A few weeks ago, I met a man who had several children. Three of them were his own, and two of them he had adopted when their mother, his sister, died in an accident. The adopted children had a Maori parent, and so under New Zealand law they are entitled to be called Maori.
What he most wanted was that all his children, both those with a Maori ancestor and those with only European ancestors, should grow up as healthy and well balanced adults, able to take their place in society.
And he was distressed that increasingly his part-Maori children would have advantages that his other children would be denied – slightly easier access to higher education, a preferential right to be consulted when local governments were drawing up their district plans, a right to claim a customary marine title over parts of the coastline, and so on.
He is convinced that treating some New Zealanders in such a preferential way is patronizing to them and creating resentment in the rest of the community.
This pattern of building constitutional preferences into New Zealand society for those with a Maori ancestor has been going on for more than 30 years, under both Labour-led and National-led governments.
What makes me angry is that I expected better from the current National-led Government. Bill English made a powerful speech in 2002 committing National to a single standard of citizenship and in 2003 he promised that a future National Government would scrap separate Maori electorates. John Key and I made similar commitments when we led the National Party in Opposition.
Yet over the last few years, National has led the charge to create special privileges for Maori New Zealanders. I believe that is wrong and dangerous and must be reversed.
Copyright © 2020 Don Brash.