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Pakeha and the Treaty of Waitangi: Why its Our Treaty Too

May 7, 2004

Patrick Snedden

A Pakeha Reflects on 30 Years Work with Maori Communities by Pat Snedden*

A public talk at St Columba's Anglican Church, Grey Lynn, Friday 7 May 2004


I had not thought in this talk tonight that I would say much about the foreshore and seabed. Positions for and against the legislation are so polarised at present that it is difficult to see what could be added that might suggest a different way this issue may be tackled. But some of you may feel justifiably short-changed if I didn't at least give you my view of some of the principles on which this matter might be advanced even though the Bill has now had its first reading.


So let me do so briefly. I would take you back to a talk I gave to the seabed and foreshore hui at Waipapa in February this year. The hosts wished for a Pakeha perspective and I obliged. My view has not changed since.


To deal with this issue we must return to the spirit and principled approach of our founding charter. Most importantly, the time must be taken to reach a result that leads to the enhancement of mana (honour, dignity and respect) of all participants. If either Treaty partner wins at the expense of the other then the issue will not be solved. If we have learnt anything in this last thirty years, it is that the past for Maori, is never forgotten.


What is more, all New Zealanders must be able to understand the substance of the resolution and a broad consensus will need to be gained in support. It will need popular sign-off by the people. It is a moment for the cultural and historical education about our nationhood, not a return to active denial of our history.


So how might the parties act in this matter?


- The Crown could acknowledge that it has not extinguished aboriginal title and could explicitly recognise Maori rangatiratanga in this matter and confirm support for the 1840 manawhenua position of tangata whenua in respect to foreshore and seabed


- Tangata whenua could acknowledge the unfettered sovereign right of the Crown to govern and the unfettered right of navigation and the non-commercial access to the seabed and foreshore for all New Zealanders.


- The Crown could invite Tangata whenua with manawhenua in a region to jointly manage the seabed and foreshore exercising their obligation jointly with the Crown of kaitiakitanga (guardianship).


- Tangata whenua could clearly agree that where there exists possible commercial development of the seabed and foreshore, those with manawhenua who have an explicit and beneficial interest would have to submit to conflict of interest provisions, and not vote in such matters.


- Tangata whenua would acknowledge that in the matter of commercial development of the seabed and foreshore they have no more or less than the same rights provided to all New Zealander citizens.


- Finally any solution must confirm the basic founding principle of our collective security as a people. That we can all expect to be treated the same way under the law and that we all have access to the law in the in a fair and transparent manner.



And what might such a resolution achieve?


* The Crown will have confirmed with absolute clarity its sovereign right to govern in all matters without qualification and all New Zealanders will have regained certainty about their unfettered access to the foreshore and seabed.


* Tangata whenua will have experienced their rangatiratanga as confirmed by the Crown, manawhenua recognised and aboriginal title retained. In addition their joint management of the resource is confirmed with the Crown in all matters of a non-commercial nature thus ensuring the appropriate exercise of kaitiakitanga.


* For all new Zealanders, the commercial opportunities are exactly the same.


* And all parties will have the same rights of access and protection under the law.


Ask yourself the questions. Do the current proposals in the bill before the house enhance the mana of all parties? Do they operate within a win/win paradigm? Can most New Zealanders understand them? Do they derive from recognition that we are all the same under the law? Will they in their current form lead to a durable solution?


If your answer is 'no' to any of these questions, then we might have a problem. The hikoi turnout on Tuesday suggests that one party at least to this process is naming that problem. It need not be so. We have the ability to constructively resolve this issue.


My challenge to New Zealanders, most particularly my fellow Pakeha, is simple. Let us commit to a fair and equitable resolution. We have it in our power to do so.


What does this say about us all belonging within Aotearoa/New Zealand?


The conduct of this debate does bear on our knowledge of our cultural selves, our history and our Treaty. It goes right to the heart of our sense of belonging, particularly as Pakeha. A recent experience of mine will illustrate what I mean.


A couple of months ago I called a cab to go to town. The driver made to head off in a direction that I didn't expect. E te alu ifea? (Where are you going?) I said in my best and only Samoan. He nearly leapt out of his seat hearing this from a palagi and we both fell about laughing. How had been his morning, I asked. Busy, he replied, taking people to the cricket test at Eden Park.


