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NZ POLITICS DAILY: The political minefield of race relations in 2014

Discussion, debate and reporting on race relations in New Zealand is a political minefield. There’s passion, anger, and polarised thinking, which all leads to sensitivities and potential explosiveness and hurt. This is especially the case with Waitangi Day commemorations, celebrations, and protests, which are inseparable from important issues relating to the Treaty, racism, and inequality. The many diverse arguments and perspectives about these are worth exploring.
 
Media coverage and protest
 
There appears to be widespread public dissatisfaction with elements of Waitangi Day and with New Zealand’s race relations in general, but the complaints are myriad and there is little consensus on what needs to change. One of the more interesting complaints this year was from a leading political journalist about media coverage of Waitangi Day. Rachel Smalley – the Newstalk ZB broadcaster who has just been announced as a new TVNZ Q+A host for election-year – has written an opinion piece that makes a plea for New Zealand’s media to report race relations and Waitangi Day with less sensationalism – see: More balance needed in Waitangi Day reporting? She explains the problem:  ‘the media needs a headline. It needs to entice, it needs to suggest there is conflict. Why? Well the media is ruled by listener or viewership numbers, and the reality is that Maori politics and Maori issues don’t snare a big audience in this country. So there’s an unspoken need, if you like, to 'ham it up'.  So that’s one of the reasons we see a distorted view of Waitangi celebrations. Yes, at times Waitangi has been confrontational. There have been protests and flag burnings. But when the conflict isn’t there, the media invents it’.
 
As if answering Smalley’s request, the New Zealand Herald made the contentious decision not to report on Waitangi Day protests yesterday. On the front page it proclaimed that the newspaper would contain ‘protest free news pages’. Instead it dedicated its first seven pages to what it saw as positive coverage and perspectives on race relations and Waitangi Day. Such an approach did not go down well with many in social media. For example, Paul Brislen (@paulbrislen) tweeted to say ‘Dear NZ Herald, I thought the idea of newspapers was to encourage debate not revel in not having one. Unimpressed’. He was answered by Herald editor Shayne Currie (@ShayneCurrieNZH) who explained: ‘Sick of 1-2 individuals who hijack the day and dominate TV/headlines. So we’ve ignored them and devoted 7 pages to debate’. Media expert Russell Brown ‏(@publicaddress) added, ‘Given we’ve been complaining about other media seizing on stoushes at Waitangi, I do get what @nzherald was trying to say but “protest free” really wasn’t a good way of saying “we have seven pages of Treaty debate and discussion in today’s paper.”’ For further coverage of the social media debate and the Herald’s use of a symbolic protest fist on the front page, see Pete George’s Herald, protest free and white power. See also, Martyn Bradbury’s Dear NZ Herald – a protest free newspaper is an abdication of responsibility and The Standard’s NZ Herald watch – history repeats
 
The Herald’s coverage wasn’t exactly apolitical or devoid of dissenting voices on race relations. For example, the paper ran Hone Harawira’s opinion piece Ngapuhi's settlement role critical to future of Treaty. Nonetheless the decision does raise questions about what other protest activity might go unreported in future. And it’s also worth noting that the Dominion Post ran an editorial yesterday that sought to justify and embrace the tradition of Waitangi Day protests – see: Protest part of our democracy. It pointed out the positive role played by such actions: ‘And protests at Waitangi were a necessary part of our history. We had to learn to take the Treaty seriously and to attempt to right the injustices of the past. If we had not done so, Maori anger and frustration could have taken far more dangerous forms than it has done.  The angry scenes at Waitangi over the past generation have been part of this revolution in thinking about the nation's founding document. Nobody is defending violence or law-breaking of any kind. But harsh words and insults were part of the nation's learning curve’.
 
Other media has also stressed the importance of examining contentious issues of race relations during ‘Waitangi week’ – see, for example, The Press’ editorial Race inequity still tolerated.
 
How to mark Waitangi Day?
 
Herald columnist Toby Manhire doesn’t seem to have got the memo about covering the protests. In his column today he points the finger at the ‘the posse of cantankerous media commentators denouncing the Waitangi commemorations, the protests, the rows’ – see: Don't try to replace Waitangi Day with a myth. Manhire makes the case for the beauty of Waitangi Day in its current form, and strongly argues against the idea of replacing it with a New Zealand National Day.
 
