Don Brash championing Apirana Ngata, but…

Sir Āpirana Turupa Ngata (3 July 1874 – 14 July 1950) was a prominent New Zealand politician and lawyer. He has often been described as the foremost Māori politician to have ever served in Parliament, and is also known for his work in promoting and protecting Māori culture and language. – Wikipedia

From Don Brash’s Waitangi speech:

Let me make one other point about the dangers of dependence. Many years ago, at the advent of the modern welfare state, Sir Apirana Ngata, in my opinion one of New Zealand’s greatest Maori leaders – and a man I was privileged to put on New Zealand’s $50 bank note – warned of the serious damage which the welfare state would do to Maori society.

He believed that readily available welfare would erode the proud tradition of independence which most Maori had. And I believe his warning has been amply borne out, with a disproportionately high proportion of those on the unemployment benefit, and on the single parent benefit, being Maori.

Decades after he gave that warning, when I was Governor of the Reserve Bank, I met with a prominent kuia at her request. She wanted to talk about Maori unemployment. After a very long discussion, I finally asked her what she would want me to do if by some chance I found myself in the position of a benevolent dictator. Without hesitating she replied “Abolish the dole with effect from the first of January”.

I thought at first she was joking, and asked her to explain herself.

She said that “Unfortunately too many of my people don’t have many skills. They can’t live well on the dole but with three or four of them in the same house all getting the dole, and a few under the table cash jobs, they can live adequately on the dole, and that’s a disaster.”

She was deadly serious, and in a sense was simply echoing what Sir Apirana Ngata said 80 years ago.

Scott Hamilton (via @SikotiHamiltonR):

During his speech at Te Tii, Don Brash invoked Apirana Ngata. For Brash & other conservative Pakeha, Ngata has long been a talisman. They see the famous leader as an advocate of assimilation & opponent of statism & race-based policies. But how accurate is such a view?

Again & again, Brash has insisted that Ngata opposed state funding for Maori-specific projects. It seems that Brash has never heard of the ambitious Native Lands Development Schemes, which Ngata created & monitored after he became a minister in the Forbes government elected in 1928.


For decades Ngata had been trying to consolidate Maori land holdings. After winning his cabinet post in 1928, he was able to acquire govt funds to pay for the development of consolidated Maori land. One iwi after joined his schemes. Weeds were pulled, fences built, stock bought

From the beginning, many Pakeha politicians were suspicious of Ngata’s land development schemes. They complained of money being aimed at Maori. Ngata pointed out, in response, that for many decades Pakeha farmers had enjoyed subsidies & infrastructure spending denied to Maori.

The land schemes were just one part of Ngata’s quest to revitalise a nation devastated by war & land theft. He also worked hard to restore his people’s culture, founding a school for carvers & teaching dance to young people.

How would he feel about Brash’s denigration of haka?

Brash & other Pakeha conservatives have praised intermarriage, which they see as diluting Maori identity & thereby bringing them into the ‘mainstream’ of NZ, aka Pakeha, society. Ngata didn’t share their enthusiasm. Fascinated by eugenics, he wanted to keep Maori marrying Maori.

Brash & his ilk have a record of denigrating pre-Christian Maori spirituality, & of wanting it kept out of public ceremonies & off public sites. Ngata felt differently. As Ranginui Walker’s biography shows, he believed in the old gods & spirits, & awaited their signals.

Ngata talked of the ‘amalgamation of the races’ in NZ, by which he meant the entry of Maori into the institutions of the colonial state, & a role for them in governing that state. But he did not take this position because of the sort of fondness for colonialism Brash evinces.

Ngata accepted the NZ colonial state & opposed Maori separatism only because he believed the defeats in the wars of the 19th Century irreversible. When he became minister responsible for NZ’s Pacific colonies, he argued loudly against attempts to Westernise Niueans & Samoans.

In his speech at Te Tii, Brash presented colonialism & Westernisation as unqualified goods, & conditions for technological & material progress. But Ngata fought against attempts to export capitalism to Samoa, Niue, the Cooks, & defended those islands’ traditional economies.

If Brash wants to find precedents for his views in, then he should look not to Ngata but to the men who destroyed Ngata’s land development schemes. In 1932 papers condemned the scheme as separatist; in 1934 an all-Pakeha commission agreed. Ngata resigned from cabinet.

Last year, during an interview with Kim Hill, Brash invoked the myth of Moriori as a pre-Maori people. He was swiftly rebuked by Hill. Shouldn’t our journalists behave the same way when Brash egregiously misrepresents the facts about Apirana Ngata’s life & opinions?

It was actually December 2017: A play-by-play of Kim Hill’s medium rare roasting of Don Brash

“You see Māori as just another ethnic group?”

“Of course. Why are they not?”

“Because they’re tangata whenua.”

