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David Round: Questions of Water Rights and Ownership
April 24 2015 | From: BreakingViewsNZ
Water! Cool clear water. Adam’s ale, the first and most delicious drink of our ancestors; the water of rebirth, the cleanser, the gift of life itself. And in our own over-populated, drying, increasingly desperate days, ‘the new oil’.
Some of us may remember the film Chinatown, directed by Roman Polanski ~ that takes you back a bit ~ with a plot hingeing around the huge amounts of money to be made by manipulating the Los Angeles water supply. The story was not implausible.
We have all seen the photographs of privatised water from northern California, sold to southern cities, flowing hundreds of miles past parched cracked farmland to fill urban swimming pools and to water urban lawns. But the pools and lawns are disappearing, for California, as we are now learning, is in the fourth or fifth year of an unprecedented drought.
Sao Paulo, in South America ~ population somewhere around twenty million ~ is perhaps even more desperate; the second or third year of drought, and water rationing is imposed in some places in the city for five days every week.
We have had a drought ourselves, of course, in many parts of the eastern North and South Islands. Even after this first and very early snowfall much of the South Island’s east coast is still worryingly dry; and if the snow presages a long and hard winter, as is not impossible, then it will not be much help. The Opuha Dam, in South Canterbury, was effectively empty a month or more ago, and its supply of water for irrigation had simply ceased.
Water is precious here too, then, not just in other countries. We are only waking up to this, because until recently we have always had more than enough to meet our simple needs, and so we have always taken it for granted. And what is precious is also ~ to use a more prosaic, practical kind of word ~ valuable. It is better than gold. Water is not just a pretty but useless metal; it is the basis of life itself. Whoever controls water controls us; in a time of shortages he will have his hand at our throat.
So it is hardly to be wondered at, then, that Maori want to get a slice of the action, and that a ‘research group’ called Sapere ~ to know, or to understand, in the Latin tongue; a good name, even if there will inevitably be a tension between the demands of pure scientific investigation and the desires of their particular clients ~ Sapere, anyway, was commissioned by the Iwi Leaders Group to do some research.
And what they have come up with, you will not be surprised to hear, are some recommendations, based no doubt on the most disinterested and undisputed scientific principles, recommending a nationwide ‘settlement’ of Maori water claims ~ a settlement that some have already called a ‘Waterlords’ deal. That name, of course, comes as a conscious echo of the Sealords deal about fisheries; but the name is also, it seems to me, deeply prophetic. The masters of water have a very good chance of being our new lords.
But before we go any further, a brief word of explanation about the administration of water in New Zealand. At common law there was no ownership of water; a landowner had the right to use the water that flowed over his land, but he was obliged to pass it on to landowners further downstream undiminished in quality or quantity.
In 1967 Parliament made the Water and Soil Conservation Act, which, without going into questions of ownership, declared that except in certain pretty limited situations no-one could use any ‘natural water’ ~ which is all water, frozen, liquid or steam, not in a pipe, tank or cistern ~ without a permission ~ a ‘water right’ as it was called ~ granted by a regional water board. The Act gave absolutely no guidance as to what was to guide the board in the making of its decisions.
That is pretty amazing when you think about it. Nowadays we have purposes and principles listed at length in statutes, and policies and plans galore. Less than fifty years ago our unsophisticated ancestors saw no need. There was obviously a general consensus about how to approach these things; that, and some understanding that there was so much water around that hard decisions would seldom be necessary. A simpler age indeed!
The Resource Management Act largely continued these arrangements. ‘Water rights’ were rechristened ‘water permits’, and are now granted and regulated by regional councils. As before, anyone can apply for one, and the order of priority is simply ‘first come first served’; a regional council does not weigh up the competing benefits and costs of different projects using the same water, but simply grants water ~ assuming water is available ~ to whomever asks first. Water permits last for a maximum of thirty-five years. There is no right of renewal, but holders of existing permits do have a certain priority when seeking a brand new permit for the same thing.
(You will recall that the Waitangi Tribunal now has no jurisdiction to investigate any ‘historical’ claim, arising out of events occurring before 1992. New Zealand’s current legal water arrangements were set up well before then, and so the Waitangi Tribunal’s very dubious ‘findings’ on water were simply beyond the Tribunal’s powers to make. But what does law matter?)
I have to mention all this, because the question of Maori ownership of water cannot be separated from the bigger question of water administration generally. Water is a common good, heaven’s gift to us all. By the law of nature and, hitherto, by our own human laws, it has been, essentially, common property.
Yet it must be allocated to individuals for their and the community’s use and benefit. How is this to be done? At present the law strikes the compromise of granting individuals a permission to use a portion of this common property for a certain period of time. The ‘water permit’, although no longer called a ‘water right’, is nevertheless a right to use water. It is a valuable piece of property. Possession of one might double the value of your farm.
The present system, though, is not without disadvantages. Although there may be administrative charges, no-one is charged for the actual water he or she uses. Although we might well object to charges for modest household use, it does not seem unreasonable that major users making major profits should pay. The absence of payment for water encourages over-use and waste.
Then again, the ‘first come first served’ principle means that water is not necessarily allocated to its most efficient end-use. The first one in the queue seeking a water permit from the regional council might be a farmer using large quantities of water to produce so many dollars worth of milk. That same amount of water, or even less, might be able to produce many more dollars worth of something else ~ wine, say, or seed crops. But the water is not available for these other uses because the dairy farmer was first in the queue.
So the suggestion has been made that water rights should be ‘tradable’ ~ that one should be able to buy and sell them. That way, the dairy farmer has an incentive to use ‘his’ water thriftily and sell the excess to the vineyard owner, or even to sell all his water to the vineyard. The expected eventual result is that over time the water would end up in the hands of those who use it with the greatest economic efficiency.
In fact, such trading is actually possible under the Resource Management Act right now, with the consent of the regional council or under its plan.
You may have seen a recent Campbell Live programme about a foreign-owned bottling plant on the Heretaunga Plains sending to China huge amounts of water that could be used for orchard irrigation. The bottlers purchased their water permit from a previous owner. And the bottlers do not pay for the water itself.
But that tradable approach also has its problems. For one thing, many water bodies in New Zealand are not just fully allocated but actually over-allocated. Incompetent administrators have over the years granted water permits for more water than the river, aquifer or whatever actually holds.
They were able to do this because many of the permit holders did not use all the water they had asked for ~ so the river still appeared to have plenty of water in it which could be allocated to someone else. As long as all the permit holders do not use all their allocation, that might not present a problem.
But once permit holders begin to sell off the unused portions of their allocations to other people who are paying good money for something they do intend to use, it will suddenly be discovered that there is not enough water to go round.
Even when there is not over-allocation, though, most of our water resources are pretty well fully-allocated; all the water in the river is allocated to farming, hydro-electricity, the biological life of the river itself, and so on. And so the question immediately arises ~ if Maori were to be given any allocation of water, where would it come from? Would there be a confiscation or compulsory purchase of existing water permits? (Unlikely, surely.)
Or would water charges be imposed, with a proportion of the charges being siphoned off to Maori? (Ah! Rather likelier ~ the effect of many Treaty settlements, after all, is to establish a new parasitic rentier/landlord class, clipping the ticket on other people’s labours.) Or would there be some sort of preference given to Maori when water permits were renewed and new ones granted? (Which water permits could then be on-sold, with ticket-clipping again occurring. Or perhaps not; perhaps all our water might end up in the hands of a surly racial minority.)
For another thing, once we have tradable water rights then, as the Campbell Live programme illustrates, we open ourselves to the California situation. ‘The most economically efficient end-use of water’ sounds innocent enough; but what if that means bypassing parched fields to serve unsustainable cities?
What if a private water permit owner were to decide that it was most profitable to sell pure New Zealand water overseas, rather than let anyone in our own country have any of it? That would be appalling; yet it is what is happening with the Campbell Live bottling plant, and it is merely the logic of the marketplace and tradable property rights.
Indeed, tradable water rights really only work effectively if water is fully privatised. If you are going to buy the right to use water, you do not want that right to disappear in a few years time when the water permit expires. It could surely be argued that given the short time horizons of most business decisions, a thirty-five year term and priority in obtaining a new water permit would have been security enough. But the more security the better, from a private point of view; especially if your use or abuse of that formerly public resource is going to be unpopular or controversial in future….
The new model proposed by the Iwi Leaders Group and the Sapere report will not solve the Campbell Live problem. In fact, it will formalise that misuse of water as part of our law forever. The report proposes not only a ‘nationwide settlement’ of the highly dubious Maori water claim but also a change from 35 year consents to permanent ones, and a market in tradable water rights.
So rights to water would last forever, and be private property like anything else; and so a treasured public resource fundamental to life itself moves towards control by a handful of ~ who knows who they will be? But their administration of water will not have the public good as its primary aim.
The report, then, proposes not just the gift to Maori of some part of existing water arrangements, but also a fundamentally new arrangement for all water.
There are two things to object to, then. It would be bad enough to give away yet another part of our family silver to one racially defined segment of the population; especially when we know perfectly well that ordinary Maori are not going to benefit from yet another gift to what Chris Trotter has just described as ‘elite-brokered, ostensibly iwi-based ‘neo-tribal capitalist’ corporations…functionally indistinguishable from the foreign and pakeha-owned corporations in whose interests New Zealand politics is now transacted’. Any water ‘settlement’ will be just another gift to the new fat cats.
(Chris Trotter adds that ‘[t]hese neo-tribal capitalists have grown exceptionally skilled at masking the commercial imperatives that are their true raison d’etre behind the rhetoric of reparation and redress. How else could God’s rain have become the Iwi Leadership Group’s private property?’)
No principle of justice, no events of the past, real or spurious, oblige us to privatise public assets and replace white capitalists with brown ones.
But ~ the second thing ~ what the Iwi Leadership Group is demanding is not just an unwarranted share in the existing pie, but the creation of a completely new fully privatised pie, with very far-reaching consequences.
Somehow the great cosmic understanding embedded in those fundamental concepts of aroha and kaitiakitanga and love for everyone and all creation, all of us here on Papatuanuku, which have, for whatever reason, recently become more prominent in our understanding of Maori culture ~ somehow this is slowly transforming itself into the idea that it would be best, then ~ most ‘appropriate’ ~ for the particular traditional kaitiaki to look after everything on everyone’s behalf, because they know how to do it, and they will of course extract appropriate administrative expenses, and the white folk will just sit nervously by hoping that there will be a bit left in the pot by the time they come to be served.
There will have to be more than just Maori private owners of course, to start off with anyway, but there will be plenty of other willing investors from big powerful countries. New Zealand water will be a gift to the world, a prize to be coveted and bought and sold far away from our native hills…but too bad for those of us who just live here.
What does the government think? It is equivocating. Dr Smith, Minister for the Environment, ‘does not accept that Maori have any preferential first right over either nutrient or water allocation. So no notional allocation and no automatic right to 10 or 20 per cent for iwi.’
That is promising. But Mr English says that the Crown accepts ‘the general principle that iwi have rights and interests’, and Dr Smith says that the government’s view is that Maori rights and interests in water could be addressed ‘by an effective voice in the process, catchment by catchment’. What might that mean exactly? Handing things over to regional councils, never the sharpest knives in the drawer, for a bit of private bullying and blackmail? I fear the worst.
We are just at the beginning of a very long argument here, and clear conclusions are impossible. I leave you, though, with two thoughts. First, if we are unhappy about privatisation of water to Maori, then we should be unhappy about the privatisation of water generally.
We must not be racist. If privatisation to private profit-making institutions and organisations is acceptable, then Maori are just as entitled to own water as any other private person. We may object to them getting the water without having to pay for it like everyone else, but that is as far as our objections can go.
