In support of urban representation

Summary slides



My story is the story of many Ngāpuhi who grew up in urban environments. We were raised away from our hapū and iwi. We do not always know the tikanga and kawa of our marae. We do not always know our histories, our stories and our genealogies. Many of us cannot speak our reo.

My experience of colonisation is tied to my urban-ness. My urban-ness is about location not identity. I am on the journey to reconnecting and I am becoming more confident standing as Ngāpuhi. We all arrive here with our tupuna. I stand here today with my ancestors – as a Tahere and a Tareha descendent. I stand here with the support of my whānau.

Urbanisation affects all Ngāpuhi. Albeit, in different ways. It affects hapū too. And I want to acknowledge that first. Urbanisation hurt hapū.

For us folk locating our experiences as ‘urban’ we must never forget that hapū suffered because of urbanisation too. When we reflect on our experiences, we must also reflect on the hurt experienced by our hapū through the Crowns urbanisation agenda executed through its assimilation policies.

The Crowns urbanisation agenda promised opportunity to whānau in tough economic times. It did not deliver. Like many of the Crowns promises. It failed to deliver.

The Crowns urbanisation agenda also stripped out whānau support bases in our kainga and on our marae. It did more than disconnect the collective. It drove the knife of colonisation through our communities. And we are all still bleeding from this today.

Over a period of about forty years, the Crowns assimilation policies coerced more than 80 percent of whānau into cities and towns. Away from our kaumātua and kuia. Away from our kainga. Away from our marae. Away from our maunga. Away from our awa. Away from the places that our ancestors spent more than a thousand years establishing intimate connections.

Many of us have not yet returned to those places. To heal from the loss of time. The loss of connection. Many of us do not know where those places are. Many of us do not know where to begin.

It is on that basis, that I stand here to support the proposed option for urban representation on the Central Negotiating Body and the broader suite of urban representation.

I support it because I aspire to see hapū leveraging the proximity of Ngāpuhi ki Tāmaki to the economic engine and international gateway of Aotearoa to strengthen Te Whare Tapu o Ngāpuhi.

In total, the option provides for 14 urban representatives across the Central and Regional bodies. The level of representation for Tāmaki acknowledges that Tāmaki is home to the largest consolidated Ngāpuhi population. It acknowledges the youth of the Ngāpuhi population by setting aside taitamariki representation.

It allows for diversity of urban Ngāpuhi experiences and perspectives. Inclusivity of a range of Ngāpuhi voices.

A good friend recited a quote to me that I feel is fitting for this kaupapa: Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.

For me, the level of urban representation proposed, invokes the sentiment of being asked to dance. It is time our urban experiences are included in the narrative – not to displace our hapū. To strengthen our claim against the Crown for the fragmentation it wrought on our whānau, and our hapū.

I support  Ngāpuhi moving forward. I support moving forward because until we do, colonisation will consign future generations to a life of surviving rather than thriving. And there is so much opportunity for Ngāpuhi through urban representation from here in Tāmaki.

There is an opportunity to increase Ngāpuhi representation in decision-making forums in Tāmaki to advance our Ngāpuhi agenda.

Being part of the decision-making is integral to strengthening the pipeline of prosperity from Tāmaki to Taitokerau.

There is an opportunity to collaborate with the Regional bodies as a conduit to re-connect Ngāpuhi ki Tāmaki and Ngāpuhi returning to Aotearoa with their hapū. There is a revival brewing and we must be collectively prepared with the cultural infrastructure to connect our people with their place.

As it is Suffrage Day, it is fitting that I mihi here to all those people who have spoken about wahine representation. I think it only right that we acknowledge the importance of balance between wahine and tāne representation as we embark on this journey.

We must look at the future we want and create it now. We must begin to live the future we want for our tamariki.

In the words of Dame Whina Cooper:

Take care of our children, take care of what they hear, take care of what they see, take care of what they feel, for how the children grow, so will be the shape of Aotearoa.

The future for our tamariki must be one of peace. And peace is about balance. The future for our tamariki must then be one where the roles of mana tāne and mana wahine are restored. This is not the time to get defensive over patriarchal realities inflicted on wahine, to appeal to merit while ignoring structural disadvantage introduced through colonisation. To move toward peace among ourselves and for the future of our tamariki, we must restore the balance.

Because colonisation is not a thing that happened to us in the past. It is perpetual. It is still happening to us today. It will be here tomorrow. It will be here after settlement. We must move toward peace among ourselves. Moving toward settlement is a first step in the peace process. It is not the end. Settlement is never the end. It is only the beginning of our revival.

We can choose settlement and choose how we will thrive despite colonisation for the benefit of our hapū and future generations to come. Now is not the time to delay. Now is the time to hold the Crown to account.

Kia ora!

Opposing the establishment of a Crown-Māori Relations portfolio  


I provide this submission in my personal capacity. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of my hapū, iwi, employer or any other organisation or group to which I am affiliated.


