Decolonization, the Media, and Working in the Public Service

The holiday period has brought time to reflect and recover from the post-election trauma. I was stressed by the last election. I was deeply concerned that the worst and most divisive government in New Zealand history may get re-elected along with its equally problematic parties, the Greens and Te Pati Maori. Thankfully, the public saw the impending problem and voted in a right-wing coalition. However, the impending doom of a woke and ideological driven left-wing coalition that disregards the working class and is more concerned with critical race theory, decolonization and gender identity, has only been kicked down the road for now. The war on commonsense is just beginning.

I had many holiday discussions with friends that brought my headline for this article into fruition. A friend said she believed in decolonization. I asked her if she was happy to be decolonized and she said, yes. Does she know what this means? Probably not. Decolonizing has very strong racial and critical theory undertones that goes to the heart of challenging and changing the basis of our education, the media, workplaces, and our beliefs. The Collins dictionary defines decolonization as the means of giving political independence to a country that was previously a colony. There is also this interpretation from the Community-Based Global Learning Collaborative. “Decolonization is about “cultural, psychological, and economic freedom” for Indigenous people with the goal of achieving Indigenous sovereignty — the right and ability of Indigenous people to practice self-determination over their land, cultures, and political and economic systems. Colonialism is a historical and ongoing global project where settlers continue to occupy land, dictate social, political, and economic systems, and exploit Indigenous people and their resources. It is a global endeavour.”

As Helene von Bismarck of the British Scholar Society highlights, “This transformative process called decolonization is now an important field of historical study, but there is as yet no consensus about what it really entailed. Arguably, there are as many definitions of decolonization as there are books about that theme. To make matters worse, the debate about imperialism and decolonization is often conducted in a highly politicized manner. While every historian ultimately has to decide for himself how he defines decolonization, it is worth keeping in mind that he is navigating a methodological minefield between two extreme views, both of which have practical advantages, but are also ridden with significant flaws.”

The problem of decolonization is now entwined with critical theory and its off shoots of critical race theory, for example. It is now intrinsically linked to New Zealand’s treaty obligations, distorting its meaning. We have seen it morph into our education system, where even left leaning educators lament how it is debasing our history and science curriculums. The truth and the bases of fundamental science no longer matter, as they are the product of the colonizer. For example, one plus one does not equal two. That is a colonizers interpretation of maths.

The problem of decolonization has now moved into the core of where New Zealand (and much of Western society) is headed. It challenges the democratic process. In her article titled “The state of democracy,” Dr Muriel Newman reviewed the previous government and our fragile democracy. She states that the four pillars of democracy are “the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and the media – that preserve our freedoms and democratic rights.” She highlights how these four pillars have been challenged and undermined. In regard to the legislature, the Royal Commission in 1986 recommended the abolition of the Māori seats. But now we have “Māori make up only 13.7 per cent of the voting-age population, they presently hold a disproportionate 27 per cent of the seats in Parliament. This massive over-representation of Māori in Parliament not only undermines proportionality, but it discriminates against non-Māori and is in breach of the guarantee of freedom from discrimination in our Bill of Rights and the Human Rights Act.”

Regarding the executive, Labour secretly introduced He Puapua, a founding document to decolonize New Zealand, with major implications. As Newman states, “The 50:50 “co-governance” mechanism it used, which gives representatives of the 17 per cent minority of the population who identify as Māori the same voting power as representatives of the 83 per cent majority, undermines democracy as we know it. By giving representatives of the tribal elite almost five times the voting power in democratic decision-making as the representatives of the general public, co-governance is not only grossly discriminatory, but it erodes the one-person, one-vote foundation stone of our Westminster democratic system.

“Furthermore, by giving Māori activists 50 per cent of voting rights on decision-making boards, they gain the power of veto – effectively replacing democracy with tribal totalitarianism. Co-governance is based on a fabricated reinterpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi as a “partnership”, in spite of the fact that it is constitutionally impossible for the Crown to enter into a partnership with subjects.

“Not only were co-governance arrangements forced onto public sector organisations as part of the He Puapua rollout, but private sector groups that engage with the government through registration or funding – including charities, real estate firms, architects, engineers and lawyers – were also targeted and required to promote co-governance and the fictional Treaty partnership. These racist and discriminatory arrangements should be removed.”

Regarding the media, Newman states Labour established “a $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund that required recipients to not only promote their fabricated Treaty partnership agenda, but to embed a commitment to the Treaty and a Māori worldview in their business operations.”

