“As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance, and equality of all citizens before the law prevail.”

Those were the words of Albert Einstein, who fled Nazi Germany in 1933 to live in the United States.

How many of the record 55,000 Kiwis who have “fled” New Zealand over the last few months, have left to escape the racism that is now dividing our country?

Using the “by Maori, for Maori” banner and the slogan “what’s good for Maori is good for the country”, the iwi elite have been extraordinarily successful in persuading successive governments to progress their separatist agenda.

Their tribal takeover is not limited to delivering social services — many of the country’s institutions have been ‘captured’ including much of the mainstream media, some of the highest echelons of the Judiciary, the vast majority of our universities, and most State Sector agencies.

The new Government’s attempt to push back against this widespread racism was recently on display when Cabinet agreed to remove proposed Treaty provisions that would have given Maori prisoners cultural privileges not available to others, from the former Labour Government’s Corrections Amendment Bill.

Since the Minister justified the move on the basis that measures are already in place to support ‘Maori’ prisoners, it is clear that ridding the system of racial privilege is going to be a massive job.

Over the last few weeks, the scandal over the Maori Party’s alleged misuse of private Census and vaccination data for political purposes highlights the danger to government agencies of prioritising Maori rights over those of other New Zealanders.

The accusations, which include the use of inducements to pressure families into not only completing Census forms, but also registering on the Maori Electoral Roll — and voting for the Maori Party — have hit right into the heart of our voting system.

While multiple inquiries have now been launched, the problems are systemic and warrant a deeper investigation into the politicisation of data that’s used to influence the outcome of elections.

The Prime Minister appears to agree, saying the allegations “go to the heart of trust and confidence in our democratic processes and institutions. It is critical that New Zealanders can trust that when their personal information is given to government agencies, it is held securely and used only for proper purposes.”

He wants reassurance that government agencies are not only managing data appropriately but are “managing conflicts, real or perceived, in the right way”.

And he wants to rebuild public confidence: “There must be independent oversight of the whole picture of government agency activity. Agencies shouldn’t be left to review these allegations themselves.”

He’s right. This scandal reinforces growing concerns over the iwi leaders’ capture of public institutions under the Hipkins-Ardern Labour Government. Given most, if not all, of the agencies caught up in the Maori Party scandal are compromised through partnership arrangements with iwi leaders, there are real concerns that decisions are no longer being made in the public interest, but in the best interests of iwi.

Even the Electoral Commission, which is at the centre of allegations that they received complaints about questionable activities of the Maori Party before the election and did nothing, have embedded an iwi framework, when one would have thought that of all government agencies, the one running our elections should have stood fiercely independent and resisted all attempts at politicisation. 

Similarly with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which, although “independent” of government and expected to “act in a politically neutral manner”, ‘partners’ with Maori and is “embedding Te Ao Maori perspectives into our work.”

How can New Zealanders have any trust in the Public Sector when their underlying objective is to promote the agenda of iwi leaders — including their bogus demands to occupy privileged positions around governance tables.

Statistics New Zealand, the gatekeeper of government data, has gone even further down this track. In 2019 they established a co-governance agreement with iwi leaders to “co-create and co-develop data design across the public sector” — and to ensure “key data gaps for Maori are identified and resolved in partnership with Maori.”

The Iwi Chairs Forum had embarked on their path to control data in 2016, when they established a Data Iwi Leaders Group. Their aim is Data Sovereignty, an initiative of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “Tribal communities must not only dictate the content of data collected about them, they must also have the power to determine who has access to these data”.

The motive of iwi leaders is obvious: Data is power — ‘control the data and control the narrative’.

When Labour became Government in 2017, the iwi objective of control of Maori data was prioritised: “Maori shall decide which Maori data shall be controlled (tapu) or open (noa) access.”

Arrangements with the Ministry of Education for Maori student data were established in 2019. And through the Maori Descent and Iwi Affiliation Data Protocols, the Ministry of Health progressed iwi ambitions: “The collection, sharing, access to and use of iwi affiliation data is managed by the Ministry of Health. In the spirit of partnership, the aim is to transfer governance and management of the system to Maori.”

A poor response to the 2018 Census, which had resulted in a delay in the release of Maori statistics, led to Stats NZ engaging with the Iwi Leaders’ Data Group in 2019 to reconstruct the Maori data.

Maori data has undergone major manipulation over the years through legislative and administrative changes that have significantly benefitted tribal activists.

Prime amongst those was the way in which being a ‘Maori’ was defined.

The 1953 Maori Affairs Act defined Maori as having half or more Maori blood. However, concerns of tribal leaders about declining numbers, led to a change in the 1974 Maori Affairs Amendment Act to ‘self-identification’. The ‘Are you a Maori’ test became: “Maori means a person of the Maori race of New Zealand and includes any descendant of such a person”.

Before the law change, the 1971 Census had the number of Maori at 289,887, up 40,000 from the census before. As a result of self-identification, the 1976 Census numbers increased 66,000 and have continued to rise ever since.

