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Will Key fold?

Written By: - Date published: 5:56 pm, August 20th, 2009 - 75 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, child discipline - Tags: ,

Interesting times for Key. Rodney is trying to wag the dog over Maori seats. He’s also trying it on over the “smacking referendum” (memo to Rodney, you can only throw your toys out of the cot once). The “No” vote organiser “sickos” are already planning their victory party, and already arguing about “the next step”.

Hang on a minute. Whether or not there is a next step following this non binding referendum is largely up to John Key. Up until recently he has sensibly been saying that the law is working and that no changes would be made. But there was a fascinating little snippet in the graveyard late Friday time slot last week — “PM flexible on anti-smacking law” — this sounds very wobbly don’t you think? Very wobbly indeed.

So is John going to fold? Will he give in to Rodney Hide, talk-back ranting and the results of a profoundly flawed referendum? Hmmm. Interesting times for Key.

— r0b

75 comments on “Will Key fold?”

  1. TV3 just reported that Key was very keen on the idea of Maori seats a couple of months back. So if he “folds” it’ll be obvious that Hide actually is the one who runs the show.

    • Lew 1.1

      I don’t think that’s quite true, but it will be a very clear signal that he has picked ACT over his other coalition partner, his own views, and the wishes of a senior Māori member of his caucus. That’s a lot for someone with five seats, a 1% poll rating and an electorate which has just become winnable again to expect.

      L

      • IrishBill 1.1.1

        Key doesn’t have a lot of close support in the caucus but is safeguarded by his popularity. Hide, on the other hand, represents 30-40% of the National party caucus who dare not speak their ideology.

        • Nick 1.1.1.1

          IB, that is perhaps the most perceptive (and true) comment I have seen on this blog in a long time. I knew there was a reason for my continued visits despite not being of the left.

      • RedLogix 1.1.2

        However this plays out National NEED a coalition partner, either that or they are forced to call an early election which given current polling cannot be ruled out.

        I can’t see Key dumping ACT and being beholden to the MP. National’s core base can tolerate the MP as long as they only exercise token power.

        • Pascal's bookie 1.1.2.1

          He doesn’t need to dump ACT though.

          If Rodney steps down as LG minister, the only problem that gives Key is finding a replacement. He’ll still have ACT on C&S, and the ACT voters and the right wing of National’s base have nowhere to go. It’s much less of a problem for Key if he loses some redneck voters to ACT than if he loses centrists to Labour.

          If he appears to back down to Rodney, he potentially loses support from people that don’t like ACT, a sizable bunch. Key needs to hold on to the support of the people that voted National this time, but Labour before that.

          Tau has slipped a knife right where it hurts.

        • Lew 1.1.2.2

          IB, fair point. But what would they achieve by this particular show of muscle? Undermine John Key, their strongest asset, while he’s being a uniter?

          RL, I don’t think National are in danger of losing either coalition party on C&S. Crunch time for them will be closer to the election. Crunch time for Key is now: the signalling game is well underway.

          L

    • starboard 1.2

      ppfffttt

  2. I think the real pressure will come on Sharples & Turia if the seats are scrapped.

    If Rodney Hide was willing to resign over the inclusion of Maori seats, why aren’t they willing to resign over their exclusion? Surely Maori seats should mean more to the Maori Party than the Act Party…

    • Lew 2.1

      This was the point of a question in the house today – Shane Jones’, I think. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Hide’s firm stand on principle – which I think is a very good move for protecting his brand – was taken with the intention of finessing others into similar stands.

      Interesting few days/weeks/months ahead.

      L

  3. dan 3

    Hide knows his policies on Auckland are dead on the water. He ignored the commission’s views. He knows Nact MPs are nervous that West Auckland, North Shore and Manukau City voters rate Hide as a nutcase.
    He has now played the race card so that he can hopefully pull his sad neolithic party through on the Orewa-leaning vote in the next electiion.
    John Key, I must admit, has done far better than I thought he could. He can now show courage and fire the Roger Douglas clone, and get him off my TV screen at least until a month before the next election.
    Hide must go!

  4. Mac1 4

    Dan, John Key has a lot more on his plate back here in New Zealand to return to. He has a rogue MP, a rogue President, a rogue ex-minister, a rogue candidate in the recent by-election and now a rogue coalition partner.
    Perhaps he will pull the plug and prorogue Parliament -a new good King John. Fronting for this lot in Parliament must be wearing that smile very thin.