Oh, the Pakeha hui, I said. What do you mean, he responded with eyes raised. Well, it goes on for five days, everybody gets fed at least twice a day, there's lots of controversy, for long periods nothing seems to happen and then suddenly people seem to be at each other's throat. In the end they shake hands and mostly it ends in a draw. Sounds like a hui to me, I said. He had the grace to chuckle.


There's only one place in the world where that conversation could have taken place and be understood inclusive of all its cultural nuance. That place is here.


What therefore does it say about belonging?


Let me talk more of Eden Park. My great grandfather, Alexander Snedden was one of six Auckland businessmen who in 1903 purchased the swamp, drained it and turned it into a sports ground. Such has been our continuous connection over four succeeding generations that when members of our family played at Eden Park at either rugby or cricket, it was hard to escape the feeling that with this sporting whakapapa we had home advantage!


Now not all Pakeha have this same sense of ownership about our country. I read a commentator recently suggest Don Brash's speech at Orewa tapped at a very emotional level the sense of Pakeha feeling "strangers in our own land". In short we need to reclaim our sense of belonging.


Brian Turner wrote recently in the Listener asserting a deep and intimate Pakeha connection with the land, a connection denied he believed by many Maori, including Ranganui Walker, to whom he was responding. When Walker says, "I have been here a thousand years. You arrived only yesterday" Turner objects. This view, he says, very clearly denies a similar depth of feeling to almost everyone else. He fundamentally disagrees with a presumption about the way in which non-Maori feelings for land and water are dismissed as less heartfelt, less sensitive, less spiritual.


So am I, as a Pakeha, indigenous? Well, emotionally yes and technically no. For me to claim my 140 years of direct ancestry here is a source of pride and this is my home. But can I fairly claim to be indigenous in the same way as Maori who have been here from around 1300 AD? To do so would be to sideline 500 plus years of Maori experience prior to my forebear's arrival. What's more my forebears were not the first people to settle here, an important element of the definition. So to claim to be indigenous in the same way as tangata whenua is unfair and technically it is not factual. And if there is one matter that we need to do today is to stick to the facts.


But nor do I wish to tug my forelock in this matter. As Pakeha we claim our belonging through being descended from the settlers who agreed the Treaty. The same Treaty that by joint agreement of tangata whenua and tauiwi, gives all subsequent migrants and their communities the right to call this place their own. The importance of this cannot be understated. It was the Maori Land Court Chief Judge Durie in 1990 who first described Pakeha as tangata Tiriti, those who belong to the land by right of the Treaty. It is our unimpeachable security, our right to belong passed from generation to generation.


On one side of my family my migrant ancestors arrived at Port Albert near Wellsford in the 1860s. They became farmers. At the Port Albertland wharf there is a plaque thanking Ngati Whatua for their assistance in settlement and acknowledging that without that they would not have survived.


Today we are shaped by a set of cultural reflexes toward the land, our environment and as my taxi driver conversation shows, the interaction between Maori, Pakeha and Pacific peoples that exists nowhere outside of this place. And increasingly, especially in Auckland, our population is playing host to many new communities and will continue to do so. For the vast majority of us tauiwi, most especially Pakeha, we no longer have a bolt-hole to escape to anywhere else in the world that accepts us as their own. I have visited the heart of my Irish and Scottish roots and except for the most surface of acknowledgement they did not see anything of themselves in me nor me in them.


I am here in Aotearoa New Zealand for good because I have nowhere else to go. And I am content with that.


My view is that it is this concept that so many of us post-Treaty migrants have emotional difficulty with. We passionately and intuitively know we are not strangers in our own land, but we are unresolved as to how to describe ourselves.


Resolving this will help us deal with this current debate. Denying the distinct and different world-view of our Treaty counter-party will not satisfy this need. At present my observation is that Pakeha (and for that matter many new migrants) look at the Treaty as being not our Treaty but their Treaty, a method of leverage for resolving Maori claims. So once we finalise their grievances the relevance of the Treaty will be no more.


How much more satisfying would it be if we all claimed and acknowledged our own sense of belonging, different but authentic to its core, Treaty-based in its origins? Then this discussion would be quite different. The Treaty would become our Treaty and our behaviour in relation to the principles of that Treaty would be inclusive not exclusive.