And second, if we are really concerned about this wonderful gift of water, we should all be taking greater care of it than we do now. We might be able to quibble about one or two of the details, but many of New Zealand’s water bodies are a disgrace ~ filthy, undrinkable, unswimmable, unfit for living things, often hardly existing at all after much water extraction. To judge by the state of many of our waterways, we could not be thought to care much about water at all. If we are going to care, let us do it properly.
Gareth Morgan’s ‘Upper House’ Betrays All Notions Of Democracy
February 14 2015 | From: NZCPR
Sir John A. McDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, has been oft-quoted for suggesting that the Canadian Senate was a place for a “sober second thought”.
It was, and is, an upper house modelled on the English House of Lords – the members are not elected, but are instead appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Prime Minster. In that regard, it follows the original idea of a senate – ‘the assembly of elders’. And in such a case, a senate works. The Government has the right to appoint whoever they want to the upper house, meaning it’s not a site for politicking and policy-blocking, and instead provides McDonald’s quote with weight. It does, however, bypass the notion of true democracy, and Stephen Harper has long suggested an overhaul of the Canadian senate.
In Australia and the United States, they have a very different senate. In those cases, with the members elected by the electorate and still holding the same rights with regard to passing legislation, it certainly leads to issues within the political structure of the nations. The deadlock in the USA of late, and John Kerr’s dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975 are examples of the political instability that can result.
Those ‘senates’ (the word senate is misused in such cases, but is called such in both countries anyway) have valuable democratic ideals – and provide an intriguing gauge of public opinion. It allows a nation to suggest displeasure with their government; but does encourage policy blocking for political gain, and can bring economies to their knees through a government’s inability to act.
Both upper houses have strong positives, and large drawbacks. What everyone accepts, however, is that it needs to clearly reflect an elected representation. The Canadians and British appoint their members of the upper house, while the Americans and Australians elect theirs. The British have realised that hereditary peers bypass any democratic system, and the numbers of those left in the House of Lords are so small as to be in effect a nonentity.
In other words, every Western nation with an upper house has been progressing towards a democratic representation in one way or the other – irrespective of which system is best, reform towards the exemplification of people’s wishes has been the unanimous trend over the last 100-odd years.
But now Gareth Morgan wants to prove New Zealand as an exception, and wishes to move the nation in the opposite direction.
We abolished our upper house in 1950, in what Geoffrey Palmer has termed “the boldest constitutional change ever made by a conservative government.” The upper house we had, called the Legislative Council, was founded in 1840 as part of making New Zealand its own Crown Colony. When the New Zealand Constitution Act was passed in 1852, it became the upper house of a General Assembly.
From 1852 to 1891, the members of the upper house were appointed to life terms, meaning governments were often stymied by sometimes hostile members of the Council. Seven year terms brought in by John Ballance allowed the Council and House of Representatives to have caught up with one another (to a certain extent).
But it was still inefficient, and it wasn’t until the abolition of the Council in 1950 that governments in New Zealand finally had the opportunity to make necessary reform within their first term, without having to appease a Council potentially still reflecting a previous government’s seven year appointments.
It was a progressive move, which has since enabled the governments of New Zealand to make the required decisions at the required time. It was the abolition of this Council that his since allowed governments to progress. Can you imagine Roger Douglas passing his reforms of the mid-1980s with a Muldoon appointed Legislative Council, or Ruth Richardson being able to bring in the ‘Mother of all Budgets’ with a Council appointed by Michael Moore?
To reinstate an upper house in New Zealand would be an entirely backward move, regressing the entire political system the nation has developed. But to employ an upper house with 50% Maori representation not only defeats the purpose of a democracy, but also goes against the idea of the Treaty of Waitangi, which was intended to express the equality of every New Zealand citizen.
If New Zealand is to have an upper house, it must follow the path shown by the Australians, Canadians, Brits or Americans. Although none of those is perfect, they are all representative of the electorate.
Gareth Morgan’s proposal defeats democracy at its heart. He suggests that “Maoridom” should appoint the Maori members, and Parliament the others. That would mean that the citizens of New Zealand no longer have democratic control of their nation. One half of the upper house of New Zealand would be undemocratically appointed by a non-elected panel. Those appointed by Parliament, as in Canada, are at least being appointed by an elected government. If each house has equal legislative powers, as is the theory of such matters, then a full 25% of the New Zealand Parliament will be there undemocratically.
He also suggests that the upper house would require a 60% vote in order to pass legislation back to the lower house. Again, this contravenes our democracy, where majority rules. 60% means that majority rule is no longer sufficient, but instead three fifths support is required.
Gareth Morgan has suggested many things: a number of them insane, a few of them sensible. Most of them have come down to interpretation and personal belief. In the case of an upper house where 15.4% of the population has a 50% representation, however, he’s made a suggestion that contravenes the Commonwealth charter, goes against the Treaty of Waitangi, and fragrantly breaches the nature of democracy in this country.
So long as New Zealand remains a democracy, Morgan’s suggestion remains un-implementable. To suggest an undemocratic and racially-based subversion of the very pillars our nation and society rest upon is both ridiculous and contravenes the Treaty he is supposedly standing up for.
Sir Apirana Ngata was an outstanding politician, and a man who worked tirelessly for all New Zealanders. He was (and remains after death) followed, respected and adulated by people of all beliefs, ethnicities and values.
Similarly, the Maori Party have been often positive about the work those within this National government have done.
In both cases, the thread is the same – you shouldn’t be elected, appointed or judged on racial bias, but on the quality of work you do for all New Zealanders. Gareth Morgan’s blatantly racist and undemocratic views of our Parliament are not the way forward for New Zealand. The reinstatement of an upper house would be a backwards step for starters; to reinstate it in the way Morgan suggests would be to move New Zealand in the opposite direction to all other Western nations.
Progressive Education A Failure
February 8 2015 | By Dr Muriel Newman | From: NZCPR
Last week’s release of NCEA results by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has shown a big decline in the number of students who are eligible to study at university from 71 percent in 2013 to 58 percent. In numerical terms the number of students who have qualified has dropped by 4,400 to 20,500. This is due in part to new requirements which have raised the entry level for tertiary education from NCEA Level 2 to Level 3, as well as introducing higher literacy and numeracy standards.
These new standards, which have been in the pipeline since 2011, are in response to the increasing numbers of school leavers who were dropping out of university in their first year - including 22 percent of Maori and Pacifika students and 11 percent of Europeans. Since students who enter university with NCEA Level 3 were seen to have a far better chance of success than those who entered with only Level 2, the universities felt it was time for the system to change.
While NCEA results are continuing to improve overall, for many employers progress is not fast enough. A recent survey of more than 300 businesses by the Employers and Manufacturers Association found that over half were having difficulty recruiting skilled workers. Many found school leavers were below par in basic literacy, communication and problem solving skills, but they ranked them highly on technology, self-management, and a capacity to learn.
A poor showing in basic skills has also been evident in international test results. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, which compares the performance of 15-year-olds in 65 countries in reading literacy, maths and science every three years, showed New Zealand has slipped from 5th place in reading, 11th in maths, and 7th in science in 2006, to 13th, 23rd, and 18th place respectively in 2012.
Similarly, in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which is held every five years, New Zealand’s 2012 result showed 9-year-olds finishing equal last in maths among peers in developed countries. Almost half could not add 218 and 191 in a test, leading the Education Minister to consider a return to basic arithmetic for primary school children.
These poor results are a symptom that all is not well with the education system. They cast doubts on the radical reforms introduced by the previous Labour Government during its last term in office.
In 2007, then Prime Minister Helen Clark launched a new “progressive” primary and secondary school curriculum. Progressive education is strongly ideological. In its pure form, it aims to rid the education system of elitism and replace it with egalitarianism. Traditional syllabus approaches to learning make way for child-centred systems that are outcomes-based. Teachers are no longer regarded as fountains of knowledge, but instead become facilitators of learning. Objective testing and assessment are avoided wherever possible, and the centralised control of education is eliminated by passing that responsibility onto schools and their Boards.
At the time, such an approach to education was known to be experimental - only a handful of countries had adopted it. But it had already proved to be such a failure in the US that most states had rejected it, returning instead to a standards based approach, with its focus on subject discipline, academic rigour, more formal methods of teaching, and a clear, concise and teacher-friendly curriculum.
By replacing knowledge with skills, a progressive education puts students at risk of leaving school with a range of eclectic proficiencies, but without the basic knowledge to read, write, or calculate properly.
Furthermore, an education system which directs schools to address issues in their own time and in their own way leaves them vulnerable to political manipulation. Ruling parties in a government can represent their political ideology as educational principles or values which schools are then required to teach. Helen Clark’s Labour Government did just that when they embedded policies such as sustainability and social justice into the curriculum.
But it was over the Treaty of Waitangi that the most blatant political manipulation can be seen.
When the draft of the new curriculum was released in 2006 the Treaty of Waitangi had been dropped from the “principles” section. Instead it was referred to in the Social Sciences curriculum under Social Studies, Level five: “the Treaty of Waitangi is responded to differently by people in different times and places”. It was also due to be incorporated into a separate Maori curriculum.
Outrage resulted. At the time, the Minister of Education responded in Parliament to accusations that the Treaty had been dropped from the curriculum by saying, “…it has not been removed. I would also remind the member of four things: one, it is in the Act; two, it is in the goals; three, it is in the guidelines to schools; and, four, it will be embodied in a Maori version of the curriculum next year.”
Nevertheless, protest action followed, led by the Human Rights Commission, which prepared a briefing for use by “organisations, groups and individuals who are making submissions as part of the consultation process”, calling for the Treaty to be reinstated as a principle in the new curriculum and to be included throughout the various learning areas.
As a result of the pressure generated by the Commission, the Green Party, the Maori Party, and others, Labour caved in and the Treaty was given a central role in the new curriculum.
The Purpose and Scope statement of official policy explains that the curriculum will “give effect to the partnership that is at the core of our nation’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi”.
The Vision statement affirms that young people “will work to create an Aotearoa New Zealand in which Maori and Pakeha recognise each other as full Treaty partners, and in which all cultures are valued for the contributions they bring”.
The eight Principles upon which the curriculum is based includes “Treaty of Waitangi: The curriculum acknowledges the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and the bicultural foundations of Aotearoa New Zealand. All students have the opportunity to acquire knowledge of te reo Maori me ona tikanga.”
The Treaty is now interwoven in all subject areas at all curriculum levels. But as if that is not enough, the Maori Party announced last year that as part of their coalition deal with National a stronger Maori focus would be brought into the curriculum through the spending of $1.6 million over three years to strengthen the teaching of Maori history in both primary and secondary schools.
The official promotion of what amounts to Maori supremacy in schools, not only sends a signal to students and their families that the only culture that matters in New Zealand is Maori, but it is in direct conflict to the curriculum’s Cultural Diversity principle, which states, “The curriculum reflects New Zealand’s cultural diversity and values the histories and traditions of all its people.”
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is Tony Sayers, a former primary school principal with extensive teaching experience at all levels of primary and secondary schooling, who feels very strongly that the Maori influence in education has gone too far. Tony would like to encourage others to speak out and help to build a consensus for change:
“I clearly recall the principal of the school, at which I worked, reporting to the staff about the conference he had attended. He told us that the keynote speaker at the conference, a Maori academic, ‘who had the ear of the Ministry’, advocated that, ‘In the first instance, the curriculum should be written specifically to address the needs of Maori students’. He also stated that, ‘Non-Maori students would not be disadvantaged because they had traditionally achieved anyway’.
“Hullo! Is this a race-based curriculum? Is this apartheid in the NZ education system? No we are not supposed to call it apartheid in NZ. Oh I am sorry! We are not supposed to challenge any Maori initiatives if you work for the Ministry of Education. It is not written down anywhere, but just watch the ‘inner circle of enlightened teachers’ around you scatter if you dare criticise the current bandwagon. No-one wants to sit at your table for morning tea. They do not want the principal to think that they sympathise with your views. Not a good career move.