There are plenty of interesting voices on how to celebrate - or whether to celebrate - Waitangi Day. The most interesting is Morgan Godfery’s Myths of nationhood: why I'm not "celebrating" Waitangi Day. See also, Carrie Stoddart-Smith’s Waitangi Day Blues. And for a young Asian New Zealander’s point of view, see Andrew Chen’s Why I'm not celebrating Waitangi Day.
 
It’s also notable that not all schools were closed for Waitangi Day – see Jenna Lynch’s No public holiday at two top Waikato schools.
 
Contentious issues and ideas
 
In order to understand the Treaty of Waitangi, its legacy, and what it means for the future, it’s necessary to look at interpretations of the past. Along these lines Chris Trotter has a particularly interesting blogpost with A Precise Moment In History: Pondering The Legacy Of Waitangi. For a very different view, see Martyn Bradbury’s It’s not the Treaty of Waitangi – it’s the Cheaty of Waitangi.
 
But the must-read item about how the Treaty is currently influencing politics and government is Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie’s Time to end use of Treaty partnership framework to justify reforms. They argue that the current emphasis on establishing bicultural ‘power-sharing arrangements’ has no real basis in the Treaty of Waitangi and is anti-democratic. They conclude by saying ‘‘We believe this direction will suit no-one and will ultimately generate more, not less, disharmony between Maori and non-Maori.  New Zealand needs a new framework for thinking about the relationship between Maori and the wider society.  The Treaty partnership framework has had its day’.
 
Some similar arguments about ‘co-governance’ are made by Mike Butler in No hearing for non-iwi constitutional group, Muriel Newman in Waitangi Day Reflections, and Peter Cresswell in Waitangi Day: Something to celebrate.
 
For a critical parody of some of this thinking, see Scott Yorke’s The Marries are at it again and Explosive alternative version of Treaty uncovered.
 
The Green Jacket and racism
 
In the lead up to Waitangi Day, the biggest race-related issue was Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei’s allegation of racism directed at National Party MPs. In responding to accusations of hypocrisy from Anne Tolley, Turei said that she was being singled out because she was Maori. Some were turned off by the apparent pettiness of it all, but for others the spat elicited strong emotions.  In fact, the saga was incredibly revealing about a number of issues in contemporary parliamentary politics – especially issues of racism, wealth, inequality, political rhetoric, aggression, and the use of social media by politicians. For a detailed account of this, see my blogpost, Playing the race, class and gender card (about Green clothes). See also, my blogpost Images and cartoons relating to Metiria Turei’s clothes and racism
 
For a more trenchant leftwing critique of Metiria Turei’s allegations, see John Moore’s blogpost, The Elite politician that cried racism. He argues that Turei’s defence of her ‘opulent’ clothes reflects her integration into Establishment politics, and that her claims of racism demean real experience of racism in New Zealand. 
 
Finally, issues of national identity aren’t just confined to debates about Waitangi Day, and the other major issue relating to this at the moment is the ‘flag change’ debate. To see how the cartoonists are dealing with this debate, see my blogpost Cartoons about changing New Zealand’s flag

Today’s links

  

Waitangi Day and Maori politics

Waikato Times: Why they can't stay away

Michael Fox and Simon Day (Stuff): Ngapuhi digs in heels over cash carrot

Simon Day, Florence Kerr, and Jeremy Smith (Stuff): Politics and people mingle at Waitangi

Newswire: Govt to sign $20m settlement with Ngati Kuri

Adam Bennett (Herald): Waitangi: Key offer all about votes, critics say

Radio NZ: Treaty payout not based on population alone

Laura McQuillan (Newstalk ZB): Hone Harawira tells Govt it's dreaming

Radio NZ: Talk of $600m for Ngapuhi dismissed

Sophie Lowery (TV3): Labour on the attack in Te Tai Tokerau

Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): Political Report: The commiseration of our national day

Mike hosking (Newstalk ZB): Waitangi Day can be so much more than just a day off

Rachel Smalley (Newstalk ZB): More balance needed in Waitangi Day reporting?

