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Brian Monks

Racist Water Claims

Control and Management of Public Water
The current effort on channelling water into racial interests and control should be seen for what it is. A sincere but misdirected grab by a minority. With cool heads a  reasoned and timely exit from this diversion should be delivered as an essential public advance. Let’s go for unity of purpose not split us apart. And it should not be beyond our will or wit to still encompass varying views.

This submission seeking balanced progress is necessarily long. Stick with it. Being too vital to be understood with a curt dismissal.

Since well intended initiatives in the 1970s and 1980s inept government policies and actions have increasingly inflamed NZ race relations. We have pursued a zero-sum game. With little chance of genuine satisfaction for society at large. Worse, opposing views are being corralled and quarantined into non-engaging corners. Brick walls erected. No one is winning from this.

Additionally over the last couple of decades or so I have watched with mounting alarm the increasing trend towards a distancing exercise demonstrated by central government. One regular example of this favoured by Wellington is to launch under-examined concepts and proposals - with even more opaque aims - and then flick the task to local government. Shoving application and responsibility on almost eighty separate bodies to each invent a misshapen wheel. (Features of the multi-billion disaster of leaky homes being a glaring example.) The scattered and uncoordinated objective is then charged to ratepayers. Who are effectively driven from contributing and achieving the best collective benefit. They switch off. Why? Because in New Zealand central government can rely on the average citizen being ill informed, generally disinterested, and inactive regarding civic responsibility. Pretty largely limiting their engagement to three yearly sorties to the polling booth where they vote for the candidate/party they dislike the least. Focusing mainly on who will give them the most. Aggravated in NZ by our application of MMP that results in just 2% of the electorate demanding, and getting, executive attention and enforced public impact on the subject of this article.

So New Zealand gets what it deserves?
In more volatile societies disagreement may become violently evident quite early. While here we tend to suffer in silence. Ultimately, what is the more dangerous? Also central government attempts at consultation are invariably costly failures and deceptions. The Sir Michael Cullen ‘consultation’ on constitutional change  demonstrating this disregard for the 85% public who fund the race based compensation objectives. Again, many claim this is deliberate - so that the public get totally fed up with the charade and disengage. Government, central and local, then ramming the self-inflicted far reaching and cumulative social penalty through. The public may wake up but by then it is a done deal. Officials, public servants, and contractors then knowingly (?) attempt to implement fatally flawed policies. Unsuccessfully. Politicians running for cover from any responsibility for operational failings - even though they created the fundamental policy and process in the first place. The inevitable scandals then dealt with by cascades of formal, and expensive, enquiries. The concept of systemic failure being deliberately misunderstood. With accountabilities submerged.

Who Wins?
Shamefully, after decades of example regarding race based proposals and corrective actions the key benefactors are not the end run part Maori struggling to make a living at the bottom of the pyramid. But in many cases gains are limited to the only very partly-Maori leadership apparatus that have cornered the negotiating and reward market. Who also staff the race based pressure groups comprising state funded ring-fenced research and enabling agencies to pursue their goals. Additionally there are squadrons of expensive lawyers, consultants and contractors. All funded by the sleeping taxpayer, ratepayer and consumer. These folk, well placed to gain the ear of politicians, tell them what they want to hear and then very greatly benefit from the chaos injected and imposed.

While the politicians can rely on the Silent Majority remaining just that. Yes, the race annihilating slaughter of the pre-1840s era was replaced by a less than perfect alternative. There were faults from a variety of perspectives. Over the next near 200 years corrective efforts were made. With varying success. But these have been permitted to become counter productive and increasingly divisive. In spite of the massive investment over recent decades not a single negative race based statistic has been reversed - except for the smoking weakness. While any critique of this situation is branded rabid racism. We are on a highway to self delusion.

Our Strengths Undermined?
Compared to the rest of the current world we are in an enormously privileged situation. Much of it is ripping itself apart. Historically we had the massive benefit of lifting ourselves from stone age violence and standards of living by hitching ourselves to the opportunities presented by association with the world’s very first industrialised state. From 1840 in just two or three generations we sat second or third in the then world per capita standard of living. Yes, there were stumbles and bumbles - all fixable by a willing and committed public endeavour. But we now seem hell bent on dumping the advantages and creating a stack of problems for ourselves? No one denies that effective and successful government, both central and local, is becoming an increasingly tricky business. But why lurch towards making matters far worse?