    • Nick 4.1

      And he also has a rogue set of polls showing him 30-40% in front.

      • Mac1 4.1.1

        That far ahead as preferred PM, but voting for preferred PM also has a lot to do with the voter’s party preference. As Irish Bill says above, Key has solid support in his own ranks because he is currently popular. As the polls droop for the parties of the Right, so will Key’s own rankings fall. Then, as IB continues, the more right wing supporters, some 30-40%, within his own ranks will seek out someone more in line with their own thinking.

        At what stage will the polls go south for National? In six years they have moved nearly 40%, from 2002 till now. The electorate has shown itself volatile and able to punish what it perceives as rogue behaviour. What I am saying is that the current ‘roguishness’ that I alluded to must facilitate a faster fall in National’s fortunes, and therefore concern Key.
        I do appreciate the point you make, however, as well made.

  5. Such troubles!
    its all i ever could have wished for,
    but it makes me feel dirty
    all this chortling at this shuffling governance – Worth, MelissaLee, Rankin,et al, we’ve been going through, has kept me quite warm this winter
    but we’re twiddling while home burns ay. Just saying.
    350

  6. bobo 6

    Is it just me or does Hide look like someone has whacked him on the chin, his face looks kinda swallon today I thought. With the large majority the Nact gov has which most govs would keep well into a second term is hell bent on using it up on its first term it seems..

  7. Ralph 7

    Wow I noticed that too – what is up withRodney either his botox went wrong or someone worked him over….

  8. felix 8

    Maybe it’s the result of his jaw dropping hitting the floor when he read this.

  9. Ianmac 9

    It did occur to me that John Key might be in a clever place. He might have even set the situation up. Thus:
    Act far out re anti Maori seats.
    Maori Party far in for Maori seats
    Enter John Key. “I am the great leader who can mediate this situation. Here is what I have decided.” Drums Roll. “Both Act and Maori Party are sweet because I have put this plan to them*.” Smiles.
    “Oh John you are so clever. Lets keep you on forever.”
    * = a great compromise and it is…………….

    • jarbury 9.1

      The only problem with that plan is …. what compromise can be found? I mean you either have them or you don’t. You can’t half have a seat, or can you?

      • ak 9.1.1

        …oh yes they can – they’ll be frantically splitting arses as we speak jarbs….and mac’s right – Nicey’s sole aim will be to emerge as the great Uniter, to rousing caucus strains of “for he’s a jolly Goodfellow” – oops.

  10. Adrian 10

    As much as I detest Hide and all he stands for, he’s the left’s best thing going. Keep him there until election year.

    • QoT 10.1

      If they could let Sir Roger “I am old enough to not give a crap about whether my proposals are palatable to the electorate” Douglas off his leash a bit more that would be nice too.

  11. vto 11

    r0b your post doesn’t explain why you think Key would be wrong to listen to the overwhelming voice of the people (assuming there is an overwhelming and that he listens to it)..

    • r0b 11.1

      Because the question that was asked is totally broken. It is heavily leading and it doesn’t actually ask about s59 in any meaningful way. Its the wrong question for basing changes to s59 on.

      In other words, if we do actually get an “overwhelming voice of the people” it is not at all clear what that voice will have said.

      • vto 11.1.1

        I wouldn’t be so sure r0b. Those of the ‘yes’ camp are gripping for dear life onto this idea that the question is a bit useless and the average punter wont know what they are being asked.

        And so it follows from this logic that none of you people on here know what the question means either.

        I must be the only one in the world who know what it means, namely “should a smack be a criminal offence?”. Pretty bloody simple. And imo that is what all punters will answer. They wont worry about the “as part of good blah blah blah”.

        You fullas complicate matters to help achieve your own political ends. And so require discounting.

        • r0b 11.1.1.1

          And so it follows from this logic that none of you people on here know what the question means either.

          I certainly don’t. What the hell is “good parental correction” and how do I tell it from “average parental correction” and “bad parental correction covered up by a pack of lies”. Do you have a “good parental correction” meter vto?

          I must be the only one in the world who know what it means, namely “should a smack be a criminal offence?’. Pretty bloody simple.

