Reflections on The Urewera 4 Trial

March 22, 2012

When you pick up a gun, you lose the right to proclaim yourself to be an adherent of the philosophy of Parihaka

The most significant criminal case of our generation.  Or so the narrative goes.  That is how the trial of the four remaining defendants arrested during Operation 8, an investigation into paramilitary camps allegedly being run by Māori separatists deep in the Urewera Bush, was portrayed in the national media over the past few years.  In the end, however, it turned out to be little more than a case of four fairly harmless, if incredibly stupid, individuals playing with guns out in the bush.

I have little comment to make on the legal situation.  The case has been stretching on for many years, with lawyers on both sides hell-bent on litigating every single point of contention.  Trying to unpick the significance of the legal proceedings will require a full dissertation and even then you will still be skating over some of the issues.  At the end of the day, firearms convictions do not warrant the time and expense that has been poured into this case.  On the other hand, the social and political ramifications are far-reaching.

This case strikes right at the heart of Te Ao Māori and our interaction with the Crown.  Its genesis arises in the nexus created between Article 1 of The Treaty of Waitangi and Ko Te Tuarua o Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  The actions of the police in invading Tuhoe in 2005 was a continuation of Crown policy dating back to the sacking of Kororareka in 1845.  To this day, the Crown contends that the entire Northern War against Hōne Heke was necessary and justified in order to suppress rebellion.  The same argument was used to drive the Kingitanga out of the fertile Waikato plains and into the rugged terrain of the King Country.  It was later used to justify the invasion, sacking, and razing of Parihaka and it was the reason for the scorched earth policy against Tūhoe.

Those who see the Urewera raids as an isolated event are doomed to repeat the mistakes of past generations.  Each incident highlighted above is a manifestation of the inherent conflict between Article 1 and Ko Te Tuarua.  A supreme sovereign cannot sit side-by-side with the guaranteed right of Tino rangatiratanga.  Without agreement between Māori, the Crown, and the citizens of New Zealand as to the proper interpretation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the respective rights granted within, there can be no guarantee that the Urewera raids will turn out to be the last great show of force by the Crown.

Politically, this is a nightmare situation for the Labour Party.  The Māori Party, Greens and Hone Harawira are leading calls for an independent inquiry into the whole process and the independent Māori members of Parliament want an official apology issued to Tūhoe for the actions of the Crown during the execution of Operation 8.  National does not have to do anything, and can sit back comfortable in the knowledge that the vast majority of the country has already forgotten about the entire event. The raids did not happen under their watch, and the criminal charges that the Urewera 4 were convicted on were of such a minor degree that they can draw a line under this process and move on.

Labour, however, are wishing that no one calls them out on their position.  Why, for example, are they not joining the calls of the other opposition parties for an independent inquiry into police action?  As the party of Ratana, the self-proclaimed saviours of Māori, they should be front and centre of the calls for redress to be made to Tūhoe.  But, as you well know, the Labour Party were implicit in this entire sham.  They passed the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, an Act described by the Solicitor-General as unworkable and ineffective and, more damagingly, the Fifth Labour Government stands accused of driving the entire police investigation and prosecution.  Lew makes the point that Māori were specifically targeted here and that, for example, “the Right Wing Resistance are free to continue with their training camps and their pseudo-secessionist projects, unmolested.”  This was not about suppressing rebellion, it was designed to send a clear message to Māori of our “rightful” place in New Zealand.  For Labour to make a big deal out of this issue now would expose their complete and utter bankruptcy on Māori issues.

Finally, a word out there to any Māori who considers the actions of the defendants to be justified, or in any way worshipped.  You are as deluded as the defendants are in thinking that progress will be made through the use of guns or other weaponry.  Study our history.  Māori have long embraced the attitude of passive resistance.  In 1881 a large contingent of Kingitanga and Ngāti Maniapoto, led by Tawhiao, symbolically laid down their guns before Government officials at Alexandra (now named Pirongia) as an act of peace between two nations.  Let the great Rangatira of our past guide our actions today.


