Waatea News Column: Are we mature enough to debate a Republic and new Constitution?


I look at the racist hatefest that the issue of co-governance and 3 Waters has degenerated into and then I look at the intellectual effort redesigning our Constitution would require and I honestly don’t believe that we as a culture have the maturity required to meet the challenge.

Māori would rightfully be highly dubious of any new power system that bypassed the obligations of the Treaty while those who fear Indigenous political power would strive to dilute and undermine any of the current hard fought political rights Māoridom currently have.

This is a tragedy because I believe one of the most powerful unexplored parts of the Treaty is the State’s implied obligations to protect our collective rights, be they Māori or Pakeha. Self-sovereignty is the agency of the individual – a cherished and protected value in Western Democracy, as is property rights!

I believe an Upper House with a 50-50 Māori/Pakeha split that acts like the House of Lords in overviewing legislation which impacts the Treaty would be a means of bringing both sides of the Treaty into the political partnership promised by the Treaty.

We would need to acknowledge those obligations and empower society to fulfill them, but that is a deep conversation beyond the shallow scope of the current dialogue, I just don’t believe we are anywhere near a place where we could discuss a new Constitution in good faith.

We still have an enormous amount of bridges to build to get to that space as a nation., and that fact is sadder than the passing of the Queen.

First published on Waatea News.

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    • Do we really want more snouts in the trough by adding an upper house to our unicameral Parliament?
      We can accomplish the same check on Parliament by replacing the useless governor-general with a constitutional court of the Chief Justice and two other Supreme Court justices.
      The court would be established by an entrenched 75 per cent majority of Parliament, and its members chosen by a two-thirds majority of Parliament, without reference to the British king.
      The court would assume all the responsibilities of monarch and governor-general. But unlike them it would be not a mere figurehead, but the guardian and protector of our liberties: it would appoint prime ministers and governments, assent to laws and regulations, reject them if they breached the Bill of Rights, and dismiss a government that persisted in breaching or attempting to breach that Bill of Rights.
      No need to upset people with talk of republics and presidents. The King would continue serenely in London, his legal role extinguished, Rex Otiosus.

  1. Not even close to mature enough.
    Unless we can get people to get over their selfish, racist, fear of someone getting an advantage attitude that is currently being pushed by y NatActs we will be just pushing shit uphill with a fork.
    How can you have a rational discussion when you do not have any understanding of the tikanga Maori concept.
    The world does not have to be made up of winners and losers but should be a place of consensus and for the good of all. This means decisions take time and compromise is required.
    NZ is no where close to reaching that level of maturity as you illustrated by mentioning 3 waters and co governance. I would add the furore over changes to GST on Kiwi Saver fees and the social insurance scheme. One designed to help people, the other to bring equity to a tax anomaly. Both railed against by those that believe in the privilege of the advantaged.
    How are we ever going to get a independent unbiased head of state if we can’t get fairness in our legislation.

    • We need a common goal where multi ethnic societies like New Zealand speak multiple languages. Very rarely do we find something working from the ground up like The Daily Blog working to bring people together in common goals particularly convincing rural areas and areas where woman work without the hijab especially in rural areas. It’s a very difficult area of study because of someone like seemore would destroy everything of democracy that is left.

    • Quite right Mike.
      If you look at the immature posts by Bob, he fits into the categories you have stated.
      Biased, privileged, selfish, racist and entitled.
      You cannot have a mature debate, if people like that live in our country.

  2. Certainly won’t brr we debated in public, what with Robertson earnestly dodging lammingtons – a first for him no doubt, but unable to be seen with the great unwashed/river of filth.

    There is no way a republic can be debated in good faith while we have imaginary interpretations of the treaty like “partnership” or 50/50 co governance- with a government refusing to debate or even consult in good faith on that.

    • Here article 2 in the Pakeha (European) version of the Treaty of Waitangi no principles just straight up words written by Pakeha (Europeans) These haven’t been addressed especially Maori rights to water enshrine in Article 2.

      “Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand, and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates, Forests, Fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the Chiefs of the United Tribes and the Individual Chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of Pre-emption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate, at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective Proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf”.

