Kohanga Reo Urgency Claim

July 26, 2011

Morgan blogs that Te Kohanga Reo, the representative body of 417 Kohanga throughout Aotearoa is taking a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, as a matter of urgency.  Without seeing the statement of claim I can only comment on what has been reported to date although it appears that the claim argues that Kohanga have been systematically discriminated against and seeks to have an independent National body established to oversee the Kohanga movement in Aotearoa.

What will come as a surprise to many Te Tiriti lawyers is that this claim appears to have been lodged on the basis of urgency.  Anyone working in the Waitangi Tribunal field will be able to tell you that it is incredibly difficult to succeed with an application for an urgent hearing.  The criteria are strict and are highly unlikely to be satisfied in this case.  Essentially, the Tribunal looks at the nature of the case, the immediacy of any Government action, and/or the intervention of the ordinary courts into the matter.  None of those factors are in play here.  The Government has indicated that it is looking into the matter, but there is no major law reform in progress at the moment with respect to Kohanga Reo.  The Waitangi Tribunal has proved itself to be very reluctant to grant urgent hearings of late.

And that brings me nicely to their legal counsel, Mai Chen.  As I have documented on this site, I used to work for Mai at Chen/Palmer and I am well aware of her capabilities as a Public lawyer.  It is clear that Te Kohanga Reo are seeking law reform and the application to the Waitangi Tribunal is nothing more than one part of a wider plan that Mai is implementing to provide leverage for her clients.  The end game here is not to get the claimants in front of the Tribunal, but rather to get them in front of the relevant Ministers and turn Kohanga Reo and Maori education into an election issue for the Maori electorates.  Stage I was mobilising support through the Hikoi, Stage II was launching legal action through the Waitangi Tribunal and Stage III (which no doubt Chen/Palmer is busy working on as we speak) is the preparation of a comprehensive proposal for law reform to be presented to the relevant Ministers in the coming weeks or months.

I look forward to seeing this one unfold.  It could prove to be a very important turning point for Maori education.


Taking a Short Break

July 11, 2011

Apologies for the lack of updates lately, I am travelling through Europe on a working holiday this month.  Between spending time with friends and family, sightseeing, and keeping up with my work from back home, there is little time available for writing new content for Maori Law and Politics.

Check back at the end of July when I will be back in New Zealand, refreshed, and with plenty of new ideas and new thoughts about contemporary legal and political issues.  I am also making my way through the Wai 262 Report and hope to have a considered response up as soon as it is ready.  Because of the importance of this report, and the amount of material to be read, a thorough read through and analysis is required to do justice to the report.

For those interested, I am currently in Kyiv, having travelled through Bangkok, Frankfurt and Hamburg this past week.  Tomorrow I go to Venezia and then onwards to Wien, Bratislava, Budapest, London, Geneva, Frankfurt, and Tokyo before arriving back in New Zealand in late July.

Kia kaha New Zealand!


Wai 262: Initial Thoughts

July 2, 2011

The relationship must change ‘from the familiar late-twentieth century partnership built on the notion that the perpetrator’s successor must pay the victim’s successor for the original colonial sin, into a twenty-first century relationship of mutual advantage in which, through joint and agreed action, both sides end up better off than they were before they started. This is the Treaty of Waitangi beyond grievance.’

Today marked a significant day in the history of the Waitangi Tribunal and the Maori rights movement. The much-anticipated, and long overdue, release of the Wai 262: Ko Aotearoa Tenei (Indigenous Flora and Fauna and Cultural Intellectual Property) Waitangi Tribunal Report. As the above quote recognises, this Report will be seen as the genesis of the movement away from the grievance-centric Maori rights discussion towards a more future-oriented, partnership model of Pakeha and Maori interaction in New Zealand.

The Report is immense, in breadth and detail so comments and analysis will gradually appear on this site over the next few weeks, alongside what should be many other insightful analysis from Maori around the country. While the Report is no doubt highly significant in its symbolic value, the true measure of this Report will be the Government’s response. Progress will not be made towards any of the goals and aspirations sets out in this Report without the support of Government. In this respect, the cause will have to continue.

My only hope now is that the mainstream media speak to Maori about this report and its implications and our hopes for a better future instead of relying on failed politicians of the 1990s who clearly demonstrate no willingness to engage constructively on these issues. Listening to Radio NZ’s Afternoon Panel on Friday with Dr. Muriel Newman was an utter disgrace. Newman demonstrated absolutely no knowledge of the claim, nor of the nature of the Waitangi Tribunal and the powers that it possesses. Her interview was nothing more than an attempt to spread fear through the Pakeha population that this Report will be the catalyst for the takeover of New Zealand by a Maori Oligarchy. There was no balance in the comments made by Dr. Newman nor did Jim Mora even attempt to challenge her on any of the comments made.

In the spirit of this Report, we expect better. Wai 262 is about Maori rights, Maori knowledge, and Maori property. It is Maori who hold the mana of this Report and we should be allowed to frame the debate in relation to these issues.


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