Tag: Treatygate

The end of Treatygate?

So, John Ansell has brought to an end his Treatygate and Together New Zealand campaign and is, rather, providing some conditional support for the 1law4all Party (who plan to contest the next election).

So, this is the end of Treatygate. Good riddance, I say. Although Ansell has always claimed to be out to get what he calls “Griever” Māori, the tone of his campaign has really been one of forcing Māori to give up on any notion of restitution for past injustices and requiring them to give up on tikanga if they want to be proper members of New Zealand society. Ansell has railed against te reo Māori being used in documents, Māori having spiritual connections with the landscape and like, which have all been petty snipes at Māori in general rather than targeted attacks at things which could be even vague considered privileged behaviour by a minority.

That being said, just because Ansell is stepping down from his self-annointed leadership position of the (apparently) underprivileged Pākehā majority, someone else is likely to take his place, given that the steering committee of the 1law4all Party have the following agenda for equality in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu:

  1. Strip from legislation all references to the Treaty of Waitangi and it’s recently invented “principles”.
  2. Abolish all race based seats and positions in central and local government.
  3. Abolish the Waitangi Tribunal.
  4. Ensure that no individual or group has preferment in legislation or funding on grounds of ethnicity.
  5. Ensure that there is no constitutional change without the support of three quarters of those voting in a referendum.
  6. End the official state promotion and enforcement of divisive bi-culturalism.
  7. Repeal the current foreshore and seabed legislation.
  8. Withdraw New Zealand from the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

A lot of this is material cribbed directly from the John Ansell hymnal, with the usual conspiratorial allegations (“[state] enforcement of divisive bi-culturalism”, for example). They then go on to say:

Those who advocate “one law for all” are on the right side of history. Those who denigrate us are either confused or malicious. How can a party that is dedicated to equal rights for all New Zealanders, regardless of race, be damned as racist? Only by fools and knaves.

How can the advocates of the 1law4all Party be branded as racist? Because they might be choosing to ignore the existing inequalities in society which has entrenched privilege with Pākehā, such that a policy of “one law for all” will do nothing to fix said inequality. Because when they advocate “one law for all”, they are basically asking Māori to abandon tikanga and accept the results of colonisation unconditionally. The people who will brand the members of the 1law4all Party are not necessarily fools and knaves, whilst those who do advocate such policies almost certainly will be. ((Take point 4 of their policy list, for example. When they say they will advocate to “Ensure that no individual or group has preferment in legislation or funding on grounds of ethnicity”, they are effectively claiming that if any ethnic group happens to be treated unequally by the existing way of doing things, they won’t support any legislation or funding to fix it. What great guys these 1law4all people are?.))

It remains to be seen if the 1law4all Party will go full-Ansell and use the rhetoric of “There might well have been people here before the coming of the Māori” (my suspicion is that they won’t, given the membership of people like Peter Cresswell). They do use some of the arguments Ansell developed or resurrected, such as the argument there was no real tragedy at Parihaka (but they don’t seem to be citing Kerry Bolton, which I suppose is a kind of plus?) (as Lew Stoddart has pointed out, the Parihaka article cites Kerry Bolton, whose unsavoury history and radical views on local history will not play well to the New Zealand electorate should 1law4all end up campaigning in the next election). Like Ansell, they also provide a completely decontextualised list of ways in which Māori, via funding, apparently have special privilege in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand). ((There’s an awful lot of talk about “taxpayers” on the 1law4all site, as if Māori are not proto-typical payers of tax.))

The 1law4all website is a weird beast. Whilst it’s more clearly laid out than Ansell’s Treatygate site, it seems a step back from the information he had collated and presented. Ansell, no matter my problem with him, had an awful lot of content to hand. The 1law4all Party seems to be starting entirely from scratch, which seems odd, given how little difference there is between their agenda and Ansell’s. On the positive side, I’m probably going to be able to reuse a lot of my critique of Ansell and just swap “Treatygate” or “Together New Zealand” with “1law4all”. On the downside, if 1law4all manages to get registered as a party, the media spectacle of journalists talking with Ansell and him getting a chance to air his views is likely to be repeated with whomever ends up being the spokesperson for what is, effectively, the replacement Treatygate Party.

So, the criticism of blinkered and mistaken Pākehā views that, somehow, Māori are the real privileged people in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand) must continue. The monarch (John Ansell) might be figuratively dead, but there will soon be a new monarch.

Oh, and said monarch has a shop where you can buy branded merchandise to show your subjectness to the royal doctrine of “one law for all”.

So, don’t rush out and buy a t-shirt!

A primer on the Treatygate conspiracy theory

As a fair number of people are finding this blog and series of posts whilst looking for information on John Ansell’s “Colourblind New Zealand” and “Treatygate” campaigns, I thought it would be useful to have a series of primers on the central tenets of his claims, showing why we should not support his campaigns. In the previous post I provided a series of reasons as to why Ansell’s “equality for all under the law” thesis rests upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the process of restitution that are the Treaty Settlements and how he and his allies mistake the renaissance of Māori culture for Māori somehow having more privileges than other New Zealanders. In this post, I will show that Ansell’s “Treatygate” thesis is a vapid conspiracy theory.

What is “Treatygate?”

