Getting On With Co-Governance – Without Debate.


CO-GOVERNANCE, and what it means for New Zealand, is predicted to feature prominently in next year’s general election. Passions are already running high on both sides of this issue. All the more reason, one would think, for this country’s public broadcasters to facilitate a reasoned debate between those holding opposing views. Alas, in 2022, the publicly-owned radio network, RNZ, appears to have either forgotten how to conduct reasoned debate, or repudiated the whole idea.

On the morning of Wednesday, 11 May 2022, RNZ Contract Producer Sharon Brettkelly began promoting her latest contribution to “The Detail” series of podcasts. Entitled “Co-Governance: Time To Get On With It?”, Bretkelly’s piece featured just two participants.

These were Chris Finlayson, former National Party Minister for Treaty Settlements, and Traci Houpapa, Chair of the Federation of Māori Authorities, both of whom were, indisputably, well-qualified to speak on the podcast’s subject. Unfortunately, they were also very strong supporters of co-governance. Brettkelly had not thought it necessary to balance her journalism by including the opinions of equally strong and well-qualified opponents of co-governance.

Now, there will be those who object immediately that “balanced reporting” does not require the arguments for and against any given proposition to be included in the same broadcast. For balance to be maintained, it is sufficient that the views of antagonists and protagonists are presented to the audience fairly, and with equal potential impact, within roughly the same timeframe. So long as Brettkelly, or some other RNZ Contract Producer, created a podcast featuring two well-qualified and forceful opponents of co-governance, all would be well.

Sadly, given the current ideological climate in which RNZ’s journalists are required to operate, the chances of such a podcast being made are extremely slim. To broadcast such a production would be considered a breach of RNZ’s obligations under te Tiriti o Waitangi. It would also very likely be denounced by at least some of RNZ employees as a source of actual harm to their own and other New Zealanders’ well-being.

After all, we have it on the authority of no less of an expert than Chris Finlayson himself, that only the “Sour Right” and other “losers” oppose co-governance. What possible benefit could there be in providing a publicly-owned platform from which the views of people who “don’t like tangata whenua” and who “dream of a world that never was and never could be”, are spewed forth?

As the title of Brettkelly’s podcast suggests, the question is not whether or not co-governance represents a fundamental and unmandated break with New Zealand’s constitutional norms; or even whether it is a politically feasible objective; but whether or not it is time to just get on with the job. Or, to quote Finlayson, addressing those who might still be entertaining doubts: “Go with the flow”. Clearly, among the people Brettkelly and her ilk deem worthy of a RNZ platform, there is no debate about co-governance. Or, at least, no debate in which representatives of iwi, or the Crown, should allow themselves to become involved.

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Listening to Brettkelly’s podcast, it becomes increasingly clear that “The Crown” is a player in the co-governance drama who merits much closer scrutiny.

Most of us, when we hear someone refer to The Crown, rather naively (it turns out) assume the term is being used to describe the Government – the body which we, as citizens of New Zealand, elect to manage the country on our behalf.

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

When iwi representatives and Cabinet ministers talk about The Crown they have something else in mind altogether. For these folk, The Crown represents permanent and supreme executive power. It encompasses all the decisive institutions of the New Zealand state: the Executive Council (a.k.a the Cabinet); the senior echelons of the public service; the armed forces and the Police; the national security apparatus; and – most important of all – the Judiciary.

Why is this important? Because the Treaty of Waitangi was presented to the representatives of the indigenous people of these islands by a representative of the British Crown. It was a take-it-or-leave-it deal, that was offered to Māori. Not by the British people, who, in 1840, had bugger-all say in the treaties negotiated by their betters (and still don’t) but by agents of the British state. Māori took the deal precisely because, at that time, the British state was the most powerful executive authority on Earth.

What undermined the Treaty was the steady devolution of authority  from the executive power back in London, and from its local representative, the Governor (kawanatanga) to the representative institutions of the Pakeha settlers – whose numbers had grown from a couple of thousand to something equal to or greater than the indigenous population.

In the eyes of these settler governments, the Treaty was not an agreement in which they had played any part, and most certainly was not a document they had the slightest intention of honouring. In the early 1860s, they demanded from London – and got – the overwhelming military force they required to extinguish the Treaty and, along with it, the very idea of co-governance.

