

He took a swipe at the Prime Minister’s Waitangi Day barbecue.

“This is complete contradiction to everything the Prime Minister has said. That’s why she won’t go to these schools. It’s all very fine to make a show of cooking sausages for people on Waitangi Day.

Ardern spoke fine words about a new era in government relationships with Maori at Waitangi, so the timing of Hipkins rush to close charter schools is awkward.

“I challenge her to go to the schools and cook some sausages for the kids, and tell them, ‘It’s the last one, because I’m going to close the school’.”

Hipkins has refused to visit a charter school.

One charter school operator said that a scheduled meeting with the Ministry of Education next week may be pointless now that Hipkins has acted before consultation.

Davis declined interviews today and would not be drawn on his previous promise to resign if the schools closed.

In a statement, he urged the two Northland charter schools to transition into the state school system.

​”If they want to continue delivering kaupapa Māori education, they can – as a special character school.”

Davis, Jackson and Heeni will be under pressure to represent the interests of their Maori constituents – which could clash with Hipkins representing the interests of the teacher unions (I think he’s an electorate MP but his focus seems to be as a union lackey).

Shift from targeting Maori to targeting the poverty

Bryce Edwards looks at a shift in Government shifting from race-based (Maori) targeting to a more universal approach to dealing with poverty, but they say that as Maori feature in the deprivation statistics they should benefit the most.

Is this related to Winston Peters’ past attacks on Whanau Ora, with Labour now quietly accommodating his preference away from targeting Maori? Where do the Greens stand? Quietly on the sideline?

NZ Herald: The real political controversy of Waitangi 2018

Lost amongst the focus on BBQs, relentless positivity, and eloquent speeches at Waitangi, a fascinating and important shift in Government-Maori relations appeared to be underway. Labour and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have been signalling that this Government is departing from the traditional culturalist and “race-based” approach to dealing with Maori deprivation and economic inequality.

Instead, a more universal, economic-focused method will be used. The conventional approach of advancing Maori aspirations was epitomised by the Maori Party’s focus on culture, race, and sovereignty issues, and it appears to be on the way out.

Heralding what may be a highly controversial approach to “closing the gaps” in terms of Maori inequality, Jacinda Ardern made her most important speech at Waitangi by stating that the new Government would take a universalistic approach to inequality – by targeting everyone at the bottom, rather than specifically targeting Maori.

Jacinda Ardern strongly emphasised the need to deal with the long list of social ills that have a disproportionate impact on Maori, but signalled that race-based methods were not the best way of moving forward.

Since then, the Finance Minister has confirmed this shift in approach to dealing with inequality. In an interview with Morning Report’s Guyon Espiner on Wednesday, Grant Robertson responded to questions about whether the Government would specifically target Maori in its programmes, saying: “Our focus is on reducing inequality overall” – you can listen to the six-minute interview here: Global market dive: Grant Robertson optimistic.

Espiner sought clarification: “So there won’t be a specific Closing the Gaps type programme that we saw under Helen Clark? We’re not looking at heading off down that path?” Robertson replied: “That’s not the approach that we are taking. But we believe that we will be able to lift a significant number of Maori out of poverty, and increase employment outcomes, because of the approach we are taking.”

Robertson went on to explain that the Government would keep some targeted funding for Maori, but stressed that a more universal approach would dominate:

“Maori will benefit disproportionally from the families package – from those payments, because at the moment, unfortunately, Maori appear in those negative statistics. We’ve got a range of programmes coming down the line that will support Maori and the wider population as well. Where it’s appropriate, where there are programmes – particularly in an area like Corrections – where we know that we can have a real impact on that Maori prison population, then we’ll have a look at them.

“Similarly, with employment programmes. But in the end, Guyon, this is about reducing inequality overall. It’s about providing opportunities for all young people – and we know that Maori will benefit more from that, because unfortunately they are in those negative statistics.”

Essentially, this new approach means directing resources and solutions to poor Maori “because they are poor” rather than “because they are Maori”.

This isn’t popular with some Labour Maori:

In RNZ interviews following on from Robertson’s, both Willie Jackson and John Tamihere reacted negatively against the notion that the Government was shifting in this direction – you can listen to the interviews with Jackson and Tamihere.

Jackson is a Labour MP.

Nor with the Maori ‘elite’:

The Government’s shift away from focusing on iwi property rights has also been signaled by Regional Development Minister Shane Jones. Sam Sachdeva reports: “Whereas English and his predecessor John Key seemed to focus on Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi and property rights, Jones says the new government will have a greater emphasis on Article Three and the entitlements, rights and obligations of citizenship” – see: A fresh start at Waitangi?.

This might all end up in legal fights. 1News has obtained the letter from iwi leaders to the prime minister complaining about their change in direction, and threatening Supreme Court action if iwi rights to freshwater were not addressed – see TVNZ: Iwi leaders unhappy issues like water ownership aren’t on new Government’s radar.