“Treatygate” is the thesis that the series of treaty settlements both show that Māori are more privileged than Pākehā in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu ((In part, the Treatygate thesis is an extension of the Colourblind New Zealand campaign.)) and that New Zealand history is being perverted and changed by both Māori and Pākehā cultural elites to justify these settlements. As such, “Treatygate” is a conspiracy theory. It is a thesis that rests upon a claim of conspiracy which says:

    1. These exists a set of plotters (the Māori and Pākehā cultural elites, including members of both major political parties) who
    2. Seek to advance an agenda to give the country back to Māori and deny New Zealanders their true history
    3. Work towards this goal in secret (in that the true history of this place is being kept hidden from the populace and the real reasons for treaty settlements is not being admitted to).

The Treatygate thesis, as espoused by the arguments of John Ansell, is an argument claims there is a conspiracy about Māori which, despite the alleged statistical data, are highly privileged in New Zealand society and that the true history of this place is being kept from ordinary New Zealanders.

Why is the thesis behind “Treatygate” a bad argument?

With respect to the first claim, that Māori are highly privileged, the statistics say otherwise. Ansell and company avoid this, in part, by claiming the problem with Māori is a Māori concern which should be solved by Māori and thus Ansell and company place the blame on iwi leaders.

Note two things about this move.

    1. This kind of argument makes out that Māori are, in some sense, not proper New Zealanders. Ansell’s argument assumes the very thing he is trying to persuade and prove to his audience: Māori do not believe themselves to be like the rest of the New Zealand population. That may be Ansell’s view, but he has no good argument to back it up. Rather, he just asserts it and moves on.

    2. By placing the blame on Māori, Ansell ignores the role of colonisation in the socio-economic environment that is New Zealand. Ansell’s argument is entirely economic when it comes to solving the problems of Māoridom and yet seems to be almost entirely social when it comes to pointing out how Pākehā are, somehow, disadvantaged by the process of Treaty settlements.

It is hard to show that Pākehā are economically disadvantaged by such settlements, so Ansell and company have to talk about Māori having more of some set of amorphous rights than other New Zealanders (such as access to the Waitangi Tribunal). It’s. tricksy argument because it trades on a feeling of being disadvantaged rather than actual disadvantage and it is subject to a lot of goal post shifting; even if you can conclusively show that Pākehā and Tau Iwi are better off than Māori with respect to health statistics, arrest rates and the like, there are a lot of other areas in which such people feel worse off even if they actually aren’t.

With respect to the Treatygate claims about the true history of Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu being kept from ordinary New Zealanders, Ansell and his allies have two tactics which they use to try to show up conventional New Zealand history as being wrong.

The first is to claim that modern histories are pro-Māori and anti-Pākehā, and thus such histories overlook the benefits the Europeans brought to this place.

The second is to claim that Māori are not, properly understood, indigenous to Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu either by claiming that when the Māori first arrived there was another people living here or by claiming that as Māori only arrived some six to eight hundred years prior to the Europeans, that Māori are also recent settlers like other New Zealanders.

Biased Histories

The first claim, about the nature of contemporary historical interpretations of early Colonial/Māori interactions, rests upon a misunderstanding of how History and historical interpretation works. Ansell and his allies will point towards histories written in the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century and say “These histories show both a Māori society that was in decline (socially and economically) and a willingness (indeed, eagerness) to embrace British rules and values.” They will then point to modern histories and argue that such modern histories either ignore these early histories or dispute them. They then conclude by saying “These earlier writers witnessed what they wrote about first hand; if modern historians are ignoring them, then what is there reason?” or “If modern historians dispute these earlier accounts, are they doing so because its PC,” with the assumption the real reason is that modern historians have or are part of an agenda to hide or obscure the truth of what happened in the early days of Māori/Pākehā interactions.

The issue with this suggested conspiracy is this: these early writers Ansell and company rely upon were often not historians and, even when they were historians, they were writing their histories in a way that is now thought to be problematic.

Historians work from a corpus of archival materials and modern historians are particularly sensitive to the possible political nature of their work. Whilst it seems obvious in retrospect, it is really quite a modern notion to recognise that when people write about events, such accounts can (and often do) reflect the political leanings of both their day and the writer’s own beliefs about the kind if world they think they live in. When it comes to Colonial history, many writers sought to show the benefits European civilisation had brought to New Zealand whilst others wanted to play up the devastation the Pākehā wrought. Modern historians have to sort through these varying accounts and try to discern the facts of history from the political polemics that such histories are wrapped in ((Modern written histories and historians can also suffer from the same kinds of biases, which is why we have peer review systems. However, Ansell and company think that the academic world is involved in a conspiracy to hide the truth, so any peer review of a pro pre-Maori history which criticises that work is evidence of the conspiracy and not evidence, it seems, that historians are treating the work seriously but noting its short-comings.)). Ansell, and his Treatygate researchers, work solely from pro-Colonial accounts and ignore the other historical data. This is the same kind of sin they charge the holders of the orthodox history as committing.

