A declaration of contempt

Written By: - Date published: 10:15 am, April 21st, 2010 - 35 comments
Categories: maori party, national, political parties, Politics - Tags: ,

As John Key smiled and assured his National Party constituents that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is aspirational, symbolic and legally non-binding, I started to feel a little incredulous.

Key plainly has no intention of effecting any of the aspirations contained in the Declaration: he has categorically said as much. So where, I wonder, is the value in supporting the Declaration at all? It would be one thing to support it with an unconfirmed position on its practical import. But to support it with no intention of aspiring to its realisation makes a nonsense of the language of aspiration.

Key’s support for the Declaration is worse than an empty gesture. It’s a gesture filled with self-serving contempt for real recognition of indigenous rights. Shame.

35 comments on “A declaration of contempt”

  1. Tigger 1

    Succinctly put allyourbase (who wins my award for best Standard monicker!). Not sure why the MP thinks this is a win. All this has done is create expectation that Key won’t fulfil. Key’s like a prudish stripper – you’ve paid to see him naked but he won’t take off any clothes.

    • felix 1.1

      The MP thinks it’s a win because John Keywi vs Iwi and his band of bigots won’t be in govt for ever.

      edit: I see Lew has already expressed this (far more politely) below. One day Roger Finch…

      • Lew 1.1.1

        Exactly. And that’s why it is a win. If Labour ever find their loyalty again. Or if Finlayson takes over from Key in 2017.


        • Tigger

          Lew, are you suggesting Finlayson could seriously lead National? Happy to bet on those odds…

          Was chatting with a friend about this today – Key’s not playing the long game here. Easy run on the board for him and the MP now – but dealing the reality of how this could be put into effect in NZ if it was honoured isn’t going to be his problem – it will be the problem of a future government.

          • Lew

            It was more tongue-in-cheek than anything. I thought the 2017 would have given it away 😉

            Your analysis is quite right. This is why Labour should have taken the opportunity when it was presented. Affirming the declaration is not a promise to make it all right — it’s a promise to work in good faith toward those aspirational goals. The opportunity was to claim that ground and challenge any future opposing government to stand against it — and instead of doing so, Labour handed the chance to National and are now being forced to stand against indigenous rights — a topic on which they’ve historically built a good chunk of their support.

            So do Labour support indigenous rights or not? No clear answer; just lots of equivocation and waffle. Their loss, and ultimately the country’s, because now what National calls “support for indigenous rights” is the gold standard.


            • Graeme Edgeler

              it’s a promise to work in good faith toward those aspirational goals.

              I thought Labour’s problem was that the declaration included some goal to which Labour (and New Zealand) didn’t aspire – returning the land of New Zealand to it’s indigenous owners, allowing the indigenous people a veto over laws affecting them, etc. But maybe I misunderstood.

              • Lew

                Well, they are in the process of returning some of the land to its original owners; and there exist provisions mandating indigenous engagement in the law and policy-making process which are accepted by almost all orthodox political actors. A reasonable reading of the text doesn’t indicate that it would require the whole place to be returned, or that the government of the day be held hostage by any one group.

                I think what’s happened is that certain parties have taken a too-literal interpretation of a document which is never going to be explicitly enacted in law and used that to base objections on — and to scaremonger about. Just the usual.


              • Draco T Bastard

                too-literal interpretation of a document which is never going to be explicitly enacted in law

                Considering history shows a huge amount of stuff then being taken too literally and that that applies to stuff that has bearing on the law then I’m pretty sure that it will cause problems in the future.

            • lprent

              I thought the 2017 would have given it away

              I though that Findlayson running the National party would have given it away even earlier.

  2. HitchensFan 2

    Well Key’s being a trifle naive and ill-informed then if he really believes his own rhetoric. It WILL influence things in times to come, just you watch NZ’s human rights and Treaty lawyers refer to it in cases where interpretation of a statute might be at issue.

    Well done, Maori Party. Awesome work.

    (not least because, from reading a screen dump on Tumeke’s blog) you seemed to have pissed off a few redneck, racist Nat supporters……slowly and surely the wheels are starting to come off this Pack of Fools Government. Question though, WHERE IS LABOUR??????

  3. tc 3

    Right on ! but it’s got the added bonus of upsetting ACT so there’s an upside.