          Pretty bloody simple because you’re ignoring and dropping from your “quote” the complicated bit vto. Doh.

          And even if if was that simple, would you mind telling me which of our current laws that would make “wrong”, and how we should fix it? Because it has nothing to do with the s59 repeal.

        • Pascal's bookie 11.1.1.2

          Yeah it’s almost like he’s ignoring the complicated bits to achieve his political ends, and saying that’s what all the punters will do too, and that’s a good thing.

          Not like us silly lefties that see the complications that actually exist purely out of spite. If only we could just ignore what’s actually there, and go with our gut; read what we want the question to mean rather than what it says. Then we’d be good honest simplefolk, and he wouldn’t need to discount our opinions because they make his gut hurt.

          Or something.

          • vto 11.1.1.2.1

            ha ha Ps b, the screeching contortions of the “yes” camp as they scramble desparately for an escape route are amusing. (and don’t assume from that that I am in the “no” camp)

            • Pascal's bookie 11.1.1.2.1.1

              eh? No contortions on my part v.

              You said yourself that in order to make the q simple, you just ignore the complicated bit. A bit that actually exists. You then accuse lefties of over complicating the question by failing to ignore the bit that you ignore.

              Think about it v. With your head. ;)

            • vto 11.1.1.2.1.2

              yes yes I know I know. Realised I hadn’t posted too clearly on my way to a very important meeting..

              My point is that most people will answer the questions thus: Should a smack be a criminal offence?

              Clinging to the so-called complicated bit as some sort of massive disqualifier to the entire thing is misplaced. People (well except on here it seems) know what is being asked.

            • Pascal's bookie 11.1.1.2.1.3

              Oh right. I think you are right about this:

              “… most people will answer the questions thus: Should a smack be a criminal offence?”

              The problem is that that particular question isn’t asked. What’s actually asked is more along the lines of:

              “Should good parenting be a criminal offense”

              Which is a really stupid question. Of course it shouldn’t. But then they use smacking as a particular type of good parenting that should be allowed, and some people don’t think it can be, and many more think it probably isn’t.

              You are right that most everyone ‘knows’ what the question “really” is, (John Key seems confused though, and John Boscowen) but it’s been begged. Your version of the question is much better. But that isn’t what’s been asked.

              “Should we make the baby jesus cry?” would be an even better question IMO. It’s a very simple question, not confusing in any way.

  12. jarbury 12

    45% for Maori seats and 44% against (TV3 poll last night) suggests that there isn’t an overwhelming voice either way.

    • vto 12.1

      Woops, should have explained jarbury. Meant on the smacking referendum.

      • Ianmac 12.1.1

        VTO. The trouble is that what the voice of the people are saying 75%+ NO, is not what the Repeal of Section S59 is.
        If the question was “Should those who hurt children have the right to claim the defence of reasonable force to excuse their use of weapons such as whips, sticks, wooden spoons etc ?”
        Because I am sure that the vote would not be in favour of that. Certain. Would you VTO? It is why the repeal originally was under the “Protection of Children Bill.”
        Sadly the people who called it the Antismacking Bill distorted the purpose and stuffed up any reasonable debate.

        • chris 12.1.1.1

          well put

        • vto 12.1.1.2

          Ianmac, that question is even worse.

          Why is everyone, especially on the left, so afraid of hearing the voice of their fellow manwoman?

          • Maynard J 12.1.1.2.1

            It is not worse.

            If you hit a child, they are hurt – there is no confusion there. Should you be able to claim a defence of reasonable force – that is exactly what was repealed.

            I could get rid of the armamentarium section with a simple re-write into:

            “Should those who commit a common assult be allowed to use a defence of reasonable force when the assault is upon a minor, is intended for purpose of correcting or disciplining the minor and the person committing the assault is a parent or guardian of the child assaulted?”

            Does that work for you? It encapsulates the issue, frames it legally enough to not confuse the average punterand/or smacker.

            Coz I would bloody love to hear the voice of everyone on that question.

            • vto 12.1.1.2.1.1

              r0b and mr maynard, as the devils advocate it seems that you are running scared of what your fellow manwoman think about smacking. If it transpires that the voice is overwhelmingly “no” then it puts you and the “yes” camp on a separate and faraway planet when it comes to raising children, all lonely and rejected.