Consequently, the mainstream media (MSM) have not taken kindly to a change of government. It is not for me to defend the new coalition, but the media’s obtuse and derisive view of the new government is galling. Karl du Fresne kindly provides a perspective of how one commentator has openly loathed the new government in his article “An epic display of dummy-spitting.” As he states about John Campbell, “If you wanted proof that brazenly activist journalism is not only accepted but encouraged, even by state-owned media, there it is, right there. Clearly, TVNZ is untroubled by the fact that the man it calls its Chief Correspondent adopts an unashamedly political posture and sets himself up as an outspoken adversary of a democratically elected government.  It’s a measure of his ego that he can take such a provocatively defiant stance and expect to get away with it.” Du Fresne quite rightly states that “On a broader note, the government has a problem. It owns two powerful media organisations, TVNZ and RNZ, that are essentially hostile to it and will function as centres of resistance to its policies. Democratically speaking, this is intolerable.”

As Chris Trotter wrote in his article “The Liberators,” National, Act and NZ First have a problem. “The Coalition’s problem lies in the incompatibility of its major donors’ expectations with the hopes of the many thousands of voters who’d abandoned a Left they no longer recognised, for a Right that had promised to defend Democracy. It’s a problem that will develop slowly, only becoming apparent as the impact of the Coalition’s first bold steps to roll back the unmandated reforms of the Sixth Labour Government is absorbed by a judiciary, a public service, universities, and a mainstream media all determined to “resist” the “liberation” of October 14, 2023.”

Trotter adds, “In other words, the evidence of their eyes and ears notwithstanding, the voters were looking for an intelligent, rational, evidence-driven and responsible conservative government whose most important goal was to not just stop Labour in its tracks, but to explain to their fellow New Zealanders – and, hopefully, to Labour itself – exactly why it had to be stopped.

“Not only explain, but demonstrate, by means of classically liberal legislative and/or regulatory reform, how democracy is expected to operate.

“One of the best places to begin would be with the Waitangi Tribunal. Not by abolishing it, but by making it work in the way it was originally intended to work. For years now, the Tribunal has not been operating like a court. When claimants come before the Tribunal they are not met by the stern, adversarial advocacy of the Crown.

“Their claims are not disputed by lawyers determined to protect the honour of the New Zealand state, and to test every piece of evidence presented by the claimants as rigorously as if they were involved in a murder case. Oral history has been permitted to trump the history of written records. Long-nurtured grievances, unsupported by incontrovertible evidence, have, in a surfeit of generosity, been settled.

“The Crown has been made to apologise for historical “crimes” that have never been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

“All this, and the Tribunal’s dangerous “mission creep” must be brought to an end. When it began, the Tribunal understood that its power did not extend to passing judgment on land in private ownership, and that compensation was for the Crown to determine as it saw fit.”

This is how decolonization is working in New Zealand. It has infiltrated the very basis of what we do. It is affecting all of us in damaging ways. I have spoken to consultants who work in government and public servants alike. They are all deeply traumatised and affected by the pervasive influence of decolonization. To witnessing managers unable to make decisions, being bullied by Māori activists in their departments, thus too scared to make a decision that may upset the Māori activist amongst them. To educators in government witnessing our education system being trashed in the name of decolonization, to even school principals resigning because they have simply had enough. Finally, to others, who are simply disillusioned and hating their jobs. You will see none of this in our MSM for two reasons. Firstly, MSM being a party to decolonization will not report on such discontent in the public service. Secondly, as one of the consultants I spoke to said, they are too scared to go public for fear of losing their jobs.

Decolonization is both a dangerous and destabilising concept. However, that is its very purpose, to change how we think and act, and to replace what we know and believe with something else. That something else is a concept that may well have a very unhappy ending for many of us.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mike

    Bloody well said David and good use of balanced commentary from others. It’s going to be a challenging road but we all have to be strong to stick to the real narrative and push back on these zealot radicals at every opportunity.
    As was once said -“forgive them Lord, as they know not what they are doing”. Truth is they probably do know what they are doing (because they have visions of grandeur through tunnel vision) but have absolutely no comprehension of just what a 4th world nation they would leave New Zealand if they got their divisive way. Greater violence (not unfamiliar to much of their heritage – that we can’t now talk about) will be the greatest transition.
    And, you know, they are led by clowns like Willie Jackson who apparently (TVNZ DNA Programme from Oct 2015) possesses the huge factor of 20% Polynesian in his DNA but appears keen to disown his majority heritage of 18% English, 25% Jewish and 34% Chinese.
    Is that why he is such a caustic, non-conforming character – perhaps doesn’t know or want to know his real self??

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