Dr Elizabeth Rata: One for the Hope File

gregster's picture
Submitted by gregster on Fri, 2012-12-14 09:22

I was reading yesterday’s paper of 13th December in between races in the betting shop earlier tonight and was impressed with a column by Dr Elizabeth Rata, especially since she appears to be from within the education establishment.

Treaty no longer symbol of national unity. Dr Elizabeth Rata is an associate professor in the Education Faculty at Auckland University and a member of the Independent Constitution Review Panel.

Here she goes:

“I was surprised to read in Deborah Coddington's recent Herald column that the Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand's founding document. Of course some New Zealanders mistakenly believe that is the case.”


“Where the belief becomes a problem is when a member of the Government appointed and funded Constitutional Advisory Panel such as Deborah Coddington states that this is so. In describing the Treaty as our founding document she has jumped the gun somewhat in anticipating the panel's recommendations about the status of the Treaty. And she is certainly premature in gauging New Zealanders' opinions on the subject.”

“However the rejection of Treaty politics by many is not from ignorance but from being only too aware of the profoundly undemocratic nature of political arrangements proposed by Treaty activists within all levels of government.”

Those who object to this, and I am one of these, do so for two strong reasons. Co-governance establishes a political system where the power and authority of one party, iwi, is unchallengeable.


“This makes the matter of the Treaty's status of great importance to us all. To simply assert that the Treaty is our founding document, as Deborah Coddington has done, is not good enough.”

Well said. The article from Deborah Coddington was in response to one from Deborah Hill Cone of Monday Nov 26, 2012:

Constitution? Let's have a korero

Talking about difficult things - such as making the Treaty supreme law - sometimes makes them worse.

Constitutional Advisory Panel would like us all to be having "deeper conversations" about constitutional issues, says Deborah Hill Cone.

Listen up, plebs. The Constitutional Advisory Panel would like us all to be having "deeper conversations" about constitutional issues. I must remember to bring it up at my son's kindy next time I'm helping set out the play-doh. "So ladies, fancy a written constitution?"

The panel, set up as part of National's agreement with the Maori Party after the 2008 election, suggests ordinary Joes who are not Beltway politics freaks ought to talk about the big constitutional issues in the same way we would talk about, say, New Zealand's Got Talent.”

Hill Cone’s evidence is clear and correct, as seen at The Constitutional Advisory Panel Site:

“Participants in the early conversations have been enthusiastic about the Panel’s upcoming engagement on New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.

Common themes about the best approach to engagement emerged from these conversations
▪ The information needs to be clear, uncomplicated and digestible
▪ The topics being discussed need to be relevant to people’s day-to-day lives
People need to know that their involvement will make a difference, and their opinions and ideas are valued and necessary.


We are committed to hearing from as many New Zealanders as possible, and we are looking forward to the next stage of our work.”

Deborah Hill Cone:

Families where people do show respect to each other don't do it because they have been told to, and certainly not when they are told to by the Government.

Rather they model what they see. Most of the suggestions the Constitutional Advisory Panel is considering lead to bigger government.

And despite, or perhaps because of, being such a high-powered bunch I can't imagine its members concluding their work was not necessary after all.

Maybe it would be more helpful for the panel to tell people to simply shut up and notice rather than encouraging them to jibber jabber more.

Deborah Coddington replied to Hill Cone, Tuesday Dec 4, 2012:

Deborah Hill Cone shuns the idea of having a korero about New Zealand's constitutional issues (Constitution? Let's have a korero, November 26).

Instead, she says the 12 "bigwigs" who make up the Constitutional Advisory Panel should "tell people to simply shut up and notice rather than encouraging them to jibber jabber more".

It is somewhat ironic that the Bill of Rights Act 1990, one of the statutes which comprises New Zealand's constitution, permits Deborah the freedom of expression to make such dismissive statements. Another tenet of our constitution, the Rule of Law - under which everyone must obey New Zealand's laws - thankfully prevents the panel, and the politicians who appointed us, from dictating that everyone "shut up and notice".