Nowadays the Census not only reports on cultural identity, asking respondents to select the ethnic group or groups with which they identify, it also asks whether they are of Maori descent by having a Maori ancestor — no matter how remote. Those that disclose even the faintest trace of Maori ancestry are categorised as Maori and asked to identify their iwi.

This data is significant. While the response to the ethnicity question is usually used for population statistics, the response to the descent question is not only used to justify increasing influence and more government funding, but it determines the number of Maori seats in Parliament.

Until 1996 the number of Maori seats — a relic from the early days of Parliament when most people couldn’t vote — was set at four. However, with the advent of MMP, electoral seat calculations were based on Maori descent data from the Census, along with the results of a Maori Electoral Option, where voters could choose the General Roll or the Maori Roll.

As a result of these changes, the number of Maori seats increased to five in 1996, six in 1999, and seven from 2001.

In an article outlining how the Maori seats are calculated, electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler explained that an administrative change to the way Maori descent data was calculated in 1997, resulted in an unexpected increase in the number of Maori seats:

“The Government Statistician decided he’d do things differently. The change wasn’t preceded by an amendment to the Electoral Act, or the Statistics Act, but was simply something he decided would be sensible. This process of ‘imputing’ Maori descent to people who give unclear answers to the census question increases the number of Maori seats. The change in approach was the reason there were seven Maori seats in 2001, instead of the six we would otherwise have had for the last fifteen years.”

As a result of imputing, if someone doesn’t provide a clear answer to the Maori descent question in the Census, their answer is administratively re-assessed. That first year of imputing led to an increase in the Maori descent population in the final 1996 Census result of 48,000. In the 2001 Census, the increase was 66,000, and in 2006 it was 77,000.

If we fast forward to the 2023 Census, we find the re-assessment process has become more sophisticated. Not only is imputation still used, but so too is data matching using government databases, and, as a result of the partnership Stats NZ established with iwi leaders, iwi records.

The result is a significant increase in the number of Maori: while 723,051 respondents indicated Maori descent in the Census, after re-assessment a further 255,195 were added, leading to a total of 978,246 and the claim that almost a million New Zealanders are Maori.

All of this raises serious ethical questions for the new Government.

Should iwi leaders be involved in the collection and analysis of personal data when they have a significant vested interest in the outcome of the Census?

Should Stats NZ have even formed a partnership with iwi, let alone given them access to Census data?

Should iwi have been involved in delivering Census forms and helping people to fill them in, when the results have a direct bearing on the number of Maori seats?

Should Stats NZ have contracted Whanau Ora to deliver the Census, when the Chief Executive, John Tamihere, is the President of the Maori Party?

The answer to these questions is surely ‘No’.

There is now a huge question mark overhanging the reliability of Census and electoral data, with concerns the process has been manipulated for political purposes.

Iwi should not be anywhere near Stats NZ. Their co-governance arrangement should be discontinued immediately — as should all co-governance arrangements and partnerships in the wider State sector.

Having robust and reliable data is critical given the significant benefits that accrue from the numbers. The make-up of our Parliament depends on it.  

That of course leads into the bigger question about the relevance of the Maori seats. That question is even more important when the data used to determine the number of race-based seats is tainted.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, the former Judge and Law lecturer Anthony Willy, thinks it’s time for a referendum on the future of the Maori seats — and he reminds us that their abolition was recommended by the 1986 Royal Commission on the Electoral System if MMP was introduced:

“The recommendations of the Commission were implemented by referendum conducted in 1993, but the Maori seats were left in place.

“Currently there are seven Maori electorates in Parliament. Six are held by persons claiming Maori ethnicity and who belong to the ‘Maori Party.’ Notwithstanding widespread calls for the abolition of the Maori seats no member of the coalition has shown any inclination to table legislation to that effect.”

Anthony Willy believes, “There is no better time for the Coalition to call for a public referendum on the continuation or repeal of the Maori seats.”

And he’s right.

The Maori seats have been politicised and manipulated beyond recognition. And given the serious over-representation of Maori in Parliament they now deliver, it’s time they were removed.

New Zealanders have never been asked whether we want our country divided by race.

Do we really want to live in a society where different rights exist for different racial groups — or would we prefer to live in a country “where civil liberty, tolerance, and equality of all citizens before the law prevail”?

If the latter is the case, then New Zealanders deserve to be asked whether the race-based cancer infecting the heart of our democracy should be removed. 

This article was originally published on nzcpr.com on 16 June, 2024. 

Our Contributor


Share This

One Comment

  1. Avatar
    Annie Wallace June 28, 2024 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I'm a Kiwi citizen, born in NZ, who returned to NZ five years ago after many years living in my husband's country. I have been shocked and bewildered to find that in many ways NZ is no longer a democracy, and that I'm considered undesirable by many because of the colour of my skin, my faith, my occupation, and my financial status.
    I've been blamed for Maori death and cannabilism at the hands of other Maori because, supposedly, my ancestors sold guns to Maori. I've had Maori people refuse to stop whitebaiting on my property because their ancestors lived in NZ long before mine did, and that gave them the right to do whatever they wanted on my property.
    Thank you for your clear, factual explanation as to how this change has crept in.

Leave A Comment