Waatea News Column: The cannabis & euthanasia referendum will impact Māori most


It seems to me that both the referendum issues will impact Māori more than anyone else and that impact needs urgent exploration before the election.

Euthanasia is deeply problematic. On the one hand, no New Zealander would want the needless suffering of another human being, yet on the other hand, we see how poorly the State treats prisoners, beneficiaries, the poor and the mentally ill when the State has an obligation of care and fear what removing that obligation will bring about.

We know how badly Māori get treated in each of those groups and the fear that pressure to euthanize might create a culture of pressure is legitimate.
Voting yes to Euthanasia could open the vulnerable up to a pressure to die that is ugly and inhumane, voting no however may rob someone else of ending their terminal suffering.

Euthanasia is about the ‘freedom’ to die, whereas the Cannabis referendum is about the freedom from the State to interfere in your life.

We know cannabis prohibition has been used to criminalise Māori and Pacific Islanders, we know that the biased judicial and police systems punish them harder and we know the historically racist reasons why cannabis was made illegal in the first place.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Voting yes in the cannabis referendum is voting for a new legal system that puts Māori first in terms of making money and it puts harm minimisation at the heart of reform and it stops criminalising users.

Voting no in the cannabis referendum will continue empowering the gangs, continue with racist policing and continue to criminalise an entire class of New Zealander with no extra taxation to pay for rehabilitation.

Two referendums with two very different outcomes but both will impact Māori the most.

I fear the pandemic has robbed us of the news oxygen to debate these referendums fully.


First published on Waatea News.


  1. Yes agree but as usual we are at the tyranny of the majority and to make matters worse I see some of our people support this act at least according to last nights poll for Te Tai Hauauru. And this is a bit sad when both the candidates don’t support it. So I suggest they need to get out there and do some more mahi to inform our people.

  2. They should never have been put to referendum – both subjects are far too complex and emotive for rational assessment in the maybe 5 minutes of thought most voters will give the matters.
    That’s why Citizen Assemblies were invented – to have a randomly selected representative subsets of the population that could go into the matters in some detail and work through the issues and nuances and difficult balances required.

  3. Martyn, are you saying that the state would potentially treat the most needy and vulnerable with abandon regarding their lives, (euthanasia)? That seems like a mighty stretch to me.

    I do though wonder whether the pandemic has obscured the discussion of both referendums. How unfortunate it may be, if not clear, adulterated by fear, decisions are made .

  4. You should be drug tested for eligibility to vote in the cannabis referendum – non-users or those who have never used should NOT be allowed to vote as they have no idea what they are on about.
    The reality is that there is a portion of the population who would never use due to the legal status of the drug – many of these are likely to vote no – not due to informed choice, but due to misinformed claptrap that is expoused by the prohibitionists as fact.
    Obviously this is unrealistic but is food for thought. Remember voting yes does not compel one to use but it allows for choice and cessation of ongoing criminalisation of, usually, young maori males. This is another example of institutional racism and it is for this reason I have massive concerns that the yes vote will prevail.
    I really hope I am wrong.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.