We have some judges who aren’t up with the play about our indigenous citizens requiring special treatment.
A giant blow was struck in favour of these citizens on 20 April 2010, when Pita Sharples announced your Government’s decision to formalise its support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
He said this would help to restore New Zealand’s mana in addressing indigenous rights.
Pita’s media statement included 16 points set out under an “Announcement of New Zealand’s Support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.
Mind you, for all practical purposes it contains only 15 points, because the 16th item simply says:
16. No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
For the purposes of this post and our judges, however, the important point says :
4. Māori hold a distinct and special status as the indigenous people, or tangata whenua, of New Zealand. Indigenous rights and indigenous culture are of profound importance to New Zealand and fundamental to our identity as a nation. A unique feature of our constitutional arrangements is the Treaty of Waitangi, signed by representatives of the Crown and Māori in 1840. It is a founding document of New Zealand and marks the beginning of our rich cultural heritage. The Treaty establishes a foundation of partnership, mutual respect, co-operation and good faith between Māori and the Crown. It holds great importance in our laws, our constitutional arrangements and the work of successive governments.
They have a special status, which is the same as saying they are special citizens.
On the strength of that decision – and it’s too late to go back – what matters when special citizens plead for special treatment is whether they are Maori, rather than whether they happen to be – let’s say – a Mongrel Mob member.
Thus Alf is bound to say a certain Mongrel Mob member has been badly treated:
An appeal by a Mongrel Mob member against his manslaughter sentence on the grounds that being Maori put him at a social disadvantage has been dismissed.
In the decision released today, the Court of Appeal dismissed Fabian Jessie Mika’s appeal for an automatic 10 per cent reduction to his sentence because he is Maori.
This Mika feller has been involved with a gang since he was 16, apparently, and has “Mobsta” tattooed across his face.
He was sentenced in September to six years and nine months’ jail for causing the death of a teenage boy during a car chase in Canterbury.
The Appeal Court decision said all judges were acutely conscious of the economic, social and cultural disadvantages suffered by Maori. But they reckoned this was no reason to reduce a sentence.
“We accept that those circumstances frequently contribute to offending,” the decision says.
“But it does not logically follow that a person is more likely to be at a disadvantage and to offend simply by virtue of his or her Maori heritage.
“To some such a proposition may appear offensive.”
Alf is bound to say that he personally has a great deal of sympathy with this point of view.
So do his mates.
But Alf is just as bound to acknowledge that The Boss and the rest of the government were persuaded by Pita and his Maori Party to officially regard Maori as special citizens.
As the National member for Eketahuna North, he is only too aware that his chances of promotion are dependent on keeping quiet about what he really thinks about some government decisions.