Why other Kiwis must stop fawning to the shrill cries of Maori

Dr Brian McDonnell: One standard of citizenship for all

A New Zealand academic of Maori, Irish and French descent believes the pendulum has swung too far in redressing Maori grievances.

Dr Brian McDonnell, a senior lecturer in film studies at Massey University, says New Zealand’s “polite middle ground has become too fawning and the government too accommodating to the shrill cries of extremists”.

He told NBR ONLINE: “Maori people have certainly been marginalised in the past and there are specific wrongs to be righted, but it’s time to draw back to the centre.

“In an effort to be nice you can be seen as a soft touch, so who can blame Maori groups for asking for the stars when the government and the Auckland Council seem ready to grant power and funds while ignoring democratic processes.

“It has been the move to enshrine the Treaty of Waitangi in a written or more formalised constitution that I feel should be the 'bridge too far' for well-meaning, reasonable, moderate people, both Maori and Pakeha, to say 'enough'.

“I would certainly place myself among their number and for me it is not Maori bashing to say so.

“I am part-Maori and I want success for all Maori people, but I think dependence on a Treaty-burdened constitution will not help Maori, as its advocates claim.”

Dr McDonnell believes such a constitution will trap Maori in a “suffocating self-definition as in need of special pleading and a special status”.

“True equality comes with being treated as responsible adults who shoulder responsibilities as well as crying out for rights.

One standard of citizenship

“We must have one standard of citizenship for all and the over-arching identity in the progressive New Zealand state must be unified citizenship, not class divisions based on 1840 groupings.

“If a Maori and Pakeha marry and have children, why call the children Maori and not Pakeha?” he asks.

“I can whakapapa back to my Tuhoe forebears and am proud of that, but a huge part of my make-up is Irish, those first 'sufferers' of British colonising zeal.

“Children of mixed parentage should not increase the census count of one ethnicity at the expense of the others.

“I experience consternation when academic speakers at conferences parade their iwi affiliations but are mute on the subject of their European ancestry.

“Just because a Waldorf salad calls itself an apple doesn’t mean it actually is an apple!”

Exasperated and amused

Dr McDonnell says that working in a university has by turns “exasperated and amused me as one witnesses:

  1. The opening of anything bigger than a broom cupboard ceremonialised with a Maori blessing at dawn.
  2. The imposition of grace before meals with staff bent forward silently, hands clasped while someone prays, all this in a supposedly secular institution.”

“I enjoy the haka done well and have performed it myself while playing rugby overseas but, like Valerie Adams, I’m haka’d out.

“It's over exposed and overdone as with Maori welcomes, even to people who’ve been to the place often before.

“And I tire of the self-indulgent, meandering rants of self-aggrandising old men from any ethnic group, especially when few present know what they are talking about.”

Dr McDonnell says he bases his ideas on a strong wish for New Zealand to progress and prosper in the future “and to look forward, not back, to be united in what will be a trying world environment and for people to have equal opportunities to succeed and prosper”.

He believes personal advancement should be the result of merit and not the consequence of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status.

“Constitutionally, we cannot have two types of citizenship, two groups of citizens depending on your ethnic group – one made up of people like myself who whakapapa back to iwi and hapu and those who don’t.

“The order in which your ancestors arrived as migrants, settlers to this country cannot give you a constitutional status that is different from anyone else.

“To embed this in some permanent way is intolerable. People who are born here belong to the land equally.

“We are at a risky time in our nationhood and are like a boat being rowed by people looking fixedly towards the past.

“We need someone looking ahead to steer us where we need to go, not onto the rocks or off-course.”

rvaughan@nbr.co.nz

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69 Comments & Questions

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Strange that inequity is seen through karakia before a meal or a blessing to open a new building, rather than 160 years of institutional racism or the fact that most NBR Rich listers are Pakeha. One law for all? If the economy can stratify so that a few with white skin and European descent can run much of the country, does the make a equal? Or the fact that every single prime minister in New Zelaland's history is a Pakeha, with none openly celebrating their Maori heritage. Is that equality? Without the Treaty of Waitangi, early Europeans would not have been welcomed in great numbers, when Maori were 10 to 1. The wars of 1860 showed how dishonest the empire and settler New Zealand was and this article perpetuates that. If this guy is truly Tuhoe, let him go home and learn what was done to us by John Key recently. Bad history is not ancient, because ignorant racism is alive today.