Don Brash disagrees with this, and brings up the Moriori, because at this point in every argument of this kind, where the racism is about as thinly veiled as a bride at her fifth wedding, someone brings up the Moriori, and every right-minded person listening to this screams at whatever listening device they’ve had to hear it from because that is a bullshit addition to every argument of this kind, and is intended not to continue the argument but to send it off the rails entirely.

This renders Kim Hill briefly speechless, she cuts the interview off with the most curt and savage:

“If only Sir Michael King were here today, thank you for your time, Dr Don Brash.”

Apirana Ngata (1874–1950), of Ngāti Porou, was born at Te Araroa on the East Coast. He graduated from Te Aute College, and later completed an MA and a law degree. He was the first Māori to complete a degree at a New Zealand University. He returned to the East Coast and became involved in improving Māori social and economic conditions. – NZ History

Sir Āpirana Turupa Ngata (3 July 1874 – 14 July 1950) was a prominent New Zealand politician and lawyer. He has often been described as the foremost Māori politician to have ever served in Parliament, and is also known for his work in promoting and protecting Māori culture and language. – Wikipedia


Ngāpuhi split over treaty negotiations

One of the biggest Treaty of Waitangi settlements has been one of the longest to get into negotiations, and the hardest to resolve.

One hapū, Ngāti Hine, want to split off from Ngāpuhi and do a separate deal. This may be the only way of making things happen.

RNZ in December – Ngāpuhi vote: Minister forced back to the drawing board

Treaty Negotiations Minister Andrew Little will be forced to go back to the drawing board after Ngāpuhi overwhelmingly rejected a mandate for its Treaty settlement.

Final voting results released yesterday confirmed the evolved Ngāpuhi treaty settlement mandate failed to win the vote of its people.

In November, the vote on the Evolved Mandate to move its Treaty negotiation forward was sent out to the people of Ngāpuhi.

The question of who should negotiate with the Crown has divided Ngāpuhi – some have sided with the group originally chosen – Tuhoronuku – and others have backed the hapu-based grouping, Te Kotahitanga.

It was a resounding kāhore (no) from the people of Ngāpuhi – with 73 hapū rejecting the mandate and 31 in support.The individual vote was 51 percent in favour and 48 percent against – but a threshold of 75 percent was needed to get the mandate over the line.

Mr Little said he was disappointed but the best thing right now was to “take bit of a breather”, and he was not giving up.

Wayne (presumably Mapp) commented on this recently:

Ngapuhi took a claim to the Waiting tribune on the meaning of the 1835 Declaration of Independence, and its relation to the Treaty of Waitangi. The Tribunal gave it some credence and stated Ngapuhi didn’t surrender sovereignty. But in practical terms what does that mean today? I can’t see the government going beyond the Tuhoe settlement in giving local governance powers.

The government should recognise Ngati Hine as a seperate entity if they want to settle the collective Ngapuhi claim. Some might say Ngati Hine is a hapu, but it is a hapu of 20,000 people, one third of Ngapuhi. Not sure why the government is being so obstinate about this.

RNZ:  Ngāti Hine wants to formally split off from Ngāpuhi Treaty talks

Ngāti Hine hapū have told the Treaty Negotiations Minister they want to formally split off from the Ngāpuhi talks that have been ongoing for more than a decade.

Chairperson for Ngāti Hine, Pita Tipene, met with Mr Little on Sunday, and told him that Ngāti Hine had decided it would be seeking its own mandate.

“We’re clear about what we put to him,” Mr Tipene said.

“I think it’s been a long time coming. Certainly Ngāti Hine has always been true to its own vision statement but we’ve changed our tack now.”

He said that view had come about from a number of hui among the nine hapū in the last months, with one meeting as recently as 12 January.

“That doesn’t mean that we’ve closed off all doors to working with our neighbours on overlapping claims,” Mr Tipene said.

He said Mr Little has been canvassing a number of people about a way forward for Ngāpuhi, given the vote on the Tūhono proposal that “ended up in complete failure” at the end of last year.

But Mr Tipene said “Ngāti Hine is now very, very clear that we will be seeking our own mandate.”

Mr Little confirmed the exchange took place.

“He said that … well it seemed to be without an awareness of what it takes to shut down the current mandate – which is really a name only – and to establish a whole new mandate or a bunch of mandates,” he said.

Mr Little said he made it clear to Mr Tipene that although he has an open mind as to how things happen from here, the Crown’s position is that Ngāpuhi must work “or at least move” together.

“There needs to be coordination and cohesion. It doesn’t make sense for the Crown to be drawn in to a multiplicity of negotiations where nothing can settle or reach agreement,” he said.

But nothing is looking like being agreed on let alone or settled with Ngāpuhi  as a whole.