The re-birth of the co-governance concept cannot be attributed to the institutions of Pakeha representation, at least, not in the sense that the plan has been endorsed by a democratically-elected Parliament, and then ratified by the citizens of New Zealand in a democratic referendum. It is, rather, the work of Cabinet Ministers and Judges; of the New Zealand executive which has slowly emerged to replace the tutelary power and influence of the British state. The force that now calls itself “The Crown”.

This is what lies behind the tangata whenua’s fear of representative democracy or, as they prefer to call it, “the tyranny of the majority”, and their preference for working with The Crown alone. They understand perfectly what most Pakeha have yet to grasp: that representative democracy was the political instrument that secured their dispossession. They know that New Zealand can have democracy, or it can have co-governance, but it can’t have both.

Fair enough. But how are the citizens of New Zealand to explain the scorn and disdain in which The Crown so clearly holds them? Is it simply because The Crown knows that the measures required to keep the peace between Māori and Pakeha will never receive the imprimatur of a freely and fairly elected New Zealand Parliament? That only under a constitutional arrangement in which Iwi and The Crown between them wield sufficient power to over-rule the will of “The (Pakeha) People” can the instruments of peace be forged?

Is it simply because Iwi and The Crown know that co-governance will never be forged by free and fair debate, but only by them “getting on with it”.



  1. what else should the crown just do without taking into account what the unwashed masses think, so as long as they get it right?

    by that token should we abolish election?

    • If half the crew running the ship aren’t even there because they were voted in by the public, what is the point of elections?

    • Arguably when Maori make a co governance decision they would have to consider what other people thought and branded as sell outs by people who are distorted.

      When Maori make a decision to sell a whole bunch of mining rights it’d make a shitload of money but one thing they’re told is there a sell out for doing that.

      It’s not so much commercial but co governance is omni present because primary industry is no longer the great driver of economic growth. I don’t think anyone know what’s going on my h less myself I can admit that y’know Elon just bought twitter for 40 billion so there are no working class hero’s that we can say I want him to be boss.

      • what it looks like is transfer of assets specifically to make them marketable for sale…the right should be all in favour of the last few spoons in the silver draw being sold.

    • Decriminalising weed would be a good start. Enough of the great unwashed are far to influenced by god bothers and control freaks despite overwhelming evidence that the current approach is f*cking stupid

      • There’s a bill to decriminalse the marijuana’s at the federal level on the U.S. house of representatives and “god” willing 🙂 it will pass.

  2. Does Maori Society have enough experienced managers, and leaders to make Co-Goverance actuality work? I ask, because many of the Iwi leadership/management core are run off their feet with requests/work from their own people, and Government requests.

      • Is this a yes Covid is pa — if so, great! if not, then why are you claiming it to be patronising Covid is pa?? Do you know something, if so, share it.

        • Maybe covid is pa should have asked since when have the non-Maori managers & leaders been doing a good job? Your first question has an implication that Maori would not be able to manage any co-governance when we have enough time to train & have a transition phase.

  3. Having elite, wealthy members of society tell us plebs to roll over and “get on with it” really sticks in my craw!

    the arrogance, the absolute hubris.

    We are talking about ending democracy in NZ and they just want us to “get on with it” Go fuck yourselves!

  4. NZ MSM Propaganda. Jacinda’s $55 million must not have ran out yet. Must be time for a topup soon though. Robbo’s got plenty of cash.

  5. I think peeps are misunderstanding the ‘Co’ bit in the co-governance jingo.

    The ‘Co’ is for Corporate brown iwi elite governance at the table.

    The 5 or so main iwi ‘corporate entities will sit at the table officially.

    It use to be the NZ Maori Council. Then National invented the “Brown Table” and then later on renamed them the Iwi Chairs Forum.

    There is a battle on for one of those seats in Auckland between Ngati Whatua Orakei and this prick from down the line and his make believe confederation, Paul Majurey and a group of smaller iwi from the Hauraki and Coromandel trying to oust NWO.

    But aside from that battle. The iwi elite want to be at the table to be able to put in bids for any state assets that get put on the block for sale. First Right of Refusal! RfR in other words.

    Because iwi get ripped off in Treaty Settlements when iwi are only allowed 1% of the quantum that the Crown determines.
    Iwi have to borrow and buy back their own shit!

    So this ‘Bro’ Governance is a way to expedite this recovery process I guess?

    Let’s see how this plays out.

