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Demand the debate

Written By: - Date published: 8:13 am, July 13th, 2021 - 52 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, don brash, Judith Collins, labour, national, racism, racism, same old national - Tags:

(Photo courtesy of the legendary Glenn Jeffrey)

So on the weekend National launched its Demand the Debate website, essentially an email and contact harvesting exercise looking for grumpy votes against any sort of policy which may improve the plight of Maori.

National’s statement on the site said this:

To refresh everyone’s memory of the context in 2010 and the caveats that were put in place, the Declaration was signed in 2010 with the understanding that it:

  • reaffirms the legal and constitutional frameworks that underpin New Zealand’s legal system, noting that those existing frameworks define the bounds of New Zealand’s engagement with the declaration.
  • does not confer the right of veto over Government decisions.

Labour Ministers, and the Working Group, willfully ignored this information, instead choosing to dismiss the context in which the declaration was signed and push their own new agenda.

Here is what actually happened.  Pita Sharples went to the United Nations on behalf of the John Key National Government and said this:

New Zealand’s support for the Declaration represents an opportunity to acknowledge and restate the special cultural and historical position of Maori as the original inhabitants – the tangata whenua – of New Zealand. It reflects our continuing endeavours to work together to find solutions and underlines the importance of the relationship between Maori and the Crown under the Treaty of Waitangi. Its affirmation of longstanding rights supports and safeguards that ongoing relationship and its proclamation of new aspirations gives us all encouragement and inspiration for the future.\

I get the feeling the two parties were talking past each other.  One wanted to make sure the Treaty was at the centre of Government policy, the other wanted to use words to say “Meh” to any suggestion that the policy may have actually had an effect.

But yep lets try and blame Labour for signing up to the declaration which it actually refused to do so.  Much better that the red neck vote think this is true.  And claiming that “Labour Ministers … willfully ignored this information, instead choosing to dismiss the context in which the declaration was signed and push their own new agenda” is nothing short of dishonest.

But here is the thing.  National wants a Don Brash led son of Orewa campaign started and asked him to help out.  Elements within National have leaked information about the attempt to get Don Brash onside to support National’s dog whistle response.  From Henry Cooke at Stuff:

An internal National Party document seen by Stuff described a list of tasks to be undertaken “pre-launch” of the party’s campaign.

Most of these are routine political marketing steps, such as completing graphic design, preparing “lines” for MPs and the leader, and writing press releases.

Also listed is “Briefing Don B” – a task allocated to leader Judith Collins. No other former leader of the party is listed to be briefed.

Brash famously made a similar attack against alleged Māori separatism with his Orewa Speech in 2004, which saw his party vote shoot up in the polls.

He took this attack to the 2005 election which he almost won, putting out billboards saying Labour believed beaches were for “Iwi” while National believed they were for “Kiwi”.

Judith obviously has dreams of a 2004 type surge of support to National on the back of racist dog whistling.  Lucky for the country we have moved on from those times and are much less tolerant of this level of intolerance.

But fancy someone leaking this information.

But wait there is more.  Again from Henry Cooke at Stuff:

National leader Judith Collins asked Don Brash to raise $300,000 for a billboard campaign attacking the Government on race issues, according to a leaked email from Brash obtained by Stuff.

Collins launched a billboard campaign on Sunday called “Demand The Debate”, seeking to revive public discussion on the controversial He Puapua report. National says it is a blueprint for the Government to stealthily create a new system of separate government for Māori, an allegation the Government rejects.

A different leaked document planning the launch of the campaign suggested Collins would brief “Don B” – although neither of the pair will confirm that they talked.

The email headlined “strictly confidential”was sent in May by Brash to an unknown group of wealthy potential donors.

As for National’s campaign it is dishonestly suggesting that we will not be allowed to have a say in how the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people may be implemented.  This is simply not correct.  As Minister Willie Jackson said recently:

Cabinet has signed off on to a two-step engagement process to develop the Declaration plan.