Government Consultation on Maori Economic Development

March 13, 2012

This is worth checking out for those of you who have an interest in the Maori economy, courtesy of TPK:

Māori Economic Development Panel
In 2011 the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Minister for Economic Development established an independent Māori Economic Development Panel. The Panel is chaired by Ngahiwi Tomoana with Professor Greg Whittred as Deputy Chair. Panel members include Mark Solomon, Bevan Graham, Graham Stuart, June McCabe, Debbie Packer, Gina Rangi and Glen Tupuhi. The Terms of Reference for the Panel is available fromwww.beehive.govt.nz/release/maori-economic-strategy-be-developed.
The Panel has been charged with developing a Māori Economic Strategy and Action Plan that:

  • provides recommendations to improve the performance and productivity of the Māori economic sector;
  • clarifies the role and identifies the contribution that the Government can make to improving the performance of the Māori economic sector; and
  • considers the role and contribution of Māori to their own economic development.

To inform the development of the Strategy and Action Plan the Panel has produced a discussion document which sets out the Panel’s views on the key issues facing the Māori economy what needs to be done to improve its performance and productivity.

The Panel is keen to hear your views on the direction, initiatives and actions in the discussion document and members of the Panel will be holding hui in:

Wellington on Thursday 22 March from 10.00am at te Raukura te Wharewaka o Poneke, Odlins Square, Taranaki Street Wharf

Auckland on Thursday 29 March from 10.00am, at the Conference Centre, 585 Great South Road, Penrose

Christchurch on Friday 30 March from 1.30pm at Rehua Marae, 79 Springfield Road, Richmond

You are welcome to attend any of the three hui. We look forward to seeing you there.

The Panel also welcomes written feedback on the document and the discussion questions in the document. Feedback can be emailed to MEDP@tpk.govt.nz or sent to the Māori Economic Development Panel, care of Te Puni Kōkiri, PO Box 3943, Wellington.

The closing date for submissions is 11 April 2012.

The discussion document, and the feedback the Panel receives from the korero, will inform the development of a Strategy and Action Plan which will set the roadmap for Māori economic development over the next 20 years. The final Strategy has the potential to impact on everyone in New Zealand, as such, sharing your views and insights will help the Panel to develop a Strategy and Action Plan that has the greatest chance of making a real difference.


Time For A Maori Policy Unit

March 7, 2012

I have spoken with a lot of people over the past few weeks about section 9 and the effects of the state owned enterprise regime on Maori Te Tiriti claims and what has struck me is the vast amount of issues that are simply not being addressed by our current approach to law reform.  In short, while there is plenty of passion around such issues from within Te Ao Maori, most of us simply do not have the time to dedicate to providing substantial critiques and counterproposals for reform to the Government.

It is for this reason that I believe that it is time for the formation of an independent Maori Policy Unit.  A body whose sole purpose is to undertake in-depth analysis of issues of importance to Maori and propose workable models of law reform – a Maori Law Commission if you will.  I am keen to get the ball rolling on this, but I need your help.  Do you think an independent Maori Policy Unit is a good idea, what skills would the members of the MPU need to have, how can it be funded, what principles should it be founded on, and how broadly should the aims, functions, and purposes of the MPU be drawn?

Let me know your whakaaro in the comments section, or email me at jcphitchcock@gmail.com


Welfare Reform, Part 1

March 1, 2012

The following quote comes from yesterday’s Parliamentary question time.

Hone Harawira: When the Minister talks about young mums going out to look for jobs, does she think young mums should be allowed to go to the front of the queue of the 150,000 people who are already unemployed, or does she think that the young mums should be made to wait until the 150,000 get jobs first, and can she please tell us where the jobs are for the 150,000 who are already unemployed, so that young mums can then get in line for the next jobs?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The member could look in his own patch, actually. I have a newspaper article here about the forestry industry that is saying they cannot get enough workers because of the drug taking that is going on, and some of those workers are not stepping up and do not actually want the jobs. I was in Kawakawa just a few weeks ago, when I heard about someone who had 19 jobs and could not fill them. Two young women had gone into a job in hospitality in his own patch. Within 3 days their boyfriends came along and told them they did not want to see them working, because they did not want to see them getting ahead of themselves. We are going to back those young women. We are going to back them into work and try to get them off benefits. That member may not think that they are worth it, but we do.

Thoughts?


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