He Puapua – The continuing debate

In this article, I will highlight the sections of He Puapua that are already implemented. Firstly however, I will address an article from the Dominion Post on 15 July 2021, by Keith Lynch and Luke Malpass.

Luke Malpass’s articles are normally enjoyable and well measured, though slightly left of centre. However, this article “Talking Point, “Explained” was neither good investigative journalism, nor an explanation. Rather, it was an appeasement piece and a neo public relations exercise for Maori activism, and a subtle slur on anyone criticising or wishing to have a debate on this matter, especially National.  I have previously said, anyone wanting to debate this paper will be called a racist, which this article infers, while those opposed to it are concerned about the democratic process, and what this paper means to democracy.

In my previous article, I focussed on the critical point in the Executive Summary, and I have quoted it again as it refers to co-governance and/or separatism:

  • The meaning of self-determination and how it is exercised is up to Indigenous peoples to determine. However, it ranges from full independence at one end of the spectrum to participation in state government at the other. In between are self-government arrangements and autonomous authority in agreed areas (e.g., independent indigenous education systems and healthcare services)

I have focussed on this again to relate it to what Professor Jacinta Ruru said in Malpass’s article. “The idea of an Upper House or Senate was not something she recalled having a deep and lengthy debate about. ‘It was just one of many ideas coming through.’” This completely contradicts the Executive Summary and reference to Maori sovereignty or separatism. If it were not so important to her and the writers, why is it so prominently positioned in the Executive Summary? Her comment suggests deceit and a lie.

New Zealand had an upper chamber until 1951. However, this was for all New Zealanders, not a chamber totally dedicated to Maori, and not necessarily elected  democratically, as proposed by Maori Party Co-Leader, Rawiri Waititi.

Dr Clare Charters, of Auckland University and co-author of He Puapua states in this article about “contemporary issues Maori (‘growing inequality’), along with broader historical issues such as legitimacy and sovereignty.” This is all about sovereignty and separatism. Maori needs are already in the front of a range of current legislation. For example, Kainga Ora – Homes and Communities Act 2019, which Section 4 states:

  • Māori interests

In order to recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to consider and provide for Māori interests, this Act provides

Despite Maori interests being imbedded into legislation, He Puapua wants to take this further. It is a never ending “land grab”, a further distancing from the state to the point of separating completely, as He Puapua means a break.

The article questions National’s objections on He Puapua being a “secret agenda by stealth”. Lynch and Malpass believe National’s concern “is a highly subjective question”. On one hand they write that National is genuinely concerned about a two-tier system, but their objection is based on race. Thus, once again, the journalists turn the argument away from the fundamental problem of He Puapua, to a race question. In a strange way, that is exactly what He Puapua is about. A separate system based on race, or ethno-nationalism, rather than democracy.

So, is He Puapua being introduced by stealth?

Yes, it is. While the date for He Puapua is 2040, there is a road map to that date.  Below summaries the recommendations from He Puapua implemented to date.

  • Māori Wards in Local Government – Local government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, progressed legislation under urgency in parliament, and against official advice, to establish Māori wards.
  • Separate Māori Health Authority – Health Minister Andrew Little has begun work on restructuring the health sector to create a two-tier system based on race.
  • Education Curriculum – Education Minister Chris Hipkins is currently rewriting the compulsory history curriculum to reflect Māori history, colonization and the effects of power.
  • Water – The Labour government established Te Mana o Te Wai, resource management reform that provides a role for Māori in decision-making, and work on Māori rights and interests in freshwater. 
  • Land – Department of Conservation (DOC) was consulting on proposals to transfer public conservation land, reform conservation governance to reflect Treaty partnership at all levels, and provide for the delegation, transfer and devolution of functions and powers within the conservation system to Tangata Whenua.

Finally, Nanaia Mahuta is working towards establishing four super entities to manage drinking water and waste management, an infrastructure issue. Both the Whangarei  and Auckland mayors have pushed back on this. The Whangarei mayor has stated, they have invested substantial funds building their own water and waste infrastructure. To hand this to the government would be virtually a confiscation of their property, of which 50% would go to Maori entities – a land grab.  Phil Goff highlighted this proposal risks becoming self-serving.

To summarise, He Puapua is being introduced by stealth, without debate, because this government hid this document before the last election. If the public knew of its existence, would Labour have had such a resounding victory? I think not. After the election and after this document was uncovered by the ACT party, Labour has belatedly stated He Puapua has gone firstly to Maori entities for consultation, a very self-serving mechanism, before passing to wider consultation. Sadly, by then it will be too late. Any changes coming from the wider community will be challenged as racist, while at the very same time this document is wholly based on race, a very racist and anti-democratic concept in itself. Sadly, New Zealand is already heading down the path of separate race based political systems. We need to debate this and push back on where this is all going, because democracy is at risk.

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