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Yes, ignorant racism is alive, as evidenced by this bolix posting.

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Your reply, Potaua, is the problem - get on with it.

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Seems Maori, as a collective, are among the wealthiest in our society. Trouble is the Maori elite are keeping the wealth to themselves! How many times have Maori had full and final settlements? Multiple.

Without the treaty of Waitangi Maori would not have gained protection from slavery and gained title to their lands, which protected them from having their lands taken from them by Maori conquest. Potaua forgets that it was Maori would requested the Queen's rule, knowing the English were a better option than the French, who were about to claim NZ and who had already shown themselves to be ruthless (eg, Bay of Islands). Without the Treaty, Maori would have been wiped out. It’s Maori who have gained most from the Treaty.

The wars of 1860 were not a response to dishonest English. They were a reaction to a rebellious faction of Maori - those who today we would recognise as the patu-waving warriors like Hone Harawera and Tama Iti and the more calculating like Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples. In those days, the rulers had the good sense to quell rebellion rather than go into coalition with it.

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You know Potuau, the disturbing thing about extremists is that it's never about the issue it's always about themselves.You don't care about Maori, No, no ... you want to get even because of trauma suffered long ago probably by your own people.
I am part-Maori and totally disagree with just about everything you've said. I'm very happy with multiculturalism and, frankly, don't know what planet you're on.The writer of this article is right. Let's forget the bolox and move on.

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For the love of god! When will you right-wing PC loonies start looking at the real cost of having an increasingly growing underclass. Bigger private jails to house the growing number of uneducated unemployed Maori youth won't cut it. You'd be the first red-neck to start moaning about that cost.
Acknowledge the historical thefts of land by our forefathers and teach the true NZ history, and that's a start.
Take time to look over that leafy suburb of cotton wool and don't believe a thing that comes from the dross of our shameless 'news' outlets, so thin of investigation, you could be forgiven for thinking the only issues at crisis point is whether Gilford will get a start with Canterbury.

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Yes Andrew, but every programme has been tried and you can't keep blaming the system for Maori under-achievement.
What new programmes do you suggest that would work at improving Maori well being? Will anything work?
Putting as you say the "Red Necks" aside, the average New Zealander (and there are decent ones around, and you know it) are running out of patience. How do you expect them to feel when they're subsidising Maori to the hundreds of millions through their own hard work. Come on Andrew, that's not right.

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Dont bother e hoa, the rednecks will never get it...

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There's a surprise, a Maori playing the race card.

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At least I have the guts to sign my name in full. Whay are you hiding behind anonymous?

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Oh, and the race card, with an opening line of "I am part-Maori" by Dr McDonnell? So it's OK if he is making a point against Maori, but if he was using it for Maori you'd say it was playing the race card? Grow up SC.

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Get over it.

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If only more people thought this way. I have been saying this for years. We need to together and unite and then we will all go forward. Great read.

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More bolox, Carole (or whatever your name is). What's his name or psuedonym got to to do with the argument? Would you be happier if he signed it off John Smith?

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Hooray for this Dr Brian McDonnell. At last someone has the guts to put it like it is. I too whakapapa to three Iwi and Jewish and irish and have come to the same conclusion as you. The pendulum has swung too far and Maori are heading for a long period of self navel gazing which aint that productive from Our Nations stance. We are all Kiwis if born here and whilst I am very proud of my Maori bit its not entirely who I am and I feel better for acknowleging that.
Perpetual haka and ceremony and traditional hui is not where we need to be as a Nation.
Lets complete the current settlement
process with dignity and turn our collective eyes to the future which by the way,
is here already.
Lets acknowledge all
being welcome aboard the BIG Waka of nationhood, find our allocated and entitled seats, check to see which is the bow and the horizons whereabouts Concur as to destination and begin learning how to paddle in sequence and harmony to where it is we all wish to head for.
I'll be there see you on board.

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"I am proud of my maori heritage. How can someone be "proud" of something they neither earned, or had any say in? That rings of imperialism to me and is,basically, meaningless. White supremist use the same anti-logic to support their racism.

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Well said!