How can we deal then with different worldviews or indeed a dual worldview?


We need this confidence in 'belonging' if ever we are going to relax about the different world-views that sometimes separate tangata whenua and tauiwi. The foreshore and seabed debate is the current point of tension. Why is this the case?


In the last week two examples may help us point to an answer.


The Sunday Star times carried a report of a poll that found Pakeha believed themselves more likely to experience racism in this country than Maori, but less likely than Asian migrants. This result, I suspect, would have been news to most Maori.


As a working definition, one might describe racism as prejudice plus power. In short it connects the dislike of a person or group because of their ethnicity with the ability to exploit that prejudice to the disadvantage of that person or group.


I don't in my experience remember any anecdotal experience of Pakeha friends or family who couldn't get a rental property because of their ethnicity. I have never heard of Pakeha not being able to get a bank loan because their ethnicity comes into the higher risk category relative to other borrowers. Nor have I read a news report of a Pakeha not being allowed to speak in court in the English language or say prayers in their own language at the hospital bedside. I don't remember hearing about a situation when members of my own ethnicity have been prevented from applying our cultural manners or standards of politeness in the welcome of strangers or colleagues into our business meetings or public gatherings.


By now you will got my general point. So what perceptions might this poll on racism be about? On a common sense basis it is hard to match its conclusions with the available evidence. So is it talking about something else then going on within the perception of Pakeha?


Is this indeed reflecting a view that some individual Pakeha are missing out versus some individual Maori? In cheaper primary health care perhaps, or in scholarships to medical school? Do we think Maori are getting preferential treatment from WINZ or Housing NZ? Is the idea of 'closing the gaps' a litmus test of this sort of racial preference?


Before I attempt to answer this let me go to my second example.


On the same day as the poll report I attended the opening of a new wharekai at Pukaki marae in Mangere attended by Dame Te Atairangikahu. There were perhaps 500 people present, 10 of whom were Pakeha. This was an occasion for the affirmation of manawhenua (tribal authority within a region) by the collective represented by affinal based kin groups known as tribes (iwi) or sub-tribes (hapu). This form of collective activity is happening every day in the Maori world, but as I had cause to reflect, it is only tangential to the world of those who are not Maori.


Here we have some of the clues to the puzzle.


There is a Maori world in existence that operates within collective structures (iwi/hapu) and has at its core expressions of rangatiratanga (chiefly authority/trusteeship) and manawhenua (tribal authority within a region). These collectives relate to other Maori and to the Crown and all its agencies in a way not paralleled with any comparable Pakeha cultural institutions and they have done so since 1840. What's is more these collective structures exist in perpetuity.


They are recognised by Article Two of the Treaty which explicitly affirms and acknowledges this leadership of the collective (rangatiratanga).


Pause to consider the impact of this for a moment. If those opposed to the Treaty deny rangatiratanga, it is an inescapable extension of that same logic that they are denying their own legitimacy to be here. For it was precisely by exercise of this collective rangatiratanga on behalf of their tribal groups that the chiefs consented to being a party to the Treaty with the British sovereign. Without explicit recognition of this rangatiratanga, so obvious both to their own kin groups but also to the British Government representatives, a Treaty could not have been agreed in the way that occurred.


As tauiwi we have an obligation to recognise rangatiratanga, because it provided us with the corresponding right of citizenship of this country. Clearly a subsequent denial of this legitimacy is not what any of us want. Nor should we be afraid of the implications of such recognition, which requires first and foremost acceptance and understanding, not the wholesale transfer of resources.


However our previous practice in this matter has not always been exemplary. Most Maori collective structures have for over a century prior to 1975 been largely ignored by the Crown, or dealt with remotely, through the Courts. Their presence has not therefore resided in the hearts and minds of our received Pakeha historical consciousness with anywhere the same force as they reside for Maori.


So therefore as a nation, when we come to pass judgement on the nuances of an issue like the foreshore and seabed debate the Pakeha mind goes to the rights, privileges and obligations of individuals and assumes this include Maori as well. Conversely the Maori mind goes to goes to the rights, privileges and obligations of collectives, and for Pakeha this counts as an extra, a benefit not available to themselves, a second bite of the cherry.


