Co-Governance and Indigenous Rights: A Heated Debate in New Zealand
Clashing Perspectives on Co-Governance
During the recent Kaupapa Māori Debate, a conflict arose between the Green Party’s Marama Davidson and ACT’s Karen Chhour around the topic of co-governance. The discussion was initiated by a question on housing, where Chhour was asked if ACT would continue to partner with iwi for housing initiatives. While Chhour responded positively, highlighting the importance of community-led initiatives, Davidson countered by questioning ACT’s stance given its opposition to co-governance.
Contradiction in ACT’s Position
Davidson pointed out the contradiction in ACT’s position, supporting Māori-led housing programs while opposing co-governance. Chhour defended the party’s position, arguing that concerns about co-governance arose from poor communication and misunderstanding of what co-governance entails. However, Davidson rebutted, asserting that co-governance is already working effectively in areas like healthcare and environmental protection.
A “Strategy of Fear”
Labour’s candidate, Willie Jackson, supported Davidson, accusing ACT and New Zealand First of running a “strategy of fear” against co-governance. The debate also touched on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which led to the co-governance talks. John Tamihere explained that co-governance is a means for Pākehā to understand Māori rights and entitlements.
Focusing on Needs over Bureaucracy
National candidate Tama Potaka emphasized the importance of addressing needs rather than getting embroiled in co-governance bureaucracy. Meanwhile, New Zealand First’s Shane Jones expressed his dissatisfaction with the iwi leaders group claiming to be the exclusive representative of all Māori. He criticized the focus on co-governance over basic needs like sanitation.
Indigenous Rights and Co-Governance
The debate reflects the ongoing discussions around co-governance and indigenous rights in New Zealand. The issue is rooted in differing interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi, the country’s founding document, and competing visions for the best way to redress colonial wrongs and foster a just relationship between the British Crown and its indigenous treaty partners. The agreement between the Crown and some 540 Māori chiefs paved the way for British sovereignty and colonial governance in New Zealand.
Reconciling Democracy and Indigenous Rights
The discussion, which many say is picking away at social cohesion, is rooted in differing interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi and competing visions for the best way to redress colonial wrongs and foster a just relationship between the British Crown and its Indigenous treaty partners. The debate over co-governance reflects the challenge faced by many postcolonial societies in reconciling democracy with the rights and entitlements of indigenous communities.
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