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Dr Mc Donnell has got it absolutely right. It is time for all New Zealanders, regardless of ethnicity, to speak out in support of his views. The Treaty has become far too prominent in our thinking as a nation and its further enshrining in legislation and the proposed constitution is to accord it far more importance and standing than is warranted today. We must move forward as New Zealanders and away from a racist, if not almost apartheid , society.

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Potaua is the very one-eyed racist radical that Brian McDonnell refers to.

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Whatever wrongs were done to the Maori people have been long since fully compensated with interest.

A country of 4 million people simply cannot continue to pay vast sums to support an ongoing culture of victimhood, by a tiny group of self-styled radicals whose mandate appears to be far more about self-aggrandizement than any genuine concern for either their own people or the country as a whole.

The best thing for ALL New Zealanders would be to tear the treaty into tiny bits and move on as a grown-up nation.

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One has to get a grip on the history to understand why we in this current dilemma over the future of the Treaty. I have Maori heritage also. My great-grandmother had land taken illegally by the government.in the late 1800s. The Crown has acknowledged the claim and last year I was standing with a cousin of mine (who is representing the claimants) when Minister for Treaty Settlements Chris Finlayson gave assurances in front of other witnesses that swift action would be taken to settle the claim. As a family we are dismayed that almost a year later the minister has taken no action, let alone "swift" action, to resolve the matter.

It is this type of situation that will keep us fixated on the past and not be able to move forward. It is not until a person has had an injustice occur in their experience that one appreciates how almost impossible it is to just "move on" - especially when the injustice has been acknowledged.

The point to my comment is this: as a society governed by the "rule of law" we can't "write off" our inconvenient history just because it doesn't fit with current notions of equality and fairness for all, particularly when our history as a NZ nation state is comparatively short compared to Maori settlement in Aotearoa, which dates back to 1350 and earlier (Kupe is said to have arrived near Petone in AD900),

The challenge for the average NZ citizen is to understand the terms on which Maori agreed to accept European settlement (it's all about rangatiratanga/kawanatanga rights). This history can't be ignored or legislated away, as the likes of Don Brash have suggested.could happen.

On balance, settlements have been effectively managed by Maori entities and have produced good dividends for them and the communities they operate in. As far as I can tell, Maori see Treaty settlements as a means to an end rather than an end in themselves.

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So what is the end if it's not settlement of grievances?

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The Treaty was born out of convenience... to get a foot in the door.
Now that we are in the room and taking up 80% of the space, the treaty is of no further use. We should toss out it rather than let Maori use it as some sort of bargaining tool. Harden up NZ!!

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Merv, I'm not sure if you are stating of obvious - that to get rid of the Treaty would be to act in bad faith, or that you really believe it is OK for NZ to establish its future on such a false foundation. In 1846 the Crown used the Treaty to deny Maori the right to sell land other than to the Crown (Queen v Symonds). In a case before the Privy Council in 1877 (Parata v The Bishop of Wellington) Maori land was sold to the Anglican church. The sale was disputed by the rightful owners but the court decided the Treaty was an nullity as it was considered international law (NZ domestic law was established in 1852 with the Constitution Act). It wasn't until 1975 when the Treaty entered domestic law with the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal that the anomaly was rectified. Queen Victoria always intended that the Treaty be part of domestic NZ law but the settler government omitted any reference to it in the 1852 Act.

In 1990, as a society, we recognised the Treaty as our founding document - it defined who we are. I think most NZers would feel uncomfortable establishing a new founding document or constitution that lacked integrity because it was based on a lie. Such an act would be unsustainable and destroy the relative tranquility that we enjoy.

Anyway, Merv, I think a bit of a historical perspective is useful as to why we are where we are...

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I see no one seems to be interested in my history lesson. Be that as it may, it doesn't change the facts!

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JB, you are correct...

I acknowledge that in the past, many injustices were made that enabled Pakeha gain a stronghold over maori in NZ. For example, the confiscation of land, loss of sovereignty, banning the use of the Maori language in schools, deprivation of culture, putting Maori on the front lines during war ... you could go on all day.

Many (if not most) Pakeha NZers choose to disregard the Treaty and Maori political history because these injustices do or would make them feel uncomfortable. Ignorance is bliss. This is also why our children don't learn about it in schools.