    • When a Government is running secret agenda it is blatant disregard for democracy,blatant disrespect for the people.It says “ We will tell you what to do and you will obey.”
      So good faith discussions with the current Labour Government are not possible.

  3. In the past we did have an upper house,The Legislative Council, where members were nominated by political parties. It included nominated Maori members.
    It could block legislation passed by parliament. It twice prevented women from voting in the period before 1893.
    If it is not broken do not fix it. I am not a fan of monarchy but if we are going to replace with a republic we need to think carefully about balances and checks on power.
    One of the most obvious example of what I say is the USA. The Supreme court is supposedly to protect the constitution and protect citizens from injustice. Judge whether the overturning Of Roe versus Wade achieved that.
    Does anyone remember Helen Clark’s reaction when Chief Justice Elias challenged her over the legality of the Foreshore and Seabed Act? When officials are appointed by the crown politicians cannot fire them at will.
    No saying we should not be a republic if the that is what the majority of people want. Just that we should think about it.

    • I blame the three year term. MPs just aren’t getting enough time in the hotseat to learn anything meaningful rather letting the judiciary to run everything.

      The reason is that the media give the impression that they give the views of all points of reflection. That’s the kind of things people need to be educated against. If we have a controversial issue like three waters where everyone is against it we need to have a good look at that so that we can get everyone working together.

  4. Yes. Just not the neo fascists and the neoliberal retards of the centre right political parties LINO & the Gweens because they dont know how to have a disscusion let alone an inclusive one.

  5. ” Waatea News Column: Are we mature enough to debate a Republic and new Constitution?”
    No. Because this is what you’d get.
    I started watching ‘The Corporation’ last night. Oh dear Jesus. https://youtu.be/Y888wVY5hzw
    Don’t watch it on a week night and only watch it in the morning. That’ll give you time to rationalise and process what you’re about to see before you try to go to sleep.
    Basically, the United States Politic created a psychopathic monster and I’m not exaggerating. ‘Corporations’ have person status thanks to amendments to the constitution ( the 14th I think it was.) but unlike most persons Corporations only have one objective and that is growth helped by being unfettered by a conscience.
    I finally understand how Corporate’s in collusion with others have managed to sequester farmer goods away from farmers after paying them a stipend then taking those goods, piling them up then rorting our trading partners to make massive profits while barely lifting a fat, pink, finger.
    I found reference to ‘The Corporation’ paired up with another documentary titled ‘Inside Job’ on Boingboing.net.
    We should stop the four foreign owned banks from trading here because they’re colluding with the Corporations to keep us down trodden while we’re forced to work ever harder for them. We’ve effectively become enslaved. Our lovely homes we bought by mortgaging have imprisoned us.
    We should actively befriend our farmers. Sure, many of our farmers are gruff, aggressive and arrogant but that’s just fear. We all strike out when afraid. Lets try friendship and inclusion instead. You can tame a lion if you treat it well.
    For example: Fletcher Challenge have just held our entire country to ransom by stalling production of Gib Board. ( Check out Fletcher Challenge’s inner workings in Wikipedia. You might be surprised and shocked.)
    I think we need to reverse the trend of bullying, greed and fear. I think we need to start killing off the psychopaths and I think we should start with the banks.

    • I totally agree countryboy. We are serfs in our own country to foreign landlords snd bankers; and to add insult to injury, those that did it were Knighted!

    • countryboy
      I’d forgotten about that corporations as persons thing – egregious at the time to me, but getting swallowed up in the fast-moving times of one egg to the next. I’m looking at Jane Kelsey again. When her retirement? post went up she sort of had egg thrown at her. I was amazed at the amount of schadenfreude or whatever thrown at her.
      We seem fools in terms of what Bertrand Russell said:
      The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. Bertrand Russell*

      *Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, 1872 – 1970 CE, was a British philosopher, writer, social critic and political activist. In the early 20th century, Russell led the British “revolt against idealism.” He is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy.

      Are we into idealism in NZ at present – trying to turn everyone into carbon copies of middle class theorist academicians’ ideals?
      What is the theory of idealism?
      Idealism is the metaphysical view that associates reality to ideas in the mind rather than to material objects. It lays emphasis on the mental or spiritual components of experience, and renounces the notion of material existence.

