Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

Read Post

Legal Beagle: New Zealand's most racist law

38 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Much of the rest of the Maori Community Development Act seems antiquated as well. Not only does it not use macrons, the word it actually uses for the offence provisions is “Maoris”. It’s not quite on the same level, however. There’s been a review of the whole act going on for a while, but that seems to have stalled somewhat. I figured this was bad enough that a members bill dealing just with this would be justified.

    EDIT: this news article from 2014 looks at some of the reasons for the delay of the review of the whole act. The Maori Community Development Act provides for some elements of self-government for Māori, but it is antiquated, and the Government started looking at updating it (and the role of Māori Wardens, which are created under the Act) in 2009. There was a Waitangi Tribunal claim about the process (should TPK be reviewing the Act, and possibly recommending changes that might diminish self-government etc.?). The Waitangi Tribunal thought not, and said any review would be better led by the Māori Council. Things seems to have stalled.

    While the broader questions are complex, and will probably take time to work through, I thought the offences provisions were worth highlighting. The offence provisions are themselves part of the self-government process, as charges can be heard by Maori Committees, but these aren’t just local matters: the offences can also be prosecuted by police in the ordinary criminal courts. And to me, a law which criminalises people of a certain race for doing things that people of other races can do lawfully seems wrong. Maybe Māori will disagree, but I thought that this discrete issue was something that could be looked at while the broader questions wait in limbo. I also figured most people, including most Māori, would have no idea these laws existed.

    And of course, even the self-government permitted in these sections is limited. The general prohibition of the possession of alcohol in Māori meeting places can be overridden by a Māori Committee, but still not if the purpose of that meeting is dancing.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    If an MP wants to actually pass a good law from the back benches (or from the opposition), they’re well advised to make it a simple one (or be really really careful!).

    What sorts of resources are regular MPs given in order to draft Bills prior to them going into the ballot?

    Does the system provide them with expert advice and consultation for drafting what they actually mean? Or are they expected to sit alone in their offices, and draw on their great personal skills of marketing themselves to the public as they scribble new legislation onto a page?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1131 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    Woooooaaaaaah. Campaigning for repeal is the obvious way to go, especially as this law seems so racist that no-one would actually enforce it these days, meaning that these provisions are unlikely to ever be brought before the HRRT in a discrimination challenge.

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    How easily could it be repealed without encountering a chorus of "PC gone mad!" from the Brash-oids and Muriel-oids?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5382 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to izogi,

    What sorts of resources are regular MPs given in order to draft Bills prior to them going into the ballot?

    They can seek assistance from the Office of the Clerk for drafting. Parties also have funding for policy staff who can assist, and discretionary budgets that could be used for seeking outside advice if it was thought important.

    Of course, there are many calls on the use of resources, so I can’t really see any opposition MP ever really drafting a bill which would sensibly create a republic. I’ve no idea how well Kevin Hague actually did with his adoption bill (it would take a bit of effort for me to get up to speed to be able to tell whether it worked), but I imagine that was a major effort on his part.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • peteremcc, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Either you don't follow politics much, or you've let your own political bias colour your thoughts on this/them.

    Brash and Newman explicitly campaigned on removing any laws that only apply to Maori.

    Now, you may want to keep some of the laws that only apply to Maori, that they want to remove (and that's a separate political debate).

    But, given their positions, and their philosophical consistency, I can guarantee you 100% that both of them would be in favour of repealing this section of law.

    Wellington • Since Aug 2009 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • dave c,

    Here is the most recent Order Paper. One wonders when the next members ballot will be..

    http://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-nz/00HOHOrderPaper_20151209/b8250f6f963d3fdf16eedae9906d2125ab5f2739

    welli • Since Jan 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    But, given their positions, and their philosophical consistency, I can guarantee you 100% that both of them would be in favour of repealing this section of law.

