The NZ government under John Keys is ‘generously’ offering to extend self-government to the Tuhoe nation (or Maori ‘iwi’). The view among most European NZ’ers is that this deal is too generous, or that it is silly to divide the nation (i.e. separatism). The problem of course is that we don’t at this stage know the nature of the negotiations. The lack of broad-based consultation is unsurprisingly. Seldom do governments like accountabiliyy. I already have a sense of what the deal is going to mean:
- The Tahoe iwi will have a limited form of self-government, i.e. independent land use policy within certain standards, certain revenue raising powers within limits.
- They will have the right to participate in the broader NZ economy, and NZ’ers will have the capacity to engage in the external economy
- Dept of Conservation (DOCs) land use restrictions will remain; there will probably be external limits to setting of fees on lands by Europeans.
- They will have the power to raise their own taxes – probably within limits
The legitimacy of their land right claims is itself a contentious issue. I tend to think they deserve them because the British freely entered into a treaty with them. The flipside is that they conveyed no respect for land rights prior to European arrival. They were hedonistic culture, so it could be argued that Europeans merely plundered the same spoils. Regardless of the history, ‘individual rights’ are a desirable concept if properly defined. Unfortunately I have yet to encounter a politician or protagonist who does justice to the concept. Each protagonist is really nothing more than a more localised tyrant.
We might ask why the government is so amenable to this. I would suggest the following reasons:
- Keys wants to be perceived as the great ‘liberator’ among the NZ liberals, hoping to get votes from Labour, as well as Liberals, and Maoris. He is hoping that this gives him a majority of votes in both houses of parliament so that he can adopt the ‘real reforms’ he wants across the broader economy. Reform is not always good.
- Keys knows that the Tahoe nation under self-government is destined to fail. Any appointed Tahoe government will likely be corrupt or unable to administer efficiently for cultural reasons. i.e. Despite the notion that these people are rich in culture, they are pretty superficial values, not deep-seated productive ones. I even note that one of the prophets for Tahoe ‘Rua Kenana Hepetipa’ was a self-appointed Christian messiah. We hardly need another one of those. The more important point is that this group are only united by their shared marginalisation by Western society. Where is the culture to unite then once they have self-government?
- Western government has long rested upon the ability to tax a ‘productive class’. Western government is successful – not because of public administration – but in spite of it. The implication is that without Western standards of productivity, i.e. western knowledge and values, the Tahoe iwi is quickly going to descend into anarchy. Read the history of this group will highlight the historical legacy of this. Read about the Tahoe people. I personally hope they succeed because I like to see people succeed, and have no interest in people’s failure. The same cannot be said of the NZ government, who are parasites by their very nature - living off others efforts through taxation and false representation. I might raise the same concerns about the leaders of the Tahoe people – whom I don’t know. Are they really champions of liberty, or simply ‘victims’ with a good ‘boo hoo’ story.
- The government will consider this a triumph because it was perceived as a liberator. It will guarantee Keys a decade of leadership, and probably control of both houses. I think his strategy will eventually be seen for what it is – a power play. All Keys really wants is a 2-house majority. I think people will have mixed feelings about Keys in future. He will have reformed a country, but he will have also destroyed a people, as well as all prospects of anyone getting individual rights. This is not where and how rights should be defended. If we are ever to have individual rights, they will not be defended in Iraq or the Tahoe nation. They will be defended in the streets of Wellington, Sydney or LA, or in a High Court. But people have to start caring about their lives, thinking long range, and to self-reflect on their inner state of psychological repression. This tribe is a reactionary group with a small intellectual class of lawyers. There is no Adam Smith among them. They are a group of marginalised, disenfranchised people. They are destined to drive their people blindly towards chaos. I don’t want that for them, but also not so Keys can score some points. The integration of Maori into European-dominated NZ is a fragile peace. This political strategy is destined to destroy a great deal of trust and peace, and to break the minds of an incipient nation.
- The Keys government knows that chaos is likely, and in any case it is preserving 'effective' control over the region, which does not produce much anyway. By allowing this Tahoe iwi to fail, they are discouraging all NZ iwi’s from pursuing this path. This is a grand experiment destined to lead to cultural abuse. I would not be surprised if there is civil unrest resulting in deaths as a result of this policy. Of course Keys will ‘reluctantly’ have to send in the police to retain order, and that will be the end of it. Once again the Tahoe iwi will have been quashed. Once again government wil have not learned a lesson from history.
Something really good could come out of this process if government was not more interested in locking in its own political power. If it was genuinely interested in advancing the interests of the Tahoe people. Not at its own interests but because they thought advancement was in everyone’s interests. Despite the ‘strategic’ aspects of this policy, Keys is still in a sense thinking short-range or non-conceptually here, even if his ‘critical thinking’ advisors have already created the expectation of failure. The values sought are short range or non-conceptual. And I expect no better from the Tahoe iwi.
Here is another article on this issue. I disagree with this interpretation. This writer states:
“People have been concerned about the implications of iwi self-government .... Does it mean separatism? Does it mean two sets of rights - one for Maori and one for everybody else?”
The problem is his poorly defined concept of rights. It is not a case of different rights, since neither party is recognising rights in any meaningful way. In fact its more a case of obligations than rights. Rights are protections – not obligations. Rights convey a sense of living for oneself uninhibited by others. Fascists define 'rights' as obligations in order to confer fake benefits upon you, so they can control your life, as Western governments control all lives. If you want to understand the soul of the 'born to rule' Western liberal, attend one of their 'young liberal' meetings in their early 20s, and they will happily tell you that:
"The people need to be controlled for their own good".
Each society will live under the same set of ‘umbrella’ laws, it’s just that the iwi will have the power to shape some of its own laws. However that is the collective ‘iwi’ shaping the law as it applies to you as an individual. Does that mean better representation? Unlikely. Practical interests tend to prevail where reason is not the standard of value, and no formal system exists to recognise the interests of all stakeholders.
This policy is analogous to a father placing their son in harms way so that they learn a lesson of compliance, not good self management. The implication is that Keys is pursuing a well-tread path of 'fatherly' abuse, even if it is 'politically correct'. Politics is never as it seems.
Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com