“Initially the changes were just to revive the Maori language and culture. No harm there, and it had the goodwill of us all. That went well, so other changes followed. At first they were minor, a process of de-sensitisation, and then changes grew bolder by increments.”
In his article, Tony documents many ridiculous - and some sinister - examples of how the obsession with Maori rights is impacting on teaching and learning in our schools. He finishes with a warning - and a plea:
“Teachers who are currently employed in the system, and have woken up, are reluctant to make a stand under the present political and social climate. The teachers who are retired, are in a position to speak up without damage to their careers. They need to come forward and inform the general public of what has been, and still is, going on. So let’s have a few more retired teachers voice their anecdotes and opinions. If you say nothing, then this manifestation just festers away with dire consequences for the future. This topic needs to gain volume, so that politicians realise that it is an issue that must be addressed.
“By voicing my opinions on this controversial subject, I anticipate a tirade from enlightened, emancipated young teachers, freshly indoctrinated at university, with new world, politically correct and culturally safe views. Yes, I know, if you can’t take the heat then stay out of the kitchen. I am prepared to take the heat, but remember, I was once like you.
“I was not born with opinions, they developed from my real experiences. The examples that have formed my opinions, are far too common to be ignored. If people are too scared to put their head above the parapet, then that is what Maori want. It would be a relief to be proven wrong.”
If you are a teacher, parent, grandparent or anyone who is concerned about the radicalisation of the New Zealand curriculum through the forced teaching of Maori supremacy, then please share your views through the link on the petition page that we set up to oppose the indoctrination of children through schooling. As Tony says, it is only when there is a groundswell of opposing voices that the politicians and the establishment will start to listen.
Meanwhile, the symptoms of a failing education system are starting to show: lower than expected international test scores, school leavers without basic literacy and numeracy skills, increasing numbers of tertiary dropouts, excessive political indoctrination… The government should undertake a comprehensive review of the whole education system, to see whether, like in the US, it is the system itself that is now failing our students and our country – and needs to change.
A Recipe For Disaster - Attempts To Legislate Racial Separatism In New Zealand
December 3 2014 | By Dr Muriel Newman | From: NZCPR
“Is it a pre-requisite to be an idiot to run for local body politics? New Plymouth’s Mayor Andrew Judd has dreamed up the idea that the law should be changed so that half of all councillors are Maori. He’s already wanting to create a Maori ward. He bases all of this on the Treaty – yes, the same Treaty the Tribunal suggested hadn’t ceded authority to the British."
“Top tip for the Andrews of this world: firstly, councils are in the business of mowing lawns, collecting rubbish, not for social and historic engineering; secondly, no country’s future is based on segregation – or giving one race a false hope, or false start, or false advantage based on nothing more than skin colour."
“This is a recipe for disaster and acrimony, and New Plymouth - not to mention the rest of the country – deserves a hell of a lot better.”
- Mike Hosking, co-host TVNZ Seven Sharp, 24 November 2014.
Not content with forcing a Maori Ward onto his district at the next local body election, New Plymouth’s Mayor, Andrew Judd, is now calling for a law change so that half of all councillors in New Zealand will be Maori. Little did the people of New Plymouth know when they elected their new mayor in 2013 that he harboured a radical agenda and would use the Office of Mayor as a platform to progress it.
His call for 50:50 co-governance follows the self-serving finding of the Waitangi Tribunal that Maori did not cede sovereignty to the British. Mayor Judd says:
“The reasonable interpretation of the Treaty is that you would have fifty-fifty representation around the table. We should be incorporating the Maori perspective around council tables, and ultimately that would mean up to half the representation each.”
He has called on the Minister of Local Government to change the law so that half of all council representatives are Maori.
Unsurprisingly, the Maori Party enthusiastically endorsed his comments. They are calling Mr Judd a visionary and commended his “courageous challenge” to the government “to consider changing the law to allow for 50-50 representation between Maori and non-Maori on local authorities to reflect the Treaty of Waitangi partnership”.
In Parliament last Thursday, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox questioned the Minister of Local Government Paula Bennett about what initiatives are underway to ensure greater Maori representation on local and district councils.
The Minister replied:
“I am always willing to look at how to improve representation overall with local government, but I do not currently have any plans to make changes to the current settings.
However, in response to submissions made about Maori representation during the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) this year, the then Associate Minister of Local Government directed officials to work with relevant parties, including Te Puni Kokiri, and report back to Ministers in March next year with advice about Maori participation in local government processes, and I will consider that advice when I receive it.”
The Minister rejected the idea of a law change: “I do think the right settings are currently in place. I am not sure that it is a piece of legislation that Parliament should actually pass to change the representation that is on councils.”
She also rejected the call for greater resourcing for local councils to increase Maori representation: “I will not be supporting resourcing councils, so we will not be giving them any other funding so that they can go out there and increase Maori participation, but what I will say is that we actively support and encourage Maori participation on councils.”
The Minister explained that over time, there has been a huge increase in Maori participation in Parliament and that a similar pattern was feasible in local government:
“I would like to see more [Maori] standing, but I would like them to get there on their merit. I think that there is a power machine behind our iwi, particularly our iwi leaders as we see them now, and if they were putting a strong campaign together behind the right candidate, then they could get there.”
And that’s the way most New Zealanders feel about Maori representation – they don’t need special rights or seats based on race, they just need to work hard and stand on their merits, like everyone else.
With regards to his demand for 50:50 Maori representation, Andrew Judd needs to explain why he didn’t reveal his agenda when he campaigned for office. The people of New Plymouth should feel seriously aggrieved to find their new Mayor is now promoting nationwide segregation.
Mr Judd should do the honourable thing and stand down, then put himself forward in a by-election – this time openly promoting his plan for co-governance. If he doesn’t step down of his own accord, he should be asked to resign for bringing the Office of Mayor into disrepute.
All around the country powerful iwi groups are pushing to change the rules to increase Maori representation. They are saying they need to be at the council table, “but should not have to rely on voters’ whims to get there.”
Many have tried to force their councils to give their unelected iwi representatives seats on standing committees with voting rights. Such a move, however, would fundamentally alter the democratic makeup of a council, and by convention, any major constitutional change should only be undertaken with the express approval of voters through a public referendum process.
For a council that wants to go down the separatist path, Maori Wards are provided for in the Local Electoral Act 2002. Under the Act, councils are regularly required to review their representation arrangements to determine whether changes need to be made – such as to their voting system, to the number of councillors, or whether they want to introduce Maori seats.
The details are set down in the Act: a council may resolve to divide the district into one or more Maori wards for electoral purposes if the resolution is “made after a triennial general election but no later than 23 November of the year that is 2 years before the next triennial general election”. Any such decision is open to challenge by electors – if they gain 5 percent support within a given timeframe, a referendum of all voters must be held that is binding on the council. If the Maori seats are approved, they would stay in place for the following two elections.
Last month, the Tauranga City Council unanimously opposed the establishment of a separate Maori seat on the council, with the Mayor Stuart Crobsy saying that establishing a Maori ward at this time would damage the relationship between Maori and non-Maori in Tauranga. He said Maori were going through a renaissance with their history and a Maori ward would be a big step backwards.
The attempt to give unelected iwi full representation and voting rights on Rotorua District Council standing committees earlier this year has not led to the establishment of Maori seats on the council. That proposal was rejected unanimously by the full council, with Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait saying she detected no mood in the community for a Maori ward or wards.
The Far North District Council has voted to hold a non-binding poll on the issue of designated Maori seats, to take place early next year. According to the Mayor, former National MP John Carter, neither he nor the council has a position on the issue, so they want some feedback from the community. This marks a change of heart for Mr Carter who campaigned against Maori seats during the local body elections, calling them a form of apartheid.
The Maori Ward that was narrowly approved by the New Plymouth District Council, amid a furore that saw the resignation of a long-standing councillor, is now being challenged by locals who are seeking the support for their petition of five per cent of the district’s registered voters – about 2,700 people – by 28 February next year. If they succeed, a binding referendum will be held to approve or reject the Maori ward proposal.
In 2012, 79 percent of Nelson voters rejected their council’s proposal to establish a Maori ward, and in the Wairoa District, 52 percent of voters opposed their council’s Maori ward proposal – even though 46 percent of the electoral population in the district are Maori, one of the highest percentages in the country.
There is a widely held view that areas of high Maori population will be overwhelmingly in favour of race-based rights. But as the Wairoa poll showed, it is wrong to presume a majority of Maori want separate Maori seats.
The reality is that a growing number of Maori are opposed to race-based privilege. They regard the way that successive governments pander to tribal chiefs as sickening, since by enriching the iwi elite, those who have turned their back on tribalism are being effectively disenfranchised. They consider race-based representation to be patronising, and they want an end to Maori seats at central and local government level. They also want the Waitangi Tribunal, which they see as a gravy train fostering division and apartheid, abolished.
One leader, who is prepared to speak out, is David Rankin of Ngapuhi – this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator. David explains:
“It may surprise many New Zealanders, but a growing number of Maori are fed up with the Waitangi Tribunal, and the entire Treaty gravy train. There is a stereotype of Maori collecting millions of dollars in settlement money and living the easy life. The reality is very different.
“Let’s be clear. The Tribunal exists to make lawyers, and a few elite Maori very rich, and to give the impression that wrongs are being righted. We all know the Crown breached the Treaty in the nineteenth century. But by the time of my parents’ generation, this was behind us as a people… until the Tribunal dragged it all up again.”
The final words in David’s article are chilling: “I will finish with a warning. If you think the claims are nearly at an end, think again. Hundreds of new claims are being planned right now. These will challenge the Crown and seek compensation for the handling of the current settlement process. Too many people have too much at stake for the claims process to end.”
The recent announcement by the Waitangi Tribunal that Maori did not cede sovereignty to the Crown clearly indicates just how far the Tribunal is now over-reaching. It has transformed itself from a body of inquiry into the mouthpiece of those radical Maori supremacists who are seeking to divide the country along racial lines.
If David Rankin’s warning, that large numbers of new claims to the Tribunal are currently being planned is correct, the sooner the government cuts taxpayer funding to this dangerous body, and closes it down, the better.
Re-Writing History: The Ongoing Treaty Of Waitangi Gravy-Train Farce
November 22 2014 | By Dr Muriel Newman | From: NZCPR
Last week the Waitangi Tribunal released WAI 1040 – a report into the claim by Ngapuhi and other northern iwi that their chiefs did not cede sovereignty to the Crown when they signed the Treaty of Waitangi. This first stage of their inquiry began in 2010 and covers the period up to the signing of the Treaty. The second stage will consider events after February 1840.
Unsurprisingly, the Tribunal rejected established history to find in favour of the claimants, that the chiefs did not relinquish their power and authority over their people or their territories to the British in 1840.
The Tribunal asserts, “Though Britain went into the Treaty negotiation intending to acquire sovereignty, and therefore the power to make and enforce law over both Maori and Pakeha, it did not explain this to the rangatira.” The report claims Britain's representative William Hobson and his agents explained the Treaty was granting Britain “the power to control British subjects and thereby protect Maori”, while chiefs were told they would retain their "tino rangatiratanga", or independence and full chiefly authority.
The Tribunal argues that the chiefs consented to the Treaty on the basis that they and the governor were to be equals, each controlling their own people. How this relationship was going to work in practice, especially where the Maori and European populations intermingled was apparently going to be negotiated over time on a case-by-case basis.
The Tribunal was silent on the important matter of how and when the Crown acquired the sovereignty that it exercises today.