Our country is based on lies. All the countries that have been overtaken by Pakeha are based on lies. Australia, Canada, America, etc, have all ripped off their natives but choose to carry on, blissfully unaware. It's just the way it is.

Sorry to hear about the loss of your family land. One can only imagine how devastating it must be to lose something that was quite rightfully yours.

However ... damage done.

Let's draw a line in the sand and move forward as a nation. I'd like to think that we have grown up and that no more Maori land will be stolen, anyone can speak Maori, do as many haka, karakia and ceremony as they like, and there will be no more discrimination anywhere within in this great country of ours.

But do we really need a Treaty to achieve this when common law/sense could suffice?

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Arrogance is bliss, Merv.

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Arrogance is necessary. What successful country isn't?

We need to harden up and look forward for this country to move forward. To be humble and look back will only succeed in us going backward.

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We can't keep going back to the past JB3. We Maori must move on. Listen to the sensible and respected Maori.

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Time for NZ to start looking forward rather than continally looking in the rear view mirror.

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White power controls the economy and the bulk of the wealth, white power controls the parliament and political processes, the courts and all other key power structures. Have done for decades. Even today white power does not need Maori. So it's all you, baby! It's white power stupid, not the Maoris. They make up less than 15% of the population, are the minority in everything except the prison and welfare population. Everything you lot moan on about is all as a result of white power. And you know what? White power is on the decline population-wise. The Maoris, Asians and Polys will by 2020 have major political clout. Might as well move to Aussie, aye White Power - oops, too many Maoris there. Bottom line, moan on all you like. You did this, it's all your fault and you've burnt the bridge behind you. The high water mark of white power reserving Maori has past. Get used to it. Look at the facts. It's all you.

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Don't you understand that without Europeans and immigrants. New Zealand would be a third world country like New Guinea or Fiji. It's only inherently worth something because of the expertise, technology and hard work these people have put into it.
Also, as far as population goes New Zealand's ethnicity will actually become increasingly diverse with Asians, Indians, Europeans and others dominating as their populations are so vast.

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... what's new pussycat?

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In reply to Tom Jones, what a joke to any thinking New Zealander that the reverse of what you say actually applies. Maori and their apparent rites overrule everything. Their absurd racist claims are shoved down our throats all day, every day! Well stated, Brian McDonnell. One citizenship, one law, one rule, less black and white, united we stand, divided we fall. Most thinking New Zealanders have had a complete guts-full of the Maori gravey train.

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In response to LCC, if they do it's because the idiot white power lets them, duh. Did you not understand? White power are the majority and the control everything, not the Maoris. If the Maoris get anything it's because your craven, stupid white power governments let them. If there was one law for all why do the West Coast Maori get paid less than a market rate for the perpetual lease of their land? Is that one law for all? Don't think so. You better wake up and move to Queensland or Gore. The bridge is burnt behind you and the white population is on the decline.

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Tom, you do realise you're coming across as a racist. The very thing us minorities have been fighting against for years. When you incite violence nobody wins. I wonder if you really know much about life. You need to talk to your respected elders.

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Thank you for this, Dr Mcdonnell.
I, too, agree that the Treaty grievance industry is way out of hand, and that any new constitution must be a document of racial equality before the law, abolishing and outlawing all race-based laws and institutions - such as the separate electoral roles, and special race-based seats in councils, Parliament, etc ).

I believe this to be in the best interests of all New Zealanders, including Maori, who lose nothing legitimate from having a society of freedom and equality before the law.
Regards
Tim Wikiriwhi
Libertarian
twikiriwhi@yahoo.co.nz

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The Treaty and they way it is interpreted by the greedy few with their hands out for all that they can get makes New Zealand one of the most racist countries on the planet. How sad. Glad to see Dr McDonnell speaking out. May we hear more of this from him and others. It's about time the tide turned... It's odd from his quarter, too, as most educational institutions promote racism with vigour. Well done, Dr McDonnell!

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I would like to see Doctor McDonnell preach this very speech to his Tuhoe brothers and sisters face to face, then we shall see who is 'proud' of their heritage, regardless of the fact that Tuhoe never signed the Treaty.

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In reply to Oprah, come on, who could ever take Tuhoe seriously? Pure racists to the core. Sadly, they care about no one, least of all the way forward for New Zealand.