This submission opposes the establishment of a Crown-Māori Relations portfolio because:

(a) Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the founding document of this nation. As such, every Minister of the Crown has a duty to ensure the ministries and subsidiaries they are responsible for act reasonably and in good faith to advance and protect the rights and interests of Māori guaranteed under Te Tiriti.

A Ministry of Crown-Māori Relations is unnecessary given every Minister of the Crown already has an obligation to ensure the health of the Crown’s relationship with Māori.

(b) Despite the planned series of hui taking place around the motu seeking feedback and input from the public, Budget 2018 stipulates an appropriation for the establishment of a Crown-Māori Relations portfolio, signalling it is a fait accompli.

The approach is inconsistent with the concept of consultation and Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which provides that States must consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples and obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

(c) Establishing a caretaker portfolio potentially creates a new legal obligation requiring Māori to engage with the Crown on the Crown’s terms. Arguably, this has the effect of retrospectively amending Te Tiriti o Waitangi and ignores the Waitangi Tribunal’s finding that Māori did not cede sovereignty.

(d) There is a risk that a Crown-Māori Relations portfolio will provide the means for this government and future governments, to restrict the ability of Māori to enter into partnerships with the Crown as equals under Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

It does this by potentially narrowing Māori-Crown partnership pathways to one entry point if the convention becomes that Māori must first engage the Minister for Crown-Māori Relations before access is granted to other Ministers relevant to their particular interests.

If this occurs, it would breach Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Article 3 of the UNDRIP because it would bind Māori to perpetual structural disadvantage impeding our ability to be self-determining.

(e) It is difficult to see how the health of the relationship can be objectively measured given the proposed Crown-Māori relations portfolio would be responsible for monitoring itself. It is unclear who will carry out a ‘health check’ of the relationship, and what measures or indicators will be used to determine ‘health status’.

(f) If the Crown wishes to improve its relationship with Māori, it cannot impose a new forum in which it expects Māori to engage with it using a deceptive frame that proposes to empower Māori while eroding our claim to our sovereignty. It is for Māori to determine what our relationship is with the Crown, and to determine the process by which we will engage.

Arguably, the Crown has acted dishonestly by surreptitiously using its Māori Ministers’ access to Māori forums to primarily advance the Crown’s own interests. If the Crown is genuine in its commitment to restore its relationship with Māori then it must first:

(i) address the issue of sovereignty; and

(ii) give legal effect to He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.


This submission recommends that the Crown consider its alternatives to a “Crown-Māori Relations” portfolio. In particular, that the Crown:

(a) re-scopes its purpose to reconciliation and focuses on how it (the Crown) proposes to fulfil its obligations and correct unresolved historical and contemporary grievances under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and in alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

(b) renames the portfolio “Minister for Crown Reconciliation”

(c) reframes its narrative so that it is understood by the public that the portfolio places the onus on the Crown to restore its relationship with Māori, rather than placing the onus on Māori to engage with the Crown in restoring the relationship

(d) redirects the $3.2million funding from Budget 2018 to establish an Independent Māori Advisory Panel (IMAP) to carry out a range of activities that will inform the future scope of works needed to support Māori in the realisation of their tino rangatiratānga (refer Article 18, UNDRIP)

(e) agrees to take genuine steps to work with Māori to address the issue of sovereignty and give legal effect to He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Knowledge Journey 2018

Part 1 (January)

For the past few years, I considered applying to do a PhD. Platforming off my masters, I would still want to focus on international trade, political economy, food, and Indigenous Peoples but I am still not quite there on my angle. This year, I have decided to undertake some personal research for two reasons, to:

  1. help shape my angle
  2. build depth of knowledge

One of the things I’ve noticed since finishing my masters, is the superficial level of knowledge I developed over a broad range of kaupapa, rather than the depth I enjoyed during study. Part of that is not reading as much as I used too – or not reading the right kinds of things. The other part is spreading my brain over too many things, rather than being focused. To increase my knowledge depth, I developed a bit of a framework on how I will target my research:

  1. Climate change as the lens.
  2. Local, National, Global as the levels.
  3. Māori as the audience.

I’m still exploring what issues I will focus on, but these are some things that spark my interests:

  • Participation (from the affordability angle)
  • Adaptation to climate change for the urban poor
  • Re-imagining a Māori economy (moving away from growth to thriving)
  • Performative wokeness

A quirk to my research will be shifting from a development to advancement narrative. I recall a discussion thread from 2014. One of the participants had advocated for advancement over development. I was indifferent at that point. I was part way through my masters and was comfortable with the term development, as I didn’t see the two phrases as having any major differences in intention. Additionally, I’d been exploring Amartya Sen’s work and was comfortable with the notion that development was about increasing choices to expand freedoms.

I’m still fine with the term development, especially Sen’s work, but I have developed a personal preference for the term advancement e.g. Māori advancement, economic advancement and so on. I do appreciate that there is risk in the term, since colonisers have long referred to Indigenous Peoples as “less advanced” and that using advancement could be seen as entrenching those notions. That is, that the imperative of advancement is movement toward whiteness. However, I don’t see development as being any less problematic since it is also prone to the same argument.