Indigeneity, a lack thereof

Ansell’s second line of argument, about indigeneity, is a rather more curious beast. Ansell has expressed conditional support for the work of Martin Doutré, an amateur historian and archaeologist who has written both on Treaty issues and on the pre-history of Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounami. Doutré claims there was a pre-Māori, Celtic people who lived in New Zealand and were wiped out and/or absorbed into Māori. If this claim were true, it would speak against Māori being indigenous and a first people. He also provides evidence to back up his claims, but the evidence he provides does not clearly support his thesis. Like many amateur archaeologists, his site interpretations seem to be attempts to find evidence for his theory pre-Māori people rather than engaging in a process of discovery, where the evidence leads him to the development of a theory. His interpretations of the oral histories and mythology of the Māori are equally problematic, as I have outlined here in an earlier post. ((This post is also a good primer on Doutré’s work.))

Ansell and company want Doutré’s work to be treated as some kind of plausible historical narrative but their standard of plausibility is not the usual standard we associate with good historical research. Plausible historical accounts are explanations of events based upon our best inferences. The standard of plausibility Doutré (and Ansell) want us to operate with is the “If it’s possible it might be true, we should investigate it” kind, which shows they are either confusing or deliberately conflating “possibility” with “probability.” If you counter this and say “But it’s so unlikely, so why should we bother?” they will response with some claim like “What is it you are trying to hide?” thus assuming the very academic conspiracy they are concerned with.

Doutré’s work is not taken seriously by historians or archaeologists and it belongs to a particular school of fringe archaeology practised worldwide which claims to find evidence of earlier, now forgotten, supercultures which once spanned the globe but, somehow, didn’t leave behind any robust records of their existence. Whilst Ansell has expressed support for Doutré generally,, Ansell refuses to accept that he has explicitly endorsed the pre-Māori thesis ((His endorsement appears in this post when he wrote:

Pretend that Maori are indigenous to New Zealand, when they sailed here just before the Europeans, and suppress the mounting evidence that other races got here first.

)). Thus, if pushed, Ansell will distance himself from this particular view, which means a second strand of argumentation is needed to bolster the claim that Māori are not indigenous.

The argument Ansell and his supporters seem to fall back on, then, is to say “Māori are immigrants/recent settlers too.” They claim that Māori are like the rest of the New Zealand population: people who got here recently by boat and thus are no more deserving of the claim of being indigenous than someone whose family has been here four generations or so. The fact that Māori have been here for a significantly longer time, had a unique and developed culture, their own language and the like is irrelevant, it seems, to the holders of this view.

However, none of this really matters; the Treaty makes no claim about Māori being a first people or having been here a long time. It simply recognises that they were here before Pākehā. This entire strand of argumentation is a distraction, a reason to get angry at “them uppity Maoris.” It has no bearing on whether the Treaty process is just and fair.

Concluding Thoughts

Ansell’s conspiracy theory about New Zealand history and the Treaty process is implausible and unwarranted: his claim that there is a conspiracy, by the Māori and cultural/political elites in New Zealand society is a claim that can be easily dismissed via an analysis of the kind of evidence he uses to buttress his arguments ((What is not so easily dismissed is the way in which he trades upon a particular psychological attitude towards Māori, in that Ansell and his allies display and make use of the feeling that the policy of biculturalism in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu has not settled well with a certain section of middle-aged, middle-class Pākehā. These are the people who believe things were better for them when Māori and Māoridom were treated as an historical part of our society rather than part of its contemporary vibrancy.)).

Ansell’s argument for the existence of a conspiracy looks more complex than it really is. This is because, in part, he has collected a large amount of disparate evidence to support it, most of which relies on radical reinterpretations of New Zealand’s pre-contact and early post-contact history and some of which assumes the existence of the very conspiracy he is trying to prove the existence thereof. Like many conspiracy theorists (9/11 Truthers are a good example here), Ansell assumes that if an interlocuter cannot respond to his “evidence” with a counter-argument which accepts the proffered evidence as being true then they have no argument against his view at all. To argue with Ansell you have to accept much of his evidential base. A failure to respect to his sources (say, questioning them) just shows that you are in on the con (and likely to be the product of a Marxist institution which has blinded you to the reality and gravity of the supposed problem). As such, Ansell and his allies live in an echo chamber which, due to the way these things work, selects for the evidence that supports their views and discounts any argument which disputes that evidence as being evidence of the conspiracy against them. Ansell thinks this is the way the academic sector works with respect to our supposedly “PC” histories (gone mad) and either he thinks you fight like with like or he doesn’t appreciate that the academic sector has something above and beyond the echo chamber: we live in a combative peer review system where success is measured not just by your ability to develop and improve on existing theories but also in demolishing theories which are weak, unsubstantiated or based on poor arguments.

I’m mixed in my feelings about the likely success of the Colourblind New Zealand campaign. There is still a substantial section of our population which either views Māori as a base underclass or iwi as greedy and manipulative. It is possible that Ansell’s campaign might have legs. However, it is also possible that it will self-destruct either because Ansell’s “Either you are with me 100% or agin me” attitude, which has already turned away some potential fellow travellers, will alienate the very supporters he needs or he will end up saying something that exposes just how dark an underbelly his movement has ((I haven’t talked at all, in these two posts, about the wholesale racial denigration of Māori that has gone on in the comments thread over at Ansell’s blog, and Ansell’s facile and insulting claim that so-called “Muslim fanaticism” (i.e. the reason why we are involved in a War on Terror) is equivalent to Māori unease about the so-called “benefits” of colonisation.)). Whatever the case, should his movement gain traction, I hope these two posts prove to be useful in talking through the issues Ansell is raising.