This recent NZ pursuit of reverse apartheid features being justified on the basis that the possession of a single drop of Maori blood makes one a permanent and helpless victim in the 21st century. No matter the origin of the problem. Or individual responsibility. While entitlement rules? Nearly 200 years of opportunities being regarded as comprising only immovable barriers for part Maori? But now with solutions being achievable only by the erection of even more impenetrable racist fences? With little linkage possible between policy, funding, democratic approval, implementation, standards, monitoring and accountability in such a split structure. Unless separatism is the aim? Funded by whom? Rebranded colonialism in concept, application, and aspects of accountability?

Meanwhile the sleeping NZ public is being deceived by the subterranean takeover of a vital natural resource. For here we go again. We already have looming problems with fresh water supply, distribution and quality. No sane government would waste time compounding the problem? But Wellington is flicking the task to local government - already under stress with existing tasks and budgetary problems. Central government seemingly saying to local bodies “……. hey catch this. We think you have got a bit of slack capacity and local input looks good to the punters ….. so how about interpreting what it is we have in mind regarding the control and provision of water throughout your area ….. and dream up some form of co-governance with the resident iwi…… “ And remember the concept of ‘iwi’ is a recent administrative creation. Certainly not traditional.

But the situation gets worse. This latest costly diversion that has been sent up from Wellington is the shallow idea that only some of us in this land have physical and emotional dependency on water. Further, the minority relationship is sacred and exclusive. We have state funded authorities, including the Waitangi Tribunal, comprising groups of worthies who put up such kites without even a smile of their faces! Knowing the ultra PC governors of this country will run away from their collective responsibilities for the common good. So the descendants of the 50,000 survivors of the Musket Wars claim a unique place in the history of the planet? Since the beginning of time no other person, animal or plant has had any equivalent dependency on water? Only 21st century part Maori have such a relationship? With Wellington leadership agreeing that such a situation is best implemented by surrender of water ownership to a minority with a co-governance regime?
Comprising general and elected legislators matched by race-based appointed ‘guardians’. The latter pursuing a unique sacred relationship but not accountable or fiscally responsible. Merely directors of unquestionable assertions and claims solely on racial lines?

Delusion Funded and Encouraged
The state education system has become a crusader for one-eyed interpretation of NZ history. While our highly PC social environment slams the door on balanced discussion. The application of reverse apartheid isolating opinion and input to only one perspective. Although funded by the other. An illustration of this danger to social cooperation and collective advancement is the skewed interpretation of ‘ownership’ that that has been allowed to emerge and now prevail. Prior to the establishment of law in these islands social conduct was influenced by lore centred on extended family groupings, the hapu - including the concepts of mana and reciprocity  encompassed by utu. Possession. use, and ‘ownership’ depended upon occupation and defence by swinging a club, and subsequently by musket. Or marrying off daughters. ‘Common’ land such as mountains, forests, rivers, the sea, and lakes were the welcomed and respected possessions of gods, spirits and ancestors. There is little chance any hapu could successfully, or according to customary lore, lay claim to and defend ‘ownership’ of a lake, forest, sea, beaches, entire length of a river, or  mountain. Let alone the airmass above, water column, or earth below. Only gods and spirits ruled here. While large tracts of previously secured occupied and used land in the Tamaki and Taranaki areas were abandoned during much of the forty year Musket Wars as far too difficult, and costly in blood, to defend. Auckland rose in a largely deserted scene. One of the reasons European settlement moved there. Prior to this the rule of law and ‘ownership’ did not exist in the modern sense. This is not an intention to disparage - merely a reflection of the realities of life that our predecessors created and endured here in a far off 200 years ago and more. When certainly not faced with the circumstances and opportunities evolving up to the 21st century. With new sets of challenges that now need answering.

Yet in spite of these realities it has been reported that the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group have made the following demands:

a. Title to all Crown owned river and lake beds and to the water column above to be        transferred to regional tribal groups.

b. Title to fresh water.

c. Guaranteed allocation of fresh water for all marae and marae housing.

d. Tribal participation at all levels of fresh water decision-making that may include        tribal representation on councils, joint management agreements, and                       co-management of waterways.

e. A $1billion fund of public money to build the capacity of tribes to implement fresh     water management and control.

f. An allocation of tradable water rights.

