Something in the air at Waitangi has addled Andrew Little’s brain.
Or perhaps he has been infected with the cravenness bug that afflicts the Mayor of New Plymouth.
Whatever got the better of him, he has declared himself in favour of giving Maori greater self-governance, possibly including the ability to make some of their own laws.
Little declared his readiness to take this further step towards creating a Maori New Zealand and the other New Zealand yesterday, apparently influenced by a Waitangi Tribunal finding last year that Northland Maori did not cede their sovereignty when signing the Treaty.
This posturing would have won him lots of brownie points among Maori elders at Waitangi.
They had criticised The Boss when he stated the obvious – obvious, at least, except to people without a normal cluster of brain cells or to some indigenous persons who lust for greater governing powers to show they are “special” in this country.
According to this NZ Herald report:
Mr Key said allowing some iwi the ability to make their own law would be “divisive” and he did not support the suggestion.
But Little declared his inclination to divisive governance arrangements by going along with the Waitangi Tribunal report which found Maori should be able to make their own laws on matters affecting them.
While that would be “highly problematic” he said it should be looked at.
Mr Little acknowledged it could concern some New Zealanders. “The fear is always that these things turn into a ‘they are getting special privilege’ or ‘they are getting a control we would never be able to have’. We have to be sensitive to that, but we’ve also got to understand for iwi now and those who have had their settlements and developed their own economic base, there are some things we might want to say they can be responsible for that is consistent with historical obligations.”
He said it was time to look at what would happen after the settlements were completed.
He said some Native American tribes had law-making powers over their territories in the United States where recognised tribes were exempt from some laws – including taxation – and could create their own laws in many areas. Mr Little said allowing separate law-making was “highly problematic”.
“But we shouldn’t be so dismissive of any claim by iwi over what they do. We do have to function as a nation-state and we don’t want to compromise that. But let’s have a look at it.”
But here’s the thing.
If he is to agree that Maori should be able to make their own laws on matters affecting them, how will he respond when Chinese citizens say they should be able to make their own laws on matters affecting them? Or Indians? Or Indians? Or – dammit – Scots, Irish, Welsh and Poms?
The absurdity is plain.
But Little wasn’t finished with tearing up the treaty arrangement between Maori and the Crown.
Mr Little also pinned his flag to the republican tent yesterday, saying New Zealand should move to sever the apron strings with the monarchy before Australia.
It is not plain to Alf that we should move to sever the apron strings with the monarch, full stop.
It is much more bewildering why we should want to beat the Aussies to declare a republic.
Mr Little said he supported changing the flag but it was mere “window dressing” and should be done as part of wider constitutional change – change which also included ditching the Queen as the head of state.
“If we want to assert our independence, changing the flag won’t do it. Changing our head of state will.”
As the Herald reminds us, New Zealand will vote on whether to change the flag in a referendum next year. A second referendum will be held on the new flag if the vote is for change.
Frankly, Alf thinks The Boss has gone much too far simply by wanting to shake the Union Jack out of our flag and replace it with with some cheap form of Kiwiana.
But at least he draws the line there and says changing the flag is his limit as far as a nudge toward republicanism goes.
Key describes himself as “the biggest constitutional monarchist you’ll meet”.
Alf is content to him on this point, but he regards the claim as nonsense, because The Grumbles beat him hands down in the claim to the title of biggest constitutional monarchist you’ll meet.