- Date published:
10:36 am, February 10th, 2015 - 35 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, john key, leadership, Maori Issues - Tags: dogwhistling, gordon campbell, separatism, sovereignty, Treaty of waitangi
As usual, Gordon Campbell has written the best commentary on current events:
Gordon Campbell on the Maori “separatism” bogey
Leadership requires the leader to set aside self-interest. It is a concept that sometimes seems quite alien to Prime Minister John Key – who has reached instinctively for the most inflammatory card in the race relations deck – “separatism” – to gain short-term advantage from some innocuous Waitangi Day comments made by Labour leader Andrew Little.
Reportedly, the inspiration for Little’s line of thought was a Waitangi Tribunal finding last November. According to the Tribunal, Northland tribes had not fully ceded their sovereignty when they signed the Treaty in 1840.
This being the case, a careful exploration of what that never-ceded sovereignty might mean in a modern context is not only desirable, but incumbent on the Crown. As Little had carefully stressed, New Zealand needs to be unified and cohesive. … Little had ruled out the path of separatism.
Enter John Key, stage right. As is his wont, Key has tried to make political hay out of this issue by playing to the worst instincts of the talkback radio crowd. At his post –Cabinet press conference yesterday, Key suggested that Little was advocating separatism…. And was In effect, calling for “the independent state of Northland” for Maori. Sigh.
Once again, watching New Zealand politicians try to have a debate on an important issue is to hang your head in despair. The only encouraging thing about this episode is that Little has been prepared to take the risk. Good for him. No doubt, there will be “advisers” in his office who will be telling him it was a mistake to do so. It looks more like leadership.