Maori Council and Labour make Key ‘Lucky John’

Maori Council co-chairman Maanu Paul
Mana Party No 2 Annette Sykes

Maori Council co-chairman Maanu Paul has declared that a person can have either money or mana but not both.

His statement was part of an attack on the Maori Party alongside Mana Party No 2 Annette Sykes.

At first glance, Mr Paul’s declaration may appear to go some way toward explaining why so many Maori languish at the bottom of social and economic indicators but perhaps he was being more subtle.

After all, the same Mr Paul also urged the government this week to sit down with iwi to “work out how much you are going to pay us to use our water”.

Perhaps it was not money but mana that Mr Paul was challenging.  If so, he may yet prompt an interesting debate.

Like European notions of mediaeval “honour” and the Asian idea of “face,” was Mr Paul suggesting it is time to re-consider whether a partly heritable but ill-defined concept of authority, control, prestige and power should continue to hold a central place in a more democratic and egalitarian society than the one in which it evolved?

All too often, was Mr Paul suggesting, the protection of mana seems to cause a whole lot of huffing, puffing and worse in response to minor slights.

If so, he is to be commended for so elegantly raising the potential conflict, which all societies face, between maintaining ancient social constructs and achieving contemporary economic development.

Of course, while Mr Paul was dealing with such sophisticated sociological matters, Prime Minister John Key must have been chortling about how lucky he is with his opponents.

60 protesters in the rain

Since January 2011, when Mr Key boldly announced plans, if re-elected, to issue shares representing 3% of the government’s total asset portfolio, the mixed ownership model (MOM) has been his government’s greatest political risk.

Among many voters, it raised the spectre of unpopular trade sales of major state assets, such as Labour’s sale of 100% of Telecom, sneaked in just before the 1990 election.

Opponents of the MOM managed to get as many as 8000 people to street marches against Mr Key’s plans and Labour based its entire 2011 election campaign around the theme “Stop Asset Sales”.

Now, however, Mr Paul and his friends have reframed the issue so that opposition to the MOM is confused with support for the Waitangi Tribunal claim for ownership of water.

Consequently, MOM opponents could get only 2000 to their march in Auckland last weekend, 500 in Christchurch and only 60 were sufficiently energised by the issue to brave a bit of Wellington rain.

Mr Key is even luckier with his Labour Party opponents.

Its leader, David Shearer, was unable to competently articulate a position distinct from Mr Key’s in a soft interview with Sean Plunket.

Like Mr Key, he said Maori have a right to test their claims before the Waitangi Tribunal, that no government is or will be bound by the tribunal, that no one owns water or ever should, and that there may be issues around water rights allocation.

Mr Shearer also confirmed that a Labour government would not buy back the shares in Mighty River Power that Mr Key plans to sell, so that the horror of un-owned Waikato River water flowing through dams that are only 51% government owned would continue under a Labour government.

It goes without saying that Labour will be as bound as National to supporting the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum, given that organisation’s excellent processes and extraordinarily broad membership including the environmental movement, the universities, agribusiness, forestry, tourism, recreational hunters and fishermen, the energy companies and iwi.

Identical positions

Mr Key banked all that and then resolved his differences with his governing partner by agreeing with the Maori Party that he will not only read the Waitangi Tribunal report but will meet with them to discuss the government’s response before commenting.

He has also made an absolute commitment that he will not legislate over the top of the courts, in the way that Helen Clark did with her appalling response to the Ngati Apa foreshore and seabed decision.

Assuming that Mr Shearer has no intention of repeating Ms Clark’s attack on the rule of law, the upshot is that Mr Key and Mr Shearer now have identical positions on every aspect of the water rights issue.

When the Waitangi Tribunal, the courts and the Land and Water Forum complete their work, and if the government bases its decisions on the bipartisan principles that have been articulated over the last fortnight, Labour will have no room to credibly attack the outcome.

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14 Comments & Questions

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Very good comment...

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Your point is?

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Labour has no hair on its chest.

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Hydro Power Generators do not consume or reduce the supply of water. They are a more advanced version of the old Flour Mills whose grinding wheels were turned by the flow of water across a Paddle Wheel. The water flowed on for drinking, washing , more paddle wheels etc.
Grow up you priveledged Maori Leaders.

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Why do we have to put up with the repeatedly voiced fiction that the Treaty of Waitangi was a partnership between the Crown and (some?) maori tribes -what balderdash! Simply being parties to an agreement does not, nor ever did, create a partnership of itself. There is nothing in the Treaty to support such a claim. Give the widely differeing views on the meaning and intent of the Treaty, it fails to provide a basis for anything.