      Who supported the idealist theory?
      Plato and Aristotle have been its great supporters. Plato in his famous book, The Republic, has presented the plan of his ideal republic. This theory was explained in better way by the German philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries.

      (Note that German philosophers were into understanding idealism. They didn’t get a sufficiently balanced human view of it looking at outcomes from that country.)

      I think pragmatism is too harsh and cold, but I would like to see practical ideas with good scenarios leading to universally good outcomes. May be countryboy’s suggestions will have some merit carried out coolly, cleverly and cautiously.

  6. ahhh we can’t even do a simple thing like wearing masks without squabbling so how the fuck are we going to write a constitution….give craft paper and crayons to a groups of kindy kids?

  7. Imo, no we are not mature enough yet. But it is a good time to begin discussing it. It won’t gather pace until many more of the boomer generation have departed and our younger ones have learned the pros and cons. We also need to see how KCIII behaves with his new role. I suspect it will be an extremely short reign for him (6-12 months). The paradigm is shifting, but it will take a good 40 years yet to solidify. So we sew the seeds now and hope others will nurture them when we are gone. Jmo

    • 40 years oh cynically do I cast my mind forward to whatever will be, will be. 40 years is two generations hence. We are on our way down helped by people who have no compunction about society now. Before 40 years is up they, climate change and people who are prepared to puncture others, will not be sitting down and calmly working out laws on how to be fair to each other on a daily basis, perhaps who is prepared to make sacrifices for others.

      And in the meantime we need a Frodo and friends to carry the Ring of Good Humanity towards the distant hills of The Good World. Read John Wyndham and John Christopher in the meantime as they are apparently simple stories for Young Adults where people are adjusting to a world irrevocably changed and forming groups of like-minded, trustworthy people who are committed to each other, working togethe, and being trustworthy. Start now I suggest.

  8. countryboy my understanding is meat companies exist on razor thin margins so where does your assertion they make massive profits come from?

  9. Good question to raise, Martyn. It set me off to look up google and see what informative stuff I might find about constitutions. As I fear the weeds that push up between the cracks of political change, I looked first at what was said about Germany and its Weimar Republic that failed.

    Why was Weimar Republic formed?
    The Weimar Republic was announced following the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in November 1918. The removal of the Emperor left an apparent power vacuum, with no Head of State the political structure of the Second Reich was obsolete, and an alternative form of government would have to be established.
    Forming of the Weimar Republic | Schoolshistory.org.uk
    https://schoolshistory.org.uk › weimar-nazi-germany › for…

    (Get the feelings of the time of Weimar Republic:)
    Weimar Germany and its Histories
    Eric D. Weitz
    (JStor seems to be a worthy site as they say ‘for the intellectually curious’.)

    (And this says something about the difficulty of setting up the framework of the German republic so it would function in the way it was intended. Which should be instructive to any other considering and trying to implement similar changes to a polity)
    Hugo Preuss, German Political Thought and the Weimar Constitution
    Peter Stirk (Dr Peter Stirk, Durham University – Member of the Centre for the History of Political Thought)
    (Condensed Extract of abstract which I think would be of value to those interested in constitutional change.)
    Abstract: The reputation of Hugo Preuss has been tainted by the failure of the Weimar Republic, whose constitution he drafted…..some have seen him as trapped in the conceptual world of the German monarchical state….This article argues against that view…and that the later problems with the German presidency were a product of subsequent reinterpretation of the role of the president, which was contrary to Preuss’s intentions.

    (These advisory words from Encyclopaedia Britannica are sound and clear and cautioning I think.)
    Constitutional change – Encyclopedia Britannica
    https://www.britannica.com › topic › Constitutional-cha…
    Unwritten constitutions tend to change gradually, continually, and often imperceptibly, in response to changing needs. But when a constitution lays down …
    …But when a constitution lays down exact procedures for the election of the president, for relations between the executive and legislative branches, or for defining whether a particular governmental function is to be performed by the federal government or a member state, then the only constitutional way to change these procedures is by means of the procedure provided by the constitution itself for its own amendment. Any attempt to effect change by means of judicial review or interpretation is unconstitutional, unless, of course, the constitution provides that a body (such as the U.S. Supreme Court) may change, rather than interpret, the constitution.
    Many constitutional documents make no clear distinction between that which is to be regarded as constitutional, fundamental, and organic, on the one hand, and that which is merely legislative, circumstantial, and more or less transitory, on the other. …