Don Brash’s Waitangi speech – out of date, out of touch

PartisanZ / February 6, 2019

Extraordinary … I just now watched Don Brash’s whole speech on FaceBook …

He began by presenting his kaupapa, which was perfectly reasonable: How can Ngapuhi and Maori improve their economic position … and economics in general …

Then he immediately diverged from his stated kaupapa. He proceeded first to insult his hosts, by expressing his ‘opinion’ on the general uselessness of their language, te reo – “tee ray oh” – and then went on a series of misguided and equally insulting tangents … most with thinly veiled insulting anecdotes …

The crowd were surprisingly restrained … They were kind to him, relatively speaking ,,,


Frankly, I can see where Parti’s coming from. Don’s speech really is out of date & I think completely misses the bus on the issue of Te Reo,

There are some points he raises which at least I can argue are a valid way of looking at issues of Maori “welfare dependency”, but it certainly has the rather out of date tone of a patronising lecture.

It’s hardly surprising it stoked up some heckling.

It’s not clear to me whether Don delivered this speech in its entirety or not. Parti claimed he did get to finish it, the Herald says he didn’t.

I think that Don Brash should have been given a fair go with his speech at Waitangi yesterday – but it highlighted how out of touch he is.

Brash at Waitangi: Where to now?

Tena koutou ki a koutou a Ngapuhi

E hari ana taku ngakau ki te mihi atu ki a koutou

He iwi kotahi tatou

No reira tena koutou.

Can I begin my comments today by saying how much I appreciate your invitation? I have no doubt that some of you see me as a racist of the worst kind. It is a great tribute to you that you are nevertheless willing to have me here today, at this place of great importance in our history, even though you may disagree with me on a whole raft of fundamental issues.

Perhaps we are continuing a tradition which dates back to 1840, to the Treaty which we remember this week, when people with very different views met and reached an agreement which affects all our lives to this day.

So I thank you for inviting me to speak.

When Rueben Taipari invited me, he suggested I touch briefly on my own background – he had recently read my autobiography, and suggested that there were aspects of my life which most people are not aware of.

And he suggested I should comment on how Ngapuhi, and perhaps Maori New Zealanders generally, can best improve their economic status. I’m willing to do that, though I will do so with great trepidation. I don’t know nearly enough about the circumstances of your iwi and hapu to do that with confidence, so my observations will be tentative.

Before I do either of those things, let me briefly comment on my views on Te Reo. You will have heard, and perhaps been surprised, that I began today with a mihi. Yes, I can, when properly coached by a Ngapuhi chief, say a few words in Te Reo!

And to be perfectly clear, I was enthusiastic to do so in this context.

I have absolutely nothing against the Maori language and for many New Zealanders it is a vital part of who they are.

What I have objected to is two things.

First, the use of the Maori language where almost nobody can understand it seems to me to be totally inappropriate. When I was young – and that’s quite a few years ago now! – if anyone spoke in Maori in an environment where at best a tiny minority understood it they immediately translated. I thank the organisers of events this year for providing simultaneous translation earpieces to those of us who don’t speak Te Reo.

I first made a comment on this issue in relation to the use of Te Reo on Radio New Zealand, or RNZ as they now prefer to be called. I came across the same issue two weeks ago when I was briefly in China. I had reason to call the New Zealand embassy in Beijing, and was astonished to find that the phone was answered with a message in Te Reo, followed by one in English, and followed finally by one in Mandarin. I would guess that not one person in a thousand calling the New Zealand embassy in Beijing understands Te Reo.

Secondly, I have spoken out strongly against making the teaching of Te Reo mandatory, as some politicians and others now advocate. I am entirely comfortable with taxpayers providing funding to teach Te Reo to those who want to learn it, and to fund Maori TV and a number of Maori language radio stations – it is a valuable treasure to many New Zealanders.

But it seems to me that for most New Zealanders it has no practical value. As you might expect from a person with an economics training, I look at the cost of every new proposal – and by cost I don’t just mean the dollar cost, but the opportunity cost. What do we have to drop from the school curriculum in order to make time to teach Te Reo? Do we have less maths, less history, less science, less physical education? Something would have to be dropped to make space to teach Te Reo.

Without question the most important language for all New Zealanders to speak, read and write fluently is English – not just because it is the predominant language of this country but also because it is the only truly international language.

Chinese is the most widely spoken first language in the world, followed in turn by Spanish and then by English.

But the total of those who speak English exceeds that of any other language.

When I was Governor of the Reserve Bank, I used to attend annual meetings of the central bank governors from the entire Asian region – from Mongolia in the north, through East Asia, South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Iran – a huge sweep of mankind. Every meeting was conducted in English, with no translation provided. It was just assumed that everybody who had reached the status of central bank governor could speak English.

English is the language of international commerce and of science. It is the language of aviation. When a Lufthansa plane, with a German pilot, lands in Frankfurt, the pilot speaks to ground control in English. Legislation in India is in English. In Singapore, it is compulsory for everybody to learn English.

