I am neither a historian, nor an expert in
constitutional law, but that is an advantage -- given that our universities
are staffed by lecturers who mostly seem to consider their self-esteem to
be closely tied to approval from the Leftist social environment in which they
The forecast configuration of forces after the upcoming election gives the
undemocratically-elected Maori Party the power to force the major parties
to bid for its support (It is undemocratically elected, in the sense that
its holding of so many of the Maori seats give it much more representation
in Parliament than its share of the popular vote -- and the MMP electoral
system was introduced in an attempt to represent the popular will more precisely).
This undemocratic power of the Maori Party is now being used to try to entrench
this very same undemocratic power -- when no other law in New Zealand is currrently
entrenched, as far as I am aware. The Maori Party has stated that its bottom
line in any negotiations about forming a new government would be the entrenchment
of the Maori seats. And the Labour Party has already caved in under the pressure
and agreed to support entrenchment.
Entrenchment would mean that it would take a 75% majority of Parliament
to repeal the provision for the separate Maori seats. However, as Helen Clark
has pointed out, the section of the Act which entrenched this provision could
itself be overturned by a simple majority in Parliament, and then the Maori
seats could be removed by a simple majority as well.
In the TV One "Agenda" interview in which she said this, she also
stated that, although the entrenchment could be subverted in the above manner,
the fact of entrenchment created a moral pressure on Parliament not to subvert
So far so good. However, would the Act of Parliament
which created the entrenchment of the Maori seats itself need to be passed
by a 75% majority of Parliament? There has been no mention of this,
and it seems very unlikely, since Parliament, on current polling, is very
unlikely to contain enough supporters of entrenchment to make that feasible.
Would the National Party risk huge divisions within its caucus by trying to
force National Party members to vote for entrenchment?
"four Maori seats were first created for a five year period to
give Maori men who didn't meet the standard individual property-ownership
qualification the right to vote."
So the Maori seats were first introduced to counteract some indirect discrimination
in our electoral laws, which has since been abolished! It is clear, then,
that there would have been no insistence on a 75% majority for the introduction
of the Maori seats in the first place. Since there was
no 75% majority for the introduction of the Maori seats, and since there is
unlikely to be a 75% majority for any Amendment Act that inserted an entrenchment
section into the original Act, any entrenchment of the Maori seats would have
no moral force or logical consistency.
There is a long-standing principle of constitutional law that each Parliament
is sovereign and cannot bind its successors. In other words, each Parliament
can ignore what previous Parliaments have done and make up its own mind on
all issues under the sun, which is as it should be. The main exception to
this principle occurs in the case of constitutional legislation, which can
legitimately bind future Parliaments, although I am not aware of this possibility
having been utilised in New Zealand up till now.
The Third Article of the Treaty of Waitangi guarantees equality for all
citizens, whether they are Maoris or settlers from multicultural Britain,
or elsewhere. Maoris do suffer from unequal treatment, as in the case of the
Seabed and Foreshore Act, but that is not a reason
to entrench unequal treatment for Non-Maoris.
The term "indigenous" is incoherent,
as usually used. We all came out of Africa, after all. Maori DNA is a mixture
of Polynesian and Melanesian DNA, showing a mixed ancestry. The Maoris consisted
of separate tribes before they came here, and we do not know that they came
here from the same place or at the same time. Since they have been in New
Zealand, they have fought lots of wars between themselves, and the survivors
only have conquest to thank for the land rights and other rights which they
now protest about. Where is the morality in conquest, slavery and cannibalism
? Not that the British Empire was any better, of course!