The first step is targeted engagement with key iwi and significant Māori organisations to inform the process for the development of a Declaration plan

And the second step is a wider public consultation on a draft Declaration plan.

I will work with Pou Tikanga representatives of the National Iwi Chairs Forum to help inform the first phase.

In parallel with that work, I will also engage with a small group of independent legal experts with links to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and expertise in public law.

We want to start the conversations about the Declaration firstly with Māori.

This Declaration is about indigenous peoples so it makes sense we talk with Maori first up.

Developing a Declaration plan will need to be in partnership with Māori and any mahi we do will be consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The aim is to develop a draft Declaration plan by the end of this year to take out to wider public consultation in 2022.

Following this wider public consultation, we would look to sign off on a final plan by the end of 2022.

The second part of this process is when we need to hear from all New Zealanders. Because ultimately, it’s about all of us.

We need to hear from everyone. Their thoughts, their ideas, their dreams and aspirations before we map out a pathway which shows us how, as a country, we will get there.

This approach is consistent with the advice of the technical working group, guidance from the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and our own best practice guidelines for engagement with Māori.

And he said this about the He Puapua report:

Now I want to be clear about He Puapua.

He Puapua is not the plan.

He Puapua is a collection of ideas, suggestions aspirations and hopes for Maori– something to add to our discussions,   it is provocative and it has been the catalyst in terms of where we are today and I thank the group very much for their contribution and the hard work they have put into this report.

However, He Puapua is not Government policy the group who put this together knows this

And from a Government perspective, we are not advancing that report. Our focus is on this public consultation process now.

National’s discipline is still shot.  And its desperate willingness to engage in dog whistling racism is more evident than ever.

52 comments on “Demand the debate ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    The leaking is out of control in National, the more Collin’s tries to control her caucus the more party discipline slips through her fingers like quicksilver.

    I mean, this whole racist dogwhistle piece was clearly designed as an expensive, major branding set piece to shift the debate away from covid and get a little oxygen on an issue that National (for whatever reason, my guess is He Puapua has become a Benghazi moment for some in the Nat’s caucus) thinks is divisive and might help it in the polls.

    And it has been completely ankle tapped from within their own caucus, wrecking the strategy before it even got going.

    Just extraordinary.

    • Cricklewood 1.1

      Tbh the party will implode on its self shortly and then the rebuild begins in earnest with whichever faction survives.

      Seems to be the cycle now thinking back to David Shearer… question is do they have an Andrew Little type figure who can stabilize the party and then has the humility to step aside for the good of the party.

      • Anne 1.1.1

        … question is do they have an Andrew Little type figure who can stabilize the party and then has the humility to step aside for the good of the party.

        My guess is: Shane Reti could fulfil the role until such a time as the ideal leader becomes apparent – which is pretty much what happened with Labour.

        I would be interested to know the motivation behind the latest leak. Was it because he/she/they were genuinely appalled at the dog whistling tactics? Or was it because they belong to the anti-Collins faction and want to get rid of her and install their preferred candidate.

        A mix of both maybe.

  2. pat 2

    Judith isnt quite as silly as she looks…i suspect her goal is to hang on to the leadership (rather than come up with an election winning strategy) so as to be in place when the shit hits the fan for the Government and win the subsequent election by default….oppositions dont win elections, governments lose them.

    • McFlock 2.1

      I suspect that’s her hope, but oppositions need to be in a position to credibly threaten the government.

      That’s why Little quit, and unless she starts moving the nats up to the mid thirties, it’s why Collins won’t ever be in a position to win.

      National were sauntering to victory in 2017. They lost because Labour getting a spark under its arse made it a credible coalition partner for NZ1.

      If the government and the main opposition party are both phoning it in, a third group reaches prominence.

      • pat 2.1.1

        If the property bubble bursts before the next election there is every chance the Leader of the National Party will be our next PM, irrespective of who they may be.

        • McFlock

          Hell no.

          I strongly suspect the propertied class is already solidly weighted towards the right wing.