Tragically, too many New Zealanders don’t have the strong knowledge of English they need to prosper in the modern economy. I have never forgotten being told by the manager of a small company in Hawke’s Bay that he couldn’t hire most of those who applied for a job as a forklift truck driver because they couldn’t read well enough – couldn’t read labels on the pallets, couldn’t read the safety instructions.

It was for good reason that in decades past some Maori parents insisted that their children learn English: English was the passport to the modern world. It still is, and it probably will be for the next century at least.

As I’ve mentioned, in inviting me to speak today Rueben Taipari said that he had recently read my autobiography. He said it showed a side of Don Brash that most people are not aware of.

So let me briefly, and in the Maori tradition, explain where I’ve come from.

I called my book “Incredible Luck”. And I called it that because I’ve been extremely lucky in many different ways.

First, like everybody else, I’m lucky to be alive. When you think about how many things had to happen for each of us to be born – for our parents to meet, for our grandparents to meet, for our great-grandparents to meet, and so on back through thousands of generations – the odds against being born who we are are absolutely extraordinary.

Second, like all of us here, I was born into the most extraordinary time and place in human history. When your ancestors arrived in this country centuries ago, it was by means of a dangerous sea voyage which lasted weeks if not months. When my ancestors arrived here in the 19th century, they too would have endured months of difficult and unpleasant travel. Today, we take safe and fast air travel for granted; we take for granted being able to communicate without cost with people on the other side of the world – I was coached on the mihi with which I began my speech today by a Ngapuhi chief talking from the other side of the world while he was visiting Beijing. We take for granted that we can watch events on the other side of the globe from the comfort of our homes. It never occurs to us that we might die of a tooth infection. Just a century ago, a tooth infection could be fatal.

And while New Zealand is a long way from being perfect, it is nevertheless a place where all children are provided with almost free education, where healthcare is highly subsidized, where our daughters have the same opportunities as our sons, where nobody is jailed for criticizing the Prime Minister. It’s a country ranked by the Legatum Institute in London as the second most prosperous country on the planet, behind only Norway. (That is not to say our per capita income is the second highest on the planet – the assessment included a range of other factors measuring the quality of life, what the Prime Minister might describe as “wellbeing”.)

Indeed, when Jeremy Clarkson, the star of Top Gear, visited New Zealand a few years ago, he said that visiting our country made him question the wisdom of God. If God really did have perfect knowledge and perfect foresight, why would he have his only son born in a lousy place like Bethlehem, when he could have been born in Palmerston North?

Your ancestors no doubt signed the Treaty for a variety of reasons, but none of those who signed 179 years ago could have imagined the vast improvements in the status of women, the enormous improvements in healthcare and life expectancy, or the benefits which modern science has conferred on all of us. Yes, some of us have benefited to a greater extent than others, but all of us are vastly better off today than our ancestors were in 1840.

But third, I have been lucky because of the parents I had. They were not wealthy. My father was a Presbyterian minister on a very modest salary; my mother was trained as a milliner and, until well into mid-life, had only a single year of high school education. Until I was at high school, most of my clothes were made by my mother. Every week we had one or two meatless days – allegedly because that was good for our health, but in retrospect I realise that that was at least in part because we couldn’t afford meat every day. And I regard that background as one of my huge advantages: I learnt that nobody owed me a living.

Rueben pointed out to me that my autobiography also admitted to failures in my life, and yes, I’ve had many of those.

I structured most of my book around a metaphor. In the 1960s, the US Air Force developed an experimental aircraft called the Bell X-15, designed to test the strength of various alloys at very high speeds. The Bell X-15 still holds the record for the fastest manned flight ever. It reached an altitude of 100 kilometres – some ten times the altitude at which commercial jets typically fly – and speeds of 7,000 kilometres per hour.

But it only reached that altitude, and reached those speeds, because it was launched by being dropped from another aircraft at 40,000 feet. I felt that, by being born in New Zealand with the parents I had, I had the advantage of being launched from 40,000 feet, and I analysed my life into what I regarded as successful “flights”, partially successful “flights”, and dismal failures. I won’t recount those failures now, but there were plenty of them! I console myself with the thought that those who’ve never made mistakes haven’t been brave enough!

So much for my personal story. Rueben suggested that as Ngapuhi wait, and wait, for their turn at settling with the Crown, I should make some observations about how to improve the economic status of Maori New Zealanders, and Ngapuhi in particular. As I’ve said, I’m willing to do that, though I do so with great trepidation.

The first observation I want to make, however, I make with some confidence. Most Maori New Zealanders will never become economically prosperous through Treaty settlements.

