Waatea News Column: How did 3 Waters become an existential race threat?


How did 3 Waters become an existential race threat?

Watching how a basic respect towards our Treaty Partner over water infrastructure was manipulated into an attack on the core foundations of Western Democracy and some type of theft of water by Māori really signals how anger and fear have combined to make a new type of bigotry that reflectively attacks any attempt to build partnership between Māori and the State.

It’s a very sad situation.

The engrained fear some in the Community have towards partnership is driven by economic anxiety and grim political leadership which has dog whistled the worst of our angels into the debate.

That Māori have an interest, be it cultural, economic or cosmological in water has already been decided by the Waitangi Tribunal and has obligated the State work out an arrangement that acknowledges that interest.

None of this is new, none of this recent history has suddenly disappeared.

National and ACT can tub thump as much as they like, but unless they are categorically stating they will ignore that interest, then lawyer up because this will be off to the Supreme Court and I think that Court will categorically tell the Government that’s exactly what they have to do, plus costs.

The compromise the Government has arrived at that will give more regional voice while preserving 50-50 representation between Council and local Iwi is the right one to make.

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Critics will paint that as co-governance when in reality the 50-50 panel will be an advisory board to a Governance Board, so it provides partnership not preference.

This is an evolution of Kiwi Democracy that we should embrace and see as a core strength of our identity, environment and economy. Instead the Right have filled a media vacuum left by Labour to paint Co-governance out as a conspiracy.

That so many were willing to go along with this mindset reveals how far we still have to work on building bridges between our Communities, because we are here all alone on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and must work together first.

That’s the inescapable geography of our society. Working together is the only solution.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “A whare divided against itself cannot e tu!


First published on Waatea News.


  1. When Nat/Act talk of crime, and being tough on it, they are only worried about some laws of the land. The ones where you can scream lock everyone up. At least that’s the stance of the current iterations. Former versions of National paid a bit more respect to our rulings. Or was it because they were the government of the day and had to.

  2. Perhaps the rest of the population does not share the Left’s unalterable faith and confidence in the Waitangi Tribunal?

    Perhaps the rest of the population likes to see their elected MPs decide the law, not a unchallengeable tribunal based on race, handing down judgements from Olympus?
    Maybe a lot of people think Lord Cooke of Thornton was a twat.

    • Well tell me how National especially are not completely inconsistent on this? Luxon went as far to say that he was happy with iwi working with individual councils on managing these assets and most do. So what is the difference from a partnership with Māori perspective? Those iwi aren’t elected democratically are they?

      • Did Lincoln say “cannot e tu” or “causes utu” or “have many atua”?

        Te tangimare me te mahi taki is what we need.

  3. On one hand it’s a really bad system encouraging China to wholesale buy our water infrastructure (etc), but on the other we’re all racist who critise it.


    • And who is selling the water to the Chinese when nobody is supposed to own it and who gave the councils the authority to sell our water, when we are all supposed to own this valuable resource. To make matters worse some Pakehas are calling Māori thieves for trying to steal and claim the water, an asset belonging to and managed by our local body councils. When you start making claims like that you are asking for trouble. Too may NZers do not know the true history of our country, nor do they care to hear it when they don’t like what they hear cause the truth hurts.

  4. Here. This has something to do with it.

    “The Māori version of article 2 in the Treaty of Waitangi uses the word “rangatiratanga” in promising to uphold the authority that tribes had always had over their lands and taonga. This choice of wording emphasises status and authority.”

    Whereas the Tauiwi thinks… “The English text, the Queen guaranteed to Māori the undisturbed possession of their properties, including their lands, forests, and fisheries, for as long as they wished to retain them. Over the decades there has been a complete and blatant 180 on this, without involving Māori.”

  5. People have a right to disagree, but they need to do their homework/research first as many of the views about Māori privilege and Māori ownership rights in fact anything Māori are based on flawed colonial assimilative nonsense.


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