Geoff Simmons takes his place among Party Leaders at Rātana

Geoff Simmons spoke at Rātana last week, taking his place with leaders from the other parties. He also met with Kaapua Smith and Che Wilson of the Maori Party. Some of The Opportunities Party membership/followership asked about his speech, so we decided to publish it in full. This is his speech, sort of. He improvises.

“How Can we Honour Rangatiratanga and the Treaty?  

Rangatiratanga is the key to honouring the Treaty. However, it seems to me that the word, the symbol, the very concept of rangatiratanga is something that Pakeha New Zealanders fear.

I believe this fear is based on a misunderstanding about the term. If Pakeha really understood the term I think they would not only want Rangatiratanga for Māori in order to honour the Treaty, but they would also want it for themselves.

Let me explain what I mean. Through many Treaty settlements we have seen that Māori generally value mana over money. You only have to look at the Treasury calculations that show that Māori have settled at less than two cents in the dollar for the value of what they lost.

Unfortunately all Pakeha see in Treaty settlements is the money. This is a problem because with this mindset we think Rangatiratanga is about money too. Under the “money” mindset if someone else has something, I don’t. This breeds anger and division.

However the mana mindset is very different. If you have mana, there is nothing to stop me from having mana too.

That is why The Opportunities Party believes there is nothing to fear in resolving Māori water rights. Māori want clean fresh water as much as any Kiwi, probably more.

And so it is with Rangatiratanga. Giving Māori rangatiratanga doesn’t mean anyone else loses their Rangatiratanga. Maori communities can have Rangatiratanga. Pakeha communities can have rangatiratanga. Pasifika, LGBTQI, any community can have the same.

Some call Rangatiratanga devolution. I like to call it giving people a greater say over the things that impact their lives.

Of course, in giving communities a greater say there will be mistakes. But mistakes are what lead to growth.

Rangatiratanga will help people realise the limits of what money and government can achieve. That will encourage communities and families to do things differently and step into the gap.

In fact, the only group I can see that would lose from rangatiratanga are career politicians as they would not longer be able to take credit for the achievements of communities.

In summary, rangatiratanga is misunderstood. But if it were fully understood, I am confident that it would be embraced by Māori and Pakeha alike.

(photo credit: Phillip Capper)