Adam Bennett (Herald): Labour locked out from top table

Herald: Editorial: NZ's stability and success something to celebrate

Ewan McQueen (ODT): Foundations of Treaty rooted in Christianity

Katie Bradford (TVNZ): Hundreds of protesters march on to Treaty grounds

James Ihaka and Adam Bennett (Herald): Key at Waitangi: 'It was very calm'

TVNZ: 'Calm' day at Waitangi despite fish protest

Kim Choe (TV3): John Key arrives at Waitangi

Julie Moffett (Newstalk ZB): A step forward for women at Waitangi today

Kim Choe (TV3): Rainy start for Waitangi Day dawn service

Chris Finlayson (Herald): Treaty settlements working for the betterment of us

Kim Choe (TV3): Labour MPs all at sea with waka

Teuila Fuatai (Herald): Waitangi: New Kiwi families welcomed as citizens

Carrie Stoddart-Smith (Ellipsister): Waitangi Day Blues

Jessie Hume (Daily Blog): Ways for non-Māori to commemorate Waitangi Day

Peter Cresswell (Not PC): Waitangi Day: Something to celebrate

Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Do Maori have a PR problem?

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): So if you are a novelist you’re exempt from the Public Works Act?

Fightback: Waitangi Day, Te Rā o Waitangi – What does it mean today, 174 years on?

Pete George (Your NZ): Herald, protest free and white power

The Standard: Myths of Waitangi Day – & Hikoi

Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): NZ Post breaches flag rules

Adam Bennett and James Ihaka (Herald): Waitangi: Hundreds pour on to Treaty Grounds

The Press: Editorial: Race inequity still tolerated

Alison Jones and Kuni Kaa Jenkins (Herald): The day Maori first said, Haere mai, Pakeha

Herald: Editorial: NZ's stability and success something to celebrate

Adam Bennett (Herald): Labour locked out from top table

Hone Harawira (Herald): Ngapuhi's settlement role critical to future of Treaty

Kim Choe (TV3): Waitangi 'one of the quietest' ever - Key

Andrew Chen (MCDP): Why I'm not celebrating Waitangi Day

Muriel Newman (NZCPR): Waitangi Day Reflections

Southland Times: Editorial: Meaningful but meaning what?

Dominion Post: Editorial – Protest part of our democracy

Katie Bradford (TVNZ): PM uses Waitangi to push for Ngapuhi settlement

Jenna Lynch (Stuff): No public holiday at two top Waikato schools

Adam Bennett (Herald): Turei honoured to speak at Waitangi

Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): The Marries are at it again

Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Explosive alternative version of Treaty uncovered

Jamie Ball (NBR): Should Waitangi Day be our national day?

Rob Hosking (NBR): Waitangi Day should be the start of our summer holiday

Lewis Holden: Waitangi Day and nation building

Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie (Stuff): Time to end use of Treaty partnership framework to justify reforms

Greg Presland (The Standard): Some thoughts on Waitangi Day

Chris Trotter (Bowalley Road): A Precise Moment In History: Pondering The Legacy Of Waitangi

Travis Poulson (Whaleoil): Thoughts on Waitangi Day and Te Tai Tokerau

Mike Butler (Breaking Views):It’s bribe-a-tribe day

Radio NZ: History made at Te Tii marae

Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): It’s not the Treaty of Waitangi – it’s the Cheaty of Waitangi

Tim Selwyn (Tumeke): Waitangi Day 2014

ODT: Editorial – The Waitangi Day challenge

Kim Choe (TV3): Key pushes iwi settlement in Waitangi speech

Andrew Roperston (Grumpollie): The psychological processes determining Pakeha attitudes to bicultural policy

 

NZ-Australia relations

Fran O'Sullivan (Herald): Our chance to make Aussies listen

TV2/RadioLIVE: Key to address aggressive 'Buy Australia' campaign with Abbott

Radio NZ: PM seeking resolution on goods ban

Matthew Theunissen (Herald): Labour: Key must assert NZ exporter rights

Tracy Watkins and Michael Fox (Stuff): Key hits back over ex-pats

Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Supermarket snub 'breaches CER'

Isaac Davison (Herald): Govt seeks tools to chase debtors

Will Morrow (WSW): Australian rich list: “A billionaire bounty”

 

General election

Taranaki Daily News: The end of the phony war

Matthew Beveridge: Social Media & the 2014 General Election

Tova O’Brien (TV3): Transgender lawyer to vie for Whangarei seat

Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB): Electorate boundaries debate set for public hearings

Vernon Small (Stuff): Key and the moral mandate

Janine Rankin (Stuff): People get involved when it matters

Pete George (Your NZ): Roy Morgan poll contrary to 3 News/Reid

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): A silly comparison

Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Greens facing tougher fight

Christine Rose (Daily Blog): Cynical Politics an Enemy of Democracy

Frank Macskasy (Daily Blog): Latest Roy Morgan Poll – the Left has a Sh*tload of Work ahead of it!