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Any country where people have to declare a racial profile to qualify their argument (see paragraph one of Rod Vaughan's article) is doomed.

Thousands of people in this country left South Africa to get away from apartheid, only to find New Zealanders gagging to constitutionalise it.

There is no such thing as race.

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There is only one true race - the human race.

Reverse racism by another name is still racism.

One land, one people, one vote...

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Full marks to Dr Brian McDonnell for an excellent article. He makes a couple of strong statements that we should all take note of. "We must have one standard of citizenship for all and the over-arching identity in the progressive New Zealand state must be unified citizenship, not class divisions based on 1840 groupings" and "The order in which your ancestors arrived as migrants, settlers to this country cannot give you a constitutional status that is different from anyone else" . There is strong mounting evidence that there were inhabitants. The Treaty was important but it was written in a different time for different people and there is even confusion and debate as to the meaning of many clauses.
To enshrine and outdated and confusing document in a constitution would be wrong. We need to go forward as one people from many different backgrounds – one people with equal opportunity. Perhaps the time is near when we should become a republic. It is not that the monarchy is irrelevant to NZ but it belongs in the past with the Treaty. Becoming a republic would provide perfect platform for writing a new constitution “for the people” without selecting certain groups for special treatment. It would provide a basis for moving forward and looking towards the future.

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This kind of story always gets a large number supporting comments. Why? Because you have a "part-Maori" spouting what Pakeha love to hear. I suspect Dr McDonnell emails Alan Duff, another "part-Maori", regularly. To my mind, anybody who uses the term to describe themselves is, in fact, Pakeha or European. These "part-Maori" prefer that Maori culture be kept on the marae, where it belongs.

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Native, I'm Maori and Dr McDonnell is right. It's time to move on. It's not about what Pakeha want to hear, it's what the whole of New Zealand needs hear - Maori and others. Now we've come very far in today's world and it's a very different place than what it was.That was in the past - it's time to look forward to our future.

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People can move on and still hold the Crown to account. The Crown, by its very nature, will continue to secure privileges for private interests and mulitnational corporations. It always has and always will. If this is seen by Maori to be a breach of their rights, why shouldn't they ask questions?

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Native, I hope you're not starting to confuse Marxist idealogy with freedom fighting. Look, it's a different world today. Look around you. Obama is in the White House, and Maori have every and any opportunity to be successful if they want to. I as a Maori am very satisfied with the world today and so should you. Our Maori family and friends are doing very well, thank you, and are happy to call ourselves New Zealanders.

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No native, I'm Maori and I agree Dr McConnell. Remember, a lot of Maori just want to move on now.

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A good analysis.
But until we get "leaders" who have the guts and ability to see ahead of the next election, nothing will change.
Don't hold your breath!
WG

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There have been many comments after the publication by Rod Vaughan of opinions I voiced on the exaltation of the Treaty of Waitangi and current moves by some to try to make it the centrepiece of a future written constitution for New Zealand. Some of these comments I have read with interest and others with a degree of regret at the heat they generate instead of light.

But I would like to clarify a couple of matters that may have caused confusion about my views. The article's headline about Kiwis needing to "stop fawning to the shrill cries of Maori" somewhat misrepresents what I actually said, as the second paragraph of the article shows.

It was "extremists" who were the targets of my remarks, not Maori people in general. What troubles me is that extremists can operate a strategy of wearing down the resistance of moderates by constantly and vehemently calling for radical change, until the moderate people in the centre find themselves, through sheer exhaustion, simple politeness or a lack of attention, having conceded the impetus of an important argument to a minority of radicals. The too-silent majority needs to speak up more.

This is why I support the idea that any proposals for enshrining components of a written constitution must be submitted to a universal referendum for every New Zealand adult to vote on.

Despite what some commentators on my opinions have claimed, I am not against the Treaty itself nor against the specific claims being made about land, etc. All I am saying is that the New Zealand of today has moved on dramatically from the situation prevailing in 1840, that two separate population groups no longer exist, that there is a rich mixture of cultures and ethnicities in our country now, and that there must be only one, single standard of citizenship in the nation.

Attempts to enshrine a so-called Treaty separation between Maori and non-Maori "partners" will be undemocratic and a denial both of present reality and the ongoing evolution of our modern nation-state.

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