The Dogged Pursuit of Failure
Such government approach and state funded forums can be expected to produce these sorts of demands because the make-up and role ensures this result. They are single issue without counter balance internally or externally. New Zealand then gets what it deserves. Major expense with unworkable processes for the New Zealanders excluded from the judgement, but obliged to fund it. While unrealistic hopes become entrenched in the minds of the empowered minority. Neither party will be satisfied. False perceptions of victory may be spun in the short term but long term objectives will never be met by this approach. The inherent limitation that any attempt at stopping this cycle of unrealisable expectations and halting and fixing the matter is then assailed with vigorous but misdirected protest. With increasing difficulty to get off the counter-productive treadmill. And all along is the question “Is the target group for this activity actually getting any real value from the attempt?” After several decades there is little evidence the results have matched the effort, and costs. Both establishment and ongoing.

We have the entirely predictable shambles in Auckland of race based ‘government’. That its author Rodney Hide has eventually admitted was a grave error. Not long ago Tainui, in addition to scores of millions compensation to a non-Treaty signatory with a separatist history was granted $1,000,000 of public money every year for thirty three years for ‘attendance fees’ to perform co-governance of the Waikato River. What does this actually mean? What is involved? Standards? Accountability? To whom? Indeed, what is the aim? Effectiveness to date? What has been achieved that the application of usual democratic processes could not? If the management, unitary or otherwise, of the Waikato River was so deficient in the past what delinquent decision-making process arrived at ill-defined co-governance as a best solution? For 21st century operation - but dominated by 19th century lore?

Commentators have been remarking for many years how lucky we are with our water resources for national, regional, agricultural and domestic purposes. Let alone power generation. Internationally, water is now recognised as a very significant strategic asset. It will be increasingly coveted by others. Added to this, non-state elements in the Middle East have extended their terror elsewhere. We can expect water to be increasingly the focus of conventional conflict and now a weapon and objective for strategic terrorism. Climate change adding to the significance. Don’t screw up the policy, administration, investment, ownership, and value of this essential national interest. It does not need complicating. Any notion of racial based ‘co-governance’ is a guaranteed wrecking ball. Don't start swinging it. Scenarios centred on such threats and events are easy to author.

The negligence that underpins this situation is aggravated by the distraction of the flag dictate. While the water, and related race based problems, are complex real and long overdue for constructive attention New Zealand is sent off on a side-track flag issue. Another example - while spending $26 million on a flag choice we are spending another fortune on highlighting the long evident impact of domestic violence and then simultaneously chop the operation of a highly relevant and very long established marriage counselling service because of funding shortfalls! Is anyone awake in Wellington?

Let’s Lift Our Game

The conclusions from closed door meetings at local and central level with only selective interests present are then shot at the public in a cloud of spin. It is very difficult to identify the scale of concern. While vox pop polls tend to reinforce government self-delusion through contrived questions there are numerous informal public polls and talkback that convey opposing scary messages. There is a very great deal of misinformation, concern and anxiety about some of the issues facing New Zealand. But there is even more concern about the steps taken, and not taken, by politicians to deal with these challenges. Our priority for national solidarity focus and pride of success seems limited to resounding victory on the sports field? Sure, in a progressive democracy we should never try to get everyone on exactly the same page. Nor desire it. But is it too much to expect that we do a great deal better than we are?

A danger from the tone of this message is that it be dismissed as a towering rant. The trouble in New Zealand in recent decades has been the public perception that Wellington is not the slightest bit interested in what the public really feels. It can call on vast resources to get what it wants. Yet there is an arrogance that pervades its ideas and delivery. In all sorts of fields. For the citizenry loudly jumping up and down seems to be only avenue open to gain attention. In my experience anything less is ignored.

Central government is being negligent. Roping local authorities in to share the inevitable blame is added cause for public distrust. Genuine attempts should be made by government, central and local, to assess the public attitude. An additional entry on the already planned but uninvited flag referendum should seek public reaction to race based water control, and ownership. And views on sneak moves securing race based local body make-up. Additionally, the RMA Section 33 and 36 provision for iwi to become resource consenting authorities should be repealed immediately.

The current blind march towards race based separation of selective elements of government is portentous and faces added complex challenges. Particularly if ratepayers feel they are out in the cold. Only confusing existing problems let alone addressing those that are emerging. Voters are alarmed at the negative anachronistic tribalism being created and funded. With scope for waste, corruption and creation of further social and economic problems. Ratepayers are concerned that local government already busy with demanding tasks is loading itself up with another set of hurdles? That will not fix the underlying issues. There is serious economic and strategic risk underlying the facade. New Zealanders need to be in step. Not encouraged to splinter and get restless. This is confrontational, and growing more so - ensuring effective solutions remain elusive. This is entirely unnecessary - we can do better than this.

New Zealand - wake up, change tack, and seek out progress. Shake your MP and Councillor.

Brian Monks
7 December 2015