    • This sounds a bit fucked, establishing an investment fund to help the government restore it’s relationship with Ngapuhi iwi and what: “a new Crown company that will acquire and grow a portfolio of assets that can be offered by the Crown in negotiations with ngā hapū o Ngāpuhi.” ..sell it back to them?
      I believe they never signed the treaty in the first place (one exception) smh

      • Which history do you refer to when you say Nga Puhi never signed the Treaty? What happens on the 6th of February every year and where is that event held? And why do you think it happens in Waitangi?

  6. “how are the citizens of New Zealand to explain the scorn and disdain in which The Crown so clearly holds them?”
    Are the people the primary sovereign or not, that is the question.
    It’s all very well to pass off the blame for the co-governance agenda to a nebulous “crown” but there is no doubt that the vehicle (and the driver) for co governance is in fact the government; our elected representatives.
    There is, thankfully, a glimmer of recognition within government that their path presents far more problems than it solves and that the chance of carrying the people with them is next to zero,

    David Seymour from his press release:
    Reports that Labour’s caucus has voted to abandon the co-governance aspect of Three Waters is a sign that New Zealand has seen right through their anti-democratic agenda.

    I brought the topic up in Parliament today and Labour MPs’ hysterical reactions from across the aisle confirmed what is going on.

    Labour’s MPs have read the electoral tea leaves and know their electorates will be telling them not to let the door hit them on the way out if they don’t change the policy. The Caucus has voted to change the policy and remove co-governance aspects in a desperate bid to hang on to their jobs in 2023.

    Three Waters was never about solving infrastructure problems, it’s about co-governance. New Zealanders realised this and they have wholly rejected the Government’s plan.

    All of the good political movements of the past 400 years have been about ending discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and sexuality to treat each person with the same dignity. We are the first country in history that’s achieved equal rights and has division as its official policy. It’s nuts.

    Labour has received a rude awakening that the jig is up and voters don’t want their anti-democratic ideology.

    ACT says every child born in New Zealand, and everyone legal immigrant, has the same rights. Those are the rights of a citizen. Nobody should get an extra say because of who their great grandparents were. Nobody should have to be treated differently because of who they are.

    • Decisions areade to include Maori interests when someone says no one owns water or everyone owns it. That’s that’s all. Maori are not for instance wanting to create regiments of solders, battleships and fighter jets to acquire land just for themselves. It’s the crown using ideological cover to acquire land. Maori, atleast the melting pot kind like me want to manage resources for all on our interests and not necessarily for profit.

    • “Reports that Labour’s caucus has voted to abandon the co-governance aspect of Three Waters is a sign that New Zealand has seen right through their anti-democratic agenda.”

      What is he on about? Are you telling me that “New Zealand” (somehow he has spoken to everyone) only had an issue with having Maori representation at the table? I thought the anti democratic piece was effectively removing the right of New Zealanders to elect totally useless local councilors who mismanage “our” water assets and let them fall into disrepair. Of course you can still elect said useless councilors but they will just have to focus on stuffing up other utilities.

      • But at least you still have a chance of getting rid of useless councilors under the 1 person 1 vote system. Under the proposed co-governance model you have less say (unless you are an Iwi leader on the regional representation group) and who says a Wellington-based centralized bureaucracy is going to be any better than useless councilors. A quick look at our other services like health and education is hardly a ringing endorsement of centralized power in decision making.

    • They might dump 3 Water co governance component bc too much flak, but other prototypes already implemented technocratic wise in less high profile areas like polytechnics. If they they have to, co governance will incrementally sneaky sneaky be done by elites – filthy White peasants will wake up one morning to a fiat accompli and smirking overlords.

    • What Act says is only relevant to those without a thinking brain, they will be decimated at the next election and by National. Better to have everyone in the tent pissing out rather than exclude some and have them continualy pissing into the tent.

    • 100% George

      It’s hard to fathom just how and why this came about:
      Does Arden actually think this is a good idea, despite a 1,000 years of Western history removing tribes, chiefs and kings from positions of power?
      Or is she basically hostage to Maori radicals in her own cabinet?
      Or both.

        • the saxe coburg gothas can all die in basement for all I care but when was the last time the queen had anything to do with NZ? please try to drag yourself into the 20th century if not the current one….it’s the yanks and the aussies you should be bitching about today.