In response to the report, the Attorney-General and Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Christopher Finlayson stated: “There is no question that the Crown has sovereignty in New Zealand. This report doesn't change that fact. The tribunal doesn't reach any conclusion regarding the sovereignty the Crown exercises in New Zealand. Nor does it address the other events considered part of the Crown's acquisition of sovereignty or how the treaty relationship should operate today.”
The Minister said that the Government would consider the report as it would any other tribunal report. Since the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal are not binding on the Crown - except in some limited instances involving ‘memorialised’ Crown land - as with any report from a Crown agency, the government can either opt to respond, or simply receive it and take no further action.
Historian Professor Paul Moon, from the Auckland University of Technology, said the most concerning aspect of the report was the way the tribunal seemed to be re-writing history with little apparent regard for evidence: “This report may serve the interests of some groups, but it distorts New Zealand history in the process, and seriously undermines the tribunal's credibility. I was shocked by some of the statements contained in the report. This is not a concern about some trivial detail, but over the fundamental history of our country, which the tribunal has got manifestly wrong.”
Professor Moon was critical of the importance given by the tribunal to the Confederation of United Tribes’ 1835 Declaration of Independence: “The tribunal sees the declaration as some profound assertion of Maori sovereignty. However, the declaration had no international status, and was regarded by British officials at the time as ‘a silly as well as an unauthorised act’. For some inexplicable reason, the tribunal has again ignored all this evidence.”
Ngapuhi leader David Rankin, a descendent of warrior chief Hone Heke, issued a statement in response to the report, saying that it defames his famous ancestor, and that if the tribunal refuses to alter the report to reflect the testimony he provided, he would lodge a Treaty claim against the tribunal itself – “the first in Treaty history for prejudicial effect”.
Mr Rankin gave evidence at one of the Tribunal’s hearings: “When our tupuna, Hone Heke, signed the Treaty of Waitangi, he did so because he knew it was the only option in terms of having a relationship with the British Crown. But the tribunal is now telling us that all those chiefs saw the Declaration of Independence, which a few had signed in 1835, as being the basis of their relationship with the British. That is a lie and that is not what the tribunal was told.”
Following the release of the Tribunal’s report, it took no time at all for one iwi leader to claim that the findings of the report “demands looking with fresh eyes at Maori claims for the likes of water, oil and mineral rights”.
This is undoubtedly just a start, and we should expect that opportunists will use the Tribunal’s self-serving report to demand even greater privileges and governance rights. There will be calls for more compensation and fresh claims for Crown resources of land, water, oil, and minerals – perhaps even for private property.
But claims to the Waitangi Tribunal are not the only avenue being used by iwi to pursue power and wealth.
Treaty demands through the Office of Treaty Settlements are no longer focussed only on property and monetary payouts – they include many new constitutional concessions that are consistent with the establishment of a privileged class in New Zealand such as seats at council tables, control of beaches, changes to place-names, co-governance rights, and so on.
The Courts also, have long been a popular option – sometimes as far as the Privy Council – with some judicial decisions having a major impact on the country. One such decision was the Ngati Apa case.
To refresh your memory - in 1997, in response to their mussel farming application being rejected by the local council, eight South Island iwi made a claim to the Maori Land Court to have the foreshore and seabed of the Marlborough Sounds declared as customary Maori land. While that Court decided that it could consider the issue, the Crown appealed the case to the High Court, which ruled that the foreshore and seabed were beneficially owned by the Crown and that the Maori Land Court had no jurisdiction in that area.
The iwi appealed the case to the Court of Appeal, which in 2003, controversially overturned settled law - including the earlier 1963 Ninety Mile Beach Court of Appeal landmark judgement – to rule that the Maori Land Court did have the jurisdiction to determine the case.
Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias stated: “It may well be that any customary property will be insufficient to permit a vesting order with the consequence of fee simple title. But that does not seem to me to be a reason to prevent the applicants proceeding to establish whether any foreshore or seabed has the status of customary land. I consider that the Maori Land Court has jurisdiction to entertain the application.”
Such reversals of laws that have been established through the same Court are very rare and extremely disruptive since they throw into disarray all of the case law based on the original decision. At the time, some commentators remarked that the Court of Appeal was simply following the direction of then Attorney-General, Margaret Wilson, to develop an “indigenous law”.
A constitutional crisis followed the Appeal Court’s decision. Iwi thought the ruling meant they owned the foreshore and seabed and their claims flooded in to the Maori Land Court, not only for areas of the foreshore and seabed out to the 12 nautical mile (22.6 km) Territorial Sea limit, but some included the whole of New Zealand’s 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone as well.
In response, the Labour Government passed the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act, which legislated for Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed. The political fallout resulted in the formation of the Maori Party, and in 2011, in cahoots with the governing National Party, Labour’s law was repealed and replaced with the Marine and Coastal Area Act, which allows for private Maori ownership and control of the foreshore and seabed.
A similar case has been winding its way through the courts, which, while it might not be as dramatic as the Ngati Apa case, because it deals with customary ownership of rivers and potentially fresh water it could nevertheless have a significant affect on New Zealand’s domestic affairs.
The case is John Hanita Paki and others v The Attorney-General. The descendants of the owners of land situated at Pouakani on the Waipapa stream, a tributary to the Waikato River, have been arguing in the courts that when their ancestors disposed of the land to the Crown in 1887, they were not advised that they owned the riverbed to the midpoint in accordance with the common law*. As a result, they claimed that the Crown had a fiduciary duty to hold the river (which has power stations nearby) for their benefit.
The Supreme Court judgement on the case, issued in late August, dismissed their appeal against the findings of a lower-court. However it has opened the door for the case to be referred to the Maori Land Court to test whether their ancestors enjoyed any customary rights to the river - a course of action that, like the foreshore and seabed case, has the potential to challenge Crown ownership.
I asked this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Judge Anthony Willy, a retired District Court Judge and former University of Canterbury Law Lecturer, to examine the Supreme Court’s ruling and outline its significance for our readers.
Judge Willy explains that the sole function of the Courts is not to dispense wisdom of assistance to society in general, but to decide the dispute which the litigants bring to it. Accordingly, he is extremely critical of the approach taken by the Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias: “She spreads herself widely over the historical and as she sees it, the social background to the claim, and makes pronouncements on a range of matters of fact and law affecting the relationship between Maori and The Crown. It is unthinkable for the Chief Justice to use her juridical views on the relationship between Maori and non Maori to seek to influence The Waitangi Tribunal or Courts in future cases by expressing sweeping views on matters which did not call for a decision on the facts before the Court.”
With regards to the claim itself, Judge Willy explains that there was a complete absence of any reliable factual basis on which the appeal could be decided, and he quotes Justice Young: “the case has an air of artificiality about it because it turns on what long dead former owners of the land in question might have thought about their rights in 1887”.
Judge Willy also highlights important comments made in the judgement about the concept of a Treaty partnership: “The Judgment is however very important in the way it deals with the notion of the Treaty creating a partnership between Maori and the Crown pointing out that the earlier cases are not authority for the creation of a partnership rather that the relationship is one of the utmost good faith and fair dealing. The comparison with a partnership in this context, does no more than illustrate the nature of the relationship between the Crown and Maori created by the Treaty. This view is undoubtedly correct and can be expected to inform the Courts in future dealings between the Crown and Maori.”
Judge Willy, of course, thoroughly investigated the Treaty partnership issue for the NZCPR last year, producing a paper Sovereignty and the Treaty of Waitangi, in which he makes it very clear that there is no legal basis on which the Treaty confers any form of joint sovereignty on Maori.
By issuing their report claiming that iwi did not cede sovereignty to the Crown, the Waitangi Tribunal has clearly revealed its agenda and displayed a lack of independence one would expect from a Crown agency. In light of the findings of the Supreme Court, Judge Willy, and many others, that the Treaty conferred no form of joint sovereignty or partnership on Maori, it’s time that taxpayer funding to the Waitangi Tribunal was stopped. It is disgraceful that the Tribunal would deliver such arrant nonsense in a report, but it becomes unacceptable when it does so with the benefit of taxpayer funding.
*While the beds of navigable rivers are vested in the Crown, under common law, property owners with riparian rights to non-navigable waterways own the beds to the middle of the flow.
Home Fire Scaremongering - Home Fires Are Being Banned Around The Country
November 4 2014 | By Dr Muriel Newman | From: NZCPR
The Green Party had a significant impact on government regulation and legislation during the nine years Helen
Clark was Prime Minister. Many radical environmental initiatives were introduced by Labour as a result of their
influence and while some were eventually dropped or terminated by the National Government, others, like the
ban on household fires and older wood burners, remain in place.
The Sustainable Development for New Zealand Programme of Action, launched by then Minister of the Environment, Marion Hobbs, in 2003 was one of the main catalysts for action. The document explains, “Sustainable development was brought to international attention by Agenda 21 and the Rio Earth Summit, which focused on the pressures that will need to be resolved if the environment, the economy and communities are to flourish in the 21st century. At a global level and here in New Zealand, we need innovative solutions for the complex issues we face.”
A key focus of the programme was to ensure that “each individual, household, institution and business uses energy, water and clean air more efficiently and with less waste.”
For Labour, the preferred way to make sure that New Zealanders complied with their agenda was to regulate. As a result, regulations were developed to cover an array of measures including energy efficiency, water conservation, and air pollution.
In fact, the Greens’ push for sustainable development led Labour into a frenzy of over-regulation. It seemed that the government was not only determined to tell New Zealanders how to live their lives, but by 2007, it appeared they were planning to enter the household bathroom to dictate what sort of shower head a family could and couldn’t use.
Until then there had been no controls on the water flow of showers and rates ranged from 5 litres per minute to around 24 litres a minute. The average was 13 litres a minute.
The new regulations, which were to take effect from 1 February 2009, were part of a range of amendments to the building code. Under the changes to NZBC H1 Energy Efficiency, which covered hot water systems, any building consent for a new home or an alteration would have required a 6 litres per minute shower head for larger homes over 150 square metres and 7.5 litres a minute for smaller homes. Repairs or replacement of existing hot water systems would have been allowed - just so long as they did not make the shower less efficient.
Labour also proposed that carbon dioxide emissions should be part of the equation when deciding on the choice of hot water systems. They said, “This is groundbreaking for New Zealand, as it is the first time these emissions could be considered as part of the performance measure in the Building Code”. Under a range of new hot water system proposals, the government expected the country to reduce its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 1,500 tonnes, compounding each year.
But just three weeks out from the 2008 General Election, public anger over the plan to impose low-flow shower heads onto the country forced Labour to pull the plug and the proposed regulation was dropped.
Then there was Labour’s plan to ban traditional light bulbs.
In June 2008, New Zealanders were told that the traditional incandescent light bulb was on its way out - as part of the government’s strategy for more energy efficient lighting. They said: “It is intended that from late next year, these inefficient incandescent bulbs will be phased out because they waste so much energy. There’s a whole new generation of lighting coming through that is more cost-effective, saves energy and is better for the environment.”
The Efficient Lighting Strategy aimed to reduce lighting energy consumption by 20 per cent by 2015. Key to this was the need to ‘help’ Kiwis embrace more efficient and affordable lighting technology through “phasing out the least efficient lighting products by setting minimum energy performance standards”.
Labour’s then Energy Minister David Parker and the government’s spokesman on Energy Efficiency and Conservation, the Green Party’s co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, argued, “Technology is moving quickly in this area. There’s already an excellent range of modern, stylish energy efficient light bulbs on the market that save money and power for New Zealanders. Each year we spend approximately $660 million on electricity for lighting in this country, generating about 2.65 million tones of greenhouse gas emissions. New Zealanders will be able to save almost $500 million by 2020, just by changing the lights”.
As could have been expected, having the government dictating what sort of light bulbs families could use in their homes aroused a strong response. The resulting accusations of ‘nanny state’ contributed to Labour’s defeat in the 2008 General Election.