Deborah [Coddington] tries to justifiy her panel's methods:

“In the past, surveys have shown many Kiwis feel disenfranchised; their voice counts for nothing, or they can't make a difference. So this is a chance to speak out, as the constitutional conversation spreads out around the country next year - through clubs, marae, rotary, friends around the kitchen table even, and social media. It's your constitution, and your conversation.”

What a load of bullshit. "Disenfranchised?" Most citizens wouldn't know how to spell that word, let alone be given a voice towards a constitution. It’s like the system in teaching institutions where students rank tutors. It’s asking the kids to run the kindy. Coddington has long ago lost her plot for the development of civilisation. She is content to countenance, via submissions from every dingbat around, a reinforcement of busybody, mind-molesting, child-killing, Nanny State:

”We pass our neighbour's house and remember she's having a dispute with the local council over her driveway boundary - should she be compensated, you wonder? We pass our local MP and see he's talking on his cellphone while driving - is he allowed to do that when I'm not?”

“You turn on the news, and there's another Treaty of Waitangi settlement being signed. What happens to the Treaty when all claims are settled, you wonder, now this is accepted as New Zealand's founding document?”

What does she mean here? The Treaty is New Zealand’s founding document? Or that it is accepted by a majority of brainwashed dumbed-down products of state education that in fact the Treaty is a founding document? Who knows, amid Deborah’s horrifying, purposeful ambiguity.

“The panel has already posed questions around constitutional matters to groups of well-educated New Zealanders, not constitutional experts, and elicited reactions such as, "We should know this stuff," and "I'm ashamed I've never learned more about this".

Why didn’t the government make me learn this better?

Deborah Coddington's article, Vital we have a chance to voice constitutional concerns:

“Nonetheless, their enthusiasm to know more was heartening. As was the willingness of the many groups we've spoken to who want to help us in our task.

So this much we do know: our task is a big one, and first we have to inform people. For that reason, we've produced an easy-to-read booklet (http://www2.justice.govt.nz/ca...), which contains summary information about New Zealand's constitutional arrangements, the conversation so far, and the questions and perspectives that have been expressed along the way.

Deborah [Hill Cone] is wrong when she states the panel's suggestions lead to bigger government. The panel is not suggesting anything, except that people have their say and don't allow this constitutional conversation to become the property of politicians and academics, because of apathy. Your democracy depends on it.

There you have it.

Your rampantly successful democracy is the best this panel of minds can aspire to.

Why is it so difficult for these morons? Why ask every opinion?

Simply uphold a constitution respecting every individual's rights. Done.


Elizabeth Rata

gregster's picture

Presentation to the Fabian Society, 23rd May 2013, The Business School, The University of Auckland

"Explaining biculturalism as a political movement is insufficient. Its evangelical character, its refusal to accept criticism even in the face of evidence that shows its social justice ideals were mistaken, provides some clues.

Biculturalism is a religious retreat for the secularised ex-socialist and the newly conservative ‘liberal’ alike. By understanding biculturalism as a belief system one can explain why it doesn’t need to be logical (beliefs by their very nature are not subject to the rules of logic) and why it has become so pervasive despite meaning different things to different people.

If biculturalism were logical, the evidence that it has not led to social justice and racial inclusion would have seen it criticised and abandoned. (The emergence of the neotribal elite, the growth of Maori in poverty, the failure of Maori language policy are all indicators that the progressive ideals of the early biculturalists have failed.)

If illogical, the answer must lie outside logic – in an act of faith that does not require justifying – it simply is. And this is where biculturalism is now – something that pervades our public institutions but because it is immune to criticism and rejection, is fundamentally anti-democratic. Like religion, biculturalism can remain a belief system for those who want to believe in it but again like religion it should not be part of our secular political system."

The CONversation continues

gregster's picture

Animal Farm's worst bits taken as a given by the young these days?

At Chris Trotter's site.

Young Morgan Godfery:Everyone is entitled to a view in a democracy, but not all views are entitled to equal weight.

George Orwell: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Oh man

Jules Troy's picture

I wish I had not just had lunch before I read that...


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.