A “level of self-governance” is not sovereignty

Labour leader Andrew Little’s comments at Waitangi today will simply add to the confusion about the foundational constitutional reality established by the Treaty – the sovereignty of the Crown in New Zealand.

Little is correct in suggesting that the Treaty incorporates an “historical commitment to some level of self-governance” for Maori. The Article 2 guarantee of rangatiratanga (Chieftainship) is just that. However he then muddies the waters with his comments that we need to investigate what sovereignty might mean for Maori.

Let’s be clear – a level of self governance is absolutely not the same thing as sovereignty. To mix them up in the same sound-bite is ill-considered and unhelpful in framing the constitutional conversation that lies ahead. Yes the Treaty guarantees Chieftainship. However it also makes it abundantly clear that this Chieftainship was to be expressed within the context of the overarching sovereignty of the Crown.

It is entirely consistent with what was actually agreed at Waitangi 175 years ago that we investigate new ways in which Chieftainship or rangatiratanga might be expressed in a modern context. This may well include a level of devolvement of central government resources (eg Whanau Ora) or a delegation of Crown authorities in particular spheres. It may also involve arrangements for Maori representation such as the Maori seats.

However any such measures must be clearly understood to fall within the auspices of Crown sovereignty. They must not be seen as some form of co-governance or dual sovereignty based on the revisionist modern partnership paradigm. And they must certainly not be expressions of a limp Crown retreat from its rightful Treaty responsibilities on the flawed grounds that Maori “never ceded sovereignty”.

Ewen McQueen
February 2015

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Morgan and Brash both missing the point

Marsden Cross at Rangihoua

Marsden Cross at Rangihoua

Both Gareth Morgan and Don Brash are missing the point about what will build national unity in New Zealand. Both look to the Treaty in different ways. Brash for its historical guarantee of equal citizenship. Morgan for a revisionist and trendy concept of a “Treaty based relationship”.

However neither recognise that the Treaty on its own cannot bear the weight of race relations in New Zealand. Honouring the Treaty is a prerequisite for true national unity or kotahitanga to be built in our land. However something even more important is needed – a renewal of the faith that led both peoples to the Treaty in the first place (refer Otago Daily Times last year).

Put simply, the Treaty without the Judeao-Christian ethical and spiritual dynamic upon which it was founded will never achieve harmony and unity in New Zealand. At best it will merely become an empty shell with its life sucked out of it. At worst it will be twisted and subverted to serve those who value their own agendas ahead of unity, and their own opinions ahead of truth.

This is certainly not what was envisaged by those who signed it “…at Waitangi on the 6th of February in the year of our Lord 1840.”

It was the influence of Christianity from both sides that brought Maori and Pakeha together to forge the Waitangi covenant. It will be a renewal of that faith among us that will see the Treaty fully honoured and true unity established in the land. We need to return to a cross based relationship. For it was at the cross of Jesus Christ that justice and reconciliation were released to do their work to the uttermost ends of the earth.

Ewen McQueen
February 2015

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Gareth Morgan has been studying fashion – not facts

Whatever Gareth Morgan has been studying for the last five years it certainly wasn’t history. There is no historical basis whatsoever for his claim at Ratana Pa today that the Treaty is about “co-governance”. The Maori version of the Treaty itself is clear. As translated by Sir Hugh Kawharu, Article 1 of the Treaty states:

“The Chiefs of the Confederation and all the Chiefs who have not joined that Confederation give absolutely to the Queen of England for ever the complete government over their land.”

Not much room for co-governance there. It is true that Article 2 guaranteed continued rangatiratanga (chieftainship). However both the Treaty text and the historical records of the debate at Waitangi make it clear that chieftainship was to be exercised in the context of the overarching sovereignty of the Crown. The mana of the Queen was supreme. (refer One Sun in the Sky)

Unfortunately Morgan seems to have little concern for history. In his recent series of Herald articles he argued that regardless of what was actually agreed in 1840, we could now reinterpret the Treaty in whatever way we liked or found useful. Such pragmatic thinking may strike a chord in the kiwi psyche which inherently dislikes controversy and prefers to get on with things. However it is flawed.