Perhaps it is not surprising therefore, that Pakeha start to feel Maori are getting one over them. But are Maori to blame for this sense of imbalance?


How does rangatiratanga work?


I suspect at the heart of this Pakeha sense of imbalance is this fear of rangatiratanga or tino rangatiratanga as it is often most commonly expressed. What could this mean if it is not a direct attack on the Crown's right to rule, the subtle undermining of the 'one law for all' concept?


In recent times it has been usual to juxtapose Maori sovereignty with Crown sovereignty, both in direct competition for precedence. It does not have to be so. There is evidence that the original intent of the parties to the Treaty allowed for joint protection under the law but separate sovereignty over assets and taonga. If this was the case are there contemporary examples of this working today? The answer is yes.


The story I wish to share with you tonight turns on the examination of rangatiratanga exercised, lost and then recovered. My experience at Orakei with Ngati Whatua suggests such an idea is not beyond us. Some of you may have heard or read of my summary of the Orakei experience and the founding of Auckland previously. I will not repeat it here.


Suffice to record that Ngati Whatua o Orakei, the once proud people of the Tamaki isthmus, at 1840 holding sway over the whole of Auckland; the people who invited and induced Hobson to Auckland to form the seat of government; were reduced in precisely 112 years to a landless few living off the state. By 1951 they were without a marae on which to fulfil their customary obligations and were left with a quarter acre cemetery being the last piece of land they could tribally claim as their own.


In his second claim before the Waitangi Tribunal Joe Hawke outlined the case relating to the disposal of the Orakei Block, the land ordered by the court in 1869 to be forever inalienable. The outcome was unequivocally in their favour and Bastion Point in 1991 was finally transferred back into Ngati Whatua's hand by Act of Parliament. The area vested included the whenua rangatira now known as Takaparawhau park and the smaller Okahu Park comprising the original papakainga and the foreshore.


(How ironic. This vesting of the title to the foreshore at Okahu Bay was completed under a National Government!)


The first thing it did was to give a huge chunk of Bastion Point back to Aucklanders. That's right, they gave it back to you and me for our unimpeded use. I refer to the most expensive land with the best views in all of Auckland. The land where Michael Joseph Savage rests. Ngati Whatua agreed to manage this jointly with the Auckland City Council for the benefit of all the people of Tamaki Makaurau.


What therefore is it that enables a people who sought for 150 years to get some form of justice that recognised their cultural destitution, to react in their moment of triumph with such generosity to those who had dispossessed them?


What underpins such an act of munificence? To put it simply; the recovery of the hapu rangatiratanga. What therefore has changed since 1991?


In practical and contemporary terms the Ngati Whatua hapu at Orakei is now once more in control of their own affairs as defined and expressed through their own:


* socio-cultural activities (related to housing, education, health and marae based activities)


* economic development (especially joint ventures where external finance and development expertise would be joined to hapu land), and


* political relations (such as agreements with central and local government and regional institutions and organisations)


The 1991 Act meant the full and unfettered return of their marae. The hapu had the chance to rebuild their wharenui and improve their facility to offer manaakitanga (appropriate hospitality) to honour their obligations to others within their rohe (tribal area), both Maori and tauiwi. It also provided the cultural locus for the tangihanga (ritual farewell of the dead) for those who have passed on, an absolutely fundamental reflection on hapu mana.


The Act also foreshadowed potential for a comprehensive Treaty and currently Orakei is in direct negotiations with the Crown.


Its social development extended to reaching agreement with Housing New Zealand as the Crown agent on the transfer of ownership of 100 state houses in the early 1990s along with the attendant deferred maintenance and mortgage. A focus on educational achievement now sees the hapu claim tertiary educated graduates to Masters and PhD level across many disciplines whereas pre-1987 such numbers with first level degrees were in single figures. On another front health services have grown to the extent that Orakei is today the most extensive Maori primary health provider in the Auckland region.


The economic development potential unleashed by this statutory recognition of manawhenua has transformed the quarter-acre hapu of 1951 to a significant land-holder, including significant parcels of downtown Auckland. The Crown in this time has provided two separate allocations of funds. One of these, $3 million, came as an endowment with the 1991 Orakei Settlement. On a second occasion the Trust received financial consideration for lifting the moratoriums on surplus rail land when the railways were privatised for Crown profit in the mid-1990s. The Ngati Whatua commercial presence in the marketplace is now recognised as substantial and saavy.