A primer on the Colourblind New Zealand campaign thesis

A lot of people are finding my blog because they are searching for information on John Ansell’s “Colourblind New Zealand” and “Treatygate” campaign and I thought it might be useful to give such (potentially new) readers a bit of a primer on what Ansell’s movement is and some reasons as to we should not support it.

People who are sympathetic to Ansell’s arguments might be sympathetic because they believe that Māori have access to more power/are more privilege than other New Zealanders (which is the basis for his “Colourblind New Zealand” thesis) or because they think the Treaty settlement system is a rort (which is the basis for his “Treatygate” thesis), or they might believe both sets of claims. I think both theses can be shown to be bad arguments and the purpose of this first post is to provide reasons as to why the “equality for all under the law, regardless of colour” argument Ansell purports to run as the basis of his Colourblind New Zealand campaign is based upon a misunderstanding of our current cultural milieu.

N.B.: Ansell is talking about changing the title of his campaign away from the loaded “Colourblind” term, so contents of this post might change in the near future.

What is “Colourblind New Zealand?”

“Colourblind New Zealand” is a campaign based upon the premise of equality for all under the law, regardless of skin colour.

Why is “Colourblind New Zealand” a bad idea?

New Zealand (also known as “Aotearoa” and “Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu” ((The te reo Māori names for the North and South Islands of New Zealand are the subject of some contemporary debate. Whilst in recent history the name “Aotearoa” has been taken as being synonymous with both islands, there is now a growing movement to refer to the South Island by the name given to it by local iwi (tribes), which is “Te Wai Pounamu” and go back to the older meaning of “Aotearoa,” which refers solely to the North Island of New Zealand. Organisations like “Nga Maia O Aotearoa Me Te Wai Pounamu” and the the Anglican Church of New Zealand (with the Bishopric which covers the South Island and the lower North Island called “Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa o Te Waipounamu”) are two examples of the resurgence of identifying the South Island by its local name.))) is a country that was first settled by the Māori some eight hundred to a thousand years ago. Europeans (or “Pākehā”) arrived some two hundred years ago and began a process known as “colonisation,” whereby, despite the existence of an indigenous or first people, the (predominantly) English newcomers decided to settle in (what was to them) a newly discovered land. A treaty (Te Tiriti O Waitangi, of which the Treaty of Waitangi is the English translation thereof) was signed between Māori iwi ((Iwi, or tribe, is a collection of hapū, or sub-tribes, which are in turn a collection of whānau, or extended family groups. Iwi are a macro political group based on kinship.)) and the British Crown to provide for governance of the new settlers and, for a time, things seemed peaceful. However, soon many more English settlers began to arrive and the fledgling Colonial government began seizing land from Māori (in contravention of the treaty), leading to the Land Wars. Many Māori were dispossessed from their ancestral land holdings and marginalised in their own country.

This process has lead to systemic and institutionalised problems for Māori. Economically, Māori, denied use of their own land, have been pushed into the poorer areas of the country. Culturally, up until the last two decades, Māori culture was looked down upon and hardly ever celebrated (arguably, aspects of this denigration are still prevalent and much contemporary celebration of Māoridom is tokenistic). Both of these factors (which fall under the rubic of socio-economics) have contributed to a poor state of affairs for Māori. Māori feature heavily in crime statistics, have a lower life expectancy and are generally poorer, financially to Pākehā, and so forth.

John Ansell’s Colourblind New Zealand campaign does not recognise this state of affairs and, instead, paints a false picture of Māori privilege. He and his supporters present two, related reasons for thinking that Māori are currently over-privileged in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu.

    1. Māori are treated as being more important than “normal New Zealanders/Kiwis” and

    2. The system of Treaty settlements, started in the 1980s, disadvantages Pākehā.

The first rationale, that Māori are somehow treated as first class citizens compared to second-class Pākehā and Tau Iwi (New Zealand citizens who are not descended from or related to the Colonials), is based upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the renaissance of Māori culture and Māori identity in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu.

Ansell and his allies seem to object to the following kinds of things: te reo Māori (the Māori language) being taught in schools, powhiri (Māori ceremonial greetings) at public ceremonies, the existence of Māori electorates, the ability to approach the Waitangi Tribunal to make land claims and the like. These things, amongst many others, provide Māori with more rights and privileges than non-Māori, Ansell and his allies argue. However, it is not at all clear that just because, say, Māori can choose to be on a different electoral role to Pākehā and Tau Iwi and te reo Māori being taught at schools (with some talk of it being compulsory, alongside English), that Māori are somehow both better off and more privileged than other members of New Zealand society. It is quite possible to believe the former claim “Māori are somehow both better off” (which is a relative claim; “better off they they were previously” rather than necessarily “better off than some other group”) without necessarily believing the latter claim that Māori are more privileged than anyone else in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu.

