Why Co-Governance is a Bad Idea

I admit, I have borrowed this heading from Chris Trotter, who is one of the few sensible journalists on the left. His writing is measured, without hyperbole or derogatory language. He is a great example of the importance of free speech at work. While he is on the left and I am centre right, sometimes we agree on things, and co-governance is one of them.

As he writes, this is “an idea that could tear this country apart…” and “… surely merits much closer examination.” While some see co-governance as some mystical and benevolent co-existence, others see it as an opportunity to take democracy and freedom from under the feet of all New Zealanders.

Claudia Orange wrote a ground-breaking book in 1987 entitled “The Treaty of Waitangi”, where she outlined how the Labour government was interpretating the Treaty. This puzzled many people, much as is happening today under the current government. She adds that this is both exciting and nerve-racking. She also said, “We have a marvellous opportunity” and that “we’ve gone such a long way with settlements and the capacity they have given Māori to exercise governance of their own area, and also to share that governance in areas they consider absolutely crucial, like the environment, and that includes Three Waters.” (Dominion Post, 5 February 2022).

She is also quoted saying, “People should feel really pleased that we have an unusual country and a unique Treaty relationship, and Crown-Māori relationship, or Māori-Crown relationship”. This is a rose-tinted view, and a very naïve perspective of the supposed relationship. It also openly accepts, applauds and encourages an ethno-nationalistic state based on race. This is a very dangerous perspective to hold.

In the NZ Herald, I read Debbie Ngarewa-Packer describing her view of the treaty as seen by the Māori Party (I assume by all Māori activists and radicals) and how the treaty related to a Tiriti-centric Aotearoa. I googled what this meant. From Google, I read a Newshub article that interviewed Rawiri Waititi of the Māori Party who outlined what a Tiriti-centric Aotearoa meant. For a start, it is not a democratic state. He does not state what the replacement model will be, but it will certainly not benefit all New Zealanders. He does not want an upper house and wants an independent Māori parliament. “We want to be in total control of our sovereignty…which is tino rangatiratanga” (meaning political control by Māori over Māori affairs). Thus, the establishment of an ethno-nationalistic state, separate and within another state (or outside as it maybe), or the sub-planting of one state over another. This is the natural extension of co-governance.

While Debbie Ngarawea-Packer outlines how Māori are looking after Māori (but ignores how the state is helping this process and supporting it, only stating how colonialism has affected Māori and how they are defeating it), she goes on to state what the future may well be for New Zealand under a Tiriti-centric Aotearoa. “In our rangatahi repelling greed and capitalism, calling out neo liberalism…” (NZ Herald, 5 February 2022), she along with Rawiri Waititi are calling for a completely different society by:

  • Changing New Zealand from a neo-liberal society based on tolerance, to one that is potentially draconian
  • The removal of a capitalist society to a potentially socialist, or neo socialist society
  • The removal of democracy for a potentially authoritarian, or totalitarian society based on race

The previous National government started a “partnership concept with co-governance arrangements to manage natural resources under the Treaty settlements negotiated by Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.” (NZ Herald 23 February 2022). I support this concept where co-governance works in a partnership arrangement. However, this idea is being slowly manipulated. ACT’s David Seymour argues that at its core, co-governance can only be meaningful if it allows disproportionate representation (NZ Herald, 23 February 2022). He adds, “If it is one person, one vote, then it is not really co-governance. It is just liberal democracy. The only way that co-governance can be meaningful is if you start to say that some people require a disproportionate say in the democratic process.” 

We are already seeing this in the separation from working in a partnership relationship and co-governance, to one evolving into intolerance and a separate society by the creation of a separate Māori health authority with veto rights (and in the Three Waters proposal too*), for example. Dr Lawrie Knight wrote an excellent submission paper titled “Fact checking the Māori health claims that have led to The Futures Health Bill”, that among many things that “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” and “unconscious bias” in the New Zealand health system has led to poor Māori outcomes is factually incorrect, among other things; and in fact why a separate Māori health authority is in breach of the New Zealand Human Rights Act and is in breach of international law.

This report should be read in full, however I will quote a few extracts to provide a sense of what is happening and how political ideology is impeding the facts to create the sense that co-governance is necessary; and the danger this is to a cohesive and democratic society.

“Under the Code of Disability and Consumer Rights, we have a health system that legislates for equal services and access for all races, as also required by the UN Declaration of Principles on Human Rights, the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, and the New Zealand Bill of Rights. Had there been any discrimination on racial grounds, there would have been prosecutions. There have been none.”

He states that the creation of a separate Māori health authority will deny the vast majority of non-Māori underclass in New Zealanders access to healthcare which is a breach of several acts:

“To not address the needs of this exceptionally large non–Māori medical underclass, twice the size of the Māori medical underclass, and selectively increase the per capita funding for Māori, is an infringement of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Commonwealth Declaration of Principles, and the New Zealand Bill of Rights. Each of these pieces of legislation require equality of access to health care for equally disadvantaged groups, irrespective of race, gender, sexuality, religion, age etc., as a basic human right. The $200,000,000 recently allocated to Māori to encourage vaccination is an example of this.”

This is a breach of our Bill of Rights which states “The Human Rights Act protects people in New Zealand from discrimination in a number of areas of life. Discrimination occurs when a person is treated unfairly or less favourably than another person in the same or similar circumstances. It is also in breach of our international obligations under the UN Human Rights Agreements and Commonwealth Human Rights Agreements to which we are signatories.”

In other words, by definition, “there must be equality in funding of the medical underclass of all ethnicities. This must be acknowledged in the Act, as required by the intentions of the Act, and the New Zealand Bill of Rights and international Human Rights treaties to which we are signatories.”

The point is that under the guise of co-governance, Labour has breached many Acts of parliament and international law (and potentially the Cabinet Manual*) in pursuit of ideology that is being forced on all New Zealanders by a radical few, both inside the Labour Party and the Māori Party. By natural extension, the creation of a separatist system in New Zealand is underway.

While Chris Trotter said the same thing in a different way in his article, he managed to succinctly encapsulate his point (and mine) of the dangers of co-governance as such:

“The proponents of co-governance have no genuine intention of sharing power with those who refuse to accept their understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi. Their purpose is the same as the Crown’s and the settlers’ armies that invaded the Waikato in 1863: to wield power.


Footnote: I have added * to two parts of this article to refer you to the following from The Taxpayers Union on Three Waters and why this also potentially relates to the Cabinet Manual. Three Waters is not only a potential breach of law, but the Treaty itself and the Cabinet Manual.

Just before Christmas a group of water users and ratepayer groups filed an action with the High Court on the basis that the Three Waters scheme is based on flawed advice Nanaia Mahuta presented to Cabinet. 

The proceedings ask the Court to declare that Mahuta’s claims, allegedly based on official legal advice (though we think that is unlikely), that the Treaty of Waitangi obliges the Government to introduce co-governance are wrong in law.

In short, the case asks the Court to declare that the claims being made based on a radical interpretation of the Treaty are based on an error in law.”

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