What to make of this?
The MP of Waiariki, thinks that to implement the Treaty of Waitangi, Parliament should have 50% representation from Tangata Whenua and 50% representation from Tangata Tiriti. Presumably his reason for doing this is because it "isn't fair" that a majority, in a liberal democracy, without constitutional limits on power, effectively mean the tyranny of numbers. This is a view that on the face of it, I sympathise with.
Anyone who thinks a democracy can protect the rights of people under any jurisdiction, in itself, is a fool. So he has a point... perhaps if liberal democracy in New Zealand actually protected individual rights (which include the right of any group of individuals, such as Iwi, Hapū or Māori in general to organise on voluntary grounds), including property rights, then Waititi and his supporters could avoid fearing some sort of backlash, racist or otherwise, against living your life peacefully.
However my fear is that he doesn't really just want to be left alone, but actually wants to wield power much more widely, (although I am open to being proven otherwise, as he is far from being a conventional politician).
It's important to know what it means to want a 50/50 Parliament with half of the representation being Māori and the other half Tangata Tiriti, because according to his colleague, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, it isn't the population being split in two, it's the population being split in three.
Before you jump to the conclusion that this is simply a nationalist grab of power that has nothing to do with liberal democracy, you need to understand it isn't just about race, it's actually about political belief as well. You might assume Tangata Tiriti are the people who are entitled to live in Aotearoa because the Treaty of Waitangi established a framework to enable peaceful co-existence between Māori and settlers, but apparently not.
Writing in the NZ Herald, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer (list MP), claims the population of New Zealand is classified into not two (!), but three types of people:
- Tangata Whenua (people of the land. Māori);
- Tangata Tiriti (people of the treaty); and
- Everyone else.
Ngarewa-Packer wrote rather obliquely what she meant by all three groups in that same article. It's worth quoting to get the gist of her meaning:
Tangata tiriti are people who don't argue the existence of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as our founding document. They promote the partnerships it intended, moving away from transactional engagements, preferring lifelong relationships.
They are secure in themselves and know we are equals, one as tangata of the whenua (people of the land) and one as tangata of the tiriti (people of the treaty). ...
Tangata tiriti understand te tiriti didn't create special rights for Māori - we already had Māori social structures and systems of lore in place....
They're comfortable loudly declaring they're recovering racists, and they teach anti-racism, extremely secure in knowing their place side by side with tangata whenua ushering in a new Aotearoa.
Tangata tiriti accept and appreciate the reason they live in Aotearoa is because te tiriti gives them citizenship and mana equal to tangata whenua. This doesn't denounce their own culture, it strengthens their stand on the whenua they've chosen to live on.
So it's not just about not being Māori, you have to buy into a whole ideological set of beliefs and views to earn the status of Tangata Tiriti. This includes accepting the reason you get to live in NZ is because the Treaty gives you citizenship on the land you've "chosen" to live on.
The fact you may have been born here (or indeed your parents were as well) and may be born of any mix of ethnic or migrant origin is irrelevant to her. Identify as Māori, and you have an automatic right to live in Aotearoa, but if not, you have "permission". It's not "blood and soil" nationalism, but it certainly isn't "equal".
It is akin to granting someone a residency visa, you should be grateful "we" let you stay, but your entitlement to stay depends on you behaving.
Part of it is that you need to embrace the Māori nationalist version of "original sin". No matter your background or your thoughts or deeds, or being English, Pasifika, Chinese, Jewish, Indian in descent you are a "recovering racist". You must admit it, and preferably evangelise to others about your and their racism, and of course your "privilege". Although it's unclear if being distantly descended from settlers in the 19th century who occupied land taken from Māori is more privilege than having fled Vietnam on a boat in 1976.
So that's your path to being Tangata Tiriti, although it's far from clear how that could be policed.
Of course, like mild nationalists, the definition of the "other" group is more by inference. It's everyone who doesn't support this view of the New Zealand constitution or the rights of citizens or politics. If you don't think you are racist, don't think you have NZ citizenship as of right, rather than permission, and don't buy into Māori-only seats at local government, then you're the others. You're not Tangata Tiriti, you are racists and possibly white supremacists ("white" being quite a wide definition presumably). There isn't much tolerance in the Ngarewa-Packer world for debate and discussion about the role of the state and individuals.
The whole ideological foundation of this is not one that treats the smallest minority as the individual, and individuals each with indivisible rights and freedoms, but one that collectivises everyone into groups, each with different rights.
Now I have quite some support for Māori wanting control over their own affairs, including their property and to run their own institutions, as long as it shrinks the central government role (and taxation alongside it), it's all consistent with my philosophy. I really don't care if Waititi or Ngarewa-Packer and others want to live their lives in peace with businesses, schools, hospitals etc. I don't care about your race or background if you want to do that, I want a state that simply protects us from each other.
but I do care if the purpose of this is to create an ethno-nationalist defined autocracy, where some citizens are more equal than others. Even if the Tangata Tiriti category is magnanimously expanded to just mean everyone who isn't Tangata Whenua, it still destroys equality before the law and government. A government which gives more weight to your votes because of your ancestry is a racist government, it doesn't treat people as individuals, it treats them as members of collectives, and that's a path that leads to tyranny.
It's certainly not a view held by any other political party in Parliament, I should hope.