            • yes but when did she exercise her purely notional ceremonial powers? if you are bigoted against brits be an adult and just say so.
              the problem with ‘coded’ language is it isn’t that coded or it can’t be understood.

              • PS I’d favour a republic myself the grovelling NZ does when a windsor dole bludger condescends to set foot in NZ is vomit inducing…

                just so we’re clear on that.

        • It’s just an act of acting out when normies no not what Aotearoa New Zealand is made up of. We didn’t really lay the ground for formal scientific framework. Before colonization Maori built things without being good scientists but it does mean that Maori persieve the world objecitvly but the question remains is we Maori don’t want to be poor and stupid.

  7. Finding Russell Brand was almost as important as finding Martyn Bradbury and Co’s ‘Tumeke’ years ago. There’s not a moment that goes by where I don’t thank all the Baby Jesuses for The Daily Blog today, and Tumeke then
    Today? Where else can we go to read the ever fabulous Bloggers who come here, for us, without fees or charges? We can say, without fear of undue judgement, what we like.
    Thank you, you fabulous people for making The Daily Blog what it is, for us, and of course, by us.
    Watching Russell Brand is fascinating for its parallels to TDB. Russell brand has a modern, progressive and insightful narrative. No one’s judged and everything’s on the table.
    This, his latest about Twitter, Elon Musk’s potential ownership of it and of how, and why, Elon Musk has invited Trump back to the platform is fascinating and extraordinary in my opinion.
    It’s a must-watch in my opinion.
    “Elon Musk has said he’d let Donald Trump back on Twitter – but would Trump even come back, and what does this mean for free speech and potentially for the 2024 election? ”
    P.S. I don’t trust Elon Musk. I don’t like Donald Trump, I hope I’m wrong about both of them, but Russell Brand’s correct. They have the right to express themselves, as do we all.

  8. And what happens when unelected iwi under co governance get friendly or bought by China and do a Solomon Islands? What could the rest of the country do?
    Co governance would effectively destroy the sovereignty of the entire country, aside from the gross violation of human rights as equal citizens here.

    Co governance in NZ would be a wet dream for China.

    • Wow KCC I think you might have just confused Māori with current pakeha behaviour ( ok somehow the pakeha are elected)

  9. Labour, Jacinda and Roberston at the very top, are underhand and cynical by buying off the media to help sell their agenda. Sounds like Russia or North Korea to me. The sooner this govt gets voted out the better, because while you guys may not like them, National and even ACT would never ever be this underhand. They would certainly open this to debate. Folks we are being ruled by an autocratic govt – “taking no account of other people’s wishes or opinions; domineering”.

    • and the privately owned media here or in oz is better quality or more even handed exactly how cabbage?
      no, just come out and say it your ideal is a murdoch owned Volksempfänger in every home.

      the problem is quality not who pays the wages.

  10. What irks is that we need good and many discussions about the state of affairs, ideally on telly at a good hour to be seen by most, with plenty of good, intelligent and learned people from all walks of life to give their opinion on the matters of Co-governance, Three Waters, Health Care, Education, Infrastructure, future proving our country really. But for some reason we don’t have that.
    Times are changing, fast too, and we can no longer even just pretend that that world pre 2019 is still valid.
    Personally i have no issue with looking at our water supply, the way it is managed, delivered and paid for. But this should be a public discussion and our supposed elected representatives should not shit themselves with fear and block discussion “NO DEBATE” they shout, because they might figure that a. their arguments for their plan are weak, and b. there might be a bit of nepotism and family / whanau/ iwi / political party first that might upset some others who are not invited to gorge themselves on the through that is the public purse.
    And every time the left refuses to debate an issue it should then not complain about others simply starting the discussion. You can either open the debate, prepare a round table, bake some cookies, make some coffee/tea or you take a seat in the back and be silenced by the debate/s of the opposition.
    Labour is running out of chutzpah, and i think by now they know it. And in 2023 we can all come to the same conclusion, that this lot of useless suits wasted the biggest opportunity a party has been given since MMP was introduced – a full majority – and they all pissed in the wind that was coming at them.
    And that is Labours and the Governments problem. They own arrogance, their own hubris.