When I think about development, and how it is conceived at a practical level, the signifier of development seems to be growth, and more specifically economic growth. If economic growth is the practical imperative, then advancement becomes something quite different from development. For me, advancement brings to mind the idea of propelling forward, regardless of whether the imperative is growth or some other measure. It provides space to tell a story about non-linear journeys that cross-sect and intersect contemporaneously or asynchronously.

Hoping to have a brief summary literature review and an outline ready by the end of March, although that is approaching at a rapid pace…I’m likely to be far more piecemeal and will likely end up doing short lit reviews threads on twitter.


Modern Activism and the Potential for Cultural Conflicts

Pōwhiri is an important ceremony in Te Ao Māori. It begins with a wero from tangata whenua to the manuhiri (guests). When tangata whenua are satisfied manuhiri are there on friendly terms, the karanga is issued calling manuhiri onto the grounds.

But there may be occasions where cultural practices and modern activism come into conflict.

When Australian PM Tony Abbott visited Wellington, he was met by a justifiable resistance from local activists. After all, he has been instrumental in policy that has led to human and indigenous rights abuses. However, Minister Hekia Parata complained to Radio Waatea:

“As the karanga was being issued forth protesters were protesting for indigenous rights. It just shows me that there are different ways of respecting indigenous practices. One of them would have been to respect our indigenous practice here in New Zealand”

I have some sympathy with that argument. It seems rather empty to call for recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples if simultaneously disrespecting the customs of  local Indigenous Peoples.

At first glance, I did find it unsettling that protesters had allegedly disrespected the karanga during the pōwhiri. However, others  (who presumably attended) have suggested that protesters were well away from the pōwhiri such that any potential for disruption would have been negligible. So it might just be in this case, that there is no issue.

But that doesn’t mean that in the wider context of activism that this isn’t a potential issue.

I’m reminded of the Greenpeace activists that entered a sacred Peruvian site and damaged some of the Nazca lines in order to send a message to UN Climate Talk delegates.

When asking the question as to whether activist causes justify disrespecting cultural practices of the local Indigenous Peoples,  I had a straw man thrown at me. As if somehow, I were defending human rights abuses against refugees in Nauru and the forced closure of Aboriginal communities! I can unequivocally state here, that I absolutely abhor the human rights and indigenous rights abuses of the Australian government. I wholeheartedly support the call to solidarity with the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia and the Refugees in Nauru.

Acknowledging there are legitimate concerns about how activism can potentially flout the rights of Indigenous Peoples does not equate to supporting the perpetrators that protesters are dissenting against.

I am not raising this as an issue to distract from the causes. I think some activist communities should think more carefully about how their actions might have unintended consequences. I think activists ought to be mindful of the cultural practices of others particularly when consciously using culturally significant ceremonies, events and locations as the site of their activism.






We really going to ignore white terrorism?

For the most part, I support the idea of a media. I mean, the point is to question events and hold power to account. Depending on the particular media outlet, these things are done to a greater or lesser degree.

But when the collective industry by and large choose to ignore the execution style killings of 3 Muslim college students by a white man, the outcry should be vast and vociferous.

We can be assured that if it were 3 white college students shot in the head, that it would be framed as a ‘national tragedy’. And you know what? It would be a national tragedy. But THIS IS a national tragedy – no matter what religious, political or other views or identities the victims held.

We may also be assured that if the shooter were a person of colour or a marginalised identity, that scorn would be scrawled across every media headline in breaking news.

The blanket of silence is in the context of an ongoing global effort to homogenise the diversity of Muslim communities in an attempt to demonise Islam as a terrorist faith. The political goal: hegemonic stability.

We already know the answer as to ‘who’ these media organisations are protecting and ‘why’. Another question is ‘what’ are they protecting and ‘how’?

One answer is their carefully crafted (but incredibly ghastly) message that dare not depict any Muslim deaths in a manner that might induce empathy from the public because this would interfere with their ability to continue to persecute all Muslim peoples.

We talk about Islamophobia too often in abstraction, but the reality is that the architects of Islamophobia are the same entities and organisations that bury the truth to muzzle white outrage when Muslim blood is spilt in hate. The rationale being that white outrage is a threat to hegemonic stability, because the mainstream system already invalidates non-white voices.

The response from major media outlets (if any) has been that the 3 Muslim lives stolen was not a particularly newsworthy event because the ‘shootings’ were the actions of a ‘mentally deranged’ (white) man angry about a car park. But minimisation of the crime that took place is an indirect mode of persecution. The mass persecution (direct and indirect) against all Muslim peoples practiced by a white dominated media is a manifestation of white terrorism. The executions carried out at Chapel Hill are the savage and soulless actions of a white terrorist.

Are we really going to ignore white terrorism?