    You'd have thought in their many years of campaigning for one law for all, they'd have spotted it and mentioned it, if only in support of their claims not to be racist. I can't find any examples of them mentioning it online. Mike Butler and David Round, who write for NZCPR and are more or less in Muriel Newman's ideological camp, both talk about it only to complain that it or its review gives too much power to the Maori Council.

    I've followed this issue closely for a long time, and if there were any philosophical consistency to Brash and Newman et al, they'd have campaigned vigorously for the protection of Maori property interests in the foreshore and seabed.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 974 posts Report Reply

  • royalcourtier,

    These old laws are not applied now. I would have thought that the most racist laws would be those that give benefits and privileges to Maori (or Pacific Islanders) alone: in elections (separate electorates), universities (quotas and other preferential treatment), health (additional funding for Maori, over and above the normal funding for all New Zealanders), education (schools get more money if they have a higher percentage of Maori students), welfare (additional government funding for welfare assistance for Maori); local and regional government (special non elected advisory boards or representatives, based on race alone), and cash and other settlements (the never-ending full and final settlements). Be careful what you wish for, Mr Edgeler!

    Auckland • Since Jan 2016 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1325 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    Radio New Zealand led the 7am news with this issue.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 467 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Yes, it's definitely racist to return a tiny fraction of what the state appropriated from Maori after promising it wouldn't, and also to fund health and education services in such a way as to reduce inequalities, which is why governments of every flavour have been doing it for decades.. FFS. 2004 called; it's for Royal Courtier and wants its race relations back.

    Speaking of decades, it's been customary since the mid 80s to consult with Maori when you make policy changes that affect them. I'm assuming Graeme and Trevor M have a process in mind for doing that? Otherwise there's a risk that you're charging in to rescue a princess without stopping to check whether the dragon's actually bothering her. It's not a bad assumption that this law is a problem, but it does seem to be an assumption.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 974 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to John Farrell,

    Radio New Zealand led the 7am news with this issue.

    when there's no news, random bloggers make news!

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to B Jones,

    Speaking of decades, it’s been customary since the mid 80s to consult with Maori when you make policy changes that affect them. I’m assuming Graeme and Trevor M have a process in mind for doing that?

    I don't make policy changes.

    The extent of consultation I'll be doing is this blog post, and the tweets I sent out about it. I don't like to assume people are or are not Māori based on things like Twitter handles or profile pics, but there have been a number of Māori who have indicated support, or thanked me for pointing it out.

    Green MP Marama Davidson said the law breached human rights https://twitter.com/MaramaDavidson/status/683082142595723264

    And Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said she would "absolutely" support the repeal bill
    https://twitter.com/FoxMarama/status/683065369875984385

    You don't like to assume RTs or follows are endorsements, but I noticed a couple of others from Maori MPs.

    The only people expressing concern have appeared to be non-Māori (although they were also the expressing most of the support as well).

    But consultation itself isn't something I'll be doing. Mostly, I'm here to let people know (because most people don't) and make action easy (by making a draft of the bill available, so there's no excuse not to start the process.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    To those who eat chalk on toast, and write on the board with cheese:

    Graeme is talking about repealing a law. In other words, doing something.

    The assorted politicians cited (Brash etc) were only interested in campaigning on laws. In other words, not actually doing anything, but getting votes by pretending to want to.

    We know this for certain, because National and ACT have been in power for seven years, and any MP at any time could have made this an issue of principle, of confidence, of resignation, of anything substantive at all. They haven't. Not one, not even close.

    Because - as we all know - they don't really want to use their unquestioned power to change those so-called "privileges". Railing against them from opposition worked for them just fine, and doubtless will again.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to B Jones,

    peaking of decades, it’s been customary since the mid 80s to consult with Maori when you make policy changes that affect them. I’m assuming Graeme and Trevor M have a process in mind for doing that?

