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February 16, 2022

On Friday February 11, 2022 I  tuned into a Zoom meeting hosted by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) to discuss Treaty of Waitangi partnerships in local government.  
Firstly, the principal objective in the constitution of LGNZ which hosted the discussion is to “To promote the national interests of local government through the promotion of LGNZ’s vision as approved by the National Council from time to time.”
That would suggest a high degree of non-partisan objectivity in seeking out and coordinating a national response from local authorities to Central Government initiatives. We have been betrayed in that by LGNZ which has instead become an advocate for Central Government’s separatist and race-based policies without notice of that intent much less a mandate from member councils.
Instead of objective analysis and honest context we got almost twenty minutes of irrelevant and sycophantic histrionics about the atrocities of the New Zealand colonial era as justification for affording Maori, and those who identify as Maori, special privilege in local government.
I have studied, written about and lectured on these subjects for more than forty years and there is no doubt the actions of colonial authorities, from March 17 1860 to at least the end of 1880, were illegal and reprehensible in the extreme. These actions in New Zealand mirrored the attitudes and actions of most other colonising nations of the time. They were, and remain, inexcusable.  
However the responsibility for providing apologies, legal recognition, recompense and restitution for that massive dispossession and suppression however rests exclusively with the Crown, represented in New Zealand by the executive arm of Central Government and no one else, not even the Parliamentary Opposition much less local government. Nor can that role and responsibility be arbitrarily delegated to the general populace via their local district council without a clear public mandate to do so. That question has never been put to the public at large.          
There was an assumption that district councillors need to be “educated” about Maori culture as part of their role as elected representative of their communities. This was was one of the most breathtaking examples of patronising arrogance I have witnessed in a very long time. It was both demeaning to Maori and potentially offensive to non-Maori.
The differences between Maori and Pakeha culture, for want of better terms, are minimal and amount to little more than the observance and performance of appropriate rituals and protocols on the marae or other places as appropriate. I have lived in both worlds and have spoken both languages for almost 78 years and what I heard at the zoom discussion was inaccurate, ill-informed and unacceptably stupid. 
It was stated a number of times by participants that Maori don’t understand how local governments works which is why they don’t get involved. Few people of any race know that prior to election and many never learn thereafter. That however suggests very clearly that Maori who want to become involved need to be educated in that process but I suggest lack of interest is the is the principal cause of non-involvement as there are no impediments, legal or social, to Maori involvement and never have been. Many Maori who are interested in local government have been elected across the country by largely Pakeha communities without any need for patronising special assistance of the colonial era for no other reason they were judged to be the right person for the job. That’s how it should be.       
Comments challenging and opposing these moves towards separatism, made in the breakout chat rooms I was involved in, were not reported back to the main group and that was an improper misrepresentation of that discussion and a clear indication of a pre-determined outcome.  
The artificial and quite recent construct that Maori have rights of representation over and above that of all other citizens is divisive separatism, not backed by the facts of history, contrary to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (1990) [1], contrary to the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi [2] and contrary to the solemn oath I took as a Justice of the Peace [3]. The current move to separatism based on race is irreconcilable with those basic ethics.
To manufacture that division and to promote the Government’s socialist agenda and racial disharmony without a clear mandate from the electorate at large is both dishonourable and deceitful. (Tom O’Connor, MNZM, JP, Waimate District Councillor.)

[1] S12 Electoral rights; Every New Zealand citizen who is of or over the age of 18 years—(a)has the right to vote in genuine periodic elections of members of the House of Representatives, which elections shall be by equal suffrage and by secret ballot;and (b)is qualified for membership of the House of Representatives.
[2] In 1989 the Government, under Labour Prime Minister David Lange, decided, in collaboration with the Waitangi Tribunal and the New Zealand Maori Council on five principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. They were;      1.The government has the right to govern and to make laws

  1. Iwi have the right to organise as iwi and, under the law, to control the resources they own.
  2. All New Zealanders are equal under the law
  3. Both the government and the Iwi are obliged to accord each other reasonable cooperation on major issues of common concern.
  4. The government is responsible for providing effective processes for the resolution of grievances in the expectation that reconciliation can occur.

[3] … “to do right by all manner of people without fear or favour.”