Several aspects of contemporary New Zealand society only make sense if you understand their historical context. Ansell likes to make out that, because of the Māori Roll, Māori are, in some sense, politically more privileged than non-Māori. Now, it is true that Māori have the option of either being on the General Electoral Roll or the Māori Electoral Roll (but not both), whilst Pākehā and Tau Iwi can only enrol generally. This looks odd, because it seems to give Māori a strategic other people do not have, but the context of why Māori have this option shows that this is not quite the privilege it appears to be. Until the late 1970s (this link gives a useful backgrounder to the Māori Roll and its history), if you identified as Māori, you could only enrol, as an elector, via the Māori Roll, and the number of Māori seats was fixed at four no matter the proportion of Māori to non-Māori in the country. Historically, Māori were disadvantaged by the existence of the Māori Seats due to a lack of proportionality under the first-past-the-post voting system New Zealand used. Under the mixed-member proportionality system we now use, Māori can choose to enrol via the General or Māori Roll and have both an electorate vote and a party vote. Whilst this is some debate as to the utility of the Māori electorates under a MMP system, both major political parties agree that the move to abolish the Māori electorates should come from within Māoridom as despite the historical injustice these seats caused, they are still valued by Māori (and, arguably, they ensure adequate Māori representation in the New Zealand Parliament).

Even without this piece of context, it still isn’t clear that Māori have any more political power or representation in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu as Māori can be enrolled either via the Māori Roll or via the General Roll but not both. Māori, like non-Māori, get two votes (one electoral vote, one party vote). Māori can choose to be represented either in a general electorate or in a Māori electorate, but by choosing to be in one electorate they opt out of being represented in another. It is not clear what specific privilege this gives Māori but Ansell and his allies either use the publics lack of considered knowledge about their own electoral system, it seems, to create a false impression that Māori have more political powers than non-Māori or Ansell and his allies are as equally ill-informed as their fellow citizens about how the Māori electorates actually work.

Similar arguments can be made about the role of powhiri at public celebrations and the role of te reo Māori in public life: historically Māori culture was downplayed or removed from public life, in breach of the Treaty, and thus the reinstatement of these things is not a heavy-handed attempt to promote Māori above other peoples in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu but, rather, a restoring of the balance and an acknowledgement that Māori are equal partners in New Zealand society and their culture is en par with the introduced English way of doing things.

This leads into the second rationale used to claim Māori have more privilege in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu, the Treaty settlement process.

Because the New Zealand Government in the 1980s decided to start a process of restitution between Crown and Māori, based upon a recognition of long-standing and continuing treaty breaches, Māori, and Māoridom in general, have had access to the Waitangi Tribunal and many (but not all) iwi have had significant settlements/redress which include both money, the return of land and the restoration of some customary rights.

On the face of it, the treaty settlements look to be large transfers of wealth and land to many Māori iwi. However, these settlements, whilst significant in the sense that they are an acknowledgement by the Crown that treaty breaches occurred, they are not substantial settlements, in the sense that these settlements amount, in most cases, to less than one percent of the actual worth of the land that was seized from Māori by the Crown and often these settlements have restrictions on how the money (and land) can be used and are parcelled out over long periods of time.

The Colourblind New Zealand campaign, then, paints such restitution as privileging Māori when, in fact, the Treaty settlements are merely a way of restoring the balance between the two Treaty partners, Māori and the Crown. The Treaty settlements return to Māori what was illegally taken off of them and restore rights that were guaranteed under the Treaty but, on the part of the Crown, taken away or severely curtailed.

What Ansell and his allies either do not understand (or possibly are trying to create confusion over) is that Māori and Māoridom being better off does not entail that Māori have more privilege that other New Zealanders (a point I will come back to in my next post on this subject). They confuse one sense of “significant” with another, the substantive, and assume the latter meaning when, really, the significance of the Treaty settlement process to Māori is the acknowledgement of past wrongs and Treaty breaches rather than (as Ansell would have the process characterised as being) a money grabbing exercise.

The central tenet behind the Colourblind New Zealand campaign is Māori are treated unequally in New Zealand and that this is unfair. The perverse part of this is that Ansell is almost right: Māori are treated unequally in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu but it is not that Māori have more privilege. Rather, historically, they have been a marginalised people in their own land. Recent developments in New Zealand has seen gains for Māori, but Ansell’s Colourblind New Zealand campaign wants to wash away these positive developments and, rather, return us back to the mid-Twentieth Century, where Māori were a dispossessed people struggling for recognition.

Pākehā are not disadvantaged by the Treaty settlement process. Arguably, the Treaty settlement process is, at worst, entirely neutral with respect to Pākehā and Tau Iwi. At best, because the Treaty settlement process restores much needed equity between marginalised Māori and other New Zealanders, the Treaty process is a win-win scenario ((The truth is that the Treaty process is probably somewhere in the middle, in that as Treaty settlements only return a small proportion of the land and wealth that has been taken off of Māori, many Pākehā and Tau Iwi will continue to have substantial advantage over Māori and will continue to profit from historical land seizures and the removal of customary rights.)). A Colourblind New Zealand is a New Zealand in which we would ignore the process of restitution. That is not equality but rather the bedding in of historical inequality.

In the next post I will talk specifically about the Treatygate thesis and why it is not just a conspiracy theory but also an example of an unwarranted conspiracy theory.

Conspiracy Corner – Treatygategate

Well, this week was, predictably, all about John Ansell’s “Treatygate” and, if you’ve read this post and this post from earlier in the week, the following broadcast really contains no new information whatsoever.

Also, I do apologise for the ending of the segment: we had so much material to cover that, basically, all I could do to summarise what I thought about Ansell and his campaign was to riff on the whole “Sad, old, out of touch man” thing that we young race traitors, who do not respect the silent majority, have a tendency to indulge in.

