Pot, kettle

May 2, 2019

The New Zealand Maori Council has asked the Human Rights Commission to investigate Hobson’s Pledge.

The resolution to seek the Human Rights Commission to intervene in what the council has called a “racially charged and motivated group of men” was passed unanimously by the Sixteen Districts of the Council at its national hui over the weekend. Matthew Tukaki, Executive Director of the Maori Council has said that Hobson’s Pledge is nothing more than a divisive group of “haters” who would do nothing more than send us all back to the dark ages:

“Let’s be really clear here this group has been able to get away with anything they please when it comes to race relations in this country and to be blunt; we are sick of it. Maori are sick of it. Don Brach and his cronies do nothing more than seek to divide this nation off the back of their tired old man views and their position that it’s their way or the highway.” Tukaki said.

A racially charged and motivated group of men? Tired old men views? This looks very like a pot calling a kettle black without fulling understanding the kettle’s views.

It pays to know your opposition before you attack them. Hobson’s Pledge’s membership includes women and Maori. Maori could be racist, although it would be difficult to be so against other Maori and women aren’t men.

“That is, they the New Zealand Maori Council has asked the New Zealand Human Rights Commission to investigate the impact that groups such as Hobsons Pledge has by furthering the fires of hate speech and the putting down of Maori and peoples of color.” Said Tukaki.

Putting down?

How can a call for equality and for the state to be colour blind be putting down?

“We are further concerned that comments their leadership have made in public over many months constitutes the incitement to both violence and racism, hate and the segregation of New Zealand society. . . 

Agree or not with what the organisation stands for and its representatives say, anything I have heard or read from them is calm, and polite, and a call for unity not separation.

Hobson’s Pledge has welcomed the investigation call.

Hobson’s Pledge welcomes an investigation by the Human Rights Commission called for by the Maori Council so long as the Commission applies the law, acts independently, and leaves prejudice at the door, Hobson’s Pledge spokesperson Casey Costello said today.

The Maori Council called for an investigation in an invective-ridden media release, which said the call was supported unanimously by 16 districts at a national hui at the weekend.

The Maori Council should be careful of the language it uses because it is more extreme than allegations that have already required apologies and printed retractions, Ms Costello said.

The Maori Council media release ignores the fact that both women and Maori are actively involved with Hobson’s Pledge, she said.

Since the Human Rights Commission exists to resolve disputes about unlawful discrimination, it is difficult to see how our group, which calls for the equal treatment of everybody, can be construed as discriminating against anyone, she said.

Any investigation should look at the actual content of our media releases, public statements, and contents of our website, because this is what we actually say, she said.

Allegations by other parties of what we are supposed to have said, that have appeared in the media, were not created by us, and if they are distasteful, the authors of those allegations should be called to account, Ms Costello said.

I have read and heard a lot of criticisms of what people think Hobson’s Pledge is about but nothing that provides a point by point rebuttal of what it actually says.

The shouting down of Pledge spokesman, Don Brash, at Waitangi this year is a case in point.

He was shouted down but if anyone had a criticism of what he was actually saying, it wasn’t reported.

You can read the speech here.

The only point I would argue against is his criticism of different entry standards for entry into medical and law schools for Maori.

Maori are underrepresented in medicine and law. Preferential entry is a way to address that. As long as they have the ability to master their subject and have to meet the same standards as every other student once in the schools, as they do, I regard this as acceptable discrimination.

Other discrimination he questioned included:

  • appointments to local government committees without democratic process,
  • required representation on every government board or agency,
  • separate government funding for Maori tourism,
  • exemption from corporate tax for the businesses arising out of Treaty settlements,
  • taxpayer funding for customary marine title claims,
  • a legal requirement that Maori have special entitlement to be consulted on environmental planning laws, and
  • mandatory respect for Maori spiritual rites and process despite New Zealand’s officially being a secular society.

Questioning that is an argument for equal treatment, the antithesis of racism.

If there’s something wrong with that it should be easy to counter it with facts and logic, rather than just dismissing it as racist.

There is general acceptance that Maori were badly treated in the past and that Treaty settlements are a legitimate way to compensate for that.

Maori feature disproportionately in negative statistics for health, welfare, income and educational attainment and few would question that addressing that should be a priority.

But the idea that the Treaty made Maori more equal than other New Zealanders is more controversial.

It’s a view Hobson’s Pledge argues against but that does not make it racist.

Like the organisation I welcome the investigation providing, as their response says, the Commission applies the law, acts independently, and leaves prejudice at the door.

 

 

 


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