Freedom: the front for exceptionalism

Twelve people were shot dead in France. That is indisputably a tragedy. France is mourning, as any nation would when their people are attacked and killed for doing what they believed in. It is an outrageous attack. Yet, I have some discomfort in the reference to these deaths as heroic. As if somehow there was a looming struggle that threatened to destroy any sense of freedom in the Western world, and those who were killed won the fight for our freedom. I imagine that to their family and friends the victims are actually heroes. I just don’t see how they are somehow more heroic than peoples fighting oppressive, violent and militant regimes. I may (probably will) be accused of insensitivity, and I get that. I really do. But hang on, isn’t this freedom of expression? Isn’t this an example of the‘No-one has the right not to be offended?’ argument, the right that all major media outlets and those hashtagging #JeSuisCharlie are claiming as an absolute and inviolable freedom?

Lets look around the world and at some recent events. On 7 January 2015,  37 people were killed and 66 injured in a bomb blast in Yemen.  The previous weekend, Boko Haram fighters are reported to have killed hundreds of people in Nigeria. Mexico, September 2014, 43 college students went missing in and are feared dead. On New Year’s Eve, a stampede in Shanghai killed 36 people.  All over the world, people are killed by crazed gunmen, or by militant or corrupt regimes while fighting for freedom from oppression. But their deaths are not commiserated with anywhere near the publicity we are experiencing with the Paris shootings, or even the Sydney Cafe shootings. And to be frank, the 12 victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings were not victims of oppression, and they were not heroes that gifted the world free speech (a little bit more on that below).

In countries such as West Papua, Palestine, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Mexico, Venezuela, Egypt, and many other countries (as alluded to above) hundreds of thousands of people have and continue to die fighting oppressive regimes – for their right to freedom. Yet, in the same Western media outlets that are proclaiming the inviolability of free speech and the heroism of their peers, the deaths of these freedom fighters and victims of oppression remain largely invisible. They are the nameless, the faceless, the unidentified bodies. They are dehumanised. There is no soft piece about their life, family, friends and work. They are the ‘other’. They are ‘collateral damage’. Just imagine if the victims in Paris were reported on as ‘collateral damage’. It would cause a Westwide shitstorm. Despite the fact that Charlie Hebdo already wear their freedom on the front cover of their own publication, these deaths are amplified as some kind of heroic act in the fight for freedom of speech. And it’s rubbish. They were bearers of that right and they knew it. This is not about free speech. This is about setting a pretext. This is Western Exceptionalism. And our media are complicit in it.



About Indigenous Peoples

Following last nights debate on ‘whether the New Plymouth District Council should have designated Māori Wards’, I thought it might be worthwhile posting my thoughts on the concept of Indigenous Peoples. Why? Because the persistent analogies to minority groups within the dominant group inadequately address the issue of what it means to be indigenous. This to be fair happened on both sides of the debate. The side opposed to Māori Wards attempted to ignore the colonial history and the downstream effects of colonisation on identity, representation and structural power differences. On the side in favour, attempts to get those opposed to reflecting on how different NZ society might have looked absent the women’s suffrage movement. I appreciate the angle Metiria Turei was taking, and I wholly endorse that sentiment. However, I think we need to be careful about lumping the rights of Indigenous Peoples in with marginalised sections of the dominant group. This is explained further below,

I am mindful that the concept of ‘indigeneity’ is itself controversial – including among those self-identifying as Indigenous Peoples. However, here is an [abridged] excerpt from a paper I wrote regarding Indigenous Peoples and International Trade Law, that sets out some of that literature, which I think is relevant to last nights debate.

 [From my paper: Enabling Indigenous Peoples Economies Through the WTO].

Indigenous Peoples represent around six per cent of the global population.[1] However, international recognition of Indigenous Peoples rights is a relatively new phenomenon.  Prior to World War II, attempts by indigenous representatives, such as Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana (Māori, Aotearoa New Zealand), to have their voices heard at the (then) League of Nations were denied.[2] Frustrated by the continued decimation of their human rights, Indigenous Peoples have embarked on what might be termed a renaissance. Although the mood or resistance has been building over the past three decades, evidenced by the creation of indigenous centric institutions within the United Nations system, the emergence and persistence of grassroots groups suggests a new progeny is born to carry the mantle of resistance through the next phase of globalisation.[3]