    Radio New Zealand has just published a story, currently headlined Maori Party backs call to change 'racist' law.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Fair enough, Graeme. But the idea of doing this by private member's bill raises a few questions for me about where the Crown is in all of this and what its responsibility to Maori is in terms of the Treaty (not passing that law back in 1962 in the first place, maybe). I wonder whether any of the 2000 or so registered historical claims mention this issue. One could always be amended to include it, I suppose.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 974 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I think this is a positive initiative, overall, it's just that I'm familiar enough with the terrain to know there are often unexpected fishhooks, and that efforts to do good can often be held up by plans to do better.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 974 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to B Jones,

    Gone fishing...

    familiar enough with the terrain to know there are often unexpected fishhooks

    Indeed, the whole of the North Island is the result of an unexpected fishhook and the terrain as it is because people didn't follow protocols...

    ...this is a job for Tātaramoa!!
    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7704 posts Report Reply

  • Tinakori,

    Graeme's post is a classic example of berating our ancestors for not having the same world views that we do. One of my uncles was a Maori Warden in Gisborne in the late 50s and 60s. He and his colleagues would go into the pubs on paydays and try and get people to move on when they looked like drinking the week's wages in one night. Sometimes, when reason did not work they would apply force and eject the drinker or drinkers. In extreme cases, when the drinkers had also bought large quantities of alcohol to take away they would break bottles of beer and whiskey in the gutter to encourage sobriety, a very militant Maori version of the Salvation Army. Some of this could be carried out under the terms of the Act and some would not be sanctioned by it at all. The backlash from the drinkers was minimal because my uncle and his colleagues were highly respected in their community. Some but by no means all were pretty tough too. This period was during the full flood of the Maori urban migration and I suspect - but do not know - the Act was a way of allowing Maori to take some control over the impact of this large transfer of people and complete integration of Maori into the cash economy when management of wages was at a premium because people in town could not fall back on their own gardens or fishing to feed themselves and their families if they had spent all their money at the pub.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    More reading.....

    http://www.maoricouncil.com/maori-community-development-act-claim/

    http://www.maoricouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/MCDA-Claim-Wai-2417-Claimants-closing-submissions.pdf

    The claim, in particular, is helpful as it literally highlights the significant issues of the Maori Council.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1325 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Tinakori,

    Graeme’s post is a classic example of berating our ancestors for not having the same world views that we do.

    That's probably fair.

    I will note that my bigger concern is the criminal offences that remain. I have a concern about the powers, but it's not as big.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    So (and I talk of the present day here), should Maori as a whole (or Maori in a position of power) be able to decide to regulate individual Maori by maintaining a criminal offence that applies only to Maori and not to pakeha?

    In civil law, individuals can practically decide whether they want to participate e.g. voting on the Maori or general rolls. But that can't really apply to a criminal offence?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Yes, which does suggest one way forward (to be clear, I'm generally in favour of fewer restrictions, so this is not a position I entirely support myself; but it's a decision for Maori, not for me, to make). Certain civil offences (with sentences of fines or confiscation) are set and enforced at the whim of local councils, e.g., concerning public drinking; parking… If tribal councils were to be given the same degree of autonomy (and why not?), that could provide a mechanism for control of e.g. problem drinking through “Maori wardens” in much the same way as under the current regime, if iwi wish to preserve those powers – but with the significant differences that (i) offenses would be civil rather than criminal; and (ii) enforcement would be determined by local community membership rather than by ethnicity.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1802 posts Report Reply

  • Evan Yates,

    I don't generally identify as Maori, but I do have a great-great-grandmother on my father's side who was. Due to the very broad and loose definition of "Maori" in the opening section of the act, I am therefore subject to this legislation.
    I'm pretty white-bread of appearance due to a few generations of dilution and I'm not sure a Maori Warden would be able to tell just by looking at my mug that they can eject me from a "hotel" or take my car keys should I become unruly.
    Perhaps I should I have something tattooed on my arm or wear some sort of symbol (an armband might work) to help these authorities know they have jurisdiction over me? Should I do the same thing for my young children now? ... or do I wait until they turn eighteen?

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 197 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.