  4. Lew 4

    Key and his government need not move to implement the declaration’s provisions in domestic law. Now that it is acceded to, that task can be left up to any future NZ government with the political will and public mandate to do so. That’s what symbolic, aspirational vehicles are for. This is the system working as intended. Both Hide and Harawira are right: it is naïve to think that this is an empty gesture. Symbolism is important, aspiration is important. Flags and banners out the front, the real business happens in the back.


    • You accede to treaties or conventions. This isn’t one.

      • Lew 4.1.1

        Bah, I’m trying to find a term which isn’t “sign” since you’ve pulled me up on that before. I suppose it’s “agreeing to”, right? Affirming?


        • lprent

          I added a thesaurus to the authors writing area for exactly that reason. However it couldn’t give me an alternative to ‘dipshit’…

        • Graeme Edgeler

          Affirming is good.

          We had a minister give a speech to the UN in which he said it was nice, and we support it.

          Sign and accede are largely the same thing. A country “accedes” to a treaty or convention if it’s a latecomer. When a treaty or convention is already in force at the time they’re agreeing to be bound by it then you accede to it.

          Edit: Wikipedia explains it well: In the context of Public International Law the term accession may refer to the act of joining a treaty by a party that didn’t take part in its negotiations, as defined by article 15 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

        • zonk


  5. Ianmac 5

    Key said that the DRIP had provisos and exclusions and that no documents were signed. Plunkett said this morning that they had sourced the document at the UN, and that it contained NO provisos or exclusions. Other speakers constantly talk about the signing in news reports. Signing any document is significant.

    • The MSM ought to be all over this. Key again has not told the truth. Either he is lying or incompetent, there is no other possibility.

      I wonder if the MSM will pick up on this?

  6. gobsmacked 6

    John Key is a fascinating human experiment. He is the world’s first Post-Language leader.

    The declaration has words. But that doesn’t matter. Because to John Key, words have no meaning. They are just the soundtrack to the smiles.

    Example: this is what came out of John Key’s mouth yesterday: “We’ve always had a very proud record when it comes to indigenous rights.” (source: Stuff.co.nz)

    Of course, those words are false. They are absurd. But they are John Key’s words. So they mean nothing. Nobody cares any longer what he says, because if we do, he’ll just say something different tomorrow. Scrutinising his words is like measuring a fart.

    The rest of us have to use words carefully, in our contracts, our relationships, our daily lives. Otherwise we get into trouble.

    But not John Key. It’s brilliant. It’s scary. It’s … oh, I don’t know. These are just words.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      I’ve been noticing that as well. Jonkey’s words don’t have meaning in any verifiable sense.

    • Pete 6.2

      Absolutely right gobsmacked – I’ll have to pick this ball up and run with it now…

      I was watching him on the late news on TV One last night blathering about the pragmatism of Niu Zilders when weighing up the mining issue and thought that he may well be incapable of speaking in terms that REAL people do themselves, or comprehend.

      But then, ‘middle New Zealand’ don’t care, so we shouldn’t care – right?

  7. Ianmac 7

    The Labour Party has to tread carefully as they need to not alienate the bulk of the Maori people, who probably do not belong to the Maori Party.
    It may be that they need to wait and see what problems that arise in the conflict between Aspirations and Realities.
    Condemn the manner of its passing. Encourage debate on Customary Rights. Imagine Finlayson meeting with Iwi to consider the enhanced case for Seabed and Foreshore.

  8. deemac 8

    brilliant comment, Gobsmacked!
    Surely the reason Labour opposed DRIP is the potential to complicate Treaty of Waitangi negotiations? These are complex enough already. Since NZ has the Treaty process, it’s hard to see what the DRIP adds of any value.

  9. Funny how the party who has done the most to shit on Maori has in less than half a term in gov’t conceded more and uplifted Maori towards self governance and self determination than any previous .

    They’ve basically green lighted Maori to cede from NZ once the big treaty claims are settled. And Pita ‘bread, butter and money for jam’ Sharples got to take his crew to NY for a party with the other indigenous bros in the UN big house and come back with pics to prove it….Churrrr !!!

    For all that Key is a slick mofo. Sharples and Turia have played and are playing him for a fool. I can just see the hardcore Nat supporters popping their collars to hide the protruding veins from their rednecks.