    (And this is a publication which is a close look at the NZ Constitution as it has formed.)
    journal article
    A Theory of Constitutional Change 1987
    Philip A. Joseph and Gordon R. Walker

    There is much to think about objectively and subjectively I imagine. When the Constitutional Conversation was held in Nelson I was amazed at the many vociferous white-haired male pakeha who held the floor with their negative views. Not enough intellectual discussion went on as a consequence. This was in 2013. The biased can orate to fill the time and intellectual space allotted every time and I think this would have happened frequently throughout NZ. There would be final reports put in by the participating mentors at the end>>
    And here is the 2020 report from government last updated on 17 December 2013 of the ‘Constitutional Conversation’ held throughout NZ. https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features/report-now-available-on-the-constitution-conversation/

    Here are some reference links relating to our Constitution:
    2011 Lecture by Chief Justice Sian Elias – http://www.nzlii.org/nz/journals/WkoLawRw/2011/1.pdf
    2013 https://www.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/Constitutional-Advisory-Panel-Full-Report-2013.pdf This is a document from the Constitutional Advisory Panel
    which followed on from a 2011 document put out by The Hon Bill English, Deputy Prime Minister and Dr Pita Sharples, Minister of Maori Affairs, with very nice poetic sentiments in Maori and English as an introduction.

    2013 https://ngaitahu.iwi.nz/our_stories/the-constitution-question/
    2005 Continuing Legal Education under aegis of NZLaw Society – https://www.lawyerseducation.co.nz/shop/Books/New+Zealands+Constitutional+Arrangements+where+are+we+heading.html
    (PDF format book on our constitution from lawyers. 272 pages )

    2022 APNews – Associated Press – https://apnews.com/article/queen-elizabeth-ii-king-charles-iii-new-zealand-government-and-politics-ad3dd4985a6e2fb34da48a80ab9be5b2

    So many have had a go at this. There is room for lots of discussion and meetings while the practical points and results and sensible framework, and explanations of why and how, methods of delivery and expected results and limits on amendments, can get quite overlooked.

    But there is obviously money to be made here, and good reason for those in positions of eminence, to get stuck in while there still is a nation with money available, and an appetite to advance even at great cost. Outcome possibly, recrimination and resentment, dismay, chagrin etc, so more negatives likely than positives I should think. And then everyone equal in dissatisfaction. Hollow hoorays for us I fear.

  10. ” We still have an enormous amount of bridges to build to get to that space as a nation., and that fact is sadder than the passing of the Queen ”

    I just finished a level one course on speaking Te Reo and delivered my Pepeha in front of my class today and I am still alive to talk about it and it did me no harm whatsoever and I discovered the power of the language and this amazing culture that we have ignored , resented and feared and used it when it has suited us to create an identity that we can identify with and continued to mis pronounce the familiar words we all know without any care or respect unless it is the queens English and we always expected that to be spoken correctly.

    Until we stop being so frightened of the unknown and embrace our culture that belongs to each and everyone of us and we are very privileged to have and can teach us so much. As long as the prejudice , ignorance and fear remains we can never be a republic and truly embrace what it means to be proud and not subservient to a distant monarch or profit driven corporates where institutionalised privilege and status are our masters.

  11. More and more I just see this woke wave as people without problems, creating them. It’s a “nice to have” to be more inclusive of diversities etc and be free to identify as a donkey if that floats your boat and do let’s try not to be overly offensive on purpose most of the time etc. Is it just a symptom of wanting to be heard in a world that measures your self worth in terms of how many ‘likes’ you can garner? With internet and social media being relatively young in the grand scheme of things, and the first generation of those born into it are now young adults, hopefully wokeism is a teething issue of sorts and will mature before too long. Hopefully. It’s just there really are urgent problems all around us we must tackle now. Priorities is all. We could all try to be nicer too, nothing wrong in that as well. Just don’t cancel fun.

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