              Embrace and respect the views of your fellow manwoman.

              Power to the people.

            • RedLogix 12.1.1.2.1.2

              Not apolgising. If you truly believe that hitting children is ok, then the only embrace you will get from me is when I simultaneously head butt and knee you in the balls.

              You can have no possible objection can you?

            • Maynard J 12.1.1.2.1.3

              Bollocks vto – I do not think this referendum is an accurate representation, plus I also believe that any forms of smacking my fellow persons wish to apply are allowed for under law; thus, I believe the vote itself is flawed, and the result does not call for the action people believe it would.

              But did you like my question. I reckon it is a work of art – do you know how hard it was to make in neutral sounding??

              Edit: redlogix – secret fan of the Liverpool Kiss. Whoda thunk?

            • vto 12.1.1.2.1.4

              yes Mr MJ your question hit all the right spots. You should be privy to the supreme court..

            • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1.2.1.5

              Embrace and respect the views of your fellow manwoman.

              I would if I knew WTF they were and which the answers to the referendum question doesn’t tell me.

            • vto 12.1.1.2.1.6

              So fellow standardites, where is the post about the referendum result????

              87.5

              versus

              11.5.

              Conclusive.

              And please dont try and say it is meaningless because the question was confusing. If it was confusing for everyone then there should be an even spread of result i.e. 50 – 50.

              But it aint is it. There is a very very clear result i.e. 90-10. That 90% is saying something. Hmmmm – wonder what it is…

            • r0b 12.1.1.2.1.7

              So fellow standardites, where is the post about the referendum result????

              Someone is probably working on one. Not me, I’m in transit again.

              Conclusive.

              Conclusive of what?

              And please dont try and say it is meaningless because the question was confusing. If it was confusing for everyone then there should be an even spread of result i.e. 50 50.

              It was meaningless because the question was leading (biasing the respondent to one obvious answer).

              It was also confusing, but that’s secondary. To a politically disengaged person who wasn’t following the issues (most of us) the obvious answer to the question is “No”. Which is exactly what the designers of the question intended – they will try and make of this No vote something that it is not.

              Hmmmm wonder what it is

              Exactly.

              Anyway – take up your argument with Nice Mr Key – it’s his baby now. Oh – you might also want to argue with the Children’s Commissioner, Plunket, Barnardos, Save the Children, UNICEF, the Parent’s Centre, and do on. I’m pretty sure they did understand the question.

            • vto 12.1.1.2.1.8

              give it up r0b.

              games over. the nation has spoken.

              Bradford et al just look stupid with their “meaningless” carry on now.

              seriously. stupid.

  13. DS 13

    Putting aside the dynamics of political coalitions and the fact that a lot of people don’t like Rodney Hide…

    What’s wrong with the argument Hide is trying to make; that a free society means all individuals are treated equally before the law and none are “more equal” than others?

    One might argue that Maori have been disadvantaged in the past, and they certainly have, but is the solution to right those wrongs based on the equal rights of Maori as NZ citizens (e.g. property right compensation through the Waitangi tribunal), or is it to create permanent race-based discrimination?

    What is the rationale for giving Maori separate representation? Is it that they as individuals require either more or less political influence than others? Or is it that being part of a particular group is a more important status than being an individual? If so, who defines the groups?

    It seems to me that the discussion here is more about political intrigue and Hide bashing than asking what the right policy is. Just sayin…

    • Lew 13.1

      The core argument in the NZ context is that the crown, in the Treaty of Waitangi, guaranteed tangata whenua a stake in running the country.

      L

  14. Tom Semmens 14

    Off topic, but I’ve been wondering why the pro-smacking brigade have been crowing that 1.3 million people have voted in the referenendum. The answer is simple. Off the top of my head, in the 2008 general election, there were around three million enrolled voters. So 1.3 million is a turnout of around 45%, well less than 50%.

    A 80% “no” vote would represent the wishes of only a third of New Zealanders, that third who most hate the law and arguably most need to be taught a lesson. The other two thirds either don’t care of voted yes.

    Again, the child bashing brigade are trying to frame the debate before we even have it. They’ll be screaming “one million New Zealanders have said…”. It is important to point out two thirds of New Zealanders are comfortable with the law as it is.

