Act leader calls on Devoy to resign

Dame Susan Devoy.
Dame Susan Devoy.
Act Leader Jamie Whyte says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy should resign for her condemnation of his "call for racial equality" by putting an end to special legal recognition of Maori, saying she is interfering in the election year political process.

Dame Susan who last year refused to comment on Winston Peters' claims that Auckland was becoming a "Supercity of sin" due to a growing Asian influence, yesterday labelled Dr Whyte's comments about Maori as "grotesque and inflammatory".

Dr Whyte said her response to his "call for racial equality" would be "nothing more than a sign of ignorance if she were still a professional squash player".

"But she is no longer a squash professional. She is the Commissioner for Race Relations. Her role is specified in legislation."

Dr Whyte's speech last weekend took aim at the legislation providing for the Maori electoral roll and seats in Parliament, three of which are currently held by the Maori Party and one by the Mana Party.

"Nowhere does the legislation say that, unlike other senior state bureaucrats, the Commissioner of Race Relations' role involves engaging in political campaigns to support particular parties, such as the Mana-Internet Party and the Maori Party," Dr Whyte said.

"It is astounding that the Commissioner of Race Relations should condemn me for promoting legal equality between the races.

"If Ms Devoy believes that a person's legal rights should depend on the race of her parents, and if she believes that she should use her state-funded position to promote the electoral prospects of race-based political parties, then she is unfit to hold her position as the Commissioner of Race Relations.

"She should resign today."

Dr Whyte yesterday told the Herald Dame Susan either hadn't read his comments "or she can't think straight" as she appeared to miss his point that while Maori enjoyed legal privilege - like pre-revolutionary French aristocrats - they did not enjoy material privilege.

"She brings up the fact that Maori are not materially privileged as if it's a refutation of my position, but it's part of my position.

"It's utterly bizarre - either she hasn't read it or she can't think straight. It's very very strange. I'm dumbfounded. Sometimes there's just nothing you can say."

- NZ Herald

Didn't know so it didn't happen?

Former Student was "surprised that the Chinese were cited as the most obvious example of the "disenfranchised", because I had heard no clamour about this in the past."  It must have been one of the days FS wagged class.  In the early days of post-Maori arrivals in NZ,  Chinese not only were barred from voting, they were barred from bringing their wives to join them here.  Theirs is not a clamourous strident culture by and large.  Perhaps this is why some people are unaware of that aspect of NZ history despite having attended educational facilities.

Representation

The Maori seats were created to ensure Maori representation at governmental level. With the abundance Of Maori MP's (or MP's of Maori descent) , diverse parties incl two which directly reference Maori people, and the right to vote equally these same seats no longer serve as a means to include, raise, or celebrate Maori but actually act to divide the populous. The are now nothing more than an apartheid measure and thus are obsolete.

Parliamentary 'wards' by nationality, Really?

I am asked whether "other minorities are too unimportant to have ethnic-based special representation in the parliament that governs all NZ and NZers?" The answer is yes.

I don't understand the reference to the speaking of Maori language, perhaps this could be clarified.

I was surprised that the Chinese were cited as the most obvious example of the "disenfranchised", because I had heard no clamour about this in the past. I was thinking about Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders? Surely it would get very messy if Parliamentary representation was carved up for 30 or more ethnicities (assuming the writer was thinking of the bigger picture). Not expected, not needed, not requested. I have heard noone other than this ODT correspondent suggest such a thing!

No, the designation of Maori seats that we have is perfect thank you, in spite of what ACT supporters may be saying (with their about zero percent following) Like Susan Devoy, I was hoping the majority of ODT readers would understand the place of Maori in New Zealand, Samoans in Samoa, Hawaiians in Hawaii, Chinese in China etc. Maybe it is something that more diverse populations in the North Island can appreciate.

Important minorities?