Etymologically, the word indigenous derives from the Latin indigenia meaning ‘sprung from the land’, ‘a native’ or literally ‘in-born’ or ‘born in (a place)’.[4] Others have interpreted its Latin roots as meaning ‘belonging naturally to the soil’.[5]The etymology provides a basis to formulate a legal definition but is weak on its own since it evades broader considerations necessary to make any definition meaningful, at least to those the definition is attempting to describe. It is also too wide, encompassing the rights of any person born in a particular place, thereby ignoring issues pertinent to the unique experiences of Indigenous Peoples and failing to capture the political history that renders the need for special recognition of indigenous rights. However, consensus on a formal definition in the literature has not been forthcoming, and attempts to define or to develop practical criteria for the legal recognition of Indigenous Peoples at international law, were either criticised for their assimilatory underpinnings,[6] or have lacked broad support to give any definition or characterisation any firm legal status.[7] While some descriptions incorporate distinct cultural and social factors, others attach significance to histories, language and political subjugation to the dominant culture.[8] One of the most widely cited descriptions of Indigenous Peoples, is the working definition, proposed by the Special Rapporteur on The Issue of Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples, Jose Martinez Cobo in what is commonly referred to as the Martinez Cobo Study.[9] The Special Rapporteur emphasised that Indigenous Peoples have ‘historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories’, and are ‘distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories’.[10] He also suggested they ‘are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems’.[11]

Prior to the Martinez Cobo Study, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had attempted to construct a definition in their Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Populations (No. 107) although it was criticised and later replaced by the Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (‘the Convention No. 169’)[12] due to the integrationist approach the earlier text advocated.[13] However, only 20 countries have ratified the new convention, which arguably minimises the legal significance it might have had at international law.[14]

Article 1 of the Convention No.169 distinguished Tribal peoples from Indigenous Peoples but affirmed that self-identification as Tribal or Indigenous was regarded as the fundamental criterion for determining the groups to whom the provisions of the Convention would apply’.[15] The Convention No. 169 definition is useful because recognises the adversity afflicting Indigenous Peoples, by incorporating the ideas of self-determination and the existence of a community will that existed prior to colonisation and still prevails – even if in a softer form than traditionally,  following a history of colonisation and its subsequent effects.[16] Additionally, it emphasises self-identification, consultation and participation, and anti-discrimination as core principles, [17] which supports the systems Indigenous Peoples have in defining their own ways of identifying as belonging to their particular indigenous group.[18]Although few countries adopted the Convention No. 169, no new definitions have emerged in international law to supplant it and while it only has legal effect for those countries that ratified the convention, it at least provides a supplementary reference to assist in international jurisprudence.

Arguably, the Convention is also broad enough to capture the many Indigenous Peoples of the world, but narrow enough to exclude groups or people attempting to disingenuously attain indigenous status. This co-opting of indigeneity is worth noting since it is used in various situations to negate the special status afforded to Indigenous Peoples within national legal frameworks. Given the language of co-option, that infiltrates the political landscape both locally and globally, [19] it is unsurprising that Indigenous Peoples consider definitional issues a matter of their own concern rather than that of States or international bodies.[20] This is a point to bear in mind when attempting to define, classify, or characterise indigenous rights. In reference to Māori Academic Ani Mikaere, attempts should be mindful of avoiding recreating the colonised in the image of the coloniser’ (emphasis added).[21]

Unfortunately, some pro-indigenous but non-indigenous individuals, groups or organisations who advocate on behalf of Indigenous Peoples can stifle Indigenous Peoples voices. This amplification of non-indigenous voices on indigenous issues prompted Chief Tashka Yawanawa of the Yawanawa tribe in Brazil to lament: [22]

We are tired of anthropologists, environmentalists, church-related organizations, and other specialists speaking for us and using us for their self-interest. Please respect our self-determination to make our own decisions.

As illustrated above, determining what constitutes ‘indigenous’ is both complex and contentious. However, Lindsay Short argues, it is ‘increasingly important as the international community moves towards greater legal recognition of indigenous legal rights’. [23] Short warns though of the unintended consequences of framing any legal definition too precisely, such that it potentially excludes certain communities the particular law was intended to assist.[24] A remedy to guard against the risk of accidental exclusion might be found in the work of Siegfried Weissner who suggests disaggregating human collectivities into ‘organic’ and ‘non-organic’ groups to appreciate the spaces Indigenous Peoples occupy.[25] He does this to emphasise that Indigenous Peoples are distinct from marginalised groups that ‘do not have the same interest in sharing all aspects of life’ and who are ‘primarily concerned about not being discriminated against by the ruling elites’ (emphasis added), as alluded to above, in part, in discussing the problems of pro-indigenous non-indigenous voices speaking on behalf of Indigenous Peoples.[26] Weissner suggests that organic groups make a conscious choice to live in a community together such as a ‘nation’ or as a ‘people’ (emphasis added).[27] He proposes that Indigenous Peoples are, therefore, inherently organic because they are ‘collectivities that are characterized by the desire and practice of sharing virtually all aspects of life together’.[28] Moreover, Weissner insists that classifying Indigenous Peoples as organic groups ‘facilitates inclusion in the legal regime of autonomy of not only indigenous communities with distinct territories, but also those [I]ndigenous [P]eoples who have lost most of their land base, thus constituting largely personal associations’.[29] Mikaere also appears to draw on this concept of ‘organic’ groups. She writes that the cumulative effect of knowledge building connects people to ‘their environment, and to one another within a framework of shared beliefs and understandings about the way in which the universe is ordered’.[30]


In the debate, the opposition referred consistently to the UDHR but mostly ignored UNDRIP. Winston Peters decried the use of racial attributes as justifications for representation.  Willie Jackson, in my view, made the strongest point in emphasising that the Māori Wards are not just about having people who have Māori ancestry, but are about having representatives that advance kaupapa Māori. His words resonate with the idea of conceiving of Māori (and all other Indigenous Peoples) as an organic group, not a marginalised sector of a dominant whole.