    • Ianmac 14.1

      Tom wrote:”It is important to point out two thirds of New Zealanders are comfortable with the law as it is.”
      Excellent point! Wonder how John Key will deal with that?

  15. “One might argue that Maori have been disadvantaged in the past, and they certainly have, but is the solution to right those wrongs based on the equal rights of Maori as NZ citizens (e.g. property right compensation through the Waitangi tribunal), or is it to create permanent race-based discrimination?”

    The argument, in part for Maori seats is that many Pakeha voters, given an a slate of independent candidates, are seemingly less willing to vote for Maori candidates, and vice versa. That is also true of Maori btw – but because they have less candidates in general, the effect is not so apparent. Many people, at least on a subconcious level, vote for people “like me”. Pakehas disenchanted with politicians are generally fed up with politicians, whereas Maori are more likely to interpret the same as institutional racism.

    Heres to the proof to the punch – Maori surely make up a large percentage of voters in the Auckland city jurisdiction, but how many current AC councillors claim Maori heritage? If the proposed “Supa-city” at-large candidacies were abandoned in favoured of wards only, then it would be arguable that Maori seats would not be needed.

    This isn’t about racism, its about getting Maori to participate in both the political and economic processes of this country so they as a people can see they have a role, for better of worse, in control of their own lot. Surely that is better than having a lot of idiots running about in the Ureweras.

  16. infused 16

    IMO there should be no Maori seats.

    • Lew 16.1

      infused, ok – what are you proposing in consideration for the breach of the Treaty that failing to guarantee tangata whenua representation would represent?

      L

    • RedLogix 16.2

      @Lew
      Well in an earlier post you said something along the lines that the Treaty promise Maori a ‘hell of a freaking lot’.

      It might argued that if Maori had remained a demographic majority in the country, then the Treaty, the establishment of the Crown, democracy and Parliament would have assured Maori all the representation they could want for.

      But’s that’s not likely how it would have turned out is it? Tribal power was never about democracy as we know it. Certainly it had nothing much to offer the Maori slave class. Although the rangatira were never absolute autocrats in the sense of say the European monarchy, that probably because Stone Age technology limited their ability to impose their power without the wider co-operation of the iwi. But given the inevitable impact of the outside world, surely that would have changed, just as the advent of muskets in the hands of Hone Heke had already turned the Maori world upside down by 1840.

      It’s interesting to speculate exactly how an Aoteoroa that had delivered to Maori the ‘hell of a freaking lot’ you have in mind, ie the full exercise of tribal sovereignty, might have evolved as a society. I imagine it would look more like the political landscape of Tonga, than what we currently have. There is no doubt in my mind that lingering in the back of some ‘upper class browns’ in this country, is a hankering for the restoration of the tribal powers they once enjoyed. (A theme not restricted to just Maori of course…)

      Where do we go from here? There cannot be two competing sources of sovereignty in one nation, but neither can the currently dominant Pakeha model assume that it will remain unchallenged forever. Both sides will have to move.

      • Lew 16.2.1

        RL,

        Well in an earlier post you said something along the lines that the Treaty promise Maori a ‘hell of a freaking lot’.

        Yes, it did.

        It might argued that if Maori had remained a demographic majority in the country, then the Treaty, the establishment of the Crown, democracy and Parliament would have assured Maori all the representation they could want for.

        Yes. If the Treaty had been properly adhered to, tangata whenua would be in a very strong position compared to where they’re at now.

        It’s interesting to speculate exactly how an Aoteoroa that had delivered to Maori the ‘hell of a freaking lot’ you have in mind, ie the full exercise of tribal sovereignty, might have evolved as a society.I imagine it would look more like the political landscape of Tonga, than what we currently have. There is no doubt in my mind that lingering in the back of some ‘upper class browns’ in this country, is a hankering for the restoration of the tribal powers they once enjoyed. (A theme not restricted to just Maori of course )

        It is interesting, but idle. And it seems like you’re drifting towards the sort of white man’s burden argument, that it’s a good thing the Crown didn’t adhere to the Treaty, because those dam natives would have just screwed it up and we’d all be living under a brown feudalism – or they would have just killed each other if the settlers hadn’t done so.

        This argument, that natives were never going to be able to run a proper country because they couldn’t handle the responsibility is an awfully paternalistic line to take, although unfortunately not uncommon, even among people who ought to know better.