Just six months after the light bulb ban was announced, the new National government scrapped it. The Minister of Energy Gerry Brownlee explained that while they too were committed to energy efficiency in the home, they believed that lighting was a matter of consumer choice: “People need good, credible information about the different lighting options that are available to them, and then they can decide what is right for them in their homes. Lifting the previous government's ban on incandescent light bulbs simply means we are allowing their continued sale, and I am confident the consumer trend to energy efficient bulbs will continue.” Mr Brownlee said it was up to householders to decide which light bulb they used.
But while National strongly opposed the intrusive plans to regulate shower heads and light bulbs, they left another of Labour’s insidious sustainable development environmental regulations in place – the ban on open fires and older wood burners in New Zealand homes, even though this too crosses a line by intruding into the private lives and decision-making of householders.
The home fire ban is based on the socialist ideology of the United Nations, which uses computer modelling through the World Health Organisation (WHO), rather than hospital data, to issue air quality guidelines.
New Zealand's first national air quality standards under the Resource Management Act (RMA) were introduced by Labour’s Environment Minister Marion Hobbs in July 2004. These National Environmental Standards for Air Quality set Ambient Air Quality Standards based on WHO guidelines to regulate outdoor air quality to protect human health and the environment.
Under the RMA, regional councils and unitary authorities were required to identify areas, or ‘airsheds’, where the air quality was a cause of concern. Where an airshed breached the environmental standard, the regional authority was required to develop a plan to ensure compliance by a deadline of 2013*. If the standard was exceeded after that time, no new air discharge consents for that pollutant could be granted, and anyone seeking land use consents would face constraints.
According to the Minister, “the standards are based on comprehensive consultation, research and scientific evidence and were developed by the Environment Ministry in consultation with local government, business and the community”. The problem is that not all of the standards that were adopted are scientifically based.
The ambient air quality standards set maximum levels for the amount of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and fine particulate matter of less than 10 microns in size (PM10) in the air. While setting safety standards for individual gases is relatively straight forward, that is not the case for particulate matter. PM10, which is generated by household fires, motor vehicles, outdoor burning, industry, as well as natural sources, has been labelled as a killer of thousands of New Zealanders a year.
The Updated Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand study, which is sponsored by the Ministry for the Environment, states that “the primary health impact resulting from air pollution is premature mortality in adults. More than 2,300 New Zealanders are estimated to die prematurely each year due to exposure to PM10 pollution from all sources, with just over half associated with anthropogenic sources”.
Of the reported 2,315 premature deaths a year, household fires are claimed to be responsible for 655 deaths a year, motor vehicles for 256 deaths a year, outdoor burning for 140 deaths a year, and industry for 123 deaths a year. That makes a total of 1174 deaths a year due to human sources.
Natural sources are said to account for the remaining 1,141 deaths a year: “The main natural sources of PM10 in New Zealand are sea spray (referred to as ‘marine aerosol’) and windblown dusts (referred to as ‘soil’). Other sources such as volcanic eruptions and trans-Tasman emissions from bush fires and dust storms in Australia can be significant but are infrequent occurrences and are difficult to quantify. Only marine aerosol and soil were considered in this update.”
In other words, the research that is being used to ban open fires and older wood-burners in New Zealand households claims that a proportion of the 1,141 people who die prematurely each year from exposure to natural sources of PM10, die from exposure to sea spay! This really does show the absurdity of the claims that have become the basis for the regulations.
The reality is that our air quality standards are based on overseas studies that predict harmful health effects through assumptions based computer modelling, not actual hospital and health data. The scaremongering that surrounds this issue, which claims that hundreds of people a year die prematurely from inhaling wood smoke, is scandalous. The data should be the subject of a full government inquiry, since these regulations are having such a widespread effect on families throughout the country.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator and researcher Mike Butler, has been investigating the claims that PM10 is a major cause of death in New Zealand:
“A simple request to the Ministry of Health under the Official Information Act in April of this year brought a response that ‘we cannot identify whether a death was caused by exposure to PM10’. In other words, there is no evidence PM10 has caused any deaths at any time in New Zealand.
“My request sought all advice received on PM10 from fires and woodburners, along with full details of the numbers of respiratory illness deaths throughout New Zealand. The reply said that although mortality figures includes coded causes of death, and although respiratory illness deaths may be identified, the information does not record what may have caused the illness.
“Therefore, the over-hyped PM10 issue is not so much an actual safety issue; it is problem that has been defined into existence. Without busy body bureaucrats the issue would simply not exist.”
Mike is not the only one to recognise that the fire ban is flawed.
Pat Palmer, an independent scientist based in Christchurch, has been fighting the false claims that the smoke from fires causes premature deaths for years. He explains that the scaremongering that smoke from home fires are causing deaths is based on computer estimates, not clinical records, mortality statistics, nor coroners’ reports. He points out that while the restrictions on the use of domestic fires has reduced the concentration of PM10 from smoke in the atmosphere, the number of deaths from respiratory causes has not reduced.
In fact, two studies from Denmark last year, which looked into the impact of wood smoke on human health, found, “If people are exposed to large amounts of wood smoke for three hours, it is certainly uncomfortable and it irritates the lungs, but it has no long-term effect on the lungs’ ability to function, or on our cells or any of our other bodily functions”.
In other words, the dire claims that open fires and old wood burners are killing us are bogus.
It is time elected officials throughout the country stood up against socialist doctrine being passed off as scientific research. They could start by asking themselves if they accept the claims of their Ministry for the Environment that 2,315 New Zealanders a year die prematurely from the inhalation of PM10, when their Ministry of Health has no such evidence.
*The 2013 deadline has now been extended to 2016 for some councils and to 2020 for others.
Washington Is Beating The War Drums — Paul Craig Roberts
June 18 2014 | From: PaulCraigRoberts
I wish I had only good news to bring to readers, or even one item of good news. Alas, goodness has ceased to be a feature of US policy and simply cannot be found in any words or deeds emanating from Washington or the capitals of its European vassal states. The Western World has succumbed to evil.
In an article published by Op-Ed News, Eric Zuesse supports my reports of indications that Washington is preparing for a nuclear first strike against Russia.
US war doctrine has been changed. US nuclear weapons are no longer restricted to a retaliatory force, but have been elevated to the role of preemptive nuclear attack. Washington pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia and is developing and deploying an ABM shield. Washington is demonizing Russia and Russia’s President with shameless lies and propaganda, thus preparing the populations of the US and its client states for war with Russia.
Washington has been convinced by neoconservatives that Russian strategic nuclear forces are in run down and unprepared condition and are sitting ducks for attack. This false belief is based on out-of-date information, a decade old, such as the argument presented in “The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy” by Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press in the April 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization of American elites.
Regardless of the condition of Russian nuclear forces, the success of Washington’s first strike and degree of protection provided by Washington’s ABM shield against retaliation, the article I posted by Steven Starr, “The Lethality of Nuclear Weapons,” makes clear that nuclear war has no winners. Everyone dies.
In an article published in the December 2008 issue of Physics Today, three atmospheric scientists point out that even the substantial reduction in nuclear arsenals that the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty hoped to achieve, from 70,000 warheads in 1986 to 1700-2200 warheads by the end of 2012, did not reduce the threat that nuclear war presents to life on earth.
The authors conclude that in addition to the direct blast effects of hundreds of millions of human fatalities, “the indirect effects would likely eliminate the majority of the human population.” The stratospheric smoke from firestorms would cause nuclear winter and agricultural collapse. Those who did not perish from blast and radiation would starve to death. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev understood this.
Unfortunately, no successor US government has. As far as Washington is concerned, death is what happens to others, not to “the exceptional people.” (The SORT agreement apparently failed. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the nine nuclear-armed states still possess a total of 16,300 nuclear weapons. )
It is a fact that Washington has policymakers who think, incorrectly, that nuclear war is winnable and who regard nuclear war as a means of preventing the rise of Russia and China as checks on Washington’s hegemony over the world. The US government, regardless of party in office, is a massive threat to life on earth. European governments, which think of themselves as civilized, are not, because they enable Washington’s pursuit of hegemony. It is this pursuit that threatens life with extinction. The ideology that grants “exceptional, indispensable America” supremacy is an enormous threat to the world.
The destruction of seven countries in whole or in part by the West in the 21st century, with the support of “Western civilization” and the Western media, comprises powerful evidence that the leadership of the Western world is devoid of moral conscience and human compassion. Now that Washington is armed with its false doctrine of “nuclear primacy,” the outlook for humanity is very bleak.
Washington has begun the run up to the Third World War, and Europeans seem to be on board. As recently as November 2012 NATO Secretary General Rasmussen said that NATO does not regard Russia as an enemy. Now that the White House Fool and his European vassals have convinced Russia that the West is an enemy, Rasmussen declared that “we must adapt to the fact that Russia now considers us its adversary” by beefing up Ukraine’s military along with those of Eastern and Central Europe.
Last month Alexander Vershbow, former US ambassador to Russia, currently NATO Deputy Secretary General, declared Russia to be the enemy and said that the American and European taxpayers need to fork over for the military modernization “not just of Ukraine, but also Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan.”
It is possible to see these calls for more military spending as just the normal functioning of agents for the US military/security complex. Having lost “the war on terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington needs a replacement and has set about resurrecting the Cold War.
This is probably how the armaments industry, its shills, and part of Washington sees it. But the neoconservatives are more ambitious. They are not pursuing merely more profits for the military/security complex. Their goal is Washington’s hegemony over the world, which means reckless actions such as the strategic threat that the Obama regime, with the complicity of its European vassals, has brought to Russia in Ukraine.
Since last autumn the US government has been lying through its teeth about Ukraine, blaming Russia for the consequences of Washington’s actions, and demonizing Putin exactly as Washington demonized Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Assad, the Taliban, and Iran. The presstitute media and the European capitals have seconded the lies and propaganda and repeat them endlessly. Consequently, the US public’s attitude toward Russia moved sharply negative.
How do you think Russia and China see this? Russia has witnessed NATO brought to its borders, a violation of the Reagan-Gorbachev understandings. Russia has witnessed the US pull out of the ABM treaty and develop a “star wars” shield. (Whether or not the shield would work is immaterial. The purpose of the shield is to convince the politicians and the public that Americans are safe.)
Russia has witnessed Washington change the role of nuclear weapons in its war doctrine from deterrent to preemptive first strike. And now Russia listens to a daily stream of lies from the West and witnesses the slaughter by Washington’s vassal in Kiev of civilians in Russian Ukraine, branded “terrorists” by Washington, by such weapons as white phosphorus with not a peep of protest from the West.
Massive attacks by artillery and air strikes on homes and apartments in Russian Ukraine were conducted on the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, while Washington and its puppets condemned China for an event that did not happen. As we now know, there was no massacre in Tiananmen Square. It was just another Washington lie like Tonkin Gulf, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Iranian nukes, etc. It is an amazing fact that the world lives in a false reality created by Washington’s lies.
The movie, The Matrix, is a true depiction of life in the West. The population lives in a false reality created for them by their rulers. A handful of humans have escaped the false existence and are committed to bringing humans back to reality. They rescue Neo, “The One,” who they believe correctly to have the power to free humans from the false reality in which they live. Morpheus, the leader of the rebels, explains to Neo:
“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
I experience this every time I write a column. Protests from those determined not to be unplugged arrive in emails and on those websites that expose their writers to slander by government trolls in comment sections. Don’t believe real reality, they insist, believe the false reality.
The Matrix even encompasses part of the Russian and Chinese population, especially those educated in the West and those susceptible to Western propaganda, but on the whole those populations know the difference between lies and truth. The problem for Washington is that the propaganda that prevails over the Western peoples does not prevail over the Russian and Chinese governments.