Nobody knows at this stage what the total of all Treaty settlements will be. But let’s suppose it’s $5 billion – five times the original so-called “fiscal envelope” that Jim Bolger envisaged back in the nineties. Let’s assume also that that total is invested to yield an average of 5% per annum in perpetuity. And finally let’s assume that 15% of New Zealanders, or some 750,000 people, are entitled to a share of that. That would increase the annual income of each Maori New Zealander by the grand total of just $333 – better than a kick in the pants but certainly not enough to transform the economic status of Maori New Zealanders. (Incidentally, I owe this insight to Ngati Porou leader Sir Rob McLeod.)

So waiting around for a Treaty settlement would be a tragic mistake. Of course, for some Maori the Treaty settlements have been the source of considerable income – they are the directors of the companies established to manage the assets received in Treaty settlements and their legal advisers (both Maori and non-Maori).

But for far too many Maori the Treaty settlements have delivered little or nothing – just walk down the main street of Huntly to see what I mean, despite the very substantial settlements which Tainui has received.

And to the extent that some Maori New Zealanders have been lulled into the false notion that their prosperity will be assured once the Treaty settlement has been made, the long-drawn-out settlement process has almost certainly done lasting damage to the economic well-being of Maori.

That was one of the two reasons why, when I was National Party leader last decade, I committed the next National Party Government to a policy involving one further year to lodge a grievance and a maximum of five further years to resolve all outstanding grievances. I believed it was crucial for Maori that the process was hastened, because as long as too many Maori retained the false notion that their economic prosperity would be assured once the settlement had been made, there was a risk that too many Maori would remain passive, waiting around for their Treaty settlement, and that would be totally contrary to the interests of Maori.

(The other reason why I wanted to put a finite deadline on the settlement process was because I knew that the longer the process dragged on, the more impatient the Pakeha community would become, wrongly believing that a high proportion of all tax revenue would be devoted to compensation.)

More generally, there must be at least serious doubt whether the positive discrimination intended by successive governments over the last half century to assist the economic status of Maori New Zealanders has actually worked as intended.

More than a year ago, The Economist magazine had an article about the effects of positive discrimination in favour of Malays in Malaysia. The article noted that the positive discrimination had been introduced with the very best of intentions, to improve the lot of Malays as compared with other Malaysians, mainly Chinese and Indians. But the effect had been to benefit a small minority of Malays, while leaving most of the Malay population not much better off.

And that experience is surely directly relevant to New Zealand, with more and more special programmes reserved for those who chance to have a Maori ancestor. These include:

– different entry standards to medical school and some law faculties,
– appointments to local government committees without democratic process,
– required representation on every government board or agency,
– separate government funding for Maori tourism,
– exemption from corporate tax for the businesses arising out of Treaty settlements,
– taxpayer funding for customary marine title claims,
– a legal requirement that Maori have special entitlement to be consulted on environmental planning laws, and
– mandatory respect for Maori spiritual rites and process despite New Zealand’s officially being a secular society.

As in Malaysia, these benefits were originally intended to lift the incomes of Maori New Zealanders, which on average lagged behind those of other New Zealanders. But they have now come to be regarded by a great many Maori as privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of landing in New Zealand prior to European and other settlers.

And who benefits from these race-based entitlements? Assuredly not most ordinary Maori.

Not only have most Maori not benefited at all from this growing affirmative action, many have been positively harmed by it.

Why? Because it has led many Maori to assume that other taxpayers owe them a living, and that in due course other taxpayers will have to discharge that obligation.

What on earth could be more demotivating than to be told, again and again, that your poor education, your poor housing, your low income or inability to get a job is not your responsibility at all – it’s the fault of a grossly unfair system arising from injustices done to some of your great-grandparents by some of your other great-grandparents?

It is surely not in the least surprising that too many people with a Maori ancestor are unemployed and poorly educated – the present environment positively encourages helplessness.

It is significant that Maori New Zealanders who migrate to Australia often do much better than those they leave behind. To some extent, that is because those who have the courage and the initiative to take themselves off to a new country are almost by definition those with “get up and go”, and so more likely to succeed wherever they end up.

But I suspect that part of the reason why Maori New Zealanders in Australia seem to be more economically successful than those they leave behind is that those who migrate know they can’t look to anybody but themselves for their success: the Australian government doesn’t owe them anything more than it owes any other immigrants.

I have always believed that government should lend a helping hand to those who are down on their luck, those who are sick and those who are otherwise unable to help themselves – hopefully in a manner that doesn’t demotivate the recipients of that help. But I believe it is absolutely fundamental that that help should be based on need, and not on ethnicity.

It is a huge tragedy for all New Zealanders that we appear to be on the same destructive path that Malaysia is on. Unless we move decisively to a new path, it will not end well for most Maori.

Not only does positive discrimination create a demotivating sense of entitlement, it is also patronising – it appears to imply that without such positive discrimination Maori New Zealanders can’t quite make it, that they’re not as capable as other citizens. If I were Maori, I would find this grossly insulting. We know, from the huge success of many Maori in New Zealand and internationally, that they are as capable as any other New Zealanders. Just look at how many political leaders in Parliament are Maori – a quarter of the total, including the leaders, deputy leaders, or co-leaders of every party in Parliament! Constantly suggesting that Maori need special assistance to compete with others is insulting and demotivating.