        Where do we go from here? There cannot be two competing sources of sovereignty in one nation, but neither can the currently dominant Pakeha model assume that it will remain unchallenged forever. Both sides will have to move.

        Indeed; an agreement will need to be struck and it will require deep compromise from all parties. What’s critical is that any agreement proceed from a position of goodwill, consent and with consideration to previous agreements. There aren’t two sources of sovereignty, though – in the strictest terms, the only thing (other than military force) which gives tau iwi the right to live here is the Treaty of Waitangi. If the settlers of the day had conquered Aotearoa and annexed it (as they did elsewhere) then that would give them the de facto right, but they chose to treat, and if there is to be rule of law in this country the crown must be bound by that decision and its consequences. So the first question of constitutional reform needs to be something like “why should tangata whenua accept a new agreement rather than simply insisting on adherence to the existing agreement?’

        There are plenty of good possible answers, and this question being asked and considered deeply and in full is fundamental to the issue of consent, which is necessary before any change to the constitutional status of the nation and its people can really be considered.

        L

        • RedLogix 16.2.1.1

          There was no magic force field bubble surrounding Aoteoroa keeping out the modern world. The whalers, sealers, loggers, missionaries , prostitutes, land-grabbers, farmers and soldiers were always going to arrive… and along with them was always going to come a technical, cultural, legal and poltical system that was frankly more developed and advanced than the Maori had.

          This was reality, not paternalism. It does not say that the Maori were ever an inferior people, all it says is that their culture, evolved in relative isolation from the rest of the world was going to get a dramatic, and quite involuntary kick up the arse, in order to catch up with the modern world. That is not a statement of blame or guilt, it was a simple historic inevitability.

          because those dam natives would have just screwed it up and we’d all be living under a brown feudalism

          I take it that you aren’t defending feudalism, of whatever colour, white or brown? It’s not paternalistic to say that I object deeply to any form of feudal tribalism as a political system…. regardless of the skin colours involved.

          • Lew 16.2.1.1.1

            RL, the whole premise of ‘cultural evolution’, and especially ‘political evolution’ is paternalistic.

            I’m certainly not defending feudalism; I’m saying that it’s wrong to assume that that’s what would have inevitably emerged from an alternate history where the crown adhered to the Treaty, and presuming such says a lot about your attitude toward tangata whenua. In addition, the argument you’re running here that the end (society as it is, rather than some made-up counterfactual) justifies the means (mass slaughter, resource alienation, cultural oppression, etc.) doesn’t wash, unless you accept that the Pākehā the means favoured are intrinsically more important than Māori that suffered from it. Naturally, you feel like you can argue from this position, since you’re one of those who benefitted – there’s no downside for you, really.

            Māori have not been dragged kicking and screaming into democratic politics, as you suggest – they have been systematically barred and dissuaded and excluded from it, and have managed to wedge themselves in anyway.

            L

  17. RedLogix 17

    em>I’m saying that it’s wrong to assume that that’s what would have inevitably emerged from an alternate history where the crown adhered to the Treaty

    Well at least the Tongan model I pointed to is a real one, not an assumption.

    the whole premise of ‘cultural evolution’, and especially ‘political evolution’ is paternalistic.

    Can’t accept that. If all progress and change is just ‘paternalistic’, I might as well be arguing with the dining room table. You claim not to be defending feudalism, but by your logic my rejection of it is just a paternalistic smear upon our own ancestors for whom that was the only way of life they knew. Sorry but you cannot hide behind cultural relativism all the time, at some point you have to make choices, between right and wrong, the status quo and change.

    In addition, the argument you’re running here that the end (society as it is, rather than some made-up counterfactual) justifies the means (mass slaughter, resource alienation, cultural oppression, etc.) doesn’t wash, unless you accept that the Pākehā the means favoured are intrinsically more important than Māori that suffered from it.

    By looking around I see very few Maori choosing to live in pre-European, Stone Age, tribal conditions. Most of those Maori families descended from their slaves (those who haven’t gone to Australia that is) seem to turn up the opportunity to return to their former chattel status. Many Maori avail themselves of modern foods, clothing, education, health care and so on. Many Maori become highly qualified professionals and use the technical, cultural and legal systems brought here by us ‘paternalists’ for their own desired and legitimate purposes.