How do you think China reacts when Washington declares the South China Sea to be an area of US national interests, allocates 60 percent of its vast fleet to the Pacific, and constructs new US air and naval bases from the Philippines to Vietnam?
Suppose all Washington intends is to keep taxpayer funding alive for the military/security complex which launders some of the taxpayers’ money and returns it as political campaign contributions. Can Russia and China take the risk of viewing Washington’s words and deeds in this limited way?
So far the Russians, and only the Russians (and Chinese), have remained sensible. Lavrov, the Foreign Minister said: “At this stage, we want to give our partners a chance to calm down. We’ll see what happens next. If absolutely baseless accusations against Russia continue, it there are attempts to pressure us with economic leverage, then we may reevaluate the situation.”
If the White House Fool, Washington’s media whores and European vassals convince Russia that war is in the cards, war will be in the cards. As there is no prospect whatsoever of NATO being able to mount a conventional offensive threat against Russia anywhere near the size and power of the German invasion force in 1941 that met with destruction, the war will be nuclear, which will mean the end of all of us.
Keep that firmly in mind as Washington and its media whores continue to beat the drums for war. Keep in mind also that a long history proves beyond all doubt that everything Washington and the presstitute media tells you is a lie serving an undeclared agenda. You cannot rectify the situation by voting Democrat instead of Republican or by voting Republican instead of Democrat.
Thomas Jefferson told us his solution: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
There are few patriots in Washington but many tyrants.
Undermining The Rule Of Law
April 23 2014 | By Dr Muriel Newman | From: NZCPR
Democracy is based on four key elements – free and fair elections, the active participation of citizens in politics and civic life, the protection of human rights, and the upholding of the rule of law.
By ensuring all citizens are treated equally, the rule of law prevents discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnic group, or gender. With an independent judiciary to ensure that no-one – not even a monarch or elected ruler – is above the law, upholding the rule of law is a safeguard of crucial importance for the citizens of any modern democracy.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Judge Anthony Willy – a retired District Court Judge and former Canterbury University Law Lecturer – has examined the state of the rule of law in New Zealand and shares his concerns. In his briefing paper, Privilege and the Rule of Law, Judge Willy explains that nothing is more important to the preservation and enjoyment of the freedoms we take for granted than the protection of the Rule of Law:
“The purpose of this brief and of necessity incomplete excursion into the constitutional significance of the Rule of Law is to examine the constitutional health of New Zealand in 2014, a country which any informed commentator will assert pays careful attention to the observance of the Rule of Law.
We certainly have all of the trappings: a democratically elected Parliament with universal franchise, a strong Judicial tradition, the members of which enjoy guaranteed tenure, and are independent of Parliament and the Executive, the process of judicial review by which the decisions of officials and Parliament can be tested for legality and due process, a Bill of Rights which enshrines all of the content of the rule of law in unambiguous terms. So it would appear that constitutionally all is rosy in this garden of ours."
“And so it is with one worrying exception and that is the growing trend in some areas of public policy towards preferring the economic and civil rights of Maori people above those of non Maori, for no better reason than their ethnicity. No other ethnic group is seeking privileges not available to all, but the same arguments would apply if one should emerge.”
He argues that while reverse discrimination initiatives introduced over the years in the name of improving Maori health, education, and welfare, have been widely accepted by the public, it is the more recent demands for the ownership and control of public resources – and the sharing of sovereign power – that are causing concern.
“Maori are embarked on making more and more strident claims to unequal treatment based solely on their ethnicity. Among the more worrying are: Claims of a political nature for example to share in the sovereignty of New Zealand, claims to unelected representation as of right on a number of public bodies such as Regional and District Councils, claims to the right to occupy increasing areas of the fore shore and seabed to the exclusion of other members of society, claims to a rent from assets such as geo thermal steam, and increasingly to share in the value of river water where it is of some economic significance.
There are also claims to intellectual property rights to vegetation which grows commonly in New Zealand, and to the air waves, on the basis these are treasures which are protected by the Treaty of Waitangi. These claims are facilitated by the growing trend towards provisions being inserted into plans prepared by regional authorities under the Resource Management Act giving emphasis to often vaguely worded Maori rights and claimed privileges.”
Judge Willy explains that, “The basis for these claims rests solely on the proposition that the claimants are to some extent of Maori descent. If successful therefore they are thus in clear breach of a fundamental component of the Rule of Law. If such claims are to be granted solely on the basis of race, then what next.
No member of the society any longer has the protection of the equal treatment component of the Rule of Law, and as a concept regulating the conduct of the affairs of society The Rule of law is fatally compromised. The inevitable consequence is that New Zealand will cease to be a society in which the Rule of Law is paramount, to one in which race based privilege or some other criterion depending on which group is seeking the privilege, becomes the deciding factor in who gets what benefits from society, and what opportunities are open to whom.”
The never-ending demands by iwi and the continual appeasement by governments are clear indications that New Zealand’s political system has been captured by an interest group pushing for Maori supremacy. Fundamentally, Maoridom’s elite have persuaded politicians that their genetic inheritance guarantees them superior status to all other citizens. Dressed up as bogus claims of Treatypartnership and sovereignty rights, successive governments have knowingly compromised the rule of law by granting special privileges based on superior race demands.
This is extremely dangerous.
Corporate iwi are now claiming their genetic inheritance gives them the right to become a ruling class in New Zealand. They are demanding reserved seats so they can sit at the ‘top table’ alongside the government – without having to be elected. Yet reserved seats are an anathema to democracy – they not only undermine the rule of law, but they also corrupt the one-person-one vote principle on which our system of government is based.
In a 2010 speech, the Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples, revealed a deep disdain for democracy, calling “one vote for one person” and “democratic elections”, “artificial political concoctions”. He explained that, “The Maori kaupapa were principles that promoted ‘equity’ and ‘inclusiveness’, surely the ideals of a ‘civilised’ society. We must begin to recognise that democracy has many expressions, many ways of mobilising voices and representation, rather than statically holding onto dominant axioms.”
It is the long term aim of the Maori sovereignty movement to hold, not just one or two reserved seats on governing bodies, but 50 percent. Even though Maori represent a minor part of the population and the two race-based parties combined gained less than 3 percent popular support at the last election, in this post Treaty-settlement era, their crusade is for a half of governing seats to be determined by race for use by their appointed elite, with 50 percent for everyone else.
In spite of the fact that such co-governancearrangements fly in the face of the rule of law and democracy itself, the government – both local and central – are already establishing such arrangements to control crucial public resources, such as the Waikato River, the Hauraki Gulf, and the Urewera National Park.
The naked ambition of iwi driving this agenda (as submissions to the government’s constitutional review reveal only too clearly) is to set themselves up as a permanent ruling elite. By holding 50 percent of the votes on governing bodies, they can control the country by default. That government is playing along – threatening the integrity of the rule of law and democracy itself – is deplorable.
Unfortunately, while the public are increasingly alarmed by these developments, many elected representatives are supportive.
These issues reached a head in New Plymouth last week when the Mayor put forward a proposal to the 15-member District Council to appoint six iwi members with full voting rights onto influential council committees. He justified the proposal on the basis that “Iwi participation in local government is necessary because they’re our treaty partner”.
Under the Local Government Act, councils are required to provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to the decision-making process. In most cases, local iwi have privileged status as an ‘affected party’ under the Resource Management Act, which means that councils will refer consents to them as a matter of course. Most councils also have liaison committees to ensure that local iwi are kept well informed, especially on issues involving submissions.
The problem is that many cash-rich iwi now want more. Being able to approve or block consents is no longer enough. They want decision-making rights – not through the normal democratic process, but through the back door.
The New Plymouth District Council vote showed five council members were in favour of race-based representation, while seven were opposed; three were absent. While the motion was defeated, the matter does not rest there.
Te Atiawa iwi representative Peter Moeahu threatened the council: “It is of grave concern when New Plymouth councillors deliberately act contrary to local government law and spit in the face of iwi, the Crown’s Treaty partner. The law is clear: Council has a legal obligation to engage with iwi. They refuse to do so. I am in Wellington next week and will raise this issue with government officials. I expect other iwi of north Taranaki may do the same.”
After the move to appoint iwi onto the District Council was defeated, the Taranaki Regional Council chief executive Basil Chamberlain revealed that they too were planning to appoint iwi with full voting rights onto influential council committees. The chief executive explained that “the issue was still under discussion and would be confirmed when Treaty settlements went through”. Council minutes from a meeting on March 18 stated, “It was noted … that the matter of Iwi representation on some standing committees of the Council was still being carefully worked through with Taranaki Iwi and will possibly be another twelve months before given effect to.”
The Local Government Commission, under the leadership of Basil Morrison (who is also a member of the Waitangi Tribunal) is now pushing a race-based agenda. In any area where amalgamation is being considered, the Commission is recommending super councils and Maori statutory boards. If the Commission tries to force through such changes against the will of residents and ratepayers, locals have an opportunity to fight back through region-wide referenda.
However, if the Commission tries to force through its agenda against the widespread wishes of the public, then the Commission itself should be sacked – for failing to respect the views of locals and for undermining the rule of law.
Upholding the rule of law is crucial to democracy. This week we have launched a petition calling for the abolition of the Maori seats. The 1986 Royal Commission on the Electoral System recommended the abolition of the Maori seats, if MMP was introduced.
While strong advocacy by Maori leaders ensured the seats were retained, their existence – through Maori-only parties holding the balance of power – is now leading to an escalation of race-based laws and extremism, which is seriously undermining democracy and dividing our country.
It is time race-based seats were removed, to strengthen the rule of law and to heal our democracy.
Citizens's Democracy - The Way Of The Future
February 11 2014 | By Dr Muriel Newman | From: NZCPR
“The idea that referendums will improve the quality of New Zealand's democracy is a delusion. Many steps can be taken to improve the quality of New Zealand's democracy. The increased use of referendums is not one of them. The Citizens' Initiated Referendum Act 1993 should never have been passed. The Act should be repealed.”
- Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Dominion Post, December 24, 2014.
In a newspaper article late last year, constitutional lawyer and former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer called for the abolition of the Citizens’ Initiated Referendum Act. This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Professor Martin Devlin, a member of the Independent Constitutional Review Panel, rejects Sir Geoffrey’s recommendations, believing - like many other New Zealanders - that for twenty years citizens initiated referenda have played an important role in our democracy:
“Sir Geoffrey sees in referenda, a powerful voice of the people which governments and politicians do not like, for this is the people talking, not the disingenuous politician who, though purportedly in office to express the will of the people, often believes that he or she is there because he or she personally deserves to be there”.
As well as calling for the abolition of citizens’ referenda, in his article Sir Geoffrey recommends radical changes such as entrenching the Bill of Rights in a new written constitution (to put lawyers and judges in charge of law-making in New Zealand) as well as “Better protection of Maori values and aspirations”.
In his critique, An Arrogant Approach to Democracy, Professor Devlin explains that underpinning the Maori rights agenda is the partnership myth - a discredited political construct based on fabricated claims of Treaty supremacy. Nonetheless, the concept is being used by the government to justify co-governance, an anti-democratic 50:50 power sharing arrangement, whereby half of the representatives on an official body controlling public resources act for a minority group of tribal elite, while the other half represent the vast majority of New Zealand citizens.
As Professor Devlin points out, “I would bet that if such a proposition as ‘co-governance’ were to be openly put before the people of New Zealand, in a referendum, it would be rejected out of hand. So, in my opinion, the strategy of the Left is clear - reduce the power of the people; do not, whatever you do, allow the people to decide important issues via referenda; and rejig the process of government, judiciary and public service accordingly, to ensure the intentions of those in positions of power, not the people at large, take precedence.”
It can be argued that it is the detractors of citizens’ democracy, like Sir Geoffrey, that are out of step with society, and that more direct participation is needed, not less. Especially at a time when nations around the world are struggling to find better ways to connect with voters and keep them engaged in the democratic process.