Moreover, as one Maori elder pointed out to me recently, we know from history that those who succeed most spectacularly are often those who, far from being the beneficiaries of special entitlements, are the victims of political persecution and discrimination – think of the enormous success of the Jewish people, in science, in banking, in retailing, in technology and in economics. They didn’t achieve those things through positive discrimination – they achieved them despite being the victims of widespread anti-Jewish sentiment and sometimes violent persecution.

On a smaller scale, the Quakers and the Huguenots had similar success despite, or perhaps even because of, the discrimination to which they were subjected.

A crutch may sometimes be essential, but becoming dependent on a crutch never enables its user to walk unaided, let alone to run.

Let me make one other point about the dangers of dependence. Many years ago, at the advent of the modern welfare state, Sir Apirana Ngata, in my opinion one of New Zealand’s greatest Maori leaders – and a man I was privileged to put on New Zealand’s $50 bank note – warned of the serious damage which the welfare state would do to Maori society. He believed that readily available welfare would erode the proud tradition of independence which most Maori had. And I believe his warning has been amply borne out, with a disproportionately high proportion of those on the unemployment benefit, and on the single parent benefit, being Maori.

Decades after he gave that warning, when I was Governor of the Reserve Bank, I met with a prominent kuia at her request. She wanted to talk about Maori unemployment. After a very long discussion, I finally asked her what she would want me to do if by some chance I found myself in the position of a benevolent dictator. Without hesitating she replied “Abolish the dole with effect from the first of January”.

I thought at first she was joking, and asked her to explain herself. She said that “Unfortunately too many of my people don’t have many skills. They can’t live well on the dole but with three or four of them in the same house all getting the dole, and a few under the table cash jobs, they can live adequately on the dole, and that’s a disaster.” She was deadly serious, and in a sense was simply echoing what Sir Apirana Ngata said 80 years ago.

I don’t believe New Zealand can abolish the dole, but I have a good deal of sympathy with politicians like Shane Jones who make it quite clear that one of his main objectives in politics is to “get the bro’s off the couch”. And I suspect he wants to achieve that not to save money for taxpayers, though it would do that also, but rather because life on the dole is obviously leading nowhere, or at least nowhere good. It’s a shameful waste of young Maori lives.

Today, I’ve suggested that Treaty settlements, no matter how generous, will not provide economic prosperity for most Maori. I’ve suggested that positive discrimination may hurt more than it helps.

Well, what would help? I hope that Ngapuhi can quickly reach agreement with Government on the terms of their Treaty settlement so that you can start looking ahead, not backwards. I hope that we can all accept that Maori New Zealanders are every bit as competent as other New Zealanders, so that we can move to helping people on the basis of their need, not on the basis of who some of their ancestors were.

But beyond that, what would help? I don’t think any outsider, no matter how well qualified, is able to suggest particular industries that you should invest in. And I’m not qualified to comment, for example, on whether the law needs to be changed to enable Maori to make better use of communally-owned land, though the Government announcement of a few days ago, providing taxpayer money to Maori enterprises where banks are reluctant to lend, certainly suggests this is an urgent need.

But what I would say without any fear of being contradicted is that in the 21st century being well educated is an absolutely crucial ingredient to economic success. That does not necessarily mean getting a tertiary qualification, but it does mean coming out of secondary school having a strong ability to read, to write, and to reason logically.

And for that reason I think it is a matter of enormous regret that the current Government has been so strongly opposed to partnership schools – on the evidence to date, those schools provided enormous benefits to those pupils lucky enough to get into them, and that appeared to be especially true for those Maori pupils who were not well served by the traditional state schools. (I seem to recall that the Member of Parliament for Northland, now Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said he would resign if a Labour-led Government abolished partnership schools.)

Finally, let me make a few closing remarks about where we are as a country.

I think we are at quite a dangerous junction. Many Maori New Zealanders feel they have been left behind by the rest of the country and perhaps that’s an especially strong feeling up here in Northland. Too many Maori are unemployed; too many Maori are in prison; too many Maori are coming out of school unable to read and write; too many Maori are living in poverty. Too much of what successive governments have tried to do to help hasn’t helped, and in some cases has positively hurt.

On the other hand, many non-Maori New Zealanders have become increasingly impatient with the never-ending Treaty settlement process, and more particularly impatient with the constitutional preferences which have increasingly been written into law.

A great many New Zealanders reject any notion that the Treaty of Waitangi created a “partnership” between Maori and the Crown, a partnership which has been described as absurd by politicians as different as David Lange and Winston Peters. Yet this is the interpretation which is more and more taken as the foundation of Government policy.