    If only the wider pasifikan peoples had some tools in the parliamentary drawer as sharp as those two and weren’t scared of compromising their support to tell a few home truths.

    More than likely Key might just crack down on the rest of us to satisfy the blood lust of his supporters. Start by shutting down the Ministry for PI affairs and maybe rustle up the ‘dawnraid’ bludger busting and deporting criminals brigade, get the odd perp walk to the airport happening. That always looks good for uncle cracka.

    • That’s the thing – the maori party haven’t compromised their support, they have enhanced it – and whilst the labourzombies lurch headless, spouting insults like black bile, the maori party will just carry on getting the points on the board and when the government changes and labour comes crawling for support – guess what? – they will get it because the maori party isn’t left or right it is just the maori party, and they will do what they think is the best for maori.

      I’d like to see the maori party build even stronger connections with pasifica peoples and i hope they do it.

      • Bright Red 9.1.1

        what points on the board?

        – sell out on the ets = no points
        – no maori seats on supercity = no points
        – whanau ora: no plan, no ministry, no budget = no points
        – DRIP that Govt says changes nothing = no points
        – F&S deal that Govt says is only symbolic changes = no points

        MM. Since 2007, Maori unemployment has doubled to 40,000. Most of that since the Maori Party joined the government. When will you expect them to get some points on the board on something that matters?

        • pollywog

          Sell out on the ETS… tradeably good as cash in hand KERCHINNNG. What did anyone else get ?

          No maori seats on supercity…Fuck auckland, besides it’s a ngati whatua and other iwi matter cos it’s their rohe and not a Maori party gig.

          Whanau ora…it exists !!! the initial plan is under wraps and malleable on a need to know basis. Its better off working across ministries and carving off the budget from them.

          Indigenous rights declaration…will bite Key in the arse cos he’s too stupid to realise what he’s signed. Means a lot to Maori and other indgenous people outside of NZ. Fuck the current gov’t, this is some future global Maori nation shit.

          Foreshore and seabed…doesn’t matter if nothing changes in the big picture short term. Repeal the law and getting veto might be enough to satisfy their election promise.

          Not only that, but Labour cant say a bad word about the Maori party for fear of alienating voters they desperately need.

        • pollywog

          MM. Since 2007, Maori unemployment has doubled to 40,000. Most of that since the Maori Party joined the government. When will you expect them to get some points on the board on something that matters?

          Speaking for myself, Id give it another 2 generations ?

          Surely you dont expect the Maori Party to turnaround generations of institutional bias, cultural elitism and token welfare to create jobs in the 18 months they’ve been in coalition gov’t ?

          Sure, i believe Pasifikans are some next level evolutionary type hybrids but we’re not superhuman…yet 🙂

  10. Yeah nice one marty mars 🙂

    I think the connections need to be built by the young*ish* generation who see the effects of euro culture as negatively impacting on the wider Pasifikan culture and peoples in much the same way and will actively pursue closer working relationships…NZ born and half castes who can whakapapa to Maori as well.

    The current Labour fob squad are generally missing in action and on the other side Sam ‘loves to linger’ is quite content to linger in the shadow of Keys *ahem* greatness.

    I cant believe they’re courting Michael Jones ? Dont know what his background in poly tics is but i havent heard him say anything about anything. And it would take years to get up to speed with parliamentary process so one wonders if its worth the investment for a few Key photo ops and a party seat on the backbenches ?… Probably if it means Pasifikans will vote national and split the Labour vote.

    • Lew 10.1

      Michael Jones is a Christian conservative. As an All Black, he wouldn’t play on Sundays. I’m not sure of his position on economic matters, but I don’t anticipate those are especially the point.


  11. oh great just what we need…pffft, another fucking Pasifikan christian conservative. I’d imagine his views on economic matters would be, tithe 10% to the church and send more money back to the islands.

    Wheres all the radical agnostics hiding at…universities seem to keep churning out capitalists with hypocritically fundamentalist views ?

  12. The US has just announced that it will sign.

    Was Key wanting to be just like Barack?

  13. gnomic 13

    Aspirational is a weasel word. John Key is an amoral weasel. It’s not surprising aspirational is one of his favourites.

    Is provocation still a defence? I find myself getting near uncontrollable urges to hunt down and destroy those who say aspirational, for heinous crimes against the English language. Surely no court in the land could convict.

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