          And when the accursed bubble pops, there will be a bunch of folks for whom actually owning their home, with the stability that brings, will become an achievable dream.

          But even if your prediction about a bubble pop leading a swing to the right works out, by that time national could be on 11 and ACT on 24.

          • pat

            Its not a swing to ‘the right’….its apportioning blame to the incumbent, the crash (when it happens) will be blamed on whoevers in power at the time, nevermind its causes are decades old.

            As to improving homeownership rates, that wont happen immediately, there’ll be a world of pain before any improvement, assuming there is one….that will depend very much on the response.

            • McFlock

              Agree about blame on the incumbent, but what do people do with that blame?

              One thing I’m waiting to see is whether Labour can manage a caucus leadership refresh without losing after term 3 (which seems to be a traditional fail point for NZ govts).

              The CGT and a couple of other things Ardern ruled out might be opportunities for if she decides to retire when the writing is on the wall. I’d love to say “fourth term”, but policy fatigue seems to set in around term 2.5. So a few senior leaders leaving, with the places filled by current associate-level ministers with new and leftisher ideas might be a plan.

              • pat

                I’d suggest they will be lucky to avoid a recession before the end of the current term

                • McFlock

                  Yeah, because the rest of the world will drag us down. especially if the Chinese economy tanks and their growth turns out to be largely illusion.

                  As opposed to a recession of our own devising.

                  I suppose some of Labour’s social policies might (or could be spun to) alienate some voters, but again we need to ask how much of the fomenting by nats will be preaching to the choir?

                  And if National don’t pull finger, where will the Labour support go? Some of it will go right, maybe ACT, most likely something like the nat-lites. Or split 10% amongst five 2% far-right parties. But some of it will go Green, Māori or NZ1 (I’m still reluctant to declare it dead lol).

                  National are fighting ACT for the far-right turf, but I don’t think the rest of NZ are anywhere close to that ground. And Juco will never be the face of natlite like Key was.

                  • pat

                    The potential triggers are manifold and unimportant…as you agreed, the incumbents will carry the can.

                    • McFlock

                      “We still have done better than most of the planet through various global crises” is a much smaller can to carry than “we deregulated, screwed up, and now you’ve lost all your money to an aussie speculator”.

                  • pat

                    In the scheme of who ends up PM that dont matter

                    • ken

                      But the Nats don’t even have a credible candidate.

                    • pat

                      Lol…are any of them credible before election?….I submit Trump and Boris.

                      Credibility is secondary to timing

  3. Ad 3

    By the time Labour are out of power again in 2029, most of the key institutions will have had big Maori governance components long since built into them that will be pretty hard to unwind, including:

    – water

    – land transport

    – national parks

    – intellectual property

    – local government

    – defence

    – sport including the key national teams

    – arts

    – broadcasting

    – justice and courts

    – health

    – social welfare

    – fisheries

    – public holidays

    It would also not surprise me if by our bicentennary in 2040 we had an Upper House with at least a third Maori seats in them.

    I would rather this than we end up like South Africa or Fiji.

    • pat 3.1


      • Ad 3.1.1

        It’s going to take that long for National to sort itself out, or for Act to grow enough to supplant them. Pretty similar to growth of the Alliance 2 decades ago.

        • Enough is Enough

          A week is a long time in politics, 8 years is several lifetimes.

          • Ad

            Well as an old saw that’s fine. But New Zealand’s current record since 1987 is: 9 years, 9 years, and 9 years. And the current government’s been given the largest political gift of a generation in its second term.

            • Enough is Enough

              A printing press with no opposition is a good gift, so you are probably correct.

              The record of non-delivery must catch up with them at some point though.

              • Ad

                Most governments now only have two Departments that mean anything:

                Treasury and Health.

                And TBH that’s all a winning party needs.

              • ken

                You think that Labour will be punished for not instantly sorting out problems that started with Prebble and Douglas, and were made worse by every government since?

            • Anne

              current record since 1987


        • Stuart Munro

          Quicker if they dissolve and start afresh.