The Crown hasn’t spent years negotiating and settling historic Treaty grievances because it was convenient. It has done so because it has wanted in good faith to honour what was actually agreed at Waitangi. To now say that doesn’t matter seems to completely contradict all the good work that has been done and which Morgan himself says he supports.

If Morgan wanted to really see the way ahead for race relations in New Zealand he would have done better to study the teachings and life of the founder of Ratana Pa. True kotahitanga (unity) in our land will not come from woolly thinking about the Treaty. It will come from clear commitment from both Pakeha and Maori to honour what was actually agreed, and a renewal of the Christian faith that led both peoples to the Treaty in the first place.

Ewen McQueen
January 2015

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Economic Transformation, Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Rore Kahu – Soaring Eagle of the Spirit

Rore Kahu

Rore Kahu

This week on Christmas Day we come to the 200 year anniversary of the proclamation of Te Harinui in New Zealand.  A beautiful structure named Rore Kahu – soaring eagle – has been established on the hill top at Rangihoua overlooking the bay where Rev Samuel Marsden came ashore and preached glad tidings of great joy. It is aptly named, for from that beginning the Spirit took flight in our land.

No doubt the reporting this week will focus on the social and cultural significance of this event. In particular it will be celebrated as the beginning of Maori and European relationship, and the start of the journey to the Treaty. And of course it was. But the prime significance of this historic event was neither social or cultural. It was spiritual.

Christmas Day 1814 was the moment when the transforming and redemptive power of Te Rongopai – the good news of Jesus Christ – found its way to these islands at the uttermost ends of the earth. Much social, cultural and even political change followed. But the underlying dynamism driving it all was essentially spiritual.

Our secular historians struggle with this. However they cannot deny the huge move of Christianity across New Zealand. The historical records speak for themselves. Within twenty years of Marsden’s first visit, tens of thousands of Maori were in regular attendance at church services from Paihia to Kapiti to the East Cape. Even Michael King in his Penguin history of New Zealand had to acknowledge that by the 1830s “Te Atua, the God of the Bible was on the move”.

And this was no mere pragmatic adaptation of European cultural form. Christianity found authentic indigenous expression in places all over New Zealand before missionaries had even been there. Slaves liberated in the Bay of Islands had taken the message back to their own tribes and faith sprang up wherever they went. And it was genuine faith. The evidence for this abounds in the stories that have come down to us.

There was Far North chief Nopera Panakareao who sent a gold sovereign to Paihia for his personal copy of the the newly printed Maori New Testament. There was Tamihana Te Rauparaha who with his cousin Matene and friends retreated to Kapiti Island to study, memorise and pray over the mere fragments of Bible they had obtained. There was Wiremu Tamihana, the Maori kingmaker, who set up the Christian village of Peria near Matamata and who lived and died with his Bible in his hands.

These Maori leaders and many others like them, bear witness to the foundational spiritual reality that was established at Rangihoua on Christmas Day 1814. Like so many before them across the centuries, this was a people responding to the love of God. Te Harinui was real. It still is. The One born in Bethlehem is still changing the world, one heart at a time.

May His Spirit soar again in our nation.

Ewen McQueen
20 December 2014

Posted in Cultural Renewal, Spiritual Renewal, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Parliamentary prayer should reflect our spiritual DNA

Parliamentary MaceNews today that the Speaker of the House the Hon David Carter is considering changes to the Parliamentary prayer. The NZ Herald reports the decision about a change could be as early as next week. This in spite of no public debate about the issue.

Parliament belongs to all New Zealanders. These sorts of changes may seem minor to some, but they are not. They are decisions about our national identity – about the foundational values that define who we are.  In this context, the rituals and symbols of Parliament are important cultural touchstones. Changes to them should not be made lightly. They should certainly not be made after a short consultation with a few MPs and no public input.