One note: I refer to John Robinson, author of “The Corruption of New Zealand Democracy: A Treaty Overview” as “D. G. Robinson.” These are not the same person: I had a momentary failure of reference. Sorry, Denis. Don’t know what came over me.

Some more Treatygate-gate thoughts

I am sitting here (“here” being in the Māori Studies Department – long story), unable to get back to work on converting the final chapter of my PhD into an article about Bayes Theorem because, well, I’m still stuck on John Ansell’s “Treatygate” and what that says about our society. You see, I made the mistake of subscribing to the comments on Ansell’s post outlining “Treatygate,” so every half-hour or so I get what is usually a comment supporting Ansell’s project, a lot of which focus on the failure of Māori to provide recompense Pākehā for the atrocities of the Land Wars.

I am simply staggered by how little some people know about the history of this place.

Anyway. There are two points I want to touch on. One is Ansell’s notion of the “silent majority” (thanks, Peter Dunne, for popularising that term in our local political discourse). The other is Ansell’s view of the Littlewood draft of Tiriti O Waitangi and what would happen if we took his interpretation of the document seriously.

The 80%

3 News have a story on Ansell’s PR campaign, which you can read here. The salient point:

Mr Ansell believes 80 percent will support his cause.

“Although I am pilloried and called a racist and all this sort of stuff, it’s only a minority who think that. Just about everybody I talk to says `oh, well done’.”

The same point is made in a NBR article:

Despite such hurdles, Mr Ansell is confident of getting 80% of New Zealanders to support his call for a colour-blind state, devoid of the Waitangi Tribunal, separate Maori seats and Te Puni Kokiri.

Ansell has made claims like this before, most notably during his short role as advertising guru for Don Brash’s short-lived hostile take-over of the ACT Party. In this thread over at Kiwiblog Ansell made the bold claim, some seven months before the last election, that Brash would become Prime Minister (with the ACT Party in charge of the Government) and in this thread he boldly claimed:

Don’s devastating secret weapon is The Truth. If he employs this weapon properly, 40%+ [of the total vote] is not only possible, but probable.

Now, Ansell’s numbers were, it seems, just slightly off, given that ACT failed to break the 5% threshold and barely kept their safe seat of Epsom (which meant that Don Brash was not only not returned to Parliament but also rolled by the person he brought into the party, John Banks, who is a small “l” libertarian/ACT supporter in the same way that I am a infamous cowboy); Ansell, it seems, is prone to hyperbole and his much touted “80 percent” should be taken with a liberal dosing of sea salt (and not, as I originally wrote, “seal sat.” Seal sat is a dangerous substance that should not be mentioned in good company).

However, Ansell’s 80% is not an entirely made up number that refers merely to the notion of the “silent majority.” In this comment (yet again over at Kiwiblog) Ansell claims that he is referring to five surveys where the public has voted against racial privilege.

Now, at least some of the surveys he is likely to be referring to are surveys of local body electors support of separate Māori seats on council. One example, that of the city of Nelson, is discussed over at Bowalley Road, whilst this NBR article admits to a few more cases.

What is interesting about these stats is that Pākehā seem predominantly opposed to Māori seats in these surveys, whilst Māori tend to be for them (that in itself is not really all that interesting; the interesting thing is coming up) and Ansell chooses to focus on Pākehā attitudes and tell the story solely from their perspective. Mykeljon Winckel, in his appended note to the eLocal article, makes what I think is an important point:

When John Ansell approached elocal with Treatygate, I decided to run his story on the basis that Maori continue to have a privileged NZ media platform to expound their radical views and it’s time the NZ race have their say.

Note that last clause: “it’s time the NZ race have their say.” In Winckel’s world “Māori,” it seems, are either not of the “NZ race” or, because of some belief that blood quanta is, apparently, important for ethnic identity, Māori, as a distinct group, do not really exist and thus their contribution to the debate can be discounted.

Whatever the case, the 80% support Ansell cites is problematic. Not only does the statistic refer to a portion of the population (and, with respect to the council stats, a portion of a portion of the overall population) but it also is not a stat that directly relates to Ansell’s view about Griever vs. Achiever Māori. Local electors may well oppose Māori seats but that does not mean that said electors necessarily oppose the Treaty process, or believe that a colourblind state is desirable, et al. Ansell needs his own statistics, rather than borrowed numbers. Ansell imagines that he has a lot of fellow travellers (like he imagined that a lot of people would vote for Don Brash), but a dislike of one thing does not entail support for something else.


The last draft before the examination submission of my PhD thesis contained a number of quite significant differences to the copy that went to the examiners, whilst the final copy of my thesis had a few (very few, really) differences to the examination submission. That’s the beauty of drafts: you don’t have to stick by them through thick and thin and you can happily admit to earlier versions being a bit rubbish.

