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Bassett on Maori Council seats

15/09/2009

Michael Bassett writes an interesting article on the question of whether ‘Maori’ are entitled to race based council seats. He suggests the Royal Commission got it wrong, in fact he suggests that the Commission exceeded their brief.

Along the way he gives one or two thers a serve including Len Brown.

Adam especially appreciated this opening paragraph:-

Constant repetition of assertions that Maori have a Treaty of Waitangi right to dedicated seats on the new Auckland Council doesn’t make them correct. It is clear that neither Tuku Morgan nor Len Brown, nor most of the other advocates of separate representation, has read the Treaty, sometimes called our founding document. It is a simple treaty of three clauses. It was written in 1840 when nothing approaching today’s concepts of democracy existed anywhere in the world. There was no parliament, nor any councils in New Zealand. Consequently there was nothing that could be deemed an Article Two “taonga” to be preserved on behalf of Maori. What there was in the Treaty, however, was an Article Three guarantee to Maori that the Crown would give Maori “the same rights and duties of citizenship as the people of England”. In other words, as political developments occurred, Maori rights would be the same as everyone else’s.

So why do so many think differently. Adam would suggest the grievance industry which has grown up over the last couple of decades.

Dr Bassett concludes:-

Everyone would benefit from reading the Treaty of Waitangi. Many assertions about it keep being made in ignorance of its actual provisions.

It is worth noting:-

Michael Bassett was Minister of Local Government 1984-1990 and a member of the Waitangi Tribunal 1994-2004.

So he might be presumed to know something of what he writes.

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