Privatisation of Water

Tena koutou katoa

Before we consider this issue....... lets put it into the wider context
of government policy

At Waitangi this year Dr David Williams professor of Law, Spoke at the
"State of the Pakeha Nation" forum at Te Tii Marae on Waitangi Day

As part of his address he presented his "scorecard" on recent
developments as follows:

"The quiet implementation by the Labour-led government of many of the
ideas featured in Don Brash’s 2004 Orewa ‘Nationhood’ speech continues

National may still be in opposition, and Dr Brash may no longer be its
leader, but many planks of the ‘Nationhood’ speech - for which it now
seems (courtesy of Nicky Hager) some of the “credit” must go to Michael
Bassett - are being implemented by the current ‘centre-left government.

On ‘nationhood’ issues it is mighty hard to distinguish ‘centre-left’
from Brash’s ‘mainstream’. The ‘iwi’ has indeed been taken out of the
‘kiwi’ as National campaign hoardings urged in 2005. For example:

Following the passage of the Mäori Purposes Bill late last year, the
law now requires that all historic Treaty claims must be lodged by 1st
September 2008 and that no further such claims will be able to be made
after that.

The government argued that this will provide “certainty” for Mäori, the
Tribunal and the general public. It said nothing about “justice” or
“truth and reconciliation.” As Räwiri Taonui put it: “Justice is
righting wrongs, however long that takes” but in Parliament only the
Mäori Party and the Green Party voted against that Bill.

The new draft curriculum for schools has proposed the elimination of
Treaty issues from the education of young New Zealanders. For 13 years
Treaty issues have been part of the curriculum – not well taught
necessarily, but a necessary part of the curriculum for all our future

When many questions began to be asked about this, the government’s
response was that there would be Treaty content in a new Mäori studies
curriculum yet to be developed. The notion that the Treaty is the basis
of the constitution of the nation that is important for all NZers is
thus rejected – the Treaty is marginalized as a Mäori issue only, and
one that is not relevant for ‘mainstream’ education.

The budget in May 2006 saw the axing of 7 Mäori development funding
programmes specifically aimed at whänau, hapü and iwi. These programmes
of capacity building, local level solutions and whänau development came
from that ‘distant’ past of 2000 [Closing the gaps] and 2001 [Reducing
social inequalities] when Mäori were funded to develop and implement
their own development priorities. Such self-determination is no longer
on the agenda.

Any Treaty-based relationships developed in the past are now
re-interpreted as needs-based arrangements to attend to socio-economic
disadvantage suffered by citizens who just happen to be Mäori.

Proposals for constitutional change reflecting the legal status of the
Treaty have been put on a permanent back-burner. Thoughtful comments on
this issue came from Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous
People, in March 2006.

One of his recommendations read: “The Treaty of Waitangi should be
entrenched constitutionally in a form that respects the pluralism of
New Zealand society, creating positive recognition and meaningful
provision for Mäori as a distinct people.” His report was peremptorily
dismissed by the Prime Minister as “unbalanced”. In August Dr Cullen as
Attorney-General complained that “critics (such as the United Nations)
do not understand the importance New Zealanders as a whole attach to
Parliamentary sovereignty.” In other words, Parliament should always be
free to trample on the fundamental rights of tangata whenua and of any
We do not believe in ‘fundamental rights’ in this country – we just
trust our politicians to do what is ”for the best”, which now seems to
mean what focus groups tell them will help them to be re-elected.

The NZ government position in the United Nations is that the
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is ‘fundamentally
flawed’ and is the product of ‘a deeply unsatisfactory process’. What
was ‘deeply unsatisfactory’ in the process from 1982, and the promotion
of the Draft Declaration from 1993 till now, is that delegations of
indigenous peoples contributed directly to the drafting of a
declaration about their own rights, rather than leaving it to the
nation states like New Zealand, USA, and Russia who know best on these
matters as to what sort of ‘self-determination’ indigenous peoples are
to be allowed.

New Treaty-based relationships between Crown and Mäori have ceased,
except in the fraught context of the settlement of historic Treaty
claims. Even there, it is the mandating and ratification policies
developed by the Crown in relation to its own definitions of ‘large
natural groupings’ that determine the format of the Treaty

Desperate to make progress in bringing all this Treaty-claims stuff to
an end as soon as possible, rather than to take the time to deal with
all claimants fairly, the government has come up with some short cuts.
The lakes deal with Te Arawa saw the innovation of the ‘Crown-owned
stratum’ in the water above the allegedly ‘returned’ lakebed lands.
Then, rather than work with the entire ‘large natural grouping’ as one
might have thought its own policy required, the government engaged in
picking and choosing between hapü and rangatira who were prepared to
sign off a ‘Te Arawa settlement’ for land grievances and those who did
not. Amazingly, the Crown negotiators were willing to exclude Ngäti
Whakaue and many other hapü of Te Arawa. To implement this deal, the
government will legislate to allow it to over-ride the Crown forest
assets statutory regime in a scenario that will enable the government
to ‘steal from Peter to pay Paul’. So FoMA and the NZMC are back in
court yet again to defend their 1989 forest assets deal against what
they see as Crown depredations. “We are critical of the Crown,” said
FoMA “acting as Judge, Jury and determining themselves as a confirmed
beneficiary to receive $63 million in CFRT funds.”

Treaty clauses no longer appear in government Bills. Moreover,
Government members voted for the first reading of the NZ First Party’s
‘Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill’. This has caused
some of us some heart-searching about whether we ought to come to the
defence of the ‘principles of the Treaty’ because we know that the
underlying approach of NZ First (despite their rhetoric) is to bury the
Treaty entirely as of no relevance to modern New Zealand. Many of us
have spent some years arguing for the paramountcy of Te Tiriti o
Waitangi over the English text, and we have expressed grave misgivings
about many of the modern inventions known as ‘principles of the Treaty’
in which te Tiriti o Waitangi itself is utterly invisible.

On balance, though, I believe that the ‘principles of the Treaty’
clauses in many laws have been positive factors in keeping Treaty
issues to the forefront of decision-making processes. Their deletion
would only increase the pace of implementing the ‘Nationhood’ programme
of Drs Brash & Bassett."

Thank you David Williams......

So.... at a domestic and international level the process of erosion of
the status of Te Tiriti and of Maori people continues unabated.

The State control and then eventual privatisation of Water is the
latest front in the ongoing battle to protect Maori rights

The insidious and relatively silent nature of these policies aims to
implement these injustices in a way that minimises Maori understandings
of the governments programmes and therefore hopefully reduces the
inclination and ability of Maori to organise against these modern day
treaty breaches.



Mike Smith

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