Recognising the rights of Indigenous Peoples as distinct from rights of marginalised groups is not about advocating a superior status. It is about recognising that Indigenous Peoples have rights as ‘a Peoples’. That dominant groups already exercise rights as ‘peoples’ in formulating, implementing and enforcing the rules that legitimised the formation of their States, constitutions, institutions and both national and international legal frameworks. These rights as a ‘Peoples’ are distinct from ‘individual human rights’.



[1]     United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples ST/ESA/328 (2009) at 7-8. [SOWIP]

[2]     SOWIP, at 2.

[3]    Megan Davis “International Trade, the World Trade Organisation and the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (2006) 8 Balayi: Culture. Law and Colonialism 1, at 1.

[4]     Douglas Harper “Indigenous” Etymology Online (accessed 18 October 2014) <>

[5]    Jagannath Dash and Rabindra Nath Pati “The Indigenous and Tribal People To-Day: Issues in Conceptualisation” in Tribal and Indigenous People of India: Problems and Prospects (APH Publishing, New Delhi, 2002) at 3.

[6]     International Labour Organisation Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Populations 1957 (No. 107), [ILO Convention No. 107].

[7]   International Labour Organisation Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples 1989 (No. 169) (entered  into force on 05 Sep 1991) [ILO Convention No. 169].

[8]     Lindsay Short “Tradition versus Power: When Indigenous Customs and State Laws Conflict” (2014) 15 (1) Chi J Intl L 376 at 380.

[9]     SOWIP, at 2.

[10]    United Nations Study of the Problem of Discrimination against Indigenous Populations E/CN.4/Sub.2/1986/7 Add. 4 (prepared by the Special Rapporteur, Jose Martinez Cobo) (1986/7), paras [379-382], [Martinez Cobo Study], as cited in SOWIP, at 15-16.

[11]    Martinez Cobo Study, at 15-16.

[12]    ILO Convention No. 169.

[13]    ILO Convention No. 107.

[14]    ILO Convention No. 169.

[15]    ILO Convention No. 169,

[16]    ILO Convention No. 169, art 1.

[17]    For example, see ILO Convention No. 169, arts 3 and 4 (on discrimination), and arts 6 and 7 (on consultation and participation).

[18]    For a general discussion see Natalie Coates “Who are the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and New Zealand?” (2008) 12 (1) Journal of South Pacific Law 49-55.

[19]   See for example Hon Trevor Mallard’s comments on attempting to proclaim indigenous status in parliament in 2004 amid the Foreshore and Seabed tension in New Zealand: (3 August 2004) 619 NZPD 14522

[20]   Short, at 380-381.

[21]   Ani Mikaere Colonising Myths and Māori Realities: He Rukuruku Whakaaro  (Huia Publishers, Aotearoa New Zealand, 2011), at 206

[22]    Tashka Yawanawa “Indigenous Leader to NGOs: No One Speaks For Us – Or Thinks For Us” Ecosystem Marketplace: A Forest Trends Initiative (online, Brazil, 19 October 2012) <; , as cited in First Peoples Worldwide “FPIC without FPIC” (online, 9 August 2013) <;.

[23]   Short, at 380.

[24]    Short, at 380.

[25]    Siegfried Wiessner “The Cultural Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Achievements and Continuing Challenges” (2011) 22(1) EJIL 121 at 128.

[26]    At 128.

[27]    Ibid.

[28]    Ibid.

[29]    Ibid.

[30]    Mikaere, at 317-322.

CTFL Bill: Submission

I made a submission today on the Counter Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill. I am mindful that I have not had a lot of time to give the text a great deal of contemplation, so some of the points raised may in fact be an overreaction and perhaps even misguided. Additionally, I have taken guidance/borrowed from others on many of the key points due to limitations on time. However, this is what happens when submission deadlines are so ridiculously short. This is also the first submission I’ve ever made, so the format is probably not great.


I oppose this Bill in its entirety for the reasons set out below.

1. Undemocratic process

I agree with the NZ Council on Civil Liberties that calls the process for making submissions on this bill ‘a farce’ and ‘a parody of good democratic’ practice.[1]

There is inadequate time for proper public consultation and for submitters to provide well-analysed and informed considerations.

The urgency under which the Bill is being passed is inconsistent with the language used in the Explanatory Note (‘The Note’) supporting the Bill. The Note indicates that the threat of terrorism is still very unlikely and that the threat level is ‘low’ which does not speak to the urgency this government is insisting upon.