 

NZ First

Claire Trevett (Herald): Peters may be the old friend Key is looking for

Laura McQuillan (Newstalk ZB): National confident of retaining Whangarei seat

Jane Clifton (Listener): The tides of change

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Peters right on this one

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Quote of the Week

 

Inequality, poverty, and unemployment

Listener: Editorial: here’s lookin’ at you, kid

James Weir (Stuff): More in jobs but wage rises still low

Cecile Meier, James Weir, and Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Unemployment drops to 6pc

Newswire: Opposition accused of misleading public

Geof Nightingale (Herald): We need a capital gains tax - or do we?

TV3/Newswire: Unemployment still too high – Opposition

Shane Cowlishaw (Stuff): Pay spat puts spotlight on wider issue

No Right Turn: 42,000 out of work under National

Paul Walker (Anti-Dismal): The effect of minimum wages on employment

Helen Kelly (The Standard): Waldegrave responds to ‘Living Wage’ critique

Steven Cowan (Against the Current): You’ve Never Had It So Good!

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Will Christchurch City Council join the stupidity?

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Unemployment drops

Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Gender wage gap is a myth

Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): A guest post – Equality vs. Inequality

Karl du Fresne (Stuff): Benefit meant for downtrodden, not to fund lifestyle choices

Grant Duncan (Policy matters): The Auckland plutocrats

Mike Treen (Daily Blog): Right wing blogger makes fool of herself

 

Natural resource extraction

Taranaki Daily News: Search for oil and gas will continue

Sacha McNeil (TV3): Harawira doubts oil job promises

Michael Fox (Stuff): PM's drilling challenge accepted

Newswire: Joyce urges iwi to back mining

Radio NZ: Minister rebuts Greens on oil

Bronwyn Beechey (Fightback): Deep sea drilling: The spirit of Mururoa?

Cameron Salter (Whaleoil): Cunliffe talking out of both sides of his mouth…again

 

Electricity

Dave Burgess (Stuff): Market forces curbing power rises – authority

Radio NZ: Central power buyer idea not liked

TVNZ: Power companies absorbing increases – regulator

Mike Smith (The Standard): Geoff Bertram on single-buyer for electricity

Tim Hunter (Stuff): Power report pays no respect to reason and fact

 

TPP

Brian Fallow (Herald): Govt's TPP benefit figures in doubt

Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On the alleged gains to New Zealand from the TPP

RNZ: TPP opponents doubt benefits

 

Waihopai three

Georgina Ball (TVNZ): No reason given for dropping case - spy base activist

Stuff: Waihopai damages action dropped

Radio NZ: Waihopai protesters escape civil suit

No Right Turn: Ending the persecution of the Waihopai Three

 

Education

Radio NZ: Fruit in Schools programme resumes

TVNZ: Novopay problems arise again

Jane Silloway Smith (Stuff): Community is key, not state

Brian Rudman (Herald): Principals who extort fees need re-educating

 

New flag

Sally Blundell (Listener): A symbol solution

Radio NZ: Flag change in the wind

 

Kim Dotcom

David Fisher (Herald): Angry Dotcom labels PM a 'spin master'

Byron Clark (Fightback): The Internet Party: A progressive force?

 

Other

Stuff: Today in Politics: Friday, February 7

Dominion Post: Editorial: No reason not to raise retirement age

Cecile Meier (Stuff): Rainbow Warrior bombing not my fault

Sam Boyer (Herald): Complaints against cops hit 835

Herald: Editorial: Good reasons for Govt to push on with Genesis float

Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Key knows Snowden's info

Nelson Mail: Religious belief less relevant to most

Diana Wichtel (Listener): Full mental jackets

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Law Society making crap up

Daily Blog: The Daily Blog Watch – 5/6 February 2014

Jared Savage (Herald): Tamihere put heat on advertisers

Kurt Bayer (Herald): NZ military develops spy drones

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Beyond the hyperbole

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Retailers trying to kill off Internet sales

Chris Trotter (Daily Blog): Monsters At The End Of The Dream: Chris Trotter reviews True Detective

Jimmy Ellingham (Herald): McCready seeks costs over Banks case

Newswire: Scrap Queen's Birthday holiday, MP says

David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Why does Labour think gambling is bad?

Ben Heather (Stuff): Same sex couples favour marriage