Recognition of manawhenua re-introduced Ngati Whatua into the political and cultural life of Auckland via a structural relationship with the Crown and its agents. Such a reintegration is evidenced by Orakei now playing host to every significant dignitary visiting Auckland including the presidents of China, Russia and the United States. This kind of public recognition had been almost entirely absent in their experience from the late 1870s. Successive generations of the hapu had seen their land and taonga disappear and with it their tribal manawhenua, so critical to the practical exercise of rangatiratanga. Today the restoration of mana is plan for all to see.


It is therefore precisely the process of this recovery that has re-ignited the capacity for the exercise of rangatiratanga. An essential feature of this rangatiratanga is that it relates to the group, not to the individual. In this respect the coherence of the group is evidenced by its size, its leadership, its marae base, its facility for manaaki and its relevance to other Maori groupings of similar kind along with its political relations with the Crown (and/or its agents). This has determined its capacity to exercise rangatiratanga. It has reached a kind of cultural 'critical mass'.


All this has been achieved without threat to the Crown's right of sovereignty. If this is possible with Orakei, why is it not possible elsewhere? I believe it is.


Now what are the substantial and usually 'silent' achievements under a Treaty-based process that new Zealanders can be proud of but usually no nothing about?


Over my years of work with Maori groups and communities I have come to a critical awareness of a central proposition. When the Treaty is working well the nation is prospering, full of confidence. When it is a matter of fundamental strain between Maori and Pakeha we lose vital momentum as a nation. We are in one of these troughs right now. We have been there before and emerged. But it need not be the case.


There are plenty of examples where observing the mutual respect for mana inherent in Treaty lifts the performance and outcome for all New Zealanders. Let me take you through three examples.


In the last five years I have been involved in two of New Zealand's most capital intensive building programmes; the rebuilding of the waste water treatment plant at Mangere in South Auckland and the rebuilding of the Auckland City Hospital. These projects have budgets amounting together to just under a billion dollars. Both projects represented opportunities for the sponsors and tangata whenua to engage in constructive discussions to enhance the project outcomes for all New Zealanders. The outcomes have been stunningly successful.


In the 1960s when the Mangere oxidation ponds were built, consultation with Maori was perfunctory. As a result the outcome was awful. Foreshore disappeared, shellfish were poisoned by toxic outflow into the Manukau harbour, the birdlife went away and the hapu with the marae on the foreshore saw their access to seafood disappear.


Today, the result could not be more transformative. The rebuilding of the plant has seen as part of the whole package the restoration of the foreshore and the enhancement of the environment for all recreational users. The birds and the fish have returned. It is safe to harvest and swim again. And the Tainui hapu (Te Ahi Waru) at Makaurau marae has been intensively involved in the reconstitution of this wonderful piece of foreshore.


Why has this occurred? Because the Resource Management Act required it in the first place and secondly, Watercare Services recognised having local Maori with manawhenua in this area involved from the beginning could only be advantageous for everyone. No big cheques, no scandals, just respectful understanding that the Maori insight to be incorporated into restoration of the environment adds a dimension that enhances the outcome for all New Zealanders.


Auckland City Hospital has experienced something similar. The rebuilding of the hospital provided an opportunity to think about how a Maori worldview on health might enhance outcomes for all users of the hospital facilities. So Ngati Whatua were involved at the early planning stages. They made a dramatic difference to the design of the mortuary by introducing a place for families to gather with the deceased. They made simple suggestions about hospital design that provided for a 'tupapaku route', a method of allowing families to remove their deceased relative from their place in the hospital down to the mortuary out of the public eye. This has been a great relief for all users of the hospital. The Maori perspective on respect for the dead has been embraced by all because it adds a dimension from which all can benefit. The hospital has clear and dignified signage in English and Maori showing how to find services you are after. Small but important symbols that show by their presence that living with dual worldviews can be celebrated. It need not be feared.


A third experience relates to the work of Health Care Aotearoa. It is a primary care health network with 55 providers nationwide, over half of whom are Maori owned services. The other services are Pacific owned and trade union or community clinics. I have worked as their business consultant since 1994, the year of its founding. This is a bi-cultural, not-for-profit network that provides first level primary care for 150,000 patients, the majority of whom are on low incomes.