This Bill must be withdrawn to allow for proper public consultation on the issues

2. Terrorism, Violent Extremism, and the slippery slope to Activism

The Note also indicates that the Bill is not restricted to ‘foreign terrorist fighters’ but also includes ‘other violent extremists locally, regionally and internationally’.[2] The Note states that ‘Government agencies have a watch list of between 30 and 40 people of concern in the foreign fighter context’ but that it also has another watch list of ‘30 to 40 on a list of people requiring further investigation’.[3] While the first group are alleged to be within the FTF context, that clearly does not mean those people pose an immediate threat or in fact any threat to NZ – as noted above, this government by its own admission says the threat is low despite it having 30-40 people on its FTF watch list.  Moreover, the manner in which violent extremism is covered under the UN resolution and the apparent extension of this to ‘people requiring further investigation’ is grossly excessive and beyond the requirements of the obligations set out in the resolution.[4]

There is no definition as to what this government considers ‘violent extremism’ which leaves the matter open to interpretation by the agencies invoking the powers provided and potentially places non-peaceful legitimate protest or activists in the grip of the SIS surveillance regime. The implications for freedom of expression have not been appropriately explored and the Bill must be withdrawn to prevent NZ from devolving into a Police State to quash any dissent.

This Bill appears to be built on the SIS experience of Operation 8, in which known activists and the communities within which they lived were subjected to excessive State force that has had a resounding impact on their lives.

This Bill simply legalises the activities carried out by the SIS during that operation, to avoid the Courts finding illegality in similar future cases. This is particularly obvious when in the Note, this government bemoans the fact that the SIS are currently not allowed to trespass nor install a visual surveillance device for the purpose of monitoring ‘people training with weapons’ – a direct reference to the language used by the SIS regarding Operation 8.

Since the Police and the SIS were unable to prosecute these activists under the Terrorism Suppression Act, the inclusion of the words ‘locally’ and ‘other violent extremists’ appears to have the purpose of extending surveillance powers to the activist community which is characteristic of an authoritarian regime.

3. Unwarranted Surveillance

The unwarranted surveillance for a 48-hour period is ambiguous. On the one hand, the Note says the SIS must meet the threshold for applying for a warrant before an authorisation is granted, but on the other hand implies that there need not be an intention to apply for a warrant provided there is an explanation provided after the fact. This suggests the ‘emergency’ of the authorisation is more about gathering intelligence that might provide grounds for a warrant application and effectively provides a free pass to the SIS to flout privacy laws for 48 hours.

4. Warranted Surveillance

The Bill proposes to infringe on property rights by legalising trespass for the SIS who may also install a visual surveillance device on private property and may keep any information they consider of interest once the warrant expires. That is incredibly broad and grossly intrusive.

5. Sunset Clause

The sunset clause implies this government don’t really believe the changes are appropriate but are creating loopholes for the SIS to gather intelligence on people without restriction, and unencumbered by the illegalities highlighted in the R v Hamed case concerning Operation 8 for the next few years.

6. Cancellation of Passport

Cancelling the passport s of New Zealnder’s who are overseas, leaves them stateless and those implications need to be properly investigated. As others have also pointed out, this provision appears to impose a ‘de facto sentence of exile by Ministerial fiat’.

Additionally, that this government can potentially render ‘suspected Māori’ stateless for a period of up to 3 years and consequently deny them the right to return to their turangawaewae, is surely in breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and this has not been properly addressed or explored.

7. Suspension of Passport

The temporary suspension of  passport’s infringes on the right to freedom of movement by allowing a Minister to determine if and when a person may travel internationally.

8. Secret Evidence

Extending the submission of classified evidence to Judicial Review proceedings is a breach of the principles of natural justice. That an accused person and their legal representative cannot challenge the evidence against them, is deeply unjust and undermines the credibility of the court system.

This government has also failed to take into account the consequences this legislation may have on social and cultural, religious minorities.

In particular, the Muslim community are likely to be unfairly targeted by the SIS given the Bill is anchored in the context of ISIL, ANF and Al Qaida. This builds on the stigma felt by Muslim communities and feeds the already existing Islamophobia in NZ. Moreover, the Bill could potentially alienate Muslim communities out of fear of being spied on ‘by association’.

The Government also have not considered that the Bill could incite a backlash if marginalised, minority and Indigenous groups are unfairly targeted by the SIS and the NZ Police under the extensive powers they are granted under this Bill.


Had there been more time available, I like other submitters may have also been able to better detail my concerns and give deeper consideration to the text of the Bill.

For all the reasons set out above, I oppose this Bill and request that it be withdrawn from urgency.

[1]NZCCL “Submission: Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill” (27 November 2014)

[2] Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill, Explanatory Note, at 1.

[3] At 1.

[4] UNSC Res 2178 at para 18.