New Zealand is no exception. A million eligible voters did not bother to vote in the 2011 General Election - the lowest percentage turnout for an election in over 100 years. Only 93 percent of the 3,276,000 eligible voters were enrolled, and with only 2,257,336 people voting, more than 1 million who could have voted, stayed at home.
According to the Electoral Commission’s 2011 General Election review, almost a third of non-voters said “it was obvious who would win so why bother”. This was up from 19 percent in 2008, when it was a tighter race. Other reasons for not voting in 2011 were similar to 2008 and included 9 percent with “work commitments”, 14 percent with “other commitments”, 14 percent who “couldn’t be bothered”, 11 percent who “could not work out who to vote for”, and 8 percent who thought their vote “would not make a difference”.
Some 64 percent of the non-voters had considered voting in the election, and 43 percent made their final decision not to vote on Election Day. A third indicated “I don’t trust politicians” was a key factor in their decision not to vote. In other words, more than a quarter of a million New Zealanders who were eligible to vote were too disillusioned with politicians and the political system to vote.
Looking back, it was voter anger and disillusionment that led to New Zealand’s adoption of MMP in the early nineties. The problem is that two decades on, many now believe that MMP is responsible for the increasing alienation of voters.
While MMP certainly gave New Zealand a more diverse group of parliamentary representatives, the extreme nature of some of the ideas they promote is a serious concern. By rights, the main coalition parties – National and Labour – should safeguard citizens by rejecting the more radical policies proposed by minor parties. But that’s not how MMP seems to work. To the dismay of centre-right voters, John Key’s National Government has been pushing the Maori Party’s Treaty supremacist agenda onto the country, while under Helen Clark’s Labour Government the Greens’ radical environmental and extreme socialist ideals were forced into law.
These actions are exacerbating public disillusionment with representative democracy - especially as the abolition of New Zealand’s Upper House of Parliament in 1951, has left us with no public safeguards to constrain government power. Since MMP seems to be here to stay, the answer surely lies in empowering the public and harnessing their wisdom through citizen’s democracy.
In Switzerland, citizens initiated referenda are a bedrock democratic institution, that has enabled the country to become one of the world’s most successful and prosperous nations.
In the USA, almost half of the states have embraced some form of direct democracy, and while their approaches vary, most tie the support level needed to trigger a referendum to the voter turnout at the last election for Governor. Given that in New Zealand around 800,000 registered electors did not vote in the last election, and so are unlikely to bother to vote in a referendum, using the “turnout” vote as the reference, rather than the number of registered electors, would be more reasonable, especially as it is compulsory to register, but not to vote.
As the Citizens Initiated Referendum Act stands, the support of 10 percent of the 3,070,847 registered electors – around 307,000 signatures - must be collected within 12 months for a referendum petition to succeed. We suggest that it should be changed to 10 percent of the 2,257,336 “turnout” vote, or 226,000 signatures.
To be consistent, however, if support for a referendum petition is pegged to the turnout vote, the referendum vote should be too. In other words, for a referendum to succeed, the number in favour should be more than 50 percent of the turnout vote in the last general election. This would ensure that the referendum is not “captured” by powerful vested interest groups that have the ability to run strong campaigns, but don’t necessarily represent the views of the wider public. If Citizens Initiated Referenda results are pegged to the turnout vote in this way, there is no reason why they should not be binding on the government.
A couple of examples will demonstrate how the system would work in practice.
The Green Party’s anti-smacking law was foisted on the country in 2007 as a result of political deal-making: there was no evidence that child abusers would take any notice of a smacking ban, and opponents warned the new law would undermine parental authority.
A Citizens Initiated Referendum against the law change was held in 2009, when 87 percent of the public voted “No” to the question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”
With 2,356,536 voters turning out at the 2008 General Election, the 1,470,755 “No” votes represented 62 percent of the turnout vote, and the referendum would not only have succeeded, but it would have been binding on the government.
In comparison, last year’s Citizens Initiated Referendum on asset sales was launched not long after the government had won a mandate at the 2011 General Election for their asset sales programme. Since the referendum was promoted by the Greens, Labour, the Trade Unions, and Student Unions, as well as Grey Power, it was widely regarded as a political stunt, and many people didn’t bother to vote. In response to the question, “Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand?”, 67 percent voted “No”.
However, with a 2011 General Election voter turnout of 2,257,336, the 920,188 “No” votes represented around 41 percent of the turnout vote, and the result would not have been binding on the government.
Provisions should also be made to allow citizens to veto laws that have just been passed. Because a Citizens’ Veto challenge would delay a new law from being enacted, haste would be required. Again, using the US model, support for a successful veto petition should be set at 5 percent of the turnout vote, with a 3 month time frame to ensure there is strong public support for the veto. Referencing to the 2,257,336 voter turnout at the last election, veto petitioners would need to collect 112,867 signatures within 3 months to succeed. The outcome of the referendum - if it exceeded 50 percent of the turnout vote - would be binding and would result in the new law either being approved by the public and enacted, or rejected and repealed.
The key point is that if Citizens Initiated Referendum results were to be tied to voter turnout, the government could be assured that only propositions that had widespread public support would succeed. This would remove a key objection to making referenda binding. It would also mean that radical law-change proposals, with no public mandate, would be unlikely to make it past the discussion stage. The end result would be a government far more accountable and responsive to the people they were elected to represent - 'government of the people, by the people, for the people'.
Those yet to be convinced of the merits of citizens’ democracy should think on this: under the previous voting system, each Member of Parliament was directly accountable to their electorate. If the people in their electorate lost confidence in them, they were voted out. Under MMP, however, there are 50 list Members of Parliament who are no longer directly accountable to the public - only to party bosses. Binding referenda with the safeguard mentioned above would restore the balance and ensure that the people could always have a final say.
Citizens' democracy is the way of the future. Unfortunately, since most of the political establishment see it as a weakening of their hold on power, the impetus for change is likely to come, not from the politicians, but from the people.
Last year the NZCPR signalled that we were establishing a people's movement for change. I am pleased to announce that the Five Principles Movement campaign site is now up and running at www.5PM.org.nz. The five principles on which the movement is based are:
· Democracy - strengthening democracy through binding referenda,
· Equality - promoting equal rights with an end to preferential treatment based on race,
· Opportunity - creating an opportunity society so New Zealanders can get ahead,
· Freedom - protecting private property rights as a foundation of individual freedom, and
· Family – promoting social policy that strengthens the family.
By harnessing the wisdom and power of informed citizens, we hope 5PM can help to change the future of New Zealand! We invite you to visit the 5PM website to find out more and to register your interest.
An Arrogant Affront To Democracy In New Zealand
February 9 2014 | By Professor Martin Devlin | From: NZCPR
Those desperately reading the newspapers for something (anything) interesting over the Christmas period might have noticed an extraordinary article by constitutional lawyer and former academic, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, on Christmas Eve, in which he suggests that New Zealanders should not rely upon citizen-initiated referendums as an adjunct to our democratic process. (Actually, I prefer the Latin plural of referenda, myself). Sir Geoffrey dismisses this important element of our democratic process, stating that we (the people) are deluded (!) if we think that referenda will improve the quality of New Zealand’s democracy.
In an often contradictory and inconsistent argument, Sir Geoffrey rubbishes the Citizens Initiated Referendum Act 1983 on the grounds that (a) such processes have not worked elsewhere, (really? ask the Swiss people), (b) the Act has made no impact on public policy, (really? you mean we will see more partial asset sales in the future?), and (c) if binding, the effectiveness of government and political parties would be blunted (really? you mean the voice of the people as expressed in a referendum interferes with and blunts the effectiveness of governments and political parties?)!
Let’s imagine that the citizens of New Zealand are given the opportunity to endorse a change or changes to our present constitutional arrangements – as has recently been the case in Egypt. Would it not be expected that a referendum on such an important matter as changing the constitution would be held? Not necessarily. During the launch of the recent constitutional review the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Bill English stated that such a decision could be taken by a broad agreement in Parliament. Why is there a reluctance to allow the people to participate in such an important matter?
In his outright rejection of referenda as an expression of the people’s will, Sir Geoffrey denies the people this opportunity, relying instead on politicians to decide for us.
With that in mind, perhaps Sir Geoffrey might care to explain why the Labour party he once led, together with their far-left colleagues, the Greens, recently chose to test the public pulse on the National government’s partial assets sales programme – and in the process, sabotaged the share price? Surely Sir Geoffrey did not consider this referendum to be useless? If we believe the pundits, the result has probably dissuaded future governments from pursuing a similar policy. In this case, even a non-binding referendum appears to have had an impact.
No, it is obvious that Sir Geoffrey sees in referenda, a powerful voice of the people which governments and politicians do not like – for this is the people talking, not the disingenuous politician who, though purportedly in office to express the will of the people, often believes that s/he is there because s/he personally deserves to be there.
Sir Geoffrey’s strategy is beginning to take shape – use the one vote system to get into office, but once there, do whatever one likes or thinks appropriate, even when there is no mandate for a particular course of action, such as the recent government/Maori party constitutional review.
Where there is a mandate for a particular course of action (such as the partial asset sales program), then this can be challenged, as Labour and the Greens have done, via a referendum.
Sir Geoffrey is all for putting the brakes on our parliamentary sovereignty, which he believes is a very dangerous and “unbridled” version of Westminster-style democracy. He lauds the introduction of the MMP system as such a brake but clearly believes even this is not sufficient, even though minority parties under MMP, such as the Maori Party, are able to exercise a political influence out of all proportion to their numbers in the population (while 14 percent of the population indicated Maori descent in the 2013 census, the Maori Party won only 1.43 percent of the party votes in the 2011 general election).
Sir Geoffrey contradicts himself badly when referring to the report of the Royal Commission on the Electoral System (1986) which, whilst cautioning against the use/mis-use of referenda, approves of their use in “major constitutional issues and others where government judges it to be appropriate”. How does he reconcile this?
Most New Zealanders I know clearly support the sovereign power of Parliament, including the power to change the constitution (by referendum, surely?). There is a very simple reason for this view which seems to escape Sir Geoffrey, in spite of his many years in politics, in the law, and in public service, and that is that most of us still believe that our simple, singular vote counts. In other words, it is the people who matter and whose wishes must be seen as paramount, not the particular political and ideological biases of self-serving, egoistic politicians. Occasionally, this needs to be determined via a referendum, as would obviously be the case when changing the constitution.
Many politicians, irrespective of party philosophies, fall into an inevitable trap, which is that they see themselves as the most important element in politics, not the people. Personal publicity is much more important than what the public might happen to think, as evidenced by recent instances of personality politics (Don’t you know who I am?). In their eyes, referenda must not be encouraged, let alone be binding upon a government, for this is the voice of the people speaking, and politicians cannot have that.
As a result of his long association with politics and the law, Sir Geoffrey’s opinions deserve at least some consideration, and one might expect governments to take some notice of what he is saying. However, the rejection by the government of his recommendations regarding the Official Information Act is indicative of the fact that he might not perhaps have the influence he might like to think he has.
Sir Geoffrey recommends a written constitution and an entrenched Bill of Rights, enabling judges, who are unelected and therefore unaccountable to the people, to enforce constitutional change through the courts, thereby preventing the government “riding roughshod” over these matters. His answer? Take the power from the people. He ignores a number of recent instances of clear judicial activism and judicial politicisation in New Zealand. If the example of the United States Supreme Court is any indication, people power will be further greatly marginalised by a written constitution. If we could only trust the judiciary to keep their fingers out of the political pie, such reservations might not be necessary, but it is obvious that in certain areas, the treaty being one, we cannot depend upon their professional and personal neutrality.
