- Date published:
10:48 am, February 7th, 2020 - 86 comments
Categories: jacinda ardern, Maori Issues, maori party, Maori seats, national, Politics, racism, racism, same old national, Simon Bridges - Tags:
The repercussions from Simon Bridges’ disastrous Waitangi performance continue to reverberate.
He did not show up for Waitangi Day itself an chose to mark that most important of National days by engaging in some dog whistling.
National Party leader Simon Bridges has added the Waitangi Tribunal to the list of what he thinks New Zealand should eventually do away with.
He said at Waitangi this week that he and his party believed Māori electorate seats should eventually go.
Bridges cited the Royal Commission in 1986, which proposed that if the country adopted the MMP system, it should abolish the Māori electorates.
That logic still stood, he said.
“We have more Māori in Parliament today than in a very long time under a MMP environment, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to impose that. In fact, the reality of the situation we are in New Zealand at the moment is that it is a long time coming.
“It does have to be with Māori, with iwi there does have to be consultation, you would need to see Māori voices realistically proposing that the time has come,” he said.
Bridges said the same may also be true for the Waitangi Tribunal.
“When we have moved past grievance, which I hope all New Zealanders would like to see at some point in time and those historic[al] issues with settlements have been full and final, you do have to say what is the role of the Waitangi Tribunal?” he said.
While many people would say a new, updated role for the tribunal should be found, Bridges said that was not his view.
His Waitangi Tribunal comments are disappointing. The Tribunal reports represent some of the most important jurisprudence that the country has.
And Article 2 created an ongoing responsibility for the Crown to ensure Māori enjoys “the unqualified exercise of their chieftainship over their lands, villages and all their treasures”. The obligation does not extinguish. Ensuring that guaranteed rights under the Tribunal are respected could provide the Tribunal with business for generations to come.
As for the Māori seats when Māori elect in sufficient numbers to go onto the general electoral roll then perhaps their future can be reviewed. Until then they should stay. Which is what he sort of said when he said “you would need to see Māori voices realistically proposing that the time has come”. But the dog whistle had clearly been blown by then.
Bridges’ rhetoric has put the Māori Party into a difficult situation. And they have responded by indicating it is more likely they will side with Labour if elected.
National Party leader Simon Bridges has talked about a resurgent Māori Party as a potential ally, but it may not have a willing partner, with the Māori Party President Che Wilson indicating a strong preference for Labour.
“We’re clear that our people align more to Labour and so we are open to having a conversation with Labour.
“If we ever do talk to National it will have to be a big deal for us to move that way again,” Wilson said.
“The perception and reputation by aligning with National affected us.”
“It kicked us out and so it would have to be a pretty impressive package for us to consider it,” he said.
This is an important development. There is talk of John Tamihere running in Tamaki Makaurau for the Māori Party. Their willingness to openly discuss a relationship with Labour dampens the argument that they should be supported.
I get the feeling this is a finely calibrated play by Bridges to shore up support on the right by engaging in some good old fashioned Maori bashing. I hope his calibration is wrong.
Because things are changing. Jacinda Ardern has helped to transform Waitangi Day into something we all can be proud of.
Simon Wilson, who has written some wonderful articles on Waitangi has said this about Waitangi this year:
… things have changed at Waitangi, for the better. The pleasure on people’s faces – all kinds of people – is palpable.
It’s not that race relations, poverty and inequality have been consigned to history. Nor that everything is now sweetness and light. Passions still run high, some higher than ever.
But a space for reflection has been created and, in that space, it’s become clear the loudest people are not always the most passionate people, and anger isn’t the only passion. The sense of respect is strong, the sense of discourse too. Nothing much gets thrown.
If you could get everyone to visit, or if you could bottle the spirit of Waitangi and put it in every town’s water supply, we’d be such a richer country.
I hope that Simon’s dog whistling fails. Aotearoa New Zealand is far too wonderful a place to be ruined by his Trumpian derived nonsense.