`Iwi tax’ propaganda fail

Despite Fairfax papers the Dominion Post and the Waikato Times cheerfully running their “iwi tax” racist propaganda line, eel fishermen working (or not working, presently) in Lake Ellesmere/Te Waihora now claim in The Press it’s nothing to do with race:

“It’s not a Maori-Pakeha issue, but a bullying corporation treating some small people badly.”

That’s Clem Smith, the same person to whom the `iwi tax’ line was attributed a few days ago. What appears to have happened is that their `iwi tax’ line didn’t get as much traction as they expected – even the normally-rabid comments section on the original article was fairly split between the rednecks and the propertarians – and a Ngāi Tahu former Treaty negotiator came out in their defence, making their anti-Māori position somewhat untenable.

Still, it’s good that they’ve backed down. I still believe the levy is a legitimate means of raising revenue to clean up the waterway, but I also agree with Rik Tau’s argument in principle that Ngāi Tahu ought to act within the spirit of the agreement rather than exploiting it strictly to the letter. The fundamental problem in Māori-Pākehā relations isn’t a lack of agreements, it’s a lack of goodwill in their implementation. Including the first one – the Treaty.


8 thoughts on “`Iwi tax’ propaganda fail

  1. All the treaty process is going to do is show that when you give the power to enforce monopoly rents to any private person or organisation the results will be the same in the long run, be it Highland clearances or a Maori corporation.

  2. Tom,

    All the treaty process is going to do is show that when you give the power to enforce monopoly rents to any private person or organisation the results will be the same in the long run, be it Highland clearances or a Maori corporation.

    Be that as it may, why should it be the exclusive preserve of non-Māori? Or, more accurately, why should Māori be excluded simply because they were victims of expropriation in the past? The point of the Treaty settlements isn’t to give effect to some ideological economic plan – it’s to enable resource-holders, or their descendants, the opportunity to do what they like with the resources which ought never have been expropriated in the first place. If that turns out to be rentier capitalism, that’s their call to make.


  3. Lew, the mark of any decadent economic system, be it Tsarist Russia or provincial Bolivia, is an economy built on a non-productive class of absentee landlords rack-renting a peasant class of indentured workers. I’m not arguing that this system should be the preserve of non-Maori. What I am saying is money is colour blind, and no person or group in a liberal deomcracy should be allowed to enforce unfair monopoly rents.

    To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the surest way to revolution is the efficient enforcement of unfair taxes.

    In other words, at the end of the day governance requires the acquience of the governed. Maori as much as the Business Round Table, would do well to remember that.

  4. Tom,

    Why would the resource-holder be any more productive in exploiting the resource than a third party specialised in doing so?


  5. I am not talking about the resource holder. My point is giving a heriditary monopoly right to a natural resource to a private party is an excellent way to create an entrenched parasitical rentier class whose desire to protect its privilege will manifest itself in an anti-democratic and extremely reactionary way. And I don’t give two fiddlesticks if these reactionaries are brown or white.

  6. Tom,

    For one thing, I wonder why a distinction should be made on the basis of whether control of a resource is hereditary or otherwise. For another I would dispute that this case is `hereditary’ in the historical usage of that word – it’s not controlled by certain descendants