I laughed out loud when I read Mike Hosking’s rant about Waikato-Tainui’s treaty claim to part of the Auckland region. It was his usual uninformed, reactionary nonsense. You know, fact-free – top to bottom, left to right.
A week or so back, you might remember he had a piece about needing to wrap up the whole Treaty of Waitangi process. I don’t, but I think I get the idea.
You’d hope someone who was making public comment on the Treaty claims and settlement process might have at least tried to read something about it. Maybe even taken a look at a Waitangi Tribunal report or two. After all, the Tribunal is 40 years old. If you can’t, with 40 years’ worth of carefully researched Tribunal reports, work out that the value of Treaty settlements is miniscule compared to the value of land and resources that were wrongly taken from Māori, you’re asleep at your computer keyboard.
We need a deadline and we need to stick to it. The Crown should set a date when it will stop breaching the Treaty and start offering Treaty settlement redress that properly acknowledges the value that the Crown and the New Zealand public continue to receive from Treaty breaches (in other words, value that comes at the expense of Māori). We’ve talked about deadlines before, but it is usually been in the context of extinguishing Māori rights contrary to any principle of justice because people think waiting 40 years to resolve these issues is a long time. Try waiting 175 years.
The commitment that New Zealanders – Māori and non-Māori alike – have made to finding a resolution to long-standing grievances is laudable. No one doubts that wrongs were committed. The evidence is incontrovertible. No one doubts some sort of recompense needed to be sorted. Principles of justice usually require that when your property is taken either your property or compensation to the value of that property be returned to you. We are lucky that Māori have accepted that settlements comprising substantially less than the value of their land, along with apologies and other components of modern settlements, will be deemed to have put right a lot of wrongs.
So, are the over-excited comments of one media blowhard about Tainui ‘claiming Auckland’ worth worrying about? Well, asserting that the Crown’s generosity is being taken advantage of in the Treaty settlement process is, to be blunt, taking the piss. And someone needs to call him on it.
These opinions only get legs because they’re not seen for what they are – farcical. Just because you say it out loud, on multiple media platforms, doesn’t make it real, or plausible, or sensible, or in this case even worth listening to.
What I have noticed over the years with the Treaty process is that by indulging the mad end of the spectrum (think Don Brash at Orewa), you open the door for other racists.
I think back to the asset sales of election year. Most people expect that the Government will act within the law. If the law requires the Government to act consistently with Treaty principles when selling public assets, hey guess what? The Government cannot just say “We’re the Government, and if we want to sell something, we can.” The Government must comply with the law. Most people would say that was a good thing. But then Mike Hosking isn’t most people. Clearly. Because most people wouldn’t describe a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court as “Day one, their case fell over”. I could go into a lot more detail explaining the significance of the Supreme Court decision in the context of a long line of cases in which our higher courts have elaborated on the Crown’s legal obligations with respect to Treaty principles, but Mike doesn’t appear to be interested in either understanding or explaining issues accurately. What a waste of time.
Mike also doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of irony. Otherwise, how could he claim, with a straight face, that the problem is that those genuinely looking for solutions have been swamped by the headline grabbers and the opportunists? I know how you feel, Mike.
Good will only goes so far. If Treaty settlements are to be durable, they must be underpinned by principles of justice. All New Zealanders should demand nothing less. Resolution of these claims will require give and take on both sides. It will also require a genuine desire to understand the complexity of the substantive issues and the process for settling historical claims. I’m pleased to say that most New Zealanders I know are ready and willing for this challenge. They want to understand. They want to be part of a process of putting things right. They want to treat people with respect and be treated respectfully by others. They’re well beyond the limits to which Mike’s narrow thinking constrains him. And by quite some margin.