  11. Stop talking a load of kaka David George, Maori have been treated differently did you not listen to our 97 year old last standing Maori Battalion veteran. Robert Bom Gillies spoke about how badly Maori soldiers were treated when they returned from the war not being able to go pub amenities and given a smaller benefit than our Pakeha soldiers for our welfare system. This treatment had an everlasting detrimental effect on us as a people and this type of superior, hateful and spiteful attitude permeated into NZ society and still exist today. And it doesn’t help with clowns like you talking about fairness and equality ignoring the effects of colonisation.

    • but in the battle of manners st white NZ troops came to the aid of maori troops being beaten by white US marines

      admittedly their reaction was probably as much about ‘bedroom commandos’ as it was racial tolerance.

  12. What do you mean without debate? Surely the new Tiriti is going to be transported throughout the country and all our regions’ leaders be asked to sign up to it?!

  13. Co-governance sucks because what if Maori address some of New Zealand’s big issues. That means the rest of us would have to fix those problems too. Bugger that for a joke!

  14. $Taonga= carbon credits= pine trees. Seems like the dollar is king. We are being sold co-governance as some form of superior-being and well-being and goodbye democracy. What I want to know is where accountability and transparency will be achieved or are we going to slip into a country of cronyism, tribalism, nepotism, and blatant corruption and if one dear criticizes then the treaty is rolled out and the word racist uttered. For all its faults, democracy is a contest of ideas with safeguards.

    • You do know ‘we’ live in a capitalist society right? Corruption and nepotism and fuckwizardry are the norms, right?

  15. Well said Dave. We already know the Mahuta family have powerful positions in the Three Waters governance.
    No matter how many of the ‘People’ vote on anything, the Elite will have the final say. We won’t have Democracy we will have Tribalism and the Elites will then fight between themselves for supremacy, why should I trust any of them.
    And if this is not what is going to happen will someone please enlighten me since there has been no debate and I am in the dark.

  16. some seem to not understand what the “co” in co-governance means.
    should mean figuring things out together and making sure both are ok with decisions.
    it should mean building relatationship rather than separatism.
    how on earth did china get in there?

  17. Excellent analysis, Chris. But just as we must come to recognise that the Crown is not us ordinary New Zealanders of any ethnicity but some elite grouping of politicians and their advisers, doing what we have to believe is right on our behalf, so too – the tangata whenua who are being called into co-governance with the Crown, are not ordinary Maori citizens of New Zealand but an elite of unelected Iwi leaders who owe no responsibility or accountability to tangata whenua but who we all must believe are doing what we all must believe is right on tangata whenua’s behalf. We’re not allowed to question the mandate of either this edifice the ‘Crown’ or this edifice ‘Iwi’ leaders, just as we’re not allowed to question whether any good will accrue to tangata whenua, let alone tangata tiriti as a result.

  18. “They understand perfectly what most Pakeha have yet to grasp: that representative democracy was the political instrument that secured their dispossession.”
    That is perhaps the most untrue of the many untrue statements made in this article. Maori were dispossessed by the forces of the British Crown, comprising imperial regiments from India and Australia, at the request of a Governor appointed in London. There was nothing that could reasonably be called a democracy in New Zealand at the time. Only property owning male British subjects had any form of political representation.
    The British Crown was the problem in 1860, and it is still the problem now. It will not be a party to any supposed “co-governance solution” to our social and political crisis.
    Mr Trotter is right to argue that co-governance will end badly, but as always he studiously evades the real problem which is the continuance of the colonialist regime in the Realm of New Zealand.

  19. oh come on whilst we all pronounce our sentiments in ‘english’, the language of the 5 eyes, there is no ‘getting on’ with co-governance

  20. Great article by Chris. I hope we will wake up before it is too late. Shearers, farmers, factory workers, cleaners, truck drivers – none of us want this bullshit. It is a conversation between two elites who are quite happy to trample upon the rights of the masses. Elite Iwi leaders on the one hand and overprivileged pakeha beltway mandarins on the other. Key was happy to sign the UN Declaration of Indigenous rights and Findlayson is happy to tell us there is a new regime in town and to ‘get with the program’ – because THEY DONT GIVE A STUFF ABOUT NORMAL PEOPLE. Findlayson is more in touch with The NZ String Quartet than he is with middle New Zealand.

  21. Tauranga needs some cleansing it has become a very toxic place its full of cowardly white supremacist and pakeha women running around calling brown women fat bitches sic!

  22. I must admit tauranga does seem to be like something from deliverence….urban leftist make the assumption our values are shared nationwide, often they are not.

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