Gareth Morgans Ratana Speech for the The Opportunities Party

Last time I was at Ratana I accepted the challenge to honour the Treaty of Waitangi. I now challenge Maori to help me deliver on this promise by voting for The Opportunities Party

Kia ora koutou,

My name as some of you will know is Gareth Morgan,

I was born and raised in Putaruru in the South Waikato by my mother and father Mary and Roderic Morgan who came from Cardiff, South Wales

My wife is Joanne and together we have four wonderful children and 6 grandchildren.

Having being born and bred in Putaruru my mountain is Maungatautari and my river is Te Waihou, which ran beside our place. Unfortunately I have to say it was a lot more pristine then than it is today.

I have had direct experience over recent years of how important mountains and rivers are to Maori – having been engaged with the marae of the South Waikato on the future of Maungatautari as an ecological reserve and with the Ruakawa iwi in trying to prevent the blue springs on my river, being despoiled by mass swimming.

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I would like to begin by extending my condolences to the Secretary of Ratana, Piriwiritua Rurawhe for the recent passing of his mother.

I wish to thank the people of Ratana for welcoming myself again onto your whenua. I was here two summers ago when I was on the one hand given the honour of sitting on the pi pi on the day the politicians came to Ratana, but on the other presented with the gifts that Ratana presented Michael Joseph Savage of the petition, the broken watch, the (huia) feather, the pounamu, and the potato. Of course the symbolism of that resonated and I remember the challenge you laid down to me that day - to progress the Ratana petition and get the politicians to accept the treaty principles as central to the constitution of New Zealand.

Well I’m back two years on, to report progress as well as return my own challenge to Maori assembled here today. Of course this time I come, having now formed The Opportunities political party, so my proposition has somewhat more than academic relevance. Last time we met I had just completed a book on the future of the treaty of Waitangi, this time I want to outline my political plan to give effect to some of the suggestions in that book.

Our book was called “Are We There Yet”?  in reference to the strong expectation held by Pakeha particularly, that once the settlement process winds up, then for all intents and purposes the claims are finished and we can all get back to normal, happy in the knowledge that everything to do with the treaty is now done & dusted.

As I said in 2015, I don’t have to tell this audience that nothing could be further from the truth. The enormity of the task is convincing ordinary non-Maori or as often referred to in te reo, Tau Iwi, that the treaty means far more than reaching agreed settlements over past wrongs. This task needn’t be so daunting if successive governments had done a better job communicating to Tau Iwi the work of the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal over the last 40 years.

So much remains to be done if Maori are to make meaningful progress on the issues around rangatiratanga as referred to in Article 2 of the Treaty.

Self-determination, removal of socio-economic disadvantage and gaining a meaningful say in the governance of Aotearoa New Zealand, all remain on the “to-do” list, and I do not need to tell you that most Tau Iwi, are blissfully unaware of this.

That is the challenge my political party is prepared to take directly to pakeha and work assiduously to ensure that in the end all New Zealanders “get it”.

In 1936 Michael Joseph Savage said;

"I will give the Treaty of Waitangi every consideration and listen to your representations, and will say that the spirit of the Treaty can be found in our policy, to assist you and all your Maori People."

It is notable that no Prime Minister since Michael Joseph Savage has continued the undertaking of his statement made in 1936.

Our research suggests.

1 Your language remains marginalised, although pleasingly wider acknowledgement of its importance and value to us all, is emerging;

2 Your over-representation amongst the ranks of the socially and economically disadvantaged is unacceptable on any measure; and

3 My view is that the trinkets of political office you are gaining are an extremely poor substitute for the principle of a shared role in governance.

The Opportunities Party is soon to announce a programme of Constitutional reform. The following are those elements of that reform which are centered around the Treaty of Waitangi.

1. An Upper House

An Upper House would in effect, restore the sovereignty of Parliament and take sovereignty back from Cabinet. Typically in Western democracies the Upper House is not sovereign, it can only recommend, but in so doing it highlights to the public the risks that proposed legislation poses. It’s better we find out before the damage is done. 

2. A Written Constitution

The Opportunities Party is committed to having a written Constitution. Apart from New Zealand, Israel and the UK all other democratic countries have a written constitution.

Why do we need one? Because ordinary people want a central reference in plain English and plain Te Reo that summarises what the values of our community are. It will be a reference for all New Zealanders to identify with, take pride in, defend the principles of, and live our lives by.

Central to ours will be the Bill of Rights and our Human Rights Act. But as well we want included those issues that are distinctly New Zealand

  1. obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi
  2. the Constitutional rights of Nature wherein our ecosystems have the right to exist and flourish.