What is even more disappointing however, is the continual drive to expunge all traces of Christianity from our culture. This move comes at a time when we are about to celebrate 200 years since Te Harinui, glad tidings of great joy, was first preached on these shores. The bicentenary of Samuel Marsden’s famous service at Rangihoua on Christmas Day 1814 is just two weeks away. This is a time we should be reflecting on our spiritual heritage with gratitude – not seeking to further secularise our nation.

Indeed we wouldn’t even have the nation we enjoy today were it not for the influence that Christianity had on early New Zealand. Te Harinui completely transformed these islands and laid the foundation for the Treaty (refer my ODT article from Waitangi Day this year). The secularists may not like it but the historical reality is that New Zealand was birthed out of the Judeo-Christian faith. It is in our spiritual DNA.

So rather than trying to deny who we really are, our MPs should take the opportunity to honour the One whose influence helped establish constitutional government and Parliamentary democracy in our land. That would be the most fitting response to the upcoming milestone in our nation’s journey.

Ewen McQueen
December 2014

Email Hon David Carter and your MP – Parliament contact list 

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Nats one-eyed on housing

Blenheim Home May 1960The National Government has lost perspective. That’s what happens when you cover one eye.

With data today showing that Auckland house prices are surging upwards faster than ever, it is clear that focusing only on supply is not working. As I noted back in April – any market is about both supply AND demand. Its economics 1.01.

The Hon Nick Smith is doing great work on increasing housing supply. But even he admits that will be a long term solution. The problem is that in the short term, demand is pushing prices to ridiculous levels. And once prices rise it is much harder to get them back down. It’s what economists call the problem of “sticky prices”. They go up relatively easily, but are much harder to deflate. This is because rather than accept a lower price, vendors simply withdraw from the market and wait.

This means every month that the Govt does nothing to address demand, prices are getting locked in to ever higher levels. The impact is not only on first home buyers. Inevitably rents have to rise to cover the cost of capital invested in rental housing – and that hits those who can least afford it. When average weekly rents are nearly as high as the minimum wage, and often higher than benefits, it is little wonder that poverty is a growing problem.

When as reported in the NZ Herald today that 8,500 New Zealand homes are listed on a Chinese website for off-shore buyers it is also clear that there is an issue with foreign demand. Even if they only make a small portion of the overall demand it only takes a few well heeled buyers at the margin to propel the whole market upwards. Ask anyone who has been to an auction.

As I also noted back in April – a Holland or Holyoake National government would never have sat on its hands whilst foreign buyers pushed housing out of reach of ordinary New Zealanders. Neither should this one. Forget the one-eyed unbelief about foreign buyers. Open both eyes and do something.

Ewen McQueen
December 2014

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Well done Warehouse for dumping R18 videos

The Warehouse announced today that it was terminating all sales of R18 videos and computer games. (NZ Herald – Warehouse R18 ban) It comes on the back of the latest version of Grand Theft Auto sinking into new realms of sleaze, violence and depravity. The Warehouse didn’t want to sell it. Good on them.

When corporates make such decisions they lead the way on social responsibility and contribute to building a cohesive and family friendly society in New Zealand. They also reinforce that we all have choices. We don’t have to wait for the government to regulate everything.

It would be great if other corporates took up the challenge. How about TVNZ and Mediaworks voluntarily ditching the daily diet of mind numbing soaps they serve up which normalise lowest common denominator relationship morality. These constantly wash away at the ethical infrastructure that maintains resilient family life in our country. In the long run such programmes probably do far more damage than the blatantly nasty R18 products terminated by the Warehouse.

The only question mark about the Warehouse’s decision is their rationale that R18 games and videos don’t align with their family friendly “branding”. Does this mean if they change their branding it would be OK ? It seems that basic ethics is no longer good enough as the basis for doing the right thing.

However even if only for branding – the Warehouse has done the right thing. They should be commended.

Ewen McQueen
November 2014

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