  4. Stephen D 4

    It also begs the question about National Party finances. Having to go cap in hand to Don Brash to raise funds suggests that their own Party finances aren’t in great shape. That would be even more of a worry for caucus, most of whom seem to derive the bulk of their campaign funds from the party.

    • tc 4.1

      National have little to offer in opposition aside from division, dog whistling and dirty politics.

      Money flows in once the likelihood of power is there i.e. once Collins in gone as she’s unelectable.

      • Pete 4.1.1

        Division, dog whistling and dirty politics don’t work? Hook those up with a few other things?

        • tc

          Look at the polls. Kiwis appear to have finally woken up to the national MO for a moment at least.

          The pandemic focus folk on what means most, a well funded and working health system, effective border control and timely science based decisions.

          None of that is in national’s DNA.

    • woodart 4.2

      having to go cap in hand to someone who openly states that he is more interested/connected to another party should be a huge slap in the face for all of the rural shitkickers that still think the nats is their party. perhaps if judith was honest(tui ad there!),the debate would be; what exactly does national stand for?

  5. Jenny how to get there 5

    Demand the debate
    Written By: MICKYSAVAGE

    If there is to be a debate. Someone to ably skewer the racist narrative embraced by Brash (and Collins), Ex RNZN Ngāti Awa, Joe Trinder

    Demand the debate;

    “…..On a Radio New Zealand interview with Kim Hill, Dr Don Brash made this bizarre comment “The people that arrived before Māori were Moriori then the Māori slaughtered them“.
    Dr Brash is quoting his School Journal of July 1916. During world war 1 New Zealand was going through a celebration of British colonisation and the history of the Moriori people was “adjusted” to vilify Māori as conquest over a pre-Polynesian Moriori settlers.
    This false history was used to justify a benevolent colonisation of New Zealand by the British. A way of painting a picture if Māori destroyed the Moriori civilisation then that justifies what the British colonists did to Māori. It also helped undermine Māori as being indigenous to New Zealand Aotearoa…..

    “Turituri Brash!
    Moriori are Māori”

    Joe Trinder


      • Nic the NZer 5.1.1

        This highlights one of the major issues with using CRT as a framework for racial justice in New Zealand.

        While in a post the other day Mickey suggested its purpose was to analyse legal frameworks as a cause of racial inequity. But even on its own terms its clearly a political analysis of American race relations post slavery. There are plenty of American cultural fads which New Zealand should not adopt. Using CRT to discuss NZ is going to really screw things up if it happens two Maori tribes implemented slavery onto the earlier Moriori settlers. Especially as one of the main CRT goals is ultimately reparations payments.

        • Ad

          For our purposes it would be much more useful to generate a theoretical historical structure based on the multiple volumes of Treaty of Waitangi claims. To that end Part three of Belich’s 3-volume Making Peoples was about as close as I’ve seen to a specific localised narrative put into a global context.

          • Nic the NZer

            Agree. Adopting US politics here is fundamentally dumb.

            CRT also seems to be incompatible with UK politics where the govt report concluded that different eras of UK immigration lead to different class localities for those immigrants and that actually the latest generations of immigrants are having better outcomes than average brits. e.g the existance (or not) of racism doesn’t really cause the outcome of inequality anyway.

    • Jenny how to get there 5.2

      Joe Trinder interviewed by Sam Hudson on racist Lee William’s midlife crisis

      S.H. Racism has, is becoming a recent trend in New Zealand, after an individual named Lee Williams, also known on-line as ‘Cross the Rubicon’, has more or less sent inciteful messages to thousands of people mocking the Haka, Maori culture, heritage and History.What can we do about it?

      J.T. Where I believe it comes from, is Donald Trump and the leader of the National Party Judith Collins.
      When politicians start to go after ethnic minorities, what it does, is emboldens people who hold malignant racist views to speak up about their prejudices in public, and announce them.
      So it really starts with world leaders….