    Gone are the days of the summer war parties. Gone are the days of a life expectancy of less than 40, when you left behind a skeleton marked by stressful, often brutal life. Gone are the days when the life of those at the bottom of the highly rigid and finely graduated Maori class system, hung by the whim of those further up it.

    So yes I conclude that for all the losses you mention, there were also gains. If you want to measure and weigh these up, then look about you and see what the people themselves have chosen.

    In this respect Maori have made exactly the same journey as have us Europeans; no-one stands on any moral high ground, nor should lay claim to any special grievance… we all progress through history… each on our own path, each with it’s own turns, accidents and chance meetings.

    • Lew 17.1

      RL,

      I should have been more clear: the idea that one culture, or political system, is objectively better or worse than another is paternalistic because these things cannot be objectively measures without a (culturally laden) set of benchmarks. My objection was to the equation of ‘evolution’ to ‘increase in quality’, rather than evolution as change which may or may not be beneficial, but usually is because deleterious adaptations die off – which is clearly and obviously the case. The reason it’s paternalistic is that it presumes purpose – a non-industrial (or pre-modern) civilisation when judged by industrial or modern standards will always be found lacking precisely because the question of what is valuable has been begged.

      My point with all that is that it’s wrong for you to simply argue, as you have done, that imposing modern ways on the natives was justified and for their own good. If they are prepared to argue that, it’s another matter – and if they avail themselves of the social and technological changes manifest in those systems, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those systems are superior; especially in the NZ case, this argument is falsified by the fact that Māori were denied (by alienation, suppression of language, etc) their traditional ways of life and the modern evolutions which would develop and had no choice but to assimilate into the urban slums.

      I’ve italicised that section to highlight your assumption that the Māori ways, unlike the civilised white man’s ways, would have remain unchanged all this time. This also is paternalistic – like those fools who say that Ngāi Tahu should be allowed to catch as much fish as they like with flax nets and bone hooks, but buying into Sealord is somehow cheating. The thing Māori were denied by the mass alienation and other breaches of the treaty wasn’t just the wealth of their resource – it was the opportunity and means to continue their cultural development and pursue change and reform on their own terms – as a matter of tino rangatiratanga. Instead, they have had to develop under terms imposed upon them by economic, political and military force – and people wonder why it’s so dysfunctional!

      With due respect, to say that Pākehā and Māori have walked the same path ignores the fact that one was hungry, blindfold, barefoot and at gunpoint to the one behind, riding on a white horse and wondering what all the complaining is about. And to an extent, it remains thus. Talk of putting grievances behind us, forgetting the past and forging on as brothers is cheap and easy from those who haven’t borne the political, economic and cultural brunt of those grievances over eight generations. The grievances can only be shelved when Māori are prepared to shelve them, willingly and secure in the knowledge that things will be better.

      L

    • RedLogix 17.2

      The reason it’s paternalistic is that it presumes purpose a non-industrial (or pre-modern) civilisation when judged by industrial or modern standards will always be found lacking precisely because the question of what is valuable has been begged.

      I understand the argument quite well, but in the end I have to reject it. While industrial civilisation has many obvious defects, it is preferred by most people to any alternative. Most people when faced with a life-threatening injury or illness choose retain access to some form of modern health care, as against solely committing to the ministrations of a tohunga for instance.

      While it is easy to romantacise the putative freedom of the ‘noble savage’, the reality was a slavery to bad weather, poor and erratic food supplies, non-existent health care, and bad neighbours. The only rights and property one could lay claim to were those you or you whanau could defend or enforce by warfare.

      this argument is falsified by the fact that Māori were denied (by alienation, suppression of language, etc) their traditional ways of life and the modern evolutions which would develop

      As you say an idle argument. Even if left in total isolation Maori would probably have continued on much as they had for a thousand years prior. But that is not what happened, there was no magical bubble protecting them from change.

      The simple, irrefutable fact is that the coloniser’s inevitable arrival imposed change, ipso facto. No good intentions could change that fact, no-one can be held accountable for denying the chance to allow Maori to create their own modern evolutions, because that became only a hypothetical possibility.

      The only place where Polynesians had the opportunity to evolve their own modern adaptions in relative isolation was Tonga; and excuse me if I don’t wholly support the outcome.