Honouring the treaty should be central to the unique identity of being a New Zealander. Don Brash and Winston Peters take note.

The document that defines New Zealand’s democracy – our constitution – needs to acknowledge the unique rights that Maori has in terms of the right for its society to be protected as well as its role in the determination of our country’s future. That is the only way the treaty can be said to be being honoured.

This then is a second reason for bringing back the Upper House. It will not only restore sovereignty to parliament but will defend our constitution, which has at its centre, the Treaty of Waitangi.

Equipping citizens to respect the role of the Treaty

As I’ve said there still prevails an urban myth amongst pakeha that aligns with the fiscal envelope concept. In other words after settlements end, the treaty becomes irrelevant.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is vital that young New Zealanders continue to grow up with a far stronger appreciation of its importance, than has been common in the past. It is to the credit of our education system that major efforts are being made in this regard through the schools. However, the treaty is of such importance that it behoves us to ensure that all New Zealanders feel that importance in their hearts, respect it and nurture the principles of the treaty.

To ensure New Zealanders forever empathise with our bicultural foundations, te reo Maori the other official language of our country needs to be afforded the same rights as English. That includes the requirement it be taught in all schools.

To quote Nelson Mandela, when explaining why he had learnt Afrikaans, the language of his prison guards

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

My dream would be that the two treaty signatories are equally represented in the Upper House which, while deferring to the sovereignty of parliament, the Lower House – has the ability to highlight to the public weaknesses in intended legislation, as well as the ability to refer to the Courts issues of constitutional breaches. With the Constitution firmly including the principles of the treaty, this should ensure the interests of both tangatawhenua and the other societies that make up the “New Zealanders”, are protected and nurtured. 

Finally I come to two challenges from The Opportunities Party I would like Maori to consider. 

Firstly we want and we need your party vote.

  1. We are the one party that is prepared to take this treaty conversation to non-Maori and convince them that honouring the treaty is a win-win;
  2. we are the one party that will push for a written constitution with honouring the treaty hard-coded in it;
  3. we are the one party who wants an Upper House with Maori appropriately represented in it, so that democracy Kiwistyle is restored.

Neither of the Establishment parties will do this – neither will renew the commitment that Michael Joseph Savage made to Ratana in 1936.

On behalf of TOP I am making that commitment, but for us to fulfill it we need to be in parliament, and in decent numbers. That’s why we need your help – we need your party vote.

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My second challenge is to implore you to call out the NZ First Party of Winston Peters. I do not see that party as at all empathetic to the treaty, indeed Winston regards honouring it as separatism and Maori privilege.

As a man I greatly admire, Moana Jackson has said any treaty is an agreement by separate parties so of course it’s about separate entities agreeing to coexist and have a duty of care to each other. It is a two way street, not a one way track to cultural oblivion that Mr Peters supports. His x` cat grin cannot hide the fact that NZ First is selling Maori down the river.

Indeed when I read Winston’s utterings in this area – as in many areas – all I see are the words of Don Brash. The two are black and white facsimilies of each other, both Regressive Conservatives who preach assimilation and subjugation to a British settler form of monocultural white nationalism. Surely this is evident when the newly formed Hobson Group led by Don Brash, publicly elected New Zealand First as the only party who represent their views.

You need to remember that it was Mr Peters who championed the Treaty of Waitangi Principles Deletion Bill in 2005 – that bill was to REMOVE all treaty principles from legislation.

It seems to me Peters gets away with this anti-Treaty stuff because he is Maori – the old adage that you can’t be racist against your own race. I don’t accept that excuse. Winston has no empathy with the situation Maori finds itself in – over-represented in all the wrong economic and social indicators precisely because of the lack of recognition of its cultural values and taonga.

I cannot understand why Maori don’t stand up and call Winston out for being nothing more than an Uncle Tom, an envoy of the “Kiwi not Iwi” fringe. In no way is it in Maori’s interest to support the vicious phobic undertone of NZ First. You need to deal to him. 

So there you have it. I am trying my best to do the best thing by both pakeha and Maori to take our treaty forward and to have the treaty honoured just as the Ratana movement implored Michael Joseph Savage. This is the challenge you laid down to me two years ago.

I cannot do this without your help – you need to renounce NZ First as being anti Treaty and therefore anti- Maori, and The Opportunities Party must have your party vote so we can work with the Maori Electorate MPs who get elected to achieve our objectives with the Treaty

Thanks very much, kia ora