      • Jenny how to get there 5.2.1

        Joe Trinder debates John Ansel

        [audio src="https://www.thevinnyeastwoodshow.com/uploads/1/3/1/2/1312301/ansell_trinder_debate_raw.mp3" /]

  6. paulhenry bewick 6

    We are so narrow and benign in our thinking one has never learnt from history.

    The Treaty was to reflect one thing — Democracy — freedom of speech, freedom to choose , the right to disagree, one vote one person and the right to peacefully protest. — Democracy is over 2000 years old — how narrow minded are we today.

    Today — Democracy is seriously being eroded by this Government.

    The passing of legislation without public debate or accountability, legislation that was never part of Labours mandate, constitutes nothing more than — deception, lies, fraud, an a untrustworthy Government.

    This Government should resign immediately forthwith.

    Socialism / Communism destroys the very fabric of ones natural rights –Democracy.

    The Past :

    It is done and dusted we should move on and forget the so-called blame- game.

    — we should move forward with vision, hope, integrity and faith —

    Unfortunately the world we live is about to blow itself apart with bombs,viruses and insane politicians.


    • solkta 6.1

      The Treaty was to reflect one thing — Democracy — freedom of speech, freedom to choose , the right to disagree, one vote one person

      What complete nonsense. Working class men did not get the vote in Britain until 1918 and working class women 1928.

      • Jenny how to get there 6.1.1

        There was only one vote per person in this country to relatively recently. What democracy there has been has been limited and perverted to suit the interests of white colonial establishment.
        On the founding of New Zealand parliamentary system, because of the preponderence of Maori in the population, Maori were not officially allowed to enrol on the general roll as late as 1975, this was done to prevent Maori dominating the politics of this country, in the early days.
        Maori were given a very limited number of Maori seats way below their percentage of the population and what they could have won on the general roll.
        If Maori had been allowed to vote on the general roll from the beginning of our parliamentary system. For one thing, parliament would have been prevented from trying to legislate against indigenous Maori language and culture. Maori not English would be the first language of this country, just as Fijian is the first language of Fiji and Samoan is the first language of Samoa.
        Those who want to abolish the Maori roll, now that the demographic has changed in favour of New Zealanders of European descent, should remember that the Maori roll was established not for the benefit of Maori but to the benefit of Europeans to curtail Maori influence.Nowadays the Maori seats are all that allow Maori to have any independent say in parliament. To remove the Maori seats now, would be to complete the project to disenfranchise Maori.

        • solkta

          Not sure how your rant is relevant as to whether the Treaty was about democracy. The Treaty did not establish a New Zealand government, this did not come until 13 years later. The Treaty was between Maori Iwi and the British Crown.

          You did though leave out the bit about how only land owning men could vote. The Maori seats were set up originally because Maori owned land collectively and so could not qualify for the general roll.

          • Jenny how to get there

            The fact remains, Maori were prevented from registering on the general roll by law. This prohibition remained on the statute books right up to the point where Pakeha New Zealanders became the undisputed overwelming majority.
            This racist legislation makes a nonsense of paulhenry bewick’s completely ignorant claim, “The Treaty was to reflect one thing — Democracy — freedom of speech, freedom to choose , the right to disagree, one vote one person, the right to peaceful protest”

            The last. the right to peaceful protest was denied Maori most infamously at Parihaka, with rape and mass internment of peaceful Maori protesters on their own land that the settlers wanted to steal.

            It might also be noted here that when the treaty between the Crown and Maori was signed, Maori outnumbered European settlers two to one. And the land wars were launched by the Crown when Europeans outnumbered Maori by two to one.

            • solkta

              Still not sure how your rant is relevant as to whether the Treaty was about democracy. When the British Crown offered the Treaty they would have had no inclination that many decades in the future New Zealand would have universal suffrage.

              • Jenny how to get there

                The point is, the treaty was never intended to be honoured, it was signed at a time when the British Empire colony, compared to the indigenous Maori was militarily weak.
                When military supremacy was reached, loans were raised in London for a full scale military subjugation of Maori. The Treaty was conviently shelved away and forgotten. But not by Maori who remembered the treaty and referred to it often.
                Maori have never given up agitating for the promises contained in the Treaty to be honoured.