"The fact is that as the tangata whenua, Maori are a significantly important minority."  And this is the reason for retaining Maori seats is it, Former Student?  Other minorities are too unimportant to have ethnic-based special representation in the parliament that governs all NZ and NZers?  Bear in mind that when the Maori seats were introduced Maori were in small numbers and there was a strong feeling that this was a "declining race".  Also, at that time there was a large proportion of Maori who were not involved in the "mainstream" urban way of life, many who still spoke their own language not as a political statement but because English, spoken and written, was barely relevant or useful to them in their daily lives.  

Chinese have been here since the beginnings of elections and government as we know it.  They were disenfranchised, discriminated against, not expected to settle.  The last thing that would have been envisaged is the current number of Chinese (in the same terms as Maori, a person with one or more Chinese forebears) living in NZ.  Are they not significant, are they not a significant minority?  Do they not deserve redress for the years of enforced voicelessness in this country where they worked and paid taxes?

Significant minority is not a good enough reason to have specially designated seats in a democratic parliament.  There were many good reasons for Maori seats in the past.  I refuse to accept the view that Maori still need special assistance just for being Maori.  [abridged]

 

Simple question simple answer

I can't believe that I read a statement like this:

'The assumptions underlying the retention of Maori seats are that Maori are neither fit to be MPs without special assistance, and "ordinary" MPs are interested only in non-Maori (that's all immigrants plus kiwi-born Pakeha) issues.'

No. The fact is that as the tangata whenua, Maori are a significantly important minority. I find the above thoughts a Dunedin-centric world view.

 

Patronising hangover?

 

"Maori vote for one party and one electorate candidate, just like everyone else."

Gor blimey. But Former Student, that's not really the point is it? The assumptions underlying the retention of Maori seats are that Maori are neither fit to be MPs without special assistance, and "ordinary" MPs are interested only in non-Maori (that's all immigrants plus kiwi-born Pakeha) issues.

Maori MPs are expected to work on behalf of Maori. As I understand it that is why those electorates still exist despite the numbers of Maori who have a parents of non-Maori parentage. Few of us born in NZ are purely from one nationality, ethnicity, origin, or "blood", though there is a strong tendency among us mingled crossbreds to claim identity of one above the other 3, 15 or more in our family tree. So "general-identifying" people can be Maori-etc, and MPs elected by people on the general roll include Maori-identifying+Pakeha-forebears or Pakeha-identifying+Maori-forebears. and that's leaving out the Asians, Indians, Dalmatians, PI and so on for the sake of simplifying the point.

In my opinion, all MPs - whatever their origins - should do their best to represent all NZers (or whatever etc). A variety of MPs familiar with different sectors of society must be able to put their insights into government and come to conclusions on how to run the country so that no group gets special advantages, nor misses out on opportunities for reasons of ethnicity.

For some weird reason the idea that all, equally, must have a chance to thrive is unpopular, is even called "racist". In my opinion it is racist to give extra help to a group based on anything other than extra needs. Being Maori is not a congenital disability for which lifelong assistance should be given irrespective of how talented, hard-working, healthy and successful a person is. So why are those Maori seats not regarded as a patronising hangover from the days when Maori were regarded as not quite capable of being equal to white folks? Who's racist, today?

 

 

The wrong way round

Susan Devoy should suggest to Jamie Whyte that he resign.
If this is supposed to be ACT party policy, then same on him and shame on the party.  His argument is without merit.
The example he gives of Maori seats is ridiculous. Maori vote for one party and one electorate candidate, just like everyone else.
The first thing I would expect of a philosopher is clear thinking, but not in this case.

 

But fraternity and liberty still acceptable - sort of

Move into the 21st century, russandbev. "Equal - not less or more - is the only answer."  What nonsense!  Equality is undesirable now.

Equality is the answer

Dame Susan Devoy continues a long tradition of holders of this post who, once they are in the post and receiving the large pile of dosh that goes with it, can no longer see reality.  It may be an unpalatable fact, but nonetheless true that Maori are positively discriminated in under legislation in New Zealand.  Equally true that Maori are disproportionately represented in jails, in court appearances and in underachieving in educational outcomes.  But the current Maori seats and much legislation is apartheid by any measure.  If people want to address poverty and the effects of it then the first thing to do is to get rid of the race angle.  Equal - not less or more - is the only answer.

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