At some point, hopefully soon, we will need to determine whether we really believe in Article III of the Treaty. That affirmed the equality of political rights for all New Zealanders. At that point we really will be able to say, with Governor Hobson, “he iwi tahi tatou”, “we are now one people”.

Don Brash, February 5, 2019

Calls for more than handouts for Māori

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Development minister Shane Jones have preceded Waitangi Day celebrations with announcements of hundreds of millions of dollars in development grants, but this approach has been questioned and in some cases slammed – see National leader Simon Bridges urges RMA reform over $100m for Māori land ownership

NZ Herald editorial: Handouts are no substitute for a Ngapuhi Treaty settlement

The Prime Minister is doling out a great deal of money on her extended visit to Northland for Waitangi Day.

At a Kaipara marae on Sunday she announced $100 million of the Government’s $1 billion provincial growth fund will be set aside as capital for Māori developments.

Yesterday at Mangatoa Station near Kaikohe she announced $82m from the fund will be used to set up regional training and employment “hubs”, and a further $20m from the fund will go to establishing regional digital “hubs” to help small towns and marae get internet connections.

In two days, with Regional Development Minister Shane Jones at her elbow, they have committed about a fifth of the original fund which is already depleted by some grants of dubious value he made last year.

While the projects announced at the weekend will be spread around a number of regions Northland is one of the most needy, which is why successive governments have been working so hard to try to help Ngapuhi get organised for a Treaty settlement.

After a year of trying, Justice Minister Andrew Little seems to be no closer than previous ministers came to finding a bargaining partner all Ngapuhi hapu will accept.

Now the Government seems to be giving handouts instead.

The Government may be right that Māori land is the underdeveloped asset that can provide those parts with more wealth. But providing seed capital is the easy part. It has to do much more to ensure the seedlings are not mulched.

Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom):  Ardern’s Waitangi sequel a test of relationship

Heading to what has traditionally been a tempestuous occasion for prime ministers, Jacinda Ardern’s Waitangi debut in 2018 went about as well as she could have hoped.

While Waitangi Day organising committee chairman Pita Paraone believes Ardern will receive a similar reception this year, he suggests there may be “a bit of murmuring” from Māori over some areas of discontent.

There has always been murmurings of discontent at Waitangi.

Matthew Tukaki, chairman of the National Māori Authority, agrees there will be plenty of expectation from Māori for the Government to deliver on its many promises.

“We’ve had a year of inquiries, we’ve had a year of investigations … 2019 for this Government must be the year of action.”

Many of the issues prioritised by Māori are the same as for the wider population: Paraone mentions mental health and housing, while Tukaki talks about high suicide and unemployment rates.

Tukaki says there is value in “universal principles that guide your waka”, but argues that is not enough: it must be supported by targeted reform and policies to succeed.

Solutions will not come in the form of short-term fixes, he says, but a longer-term vision that can be sustained over years or decades.

The handouts look to be more short term political fixes, or attempted fixes, but fundamental problems remain.

“For too long, government agencies and offices and ministries have been working on solutions and then saying to Māori, ‘Here’s a solution to whatever problem’,” (Labour MP and deputy Prime Minister) Kelvin Davis says.

Like “here’s some money”.

“Really what we need to say is, here’s a problem, how do we work on a solution together so it actually meets the needs of the people who we’re working for?”

There is a lot of work to do there, more than meeting a next year holding to account deadline that Ardern seems to be trying to address.

Māori will be looking to the future too, and whether Ardern’s government can deliver on its promises: perhaps with an added degree of wariness, but also hope.

They will be hoping for more from Ardern and her Government.


Splashing cash at Waitangi

So far one of the biggest stories of the lead up to Waitangi Day is the splashing of Government cash.

It looks more like a political pork barrel campaign than a dignified marking of New Zealand’s most important historical event.

And it’s not just the PR use and abuse of being in the national spotlight that is raising questions.

Newshub can reveal the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), designed to create jobs and boost the regions, has only created 54 jobs and spent just $26.6 million of its $3 billion.

Even with just 3.4 percent of the funding paid out, each job is costing the Government about $484,000.

Minister in charge of ther Money Machine, Shane Jones:

“I accept that the projects are going to take a while to fully establish…The Regional Economic Development Minister find himself tangled up in the Government’s own red tape. Despite my heroic rhetoric, it is quite a red tape process”.


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.

Five days at Waitangi

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spent the first of a five day visit to Waitangi today.

In one way it’s good to see Ardern and Labour MPs putting this much effort into changing the relationship between Government and Waitangi Day, which has been strained in past years.

But five days in Waitangi leading up to and including Waitangi Day means that most of not all the focus is in one place, when the Treaty of Waitangi affects all of New Zealand.

Most people not in the far north will continue to view what is the closest thing we have to a national holiday as nothing more than a day of work (for some) and a bit of kerfluffle on the news.