                • solkta

                  No the point is that the Treaty was not about democracy. Whether or not there was an intention to implement, that does not change what it says.

  7. Descendant Of Smith 7

    lol one vote one person.You realise only land owners could vote originally. Far cry from one vote, one person. Oddly in New Zealand Maori men got the right to vote before European men.

    Early electionsThe electoral franchise established under the 1852 New Zealand Constitution Act was theoretically colour-blind. In reality, though, very few Māori men could qualify under the property requirement because they possessed their lands communally (as iwi, hapu or whanau groups) and not under individual freehold or leasehold title as Europeans did. Only about 100 Māori voted in the first general election in 1853, out of a total electorate of 5849. In 1859 the British Crown Law Office confirmed that Māori could not vote unless they had individual title granted by the Crown.
    European colonists generally welcomed this state of affairs because they did not think Māori were yet ‘civilised’ enough to exercise such an important responsibility. They were also worried that if large numbers of Māori were enrolled, they could swamp the votes of settlers in many North Island electorates.


    And here’s a useful resource about the use of urgency which was at its peak in the 80’s and 90’s.

    Both National and Labour governments have used urgency in quite similar amounts. I oft think it is unwarranted.

    The other trick is to move stuff into regulation from legislation which means things can be changed more easily vis government agencies.

    It’s a nongy suggestion however that its a communist plot…..


  8. JustMe 8

    When did a previous National government allow public debate of the following:The proposed TPPA. John Key in fact denigrated NZers who protested against the TPPA.$8million on an mansion for ONE person in Hawaii.$12million for an apartment for ONE person in New York.Many millions spent on 34 beemers with bum warming seats.$10million on bribing a Saudi ‘sheep farmer;$20billion spent on the NZ military.A couple of bribes running into the millions on both Rio Tinto and Warner Brothers.And so many other spending sprees to massage the ego of the National Party leader at the time or keep their masters in say America happy. When it comes to National they believe they hold the monopoly on intelligence. But whilst they carry on about having a debate I am 100% certain that if they were in government they wouldn’t give a toss what the people think. In fact would I be so wrong to say that National would HEAR the people(during a debate)but never LISTEN to the people? Hearing and Listening have different meanings.

    Judith Collins and her sycophantic followers are just not DOING IT for National. Meaning they are demeaning the NZ National party with everything they say and do. As soon as Judith Collins opens her mouth to speak on radio or the telly you know she is about to say something stupid. She has become THAT predictable.

    National have now become a minor political party with ACT over-taking them at almost every poll. The problem with ACT is their leader comes across as a clown and not quite leader material either.

    Lets leave these two CLOWN acts to undermine each other and themselves in their race to the bottom of the barrel.

  9. JustMe 9

    I look at National and its current batch of MPs with the viewpoint they didn't listen to NZers in the past and so it's unlikely they will listen to NZers today(in the present)or into the future.

    And so this Demand the Debate by them is just a white-wash and we know for sure they will conveniently forget about any 'discussion' with the public when it suits them and their agendas eg making money for themselves and their cronies.

  10. georgecom 10

    Yes lets have a public discussion, in fact I expect it. I heard Willie Jackson saying as much. A mature, genuine and in depth discussion. Not some stale trite ramblings from divisive Don or some glib Judith Collins billboards. I suspect a national debate may not serve National that well. Forget about a Maori Parliament but lets have a discussion about greater Maori involvement and management of things. Increasingly Maori are having input into the management of water assets, not ownership, but certainly lets look at management. And more involvement in things like Oranga Tamariki, lets seif that can turn around some of the shocking violence and abuse of children. Same with health and justice, lets see if health and crime outcomes can be improved for Maori. You could argue that from a Treaty of Waitangi perspective, you could also argue that better social outcomes for Maori is good for the country. Well worth discussing.

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