      With due respect, to say that Pākehā and Māori have walked the same path ignores the fact that one was hungry, blindfold, barefoot and at gunpoint to the one behind, riding on a white horse and wondering what all the complaining is about.

      Not my family. Most of them fled persecution and poverty at home, arriving here after a dangerous, traumatic sea-voyage, with little more than what they wore. In one case that was literally true; she swam ashore with nothing. She later had a stand up argument with an armed Hone Heke himself and won the concession from him she wanted. She herself descended from families who had won freedom from serfdom through generations of a dramatic turbulent European history, and heritage that morally empowered her to stand up for what she wanted.

      It was not the colonisers who imposed change on the Maori, it was the political and legal heritage they inevitably brought with them.

      • Lew 17.2.1

        RL,

        Again, you’re missing or simply ignoring my central point. It’s not ‘modern society’ versus ‘savage society'; it’s about the resource and opportunity of different and diverse societies to modernise on their own terms. That was what the treaty breaches did – forced Māori to modernise in a context defined and enforced by Pākehā. This was a major part of the ‘hell of a freaking lot’ that the Treaty nominally guaranteed. The appropriate counterfactual is not ‘Māori as they were in 1840′, it’s ‘Māori as they could have been if they’d been able to modernise on their own terms with their own cultural and economic resources, as well as being able to take advantage of those systems the Europeans brought’. Because that was the deal – the Treaty allowed Māori the best of both worlds (and Europeans the same, although they haven’t taken nearly as much).

        Your assumptions about what Māori society – slavery, tohunga, poor diet, feudalism, absence of civil society – are founded on the idea of no modernisation; or that modernisation would be impossible unless led by whitey. That’s paternalism.

        As to colonisation being inevitable – yes, I agree. But it seems you’re arguing this to say that, on balance, Māori are better off than they might have been under some other sort of colonisation. That’s irrelevant; the fact is there was a treaty, it was not very well adhered to, and that shouldn’t be excused on the basis of – another – made-up counterfactual.

        As to your ancestor – a marvellous story, and thank you for sharing it. But that doesn’t change the wider point, which is that in general, Pākehā are those who have benefitted from the treaty breaches, while Māori have suffered from them. That balance is changing, slowly, as Māori representation and authority gradually increases, and for Pākehā to call for change now that the system no longer advantages them to the same extent it once did is, frankly, a bit rich.

        L

  18. Tim Ellis 18

    vto, r0b would have it that the referendum result was confusing and meaningless, but that retaining mt albert, one of labour’s safest seats in a by-election was a stunning referendum on the government’s support.

    • bill brown 18.1

      Yes, I’d agree with that. Well put Tim

    • Pascal's bookie 18.2

      John Key said it was confusing Tim.

      vto thinks it’s ‘game over’. Do you agree?

      I don’t even know what that means. He seems to be expecting some great declaration from lefties. Like I said, I have no idea what he could mean, but I think it’s something to do with an old right wing trait, referenced by Lincoln in his Cooper Union Address;

      The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

      These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call (hitting children) wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them

      (Slightly amended)

  19. vto 19

    Look I’m not saying the “no” camp were right.

    My take on this entire matter concerns the importance of listening to the people and having the governing organisation follow and enact the will of the people. The people were up in arms at the time of the law change and they have expressed that again now. Key should listen lest he ends up being regarded in the same light as the labour lot were towards the end – arrogant, bossy, removed, and then booted out.

    Why are the ‘left’ never keen on enacting the expressed will of the people? Happenned with Norm Withers referendum and it is happening again now.

    Does the ‘left’ know better how life should be conducted?

    Poor old Bradford though, while generally fighting the good fight over the years, seems now to realise that she is in fact a quite minority viewpoint on most issues in NZ. I suspect this referendum will be a last nail. She seems to have lost hope. Some sadness to that.

    Power to the people.

    Fuck the governing lot.

    • bill brown 19.1

      Right; so now what, goverment should pass a bill that says simply:

      “A smack as part of good parental correction is not a crime”

      Will that make all these fucking happy slappers shut up and go away?

  20. outofbed 20

    Perhaps as a counter to this ridiculously worded referendum
    We should collect the signatures for this proposition

    Should it remain illegal to hit cuddly kittens and puppies as part of good New Zealand pet care ?

    I am sure it would have a 90% success rate

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