Perhaps next year Ardern will have a go at involving more of the nation in our national day.

Hikoi highlights ‘P’ problems

This year’s hikoi to Waitangi highlighted ‘P’ problems, which are a major issue in Northland. It’s a good choice for the hikoi, addressing problems that the community can and should do something about.

Northern Advocate: Northland hikoi from Cape Reinga to Waitangi demands end to P scourge

Marchers in an anti-P hikoi from Cape Reinga to Waitangi say they succeeded in raising awareness about the drug’s devastating effect on Northland – and where people can go for help.

More than 500 people took part in the final stage of the hikoi yesterday from the campground next to Te Tii Marae to the Treaty Grounds, where they were given a rousing welcome at Te Whare Runanga (the carved meeting house).

A day earlier about 50 people arrived at Waitangi after a five-day walk from Cape Reinga, with more joining in each time the hikoi passed through towns on the way.

While past hikoi have focused on environmental or land issues, this year’s called on Government and iwi leaders to do more to combat methamphetamine, also known as P.

The hikoi was also unusual in that it had wholehearted backing from the police, and some of the marchers called on the Government to boost police numbers so they were better able to fight the class A drug.

The Government recently announced a significant increase in police numbers.

Hikoi leader Reti Boynton, of Kaitaia, said in parts of Northland it was easier to find P than it was to get cannabis, and addicts had to wait three to six months to get into rehab. By then it was often too late.

The drug made people aggressive and willing to sell anything to get it, he said.

“It turns women into prostitutes, men into thieves, and takes food out of cupboards. And what is the Government doing about it? Nothing.”

I don’t think it’s true that ‘the Government’ is doing nothing about it, but ‘P’ has become a major problem.

And it’s not just up to the Government and the police to deal with social issues, society itself, and communities, need to take some responsibility in speaking up and acting.

Which is what this hikoi has done. Good on them.

Te Tii day

Today is that day that (historically at least) media try to find headlines, protesters try to get in the headlines, some politicians try to get into the headlines and other politicians try to avoid getting into the headlines.

And the rest of New Zealand goes about their normal lives largely ignoring all the attention seeking.

ODT editorial: Waitangi Day change needed

Te Tii Marae is a traditional working marae at Waitangi, and is sometimes referred to as the lower marae, which dignitaries visit tomorrow  as part of their schedule before Waitangi Day on Monday. Waitangi National Trust Board chairman Pita Paraone, a New Zealand First MP, said the situation was ridiculous and he expressed shame at being a descendent of Ngapuhi.

The greed and a lack of nous in terms of creating an amicable atmosphere between Te Tii Marae and the rest of the community, not just the media, is disappointing.

Nothing can be done this year, because the damage has been done  even if Te Tii  retracted the condition  for media coverage.

It is time to stop the nonsense at Te Tii. Labour Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis says next year something different will happen; it has become embarrassing for everyone. Mr Davis is a strong voice for Maoridom and if he is embarrassed it is  time  to start seriously reviewing what Waitangi Day has become.

Many people,  sadly, are turned right off what should be a national day of history and celebration — a genuine and heartfelt tribute to all those who developed this country, not a grandstanding opportunity for a few. Turning people away from Waitangi is no way to make progress. It is time for change.

Every New Zealander must be allowed to celebrate Waitangi Day in whichever way they choose. For the South, it is simple. Otakou marae has provided an open and warm invitation.

The best way to change it is for New Zealanders around the country to take ownership of the day and make more effort effort to turn Waitangi Day into something better.

PM at Waitangi – no speak, no go

Prime Minister Bill English says he won’t go to Waitangi on Waitangi Day because he has been told he wouldn’t be able to speak.

Newshub: Bill English to skip Waitangi celebrations

Bill English is planning to spend his first Waitangi Day as Prime Minister in Auckland – not Waitangi.

The Prime Minister traditionally attends the traditional powhiri at Te Tii Marae, but Mr English has turned down the marae’s invitation because they’re not willing to let him speak.

“After the issues surrounding the previous Prime Minister’s attendance at Te Tii Marae last year, my office sought clarification from marae kaumatua that I would be welcomed and able speak about issues of importance to New Zealand, as is tradition.

“However, my office was advised I could attend the powhiri but not speak – conditions which are not acceptable to me.”

Fair enough. There’s no point in going to Waitangi and being the subject of protests and abuse when he won’t have a right to speak.

John Key didn’t attend last year, and Helen Clark stopped attending in 2004.

Mr English will still go to Waitangi, just not on Waitangi Day. He’s accepted an invitation to lead a delegation of ministers to meet the Iwi Chair’s Forum on February 3.

So he isn’t snubbing Waitangi altogether, he’s just trying to avoid what has become a protest circus. Last year a woman threw a dildo at Steven Joyce, this won’t have helped restore confidence in Waitangi being a respectable forum.