An interesting observation:

There was nothing about this in the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement.

I wonder what the Greens think. And I wonder how much they have been consulted.

From Green policy: “We would continue to support and strengthen Whānau Ora”

From Waitangi’s Waitangi Day to New Zealand’s Waitangi Day

National MP Nuk Koraka explains Why Bill English and I went south for Waitangi Day

By using our national day to engage with iwi from all over the country, we send a message that we’re serious about the spirit of the Treaty instead of being where there will be the most cameras, writes Nuk Korako, National’s spokesperson for Māori Development

Waitangi Day is a day for discussion; a day for remembering; and a day for moving forward not, as some believe, a day for highlighting divisions. Waitangi Day should be – and for most of us is – a day to look back at what has been and come together to look at what can be.

This year, I joined Bill English for Ngāi Tahu’s Waitangi Day celebrations at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Awarua. The decision to go south this year was based on our belief that Waitangi Day is a day important to all Māori across New Zealand, and was in no way a slight on Ngāpuhi, as some have suggested.

The rich history and tikanga felt within the Treaty Grounds made it an undeniably special place to spend Waitangi Day.

We must always remember, the Treaty has signatories across the country, so it is only right to travel to those places like Awarua, in acknowledgement of that. As did our National Party members who attended Waitangi this year. Bill, I and a number of our colleagues spent the day engaging and discussing the progress and the work still to do between the Crown and iwi across New Zealand.

Iwi everywhere have their own stories of the Treaty and what Waitangi Day means to them and that includes Ngāi Tahu. One hundred and seventy eight years ago, on 10 June 1840, Ngāi Tahu Rakatira John Tuhawaiki, Kaikoura Whakatau, and Te Matenga Taiaroa signed the Treaty of Waitangi on Ruapuke Island just across from Awarua. Iwikau and Hone Tikao had previously signed at Akaroa on 30 May. Hone Karetai and my tipuna Korako were to sign in Otago on 13 June 1848.

The Tiriti o Waitangi was a nationwide agreement. Waitangi Day is overwhelmingly focussed on the place it was first signed, Waitangi, while most of the rest of the country largely ignores it, apart from some enjoying a public holiday for some.

By using our national day to engage with iwi from all over the country, we send a message that we’re serious about the spirit of the Treaty instead of being where there’ll be the most cameras.

The Treaty, to other iwi in New Zealand, does not begin and end at Waitangi. The Treaty is not about a place – it’s about people.  It’s not a location – it’s an agreement. And it was an agreement made with a large number of Rakatira across a number of different locations. And the debates that were held in those various locations were as deep, hot, and contentious as the ones that occurred at Waitangi all those decades ago.

Bill’s decision to spend Waitangi in Awarua is not a rejection of Ngapuhi or of others who attend Waitangi. It’s about the rest of the iwi of Aotearoa whose men and women signed the treaty 178 years ago.

The history of protest at Waitangi, and the actions of protesters in drawing attention to themselves is a feature of that part of the country. It does not and never has represented the celebrations that occur in other parts of Aotearoa.

From Ōrākei in Auckland to Awarua in Bluff and even across to the Chatham Islands, February the 6th is a day of whānau, community, and a coming together of Māori and Pākehā to celebrate an event that defines us as a nation.

If Waitangi Day is ever to be recognised as a significant national day then it needs to be embraced and celebrated around the country.

Jacinda Ardern got a lot of positive press for her five day effort in Waitangi, and may have been the catalyst for a new era of recognising Waitangi Day.

But Koroko and English have made an important point.

To really come of age the treaty needs to grow from being Waitangi’s Waitangi Day to being New Zealand’s Waitangi Day.

Will that ever happen?

 

English claims some credit for Waitangi calm

Waitangi day, or more accurately the day before Waitangi Day, has been mired in protest for a number of years. However this year things are running far more amicably. A lot of credit for that has to go to Jacinda Ardern’s efforts to engage over several days.

Bill English is also claiming some of the credit – by staying away. English has gone about as far from Waitangi as he can get, Bluff (ok, Slope Point and Stewart island are further south).

Newstalk ZB: English says his avoidance of ‘shenanigans’ has helped make Waitangi better

The leader of the opposition has his own agenda for Waitangi day.

Bill English is attending the Ngai Tahu Treaty Festival.

A number of his National Party MPs will join him in Bluff – in a bid to commemorate Waitangi in different parts the country.

English told Chris Lynch he is pleased to see changes have been made at Waitangi – but he’s chosen not to attend celebrations there again this year, because of controversy that’s occurred in the past.

He may be right, but even if he had attended Ardern’s presence is likely to have dominated, and I doubt that anyone except Cameron Slater would be interested in protesting against English.

Now the protest bubble may have been burst it would be good to see whoever is Leader of the Opposition next year joining whoever is the Prime Minister in a show of Parliamentary unity at Waitangi.