Note: I gained a lot of assistance from No Right Turn’s blog which provided an incredibly succinct and helpful summary of the key contentions here:

The Labour Party and Māori

Not an exhaustive list but remember that time when:

  • Helen Clarke rammed through legislation so that Māori couldn’t test customary title claims to the Foreshore and Seabed resulting in the Hikoi
  • Annette King then Minister of Police, organised Operation 8 culminating in the lock down of Ruatoki and the detainment of the entire community, including the holding of children at gunpoint
  • Trevor Mallard tried to claim that he and in fact all New Zealand descendents of early settlers are Indigenous (that was around the time of the Foreshore and Seabed Act
  • Labour refused to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and rejected the government signing it in 2010
  • David Cunliffe explicitly questioned the ‘mental health’ of a Māori protester for the act of protesting not long after he had proclaimed the Labour Party to be the Māori party
  • Labour ruled out working closely, i.e. constructively with either MANA or the Māori Party should they be in a position to form the next government

Lastly, remember how:

Oh, if you don’t remember that, it’s because it just happened. Don’t forget that next time you think that Labour have the aspirations of Māori at the forefront of their policy. Two Māori, two Pasifika and 13 Pākehā representatives comprise the top 17 list placings. Also, note that there are fewer women now down to five from seven.

To be honest, I was surprised that there wasn’t a greater Māori presence in Labour’s front bench line-up. But I’m not sure why given the tenuous history between Labour and it’s seemingly consistent attitude toward Māori. It’s not just a slap in the face for Māori. It’s also a kicker for those Labour Party supporters who have been active advocates for Māori and other marginalised groups. Additionally, if this is the team the executive believe can bring Labour out of destruction mode then it should serve as a warning to Māori that mutual reciprocity of support is not exactly forthcoming.[1]


[1] Note, the National Party and the Greens (the other two bigger parties), are not largely different in terms of Māori representation in their top 17 places. There are three Māori in National’s top 17 and four in the Greens. Although to be fair to the Greens they also have a history of advocacy for Māori that shouldn’t be ignored.

Money is a Hallmark of Sovereignty

Incorporating Te Reo Māori as wide as possible is critical to the survival of our language. Initially, I’d thought it was great to see Te Reo increasingly used and recognised in formal institutions. Yet, I find myself in two minds about its inclusion on New Zealand’s banknotes and I wonder about the implications of incorporating Te Reo into the national monetary complex.

Money is a controversial topic in economics and in general. I don’t here pretend to be any kind of expert. However, I do think it is important to unpack the risks to Māori of our language being incorporated into the sovereign currency. Especially in the context of the Waitangi Tribunal’s recent finding that Māori never ceded sovereignty to the Crown when signing Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  A view already established by many Māori.

I do appreciate the Reserve Bank’s intention to be inclusive by acknowledging “Te Reo as one of New Zealand’s official languages”.  And I understand, for some people it’s just be words on a bit of a paper. For others, it may even strengthen the vision of  the ‘partnership’ between Māori and the Crown by putting te reo in perpetual circulation via paper money.  Others suggest it represents a step forward for race relations in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Personally, I’m not inclined to accept that it reflects partnership at all nor am I convinced its a ‘step forward’ for race relations. It reeks of status quo integration and arguably implies that Māori have no future interest in creating our own currency to reflect our  tino rangatiratanga status.  Additionally, there is an obvious power imbalance in the fact that only the Crown can decree banknotes legal tender and only the Crown can issue fiat money. Arguably, inclusion of te reo intends to remove the desire of Māori to push for rights over money creation that reflect our values and language. It’s a placative move by the economic powers to avoid discussions with Māori on sovereign currency. It spells out indirectly that there is no intention of Māori ever attaining power to create our own currency and we should just be satisfied with the tokenism of our language on Crown banknotes.

My concern in its most cynical form then, is that inclusion of te reo is intended to evade future discussions of the right of Māori to develop our own sovereign currency.

Perhaps the move by the Reserve Bank fosters the idea that sovereignty in Aotearoa New Zealand is not restricted to the Crown, but is inclusive of Māori. However, that view would be inconsistent with the Reserve Banks comments which were clearly about language recognition. So I doubt any broader intention can be drawn from such a clear act of tokenism. As such, I think that the Reserve Bank proceeded with their decision to incorporate te reo prematurely. They ought to have consulted with Māori on the broader implications of incorporating Te Reo Māori on banknotes allowing time for discussion, debate, and submissions. Merely seeking advice from institutions about which words were most appropriate simply wasn’t enough. Of course, I may be stretching it a bit in presuming that the Reserve Bank’s actions actually limit the development of a Māori currency. However, as is often the case, intentions can be contextualised through surrounding circumstances and it is precisely the lack of consultation, the avoidance of addressing the wider implications, and the symbolism embraced by an industry that peripherises Māori, that drew out my inner-cynic.

Why I am taking exception? Perhaps, I am overthinking it. But money is a hallmark of sovereignty.  And given our sovereignty was recently recognised by the Waitangi Tribunal I wanted to draw attention to the connection between money and sovereignty as an issue that requires further consideration by Māori in this context.