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Mana still exists like a Code of Honour. It can be amplified or diminished by your character, your deeds, your word. Yet the Treaty of Waitangi will be eroded again by the Trans-Pacific Treaty negotiations. 7 generations before me, my ancestor signed a Treaty of Waitangi with the Crown. His signature is there on it. The Crown Representative signed it. No balderdash. This is an original Deed. But it gets ignored in the race between by the settlers, London City owned companies and brokers like Wakefield and the NZ Company to get land. No different today with investment bankers and multinationals lining up to cut deals. But the mana of the Treaty still exists. My family have paid in blood to defend the spirit of partnership in the Treaty. Boer War. WW1. WW2. Vietnam. Modern day. Irony is that a granduncle Ngarimu won a posthumous Victoria Cross in 1943 fighting for God, King and New Zealand and today lies buried in Tunesia. Nearly 70 years later, his own seabed and tribal lands in Eastern Bay of Plenty will be invaded and drilled by oil and mining companies such Petrobras and other foreign owned entities with drilling permits from the NZ Government. We must remember the price paid in blood, not dollars for the rights and assets we enjoy. This is what Mana is about. Lest we forget.

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And so you would rather wallow in nostalgia than be part of a modern country in which your children and grandchildren might have a better future than your grandfather.

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If a partnership ever existed, a) why is there a Maori Land Court, and b) who is the other partner?

It's useless to say the Crown is the other partner since Maori are just as much part amd parcel of the Crown as non-Maori New Zealanders.

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Mana or Money?

Where then do his Maori Elders who have received tens of Millions in Treaty Settlements sit on this spectrum?

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There is no one definition of Mana. No black or white. Just many shades of grey and khaki opinions. Just like Money. Many denominations such Pounds, Euro, USD, NZD etc. Many financial meanings eg Quantitative Easing, Austerity Measures, Open Bank Resolutions etc. Just like with corrupt Barclays Bank libor fixing or Bank of International Setttements in Basel Switzerland with its Nazi past, we in Maoridom have our equal share of Maori crooks, thieves and idiots. Among tribal leaders. At all levels of Maori society. I have them in my own family. I am guilty of such actions myself if we are honest to look at our own personal past. Maybe its time to start new thinking. New balance sheet. Spiritual and Physical assets. Ecology and Economy. Mana and Money. We have had roughly seven generations of "New Zealanders" since the signing of Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Now in 2012 If I project forward another 7 generations using our current money models/trajectories then the vision I see for NZ is not very hopeful. Just the next 7 months or 7 years will see significant changes methinks. At least I hope to be still alive to see these changes and make a positive contribution in some way. Hoia noa, mihi aroha ki a tatou.

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Quite a bold challenge of the notion of mana, which is relevant today in Maori society as much now as before and methinks in wider NZ society as it such a powerful influence in politics. Now Maanu Pauls assertion that one can have either money or mana (but not both) is ridiculous, because noone can exist in todays worlds without a level of either. And in fact I would go to say that certain iwi such as Waikato Tainui, Ngati Whatua and Ngai Tahu have enjoyed increased mana to a level proportionate to their increased balance sheets. This is in part because they have achieved in the modern day economy but also because they are progressing in more traditional areas such as te reo revitalisation, marae development and health with the distribution of profits.

To all you wingers about the treaty, get over it, its a fact of NZ society now and we will not let it go. Do yourself a favour and get some understanding of the issues, the complexity and stop throwing the same boring slogans around which we have been hearing for generations now. Get in on the debate, its changing the country for the better.

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And what happens in a decade or two? Will the Treaty claim process be finished? Will Maori corporations like Ngai Tahu be so successful that they will be thoroughly integrated into the national and international business scene? Will the wealth benefits naturally accrue to iwi members who will retain their Maori identity? How much will Maori identity change with increased intermarriage and how much will global culture change all NZers? In effect the whole process will gradually erode the recent construct of Treaty Partnership as identities erode and change, as occurs in all societies. Could make for a very interesting society for our kids. What they identify with will be very different from pour appreciation of what it is to be Kiwi and multicultural.

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I agree with some of your underlying sentiments. Change can happen in one or two decades. I saw it in 1994 when NZ Army brought in Ngati Tumatuenga ethos as a way of merging Maori soldier/warrior traditions with British regimental system that underpins NZ Army system. Lot of resistance initially. Nearly 20 years later, you see Maori and Pakeha soldier blending well together on overseas operations like Timor, Afghanistan. Willie Apiata VC is an example. Plus other ethnicities joining NZ Army. Pacific, Somalian, Asian, British, Middle Eastern. Hopefully the Treaty evolves into a new Deed of Nation. Yet built on an unwritten code of honour. What it means to be Maori New Zealander, Pakeha New Zealander, Asian New Zealand, Pacific Island New Zealander or whatever identity we want on future census. What core values emerge that is common to us all in 2012? It will take VC courage and goodwill from all sectors of NZ society including Maori. Difficult but not insurmountable.

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Thanks KiwiSoldier.. very well expressed. A good view of what most people would like for this country. I'd add a note that mana, like respect, is earned and cannot be demanded. As present there is far too much demanding of mana/respect and far too little exercising of wisdom.

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