There are over 300 staff employed throughout the independent providers and they are all sign on aware of the Treaty thrust of this network. For many of them this is a new experience. It is very clear that most Pakeha do not have the on-the-ground experience of working and living in circumstances where a Maori view of the world is just as important and as relevant as their own, and where what's more, that view counts.


In the Health Care Aotearoa environment the experience, however messy, is the reverse. Maori views do count and do shape decision making along with Pakeha and the health outcomes for patients are steadily improving.


This teaches me at least three things. Firstly, a Treaty-based approach to managing our lives is possible and practical. Secondly, that it can produce for the most part better results. And thirdly, therefore, it need not be feared. What we have worked at in this last ten years to make ordinary and normal within Health Care Aotearoa is not replicated in the general community experience of Pakeha. And people without this experience fear it or expect the worse.


Yet the reverse is my constant experience. So often the right thing to do in respect to Treaty processes is manifestly the right thing to do for all people. Time and again.


So where does this all leave us, Pakeha in particular?


Don Brash's Orewa speech and this government's foreshore and seabed bill have ensured that the health of our race relations are now being talked about at the dinner table. This is similar to the way the 1981 tour got into everybody's entrees complete with the on the street activism. While the resultant climate has managed to relieve many people of the need to suppress their prejudices and this has had some ugly consequences, not least in the parliamentary debate, another debate is opening up that is more potentially constructive.


One of the characteristics of this debate is that it is less a matter between bigots and liberals, but more between those who are actively trying to understand our history and those who don't think it makes a jot of difference. It's is not a debate the historians are winning at present.


Overwhelmingly those opposed to the practical and intellectual grappling with the Treaty and its consequences characterise themselves as 'forward looking'. The subtle pull of this appeal is that it allows for settlement of Treaty grievances and then closure. So they can claim to be retrospectively just, but constitutionally pragmatic. Now the grievances have been settled contemporary NZ does not need a Treaty.


What's more, the parliamentary political process in attempting to silence a part of the Maori contribution to this debate risks trying to marginalise it as fundamentally self-interested. Pakeha must take therefore responsibility for righting the balance in this discussion and resetting the tone.


Many Pakeha, even those who have been sympathetic to the Treaty and the supporters of Treaty application in public life, initially shrank from the blowtorch effect of the Orewa speech. In fact many supporters discovered that they didn't know enough to defend the positions that we had been silently advocating, especially when the conversational and political environment around the race discussion became toxic. This retreat from instinct occurred politically and well as personally.


Michael King provided many of us with a morale boost with his recently published history, now having sold over 70,000 copies. But his deeply sad passing has been an acute reminder that we all need to be confident in our grasp of our own nationhood and how it has developed, and not be so reliant on others. The need to know has become paramount for without the knowledge and the perspective offered by understanding of the Maori and Pakeha interface over the years, issues like the foreshore legislation are truly unfathomable, (no pun intended!).


This is a seriously challenging issue being handled at constitutionally breakneck speed. One hopes that the time for the mature reflection it needs will not be elusive. The opportunity for submission via the select committee needs to be taken. Getting this wrong will continue to be bad for all of us.


The difficult progress of this debate is a significant alert to those of us who feel intuitive empathy for a pathway to nationhood that has the Treaty as a clear and present sign-post. Maybe many of us have been intellectually lazy supporters of these Treaty processes because we saw them as right and just in themselves. We assumed they would just go on, mostly unchallenged. Well that is no longer the case. Informing ourselves to a greater degree is one way of meeting these new challenges.


On the way it is important to deal with some of the dross. The side issues that inevitably hamper debate about the substance, whist the form is endlessly discussed in the minor detail. Again consider the foreshore. Ask yourself which has received the most illuminating attention; the content of the bill or Tariana Turia's 'will she or won't she' stand on crossing the floor or creating a bi-election.


Most New Zealanders will have made their own judgements about Tariana's move but hardly any will have been well served with the kind of information that might inform their judgement on what motivated her to move or indeed what galvanised 20000 to join the end of the hikoi. Thus time and again irritation inevitably takes precedence over explanation.


So what can we say of the constant irritations that get under the Pakeha skin?