Not, it seems, in the world of John Ansell, who holds that a draft copy of Tiriti O Waitangi should be the reference English text of one of our nation’s central, founding documents. As Scott Yorke said earlier today on Twitter:

Adopting John Ansell’s Treaty logic, I propose that we ignore all enacted laws and instead rely on what earlier bills before Parliament said

to which Simon Poole responded:

@ImperatorFish Surely we just look at the draft versions that went before Select Committee to find out what legislators true intentions were

Which is a great reductio ad absurdum. Yes, if a draft copy of something exists, that tells us a little (but actually not that much) about what the drafter of that document might have been thinking. However, think of all the hurried drafts you have written, all the times you used imprecise terms because more appropriate words wouldn’t come to mind: there’s a lot of good reasons to be suspicious of the claim that draft documents tell you precisely what was being thought at the time the draft was written. Between the production of a draft and the final copy being written, thoughts may have changed, political overlords might have intervened to say “No, definitely not that” or… Well, it doesn’t matter. Drafts are drafts and what got signed is the document you go and reference ((I believe that, like Tiriti O Waitangi, there is an issue with the American “Declaration of Independence,” in that there are several copies from different dates, some of which were signed by different signatories, et al.)).

Anyway, we are signatories to an international convention which means we are duty bound to work with the text written in the indigenous language of the people the treaty was written for, rather than the English translation. No matter the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the Littlewood draft, the legal standing of the signed Tiriti O Waitangi rests upon it being the document of choice by the Courts and the Government of New Zealand.

A related point: Ansell likes to point towards dictionary definitions of te reo Māori words, and he often relies on very old dictionaries to make his point, as if they old dictionaries are somehow more authentic than modern ones. It sort of shows that he doesn’t understand what dictionaries are and how they are compiled. Yes, dictionaries are a very good guide to modern usage, but they also tend to be very good guides to archaic usages. Indeed, modern dictionaries tend to have a larger and more diverse corpus to rely upon to get a sense of how a word was really used “back in the day” ((I can’t say that without making it sound like a quote, so I write it as one.)). Indeed, we have good reason to think that early te reo Māori/English dictionaries weren’t all that brilliant, given that they were predominantly written by English speakers with, at best, moderate te reo fluency (the te reo version of the Bible is a great example of a very bad translation from English to te reo Māori based upon, in part, access to poor dictionaries) and not much access to a large enough corpus to capture the intricacies of the target language. Unfortunately for people like Ansell, even if it turns out that the te reo version of the treaty is a bad translation (or the English version we use today is a bad back translation), we are obliged to work from the te reo version (since it was the Crown who sought to legitimise its standing in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu, not the Māori).

Well, that’s enough for today. Coffee and a biscuit, I think.


It seems that it’s time to, once again, to talk about the Celtic New Zealand thesis and other alternative, anti-tiriti theories about Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu (New Zealand), now that John Ansell has revealed his latest crazy caper and wacky scheme (like a cheap Bond villain from the Brosnan era).

I’ve made a comment over at Ansell’s blog but I’ve had no reply there yet and I’m not expecting one. When Scott Hamilton went up against Martin Doutré, Doutré ignored my analysis of his views. Still, …

Like David Farrar, I’m going to highlight some of the salient points of Ansell’s article and, well, react to them. In truth, this is just a way to clarify my thoughts on this latest assault on living in a decent society. It’s also a great example of a conspiracy theory, what with its focus on power elites, hidden agendas and the like. Indeed, replace “Maori” (or “Māori,” as I argue it should be spelt) with “alien shape-shifting reptiles” and his article wouldn’t look out of place over at David Icke’s ((Has anyone ever written a paragraph that starts with a reference to David Farrar and then ended it with a reference to David Icke?)).

Last year I fumed to a reporter, no doubt after yet another holocaustic exaggeration by a neotribal extortionist demanding my water or flora or sky, that Maori had gone from the Stone Age to the Space Age in 150 years and had yet to say thanks.

For pointing out this irrefutable fact, I was roasted by Rosemary McLeod, disowned by Don Brash, and honoured by an anonymous brown supremacist with my very own Facebook page ‘John Ansell is a Racist F***wit’.

However, I was also contacted by a Maori friend, who gleefully trumpeted how clever his people had been to make such stellar progress, and, in the absence of my forebears, thanked me most profusely.

Two things to say here:

  1. The whole “They never apologised line” is a tad disingenuous, really, since a) it’s not as if progress belongs to any one culture, b) there was reciprocal trading of information (who taught trench warfare to who?) and c) there’s that whole “we’ll steal your land and break the treaty we signed with you” malarky (more on that shortly).
  2. Ansell trots out the whole “I have a Māori friend…” line as if that’s a “Get our of Racism” free card. It’s also the usual anonymous “friend” line which makes you think that such a person does not exist, but, as the comments then show, there are people who do claim to be Māori who agree with him, so maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s not being specific so to protect his alleged friend.

These two opposite reactions caused me to divide Maori into two broad groups, which I call Achievers and Grievers.

The Achievers I admire very much, especially those who – sadly – feel they have to escape to Australia to live the lives of equal New Zealanders.

But the Grievers I can’t abide.

They clearly descend from the ethically-flexible rebel minority who breached the Treaty in the wars of the nineteenth century, and their inflated sense of entitlement has been costing the rest of us dearly.

If you are going to talk about people who are “ethically-flexible,” then, really, you need to also talk about Ngati Pākehā, who, not at all controversially, were the people who broke the treaty between Māori and the British Crown. Ansell seems to gloss over the role of Pākehā in the breakdown of relations between the Crown and Māori, in part because it doesn’t fit his thesis of a “colourblind” state and, in part, because it seems he thinks our conventional history is a smokescreen to hide what really happened “back in the day.”

Being nice to Griever Maori can be very costly indeed – especially when the iwi elite are aided and abetted in their extortion attempts by all the other elites– the political, bureaucratic, academic, judicial, legal, and media.