Sir Geoffrey recommends an overhaul of the public service which he believes needs revision, including curbs on the “cult of management”. But, it is well-known that many public servants tend to lean politically to the left and some are not averse to leaking sensitive information if it suits. Why then does he consider the service needs to be “strengthened”? To endorse such behaviour? To inhibit such behaviour?
And finally, Sir Geoffrey recommends parliamentary reform which accords better “protection” for Maori values and aspirations – a simple, innocuous phrase no doubt? But it is this recommendation which lies at the heart of what, in my opinion, he is ultimately aiming at. Not content with the damage he has already incurred by his SOE fiddling, he is in effect signalling (but without stating as much) a sea change in the way Maori should be represented and their influence on all legislation.
A recent (November 2013) seminar in Wellington focused on the constitution and the role of the Treaty of Waitangi within it. Most of the participants actively promoted the concept of “co-governance” of New Zealand by Maori (14%) and the rest of us (86%). This concept is based on the erroneous belief that the treaty established a “partnership” between the Crown and Maori, a view which Sir Geoffrey Palmer obviously supports, but which a number of his legal colleagues, notably Judge Anthony Willy, most certainly do not.
When taken to its extreme, this view inevitably means a joint governance arrangement for New Zealand. A precedent was established by Whatarangi Winiata (founding president of the Maori Party) and the Anglican Church in New Zealand. The church is now divided into three distinct ethnic groupings, each independent of the other.
Several local and regional authorities have appointed unelected ethnic representatives to bodies to “co-govern” such public spaces as the Hauraki Gulf, without any discussion with, or mandate from, their constituents – and certainly not via a referendum. Some local authorities have appointed unelected and unaccountable persons purely on the basis of their ethnicity, to standing committees of councils, with full voting rights, enough to tip a decision in their favour.
This “co-governance” strategy is becoming accepted as a legitimate model of bi-cultural separatism and is making serious and ominous inroads into our democratic processes. The strategy is based upon keeping any discussion or mandate from the people regarding “co-governance” at a considerable distance, often obscured under the guise of inviting submissions (unstated) to a Council’s Long Term Plan, then claiming that the public ”has been consulted”. Frankly, this is outright deception.
I would bet that if such a proposition as “co-governance” were to be openly put before the people of New Zealand, in a referendum, it would be rejected out of hand. So, in my opinion, the strategy of the Left is clear – reduce the power of the people; do not, whatever you do, allow the people to decide important issues via referenda; and rejig the process of government, judiciary and public service accordingly, to ensure the intentions of those in positions of power, not the people at large, take precedence.
Take for example, the Maori Party issuing a “warning” (November, 2013) to the Speaker and to Parliament that Maori protocol must override any parliamentary protocols in the House, whenever a powhiri takes place. As one letter to the editor pointed out, parliament is not (yet) a marae.
Sir Geoffrey’s clear view is that the people’s democratic rights need to be limited to a single vote once every three years. Matters of state are much too important to allow ordinary people an active, participatory role. And we are a democracy?
Waitangi Day Reflections
February 8 2014 | By Dr Muriel Newman | From: NZCPR
“I’m over Waitangi Day. It is repugnant. It’s a ghastly affair. As I lie in bed on Waitangi morning, I know that later that evening, the news will show us irrational Maori ghastliness with spitting, smugness, self-righteousness and the usual neurotic Maori politics, in which some bizarre new wrong we’ve never thought about will be lying on the table.
“This, we will have to address and somehow apply these never-defined principles of the Treaty of Waitangi because it is, apparently, the next big resentment. There’ll be lengthy discussion, we’ll end up paying the usual millions into the hands of the Maori aristocracy and God knows where it’ll go from there.
“Well, it’s a bullshit day, Waitangi. It’s a day of lies. It is loony Maori fringe self-denial day… No, if Maori want Waitangi Day for themselves, let them have it.”
– Paul Holmes, Herald on Sunday 11 February 2012.
That straight talking got Sir Paul into a lot of trouble – even though he was doing no more than articulate what many New Zealanders think about Waitangi Day.
The seven complaints to the New Zealand Press Council, which essentially accused him of engaging in offensive “hate speech” and of belittling the Treaty, were upheld. There have been no such sanctions in other more extreme cases, such as when Member of Parliament Hone Harawira denigrated all non-Maori by claiming they were “white motherf…kers raping our land” or when Auckland University Professor Margaret Mutu called for a restriction on white immigration to New Zealand because of their “white supremacist” attitudes.
Unfortunately Waitangi Day is not what it should be – a day celebrating national unity. “He iwi tahi tatou” – Now we are one people – were the words uttered by Captain Hobson at Waitangi after the signing of the Treaty on 6 February 1840. Those are the words and sentiments we should be celebrating. Instead, it has become a day of division, where fawning and kow-towing politicians seek the favour of Maori radicals.
The annual political circus starts at Ratana in late January, as party leaders openly court Church followers for their support. It then moves to Waitangi where radical Maori take centre stage to show their disrespect towards politicians and play to the media entourage.
In retrospect, former Prime Minister Helen Clark called it right when, after being subjected to Waitangi ridicule, she refused to attend, preferring instead to celebrate Waitangi Day in Wellington. When she did eventually return to Waitangi it was under her own terms – to walk around the grounds and attend the Governor General’s function. She no longer put herself in a position where she – or the Office of Prime Minister – could be toyed with by dissidents.
Opposition party leaders have often been attacked at Waitangi. Most notable was National Party leader, Don Brash, who was subjected to abuse and mud slinging (literally!) in 2004, the year he delivered his game-changing Nationhood speech at Orewa. That speech, which outlined the “dangerous drift towards racial separatism in New Zealand”, and the establishment of an “entrenched Treaty grievance industry”, was responsible for escalating support for the then ailing party to such a level that they almost won the 2005 General Election.
Dr Brash ended his speech with a comment that is arguably even more relevant today than it was a decade ago: “In this country, it should not matter what colour you are, or what your ethnic origin might be. It should not matter whether you have migrated to this country and only recently become a citizen, or whether your ancestors arrived two, five, 10 or 20 generations ago. [W]e must build a modern, prosperous, democratic nation based on one rule for all. We cannot allow the loose threads of 19th century law and custom to unravel our attempts at nation-building in the 21st century.”
John Key has also encountered hostility and aggression at Waitangi – both as leader of the opposition and as Prime Minister. In 2009, brothers John and Wikitana Popata, nephews of MP Hone Harawira, were convicted of assaulting the newly elected Prime Minister and were sentenced to 100 hours of community service. In spite of that, Mr Key has made a commitment to attend Waitangi Day annually – as long as he is Prime Minister – saying that the way in which he is treated will reflect on the Ngapuhi hosts.
One of the “official” events that takes place in advance of the Waitangi Day ceremonies is the annual meeting the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet Ministers have with the Iwi Leaders Group. While the radicals are successfully gaining media attention through noisy protest and exhibitionism, iwi leaders are busy achieving significant power and influence through playing a careful and considered game. They walk a fine line between being respectful on the one hand, and mining that respect to extract as much benefit as possible from the public purse, on the other. They are so good at it, that most New Zealanders do not realise just how much manipulation is actually going on.
This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Independent Constitutional Review Panel member Mike Butler explains:
“Iwi Leaders Group members may be described as 50 percenters because they routinely claim half of everything. While this Maori association has been generously described as performing commercial and policy functions, it operates like a one-way destination, a sink hole, for the nation’s wealth. Little returns to the nation by way of tax because apart from minimal GST requirements, these new entities are classified as charitable, and therefore tax-exempt. The ruling party of the day expects a return in terms of votes.”
In his article No hearing for non-iwi constitutional group, Mike outlines how Iwi Leaders are pushing for ‘co-governance’, whereby, using a fictional claim of ‘partnership’, tribal corporations are able to manoeuvre themselves into positions of 50/50 power-sharing with the New Zealand government:
“A race-based system of co-governance has emerged. Everyone gets to elect representatives who form a government. But this elected government acts as though it is in partnership with non-elected private Maori groups that have been created and funded by – the government.”
It was American writer and philosopher Eric Hoffer who said, “Every great cause begins with a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
This is exactly how it has played out for the tribal elite. The Maori sovereignty movement’s cause was to “right the wrongs of the past” through another round of Treaty settlements. Even though most tribes had already received settlements from past governments, they were able to persuade gullible politicians to settle them afresh. But as the settlement business started to draw to a close, the elite began searching for new ways to build their wealth, and came up with the notion of co-governance, which is essentially a racket to extract money from the public purse and gain control over public resources.
That our government has decided to play along with co-governance is a scandal in itself. In effect, the government is selling out New Zealand’s fundamental democratic principle of equality before the law by giving Maori big business a controlling interest in the governance of the country. In doing so they are elevating the tribal elite to a status superior to all other citizens.
The reality is that co-governance is a cultural goldmine. That’s why the approach being taken by iwi leaders is so careful. They know that once co-governance becomes the norm, it will provide a never-ending income steam – and source of power. Unlike those engaging in the Waitangi theatrics, these players are shrewd enough to know that progress must be made incrementally, so as not to “scare the horses”. They know not to act in a manner that seems anything but entirely reasonable.
Convincing New Zealanders of the dangers that exist in co-governance is not easy. The whole concept seems so far-fetched, that most people do not believe or understand that it can be happening. However, it is time that New Zealanders became less naïve and began to recognise the agenda that is being played out – and then to realise that it suits our politicians to go along with it!
The co-governance racket is already well advanced. With the Maori Party (representing the iwi elite) in the driving seat as a coalition partner, John Key’s government is progressing it rapidly. And don’t be fooled, a Green-Labour government would almost certainly do the same – probably with bells and whistles on!
Putting an end to the tribal elite’s insatiable appetite for privileges and rewards will not be easy – it never has been. Take the case of the Maori seats. Established on a temporary basis in 1867, there have been numerous efforts over the years to abolish them. The last serious attempt arose from the recommendations of the 1986 Royal Commission on the Electoral System. They said that if MMP was introduced, the Maori seats should go. They argued that MMP would dramatically increase the representation of minority groups in Parliament, and that if Maori seats were retained, they would lead to an over-representation of Maori in Parliament.
Accordingly, when the 1993 Electoral Act introducing MMP was tabled in Parliament, there were no provisions for separate Maori representation. In accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission, the four Maori seats were being abolished.
In response, however, Maori leaders gathered at Turangawaewae and planned a campaign to not only retain the Maori seats, but to increase their numbers. As a result of their success, there are now seven Maori seats, and – as predicted – an over-representation of Maori in Parliament.
Then there was the attempt by Helen Clark’s government to remove the Treaty of Waitangi as a guiding principle from the school curriculum. When a new draft curriculum was released in 2007, the Treaty had been dumped as a guiding principle. However, following intense political pressure from vested interest groups, it was reinstated. This means that New Zealand children from the youngest age continue to be indoctrinated with highly politicised versions of the Treaty and history, as well as Maori culture and spirituality – a situation many New Zealanders believe is totally inappropriate.
A current example is the attempt by the Speaker of the House to change Parliament’s Maori protocols. The present protocols prevent women from speaking and force them to sit in the back row during powhiri. David Carter believes that this needs to be changed so that all of Parliament’s protocols recognise the equal status of women in New Zealand.
Predictably, the Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has resorted to mobster tactics, threatening to boycott events if the Maori protocols are changed. But the Speaker should stand firm – in a country that was the first in the world to give women the vote, it is totally unacceptable that on official occasions, we promote a culture that treats women as second class citizens – especially when we do not accept other cultures with similar prejudices. Well done to the Speaker in leading this well overdue renaissance.
All of these issues lead to a fundamental question which all New Zealanders need to answer – are we one people as Hobson declared 174 years ago, or are we a nation divided on racial lines as radical Maori want us to be?
It is the answer to this question that will determine our future.
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