From this morning’s NZ Herald editorial about the National-led government’s political machinations around heading off court action by Maori against its flagship asset sales policy*:
Crown lawyers have acknowledged that pre-colonial iwi and hapu had customary control of rivers and streams in their area and those rights were preserved by the Treaty.
And that statement, about rights, is at the heart of the matter.
That’s despite the outcry … and the foaming repulsive hate speech and posturing of racists who call for the Key government to ‘show some spine’ (i.e. oppress indigenous rights) and seek to decry Maori — as a race! — as ‘greedy’.
John Key is never more personally-maligned by his constituency than when he is perceived as protecting indigenous rights. Remember this nasty demonisation (feather cloak, Tino Rangatiratanga/’Maori independence’ flag) courtesy of the Coastal Coalition and the ACT Party’s Muriel Newman?:
It’s inescapable that some rights were preserved by the Treaty of Waitangi — which has been upheld by the courts time and time again as a founding document of this country. For decades the Treaty was more marked by rapacious and dishonest breach than observance … and ‘elegant solutions’ of the day to get around government and local authority promises of reservation.
Maori Native Lands Act, anyone? Maori Lands Administration Act? Public Works Act? Leases in perpetuity? Groan.
Today, the Treaty of Waitangi is at the heart of New Zealanders’ self-image as more enlightened settlers/occupiers than the state-orchestrated genocides of Australia, the USA and South America. For most of us, ‘By right of conquest’ doesn’t wash anymore. That seems like a ‘stone-age’ concept. But some some hate-mongers seem to be wish for a new round of Land Wars and revising history demonstrating their own insatiable greed.
* A nice line elsewhere from Bryce Edwards’ political round up reminded me of the John Key moko image. “Fifty-fifty odds on the Government’s flagship policy getting off the ground? Merrill-Lynch would never gamble on those sorts of odds and their ex-trader wasn’t about to either.”