Everyone but the common man (I use the term advisedly: Ansell’s view on women and their critical thinking abilities can best be summarised as “Right-thinking women think like men”) is agin you and me! Well, that seems to be the extent of his thesis.

When it comes to the whole “exortion attempts” claim Ansell makes, we really need to be comparing like with like. The acknowledged historical losses and injustices to Māori are so high that it’s hard to reconcile claims of extortion by Māori when compared to the outright theft of land and duplicity of the settler government. Claims of extortion are relative to the claim of loss, and no one seems to deny (other that Ansell and his mates) that Māori have not, in anyway, received even close to adequate compensation for their loss of land and autonomy. Indeed, iwi have been model citizens in this regard, accepting paltry apologies and little recompense, it seems, in order to allow Pākehā and Māori to forge a better society together.

Also, all this power elite talk puts Ansell into the heady mix of conspiracy rhetoric common to both the extreme left and the extreme right (the extreme right tend to be suspicious not just of big government but also big business).

We’ve had a corrupt Waitangi Tribunal refusing to pay researchers whose findings do not support their racist fantasy, and a Race Relations Commissioner who instructs councils to create special seats for one race only.

I’ve asked Ansell who these researchers are. I imagine that they are the nine researchers he mentions later on in the article ((Nine mortal researchers doomed to die? Is Ansell actually the Dark Lord Sauron? Why is this information being kept from us?)).

We’ve had historians hushing up the 1989 discovery of the final English draft of the Treaty when they realised that Hobson included “all the people of New Zealand”, not just Maori.

Ansell is talking here about the Littlewood copy of the treaty draft. Note that: draft. Whilst it seems that the Littlewood copy is, indeed, an English early draft of the Tiriti o Waitangi, that doesn’t tell us anything about the ramifications of the document which was signed by the Crown and iwi leaders. The signed document is the actual treaty: the draft is just that. That there are differences between it and the final copy doesn’t mean we should privilege the draft (whose language is more suited to Ansell’s thesis) and, perhaps more importantly, we should prefer the te reo version of Tiriti o Waitangi because that is the document Māori signed, and given that, by Ansell’s argument, Māori were giving up their own sovereignty, we should take their understanding of the matter over that of the English (whose intent, one way or the other, is largely unimportant given that they were, at the time, visitors in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu and seeking a way to legitimise their presence in the country they called “New Zealand.”

On second thoughts, appeasement is too wimpish a word for such a sustained and orchestrated con.

The only word that cuts the mustard is TREATYGATE.

Although I know I breach this principle in the title of this post, can we all just agree to stop putting “-gate” at the end of every scandal and conspiracy claim? Either that or we need to start referring to Watergate as Watergategate.

Pretend that Maori are indigenous to New Zealand, when they sailed here just before the Europeans, and suppress the mounting evidence that other races got here first.

  1. Ansell is referring to the work of such “luminaries” as Martin Doutré, Ross Wiseman, Maxwell C. Hill and all, who claim to have (sketchy) evidence of a pre-Māori in Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu. These people are not professional historians and their work has not survived peer review (of course, Ansell suspects these agencies of being in on the conspiracy, so they fact they are condemned is just more evidence that these people are right, I suspect). Indeed, I, among others, have tried locking horns with these people in the past, to no real avail (I’m usually just ignored by them: I like to think it’s because they don’t like their evidence and basic assumptions being challenged).
  • Even if Ansell, et al is right and there is good evidence that there existed a pre-Māori people who got here first and were wiped out by the Māori, this changes nothing about the treaty between the British Crown and Māori. That treaty does not rest upon Māori being the first and only people of this place but, rather, it rests upon the recognition that the Māori were here before the British and were a settled people with whom the British needed an arrangement with. The Māori could have arrived twenty years before Cook and only just laid down their first whare by the time the first British colonists arrived, fresh from Southampton, and it wouldn’t matter an iota. The existence of a pre-Māori people would not invalidate the Tiriti o Waitangi. It is a document which sets out the relationship between two peoples. Splutter all you like about the possibility someone else was here first: even if they existed, they did not sign a treaty with the British Crown.

  • Pretend at all times that Maori remain a separate race, even though they’re all now part-Pakeha.

    This just infuriates me, since it a) brings up the damned “blood quota” business and b) ignores that, for Māori and many other peoples, belonging to your ethnic group is not (just) a matter of who gave birth to who but also of a feeling of identity.

    For the last year I’ve been studying Crown-Maori history intensively with the help of nine authors who have written more than thirty books on the subject.

    As I mentioned before, I’d really like to know who these nine authors are. I suspect I can name at least four, possibly six. Doutré, Wiseman, Hill, Hilliam, Winckel and Brailsford. But who else is in on this?

    The scale of the Treatygate fraud is massive and reaches into every agency of the New Zealand state.


    I simply want the government to give us the racial equality that the Treaty promised.

    I believe that’s what a lot of Māori want as well. It’s a pity that people like Ansell want to deny it to them.

    I’ll be coming back to this issue (it’ll spur on my discussion of Maxwell C. Hill’s book “To the Ends of the Earth” at the very least) but let me end with the following question:

    Is it just me, or is the press release about Ansell’s campaign and this toxic piece by Rodney Hide about Tiriti o Waitangi somehow not linked?