A reasonable observer in touch with a range of our national media could be forgiven for thinking that it is open season on Maori. If it isn't alleged corruption with the setting up of a new prison, it's naked self-interest in parliamentary voting. If it is not Maori holding up developers over resource consents relating to waahi tapu sites, it's the distraught medical student's mother who has complained that a less talented Maori student has taken her child's place in medical school. If it's not the school that allows for the wearing of pounamu but not Christian crosses as jewellery then it's the primary health organisation that has 50% of its governance as Maori representatives even though the population of Maori is much smaller than that in the area.


The sub-text of this message is clear and simple. Being Maori in New Zealand gives you no special standing either individually or collectively. And if you don't believe it just stick up your head and see who waiting to lop it off for you.


Just what is going on here and how can it be dealt with?


Perceptions change governments. The Orewa speech altered the popular view of Dr Brash. The hikoi has tilted the political axis for both Labour and National. The political calculus of gaining and losing office is moving. There is a simple message here.


New Zealanders need exposure to new ways of seeing how the Treaty practically works in everyday life and how it adds value to our daily experience. They need to see and hear that this works and can work for all of us.


Further, Pakeha in particular need to actively encourage resistance to the everyday invitation in the media to demonise Maori because what they are portrayed as doing is aggravating us. Treat this for what it so transparently is: a one-sided portrayal of the people and the issues designed to present and elaborate on the conflict without insight as to the resolution.


I need to also say that part of our Pakeha apprehension and irritation relates to language. The Treaty language has been the codified text of the power elites on both sides of the equation. Brash's Orewa speech disposed of that codified level by (mis)representing many issues in plain unambiguous English. This struck a chord. Treaty supporters need to strike a similar chord in response. These matters are explicable. Let's explain them.


Finally, why not consider the simple strategy I have adopted which has been to use evidence, example and enthusiasm?


For instance, the PHO (primary health organisation) preference funding argument for Maori criticised by Dr Brash is evidentially wrong. More and more people when examining the detail of the policy and practice now know this to be true.


Conversely the contribution of Tainui hapu input to the wastewater treatment plant in Mangere results in stellar environmental and recreational outcomes for everybody. We need to celebrate this.


The example of the hospital 'tupapaku route' is another illustration, so respectful to all cultures. Just like the genuine treaty commitment within a network such as HCA which takes dual world views seriously and achieves better health results for all patients.


So too with the Orakei example of rangatiratanga. Ngati Whatua are beginning to flourish and so yet we build closer to an inclusive society where the benefits are more evenly shared, a sharp contrast to our recent past.


These are all practical down-to-earth responses that people can understand. It is then much easier to talk of Treaty principles and applications against the background of this common sense experience.


New Zealanders are in my view fair and reasonable in the long run. The current risks are higher than they have been for some years. But so are the opportunities for genuine breakthrough in our cultural appreciation of ourselves.


It is plain that as Pakeha we simply do not know enough about Maori and our own joint history. Ten years ago we could claim genuine ignorance. We cannot do that now.


I believe we must create a new more sophisticated paradigm if we are not to return to the tactical belligerence of the recent past. Such a test is ahead of us with this foreshore and seabed bill. Let's do our best to pass that test with creativity and genuine dialogue. Near enough will not nearly be good enough.


Patrick Snedden is Pakeha New Zealander with 22 years involvement as a senior executive and owner in publishing companies serving the educational, medical and farming sectors. He was a founding director of Mai FM, Auckland's first Maori-owned commercial radio station.


Most recently he has been involved in high level public sector governance roles as deputy-Chairman with Housing NZ Corporation and as an elected board member of the Auckland District Health Board He is also deputy-Chairman of the ASB Trusts and chairs their Investment Committee and serves as a director of Watercare Services Ltd, the water and wastewater company for Auckland.


For over 20 years he has been an economic adviser to Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board and is a member of their Treaty negotiation team. He also works as a business adviser to Health Care Aotearoa, a primary health network involving Maori, Pacific and community not-for profit health providers.


He has professional degree qualifications from Auckland University in commerce specialising in accounting and economics. He is also trained in anthropology which equips him with a mix of skills suitable for addressing the emerging issues of commerce in a cross cultural context that is New Zealand today.

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