Why I Did Not Want to Return to New Zealand

For the first time in over 45 years of traveling overseas, I did not want to return home. New Zealand is slowly slipping into a divisive situation. Ministers of the crown are fragrantly breaching acts and regulations of our country. It is like watching New Zealand descend into some form of third-world status. Looking from overseas, it was decidedly depressing.

I watched with horror the shenanigans of the Meka Whaitiri defection and how this related to the problem that could potentially overwhelm this country.

We now have part of New Zealand led by Te Pati Māori and followed closely by Labour and the Greens, stating that democracy no longer matters. I thought a lot about this while I was in Australia. I thought about the Rotorua Representation Amendments bill and how Te Pati Māori viewed democracy in general. David Farrar has stated Te Pati Māori’s views as this:

“Maori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi thinks Aotearoa could be the “best nation in the world” – but not necessarily as a democracy.

“We need to start looking at how Maori can participate more equally and equitably in that particular space in a tiriti-centric Aotearoa. Not in a democracy, because… democracy is majority rules, and indigenous peoples – especially Maori at 16 percent of the population in this country – will lose out, and we’ll sit in second-place again.”

“Also we had a bill before Parliament which would have abolished equality of suffrage in Rotorua. The Labour, Green and Maori Parties all voted for it at first reading. And here is what the Māori Party said about it:

“MP for Waiariki and Māori Party co-leader, Rawiri Waititi, will defend Rotorua’s plans for equality in its proposed Representation Amendments bill.

“The comments come after the attorney general, Labour’s own David Parker, called the bill discriminatory in a report released last week.

“I find it ironic that Mr. Parker has the caucasity to call a bill discriminatory that

otherwise gives equal representation to Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti.

“The Māori Party doesn’t believe inequality at the individual level, but at the race level. It believes equality means 16% of the population have the same representation as the other 84%.” *1

I also thought about how Labour’s McAnulty openly described that democracy does not necessarily apply now, especially to the vilified Three Waters legislation now euphemistically called, Affordable Water Reform. The dreaded Te Mana o te Wai statements are still embedded in this legislation which only Māori can make and must be adhered to.

The polls show that the left and right blocks are close. It beggars belief that we find ourselves in such a position when we have a Labour government hopelessly out of its depth with failed policies, an open attack on democracy, and a pursuit of ideology over practical matters. When gender identity and matters of race are more important than the of cost of living, or a housing crisis, and even worse, a collapsing health system and the government denying there is a crime wave building in this country. How can it be that a government so inept at governing is still able to form a left-wing coalition with the Greens and Te Pati Māori?

Yet, some writers still need to see Te Pati Māori holding its “revolutionary” ground. Chris Trotter wrote as such, “Its promises of transformation must be unequivocal and non-negotiable. Either, Labour and the Greens embrace the revolution, or, they shuffle-off to the Opposition benches. Regardless of the centre-left’s choice, Te Pāti Māori must not loosen its grip on the radical bunting.”

Is that a government we want? Does the electorate understand this revolution? Do they understand what Te Pati Māori stands for? Thankfully, National’s Christopher Luxon has finally stated the gap between them and Te Pati Māori is too wide.  Te Pati Māori do not believe in universal suffrage or one person, one vote. Luxon and National were wrong in thinking they could form a potential coalition with Te Pati Māori; and they were equally wrong in waiting so long to state their position. At least they have now. That now only leaves Te Pati Māori to form a coalition with Labour or to sit on the cross benches. It also gives voters a clear choice. Vote for democracy or vote for radical change that undermines democracy. Thus, can Labour be seen to side with an anti-democratic party? This conundrum for Labour and a clear distinction about what democracy means should have been made earlier. If it had been, then we might not be in this ridiculous position of having less than 4% of the electorate holding the balance of power.

Yet staggeringly, Chris Trotter has considered the following:

“But, what if the New Zealand electorate refuses to let Labour throw the electoral fight? What if Te Pāti Māori mobilises younger voters in unprecedented numbers? What if the Greens do the same? What if, in spite of Labour’s best efforts, the electorate swings sharply to the left? What if, when all the votes are counted, National and Act simply do not have enough to form a government? What then?”*2

Inconceivably, this is a nightmarish possibility. However, with National now clearly stating its position, it makes this possibility a little harder to achieve. Even so, this election still hangs on a knife edge. If the cards fall the wrong way, that is to a coalition of the left that no longer believes in democracy as we know it today, then when I go overseas again, I might just not come back.

*1 David Farrar 11 May 2023

*2 Chris Trotter 8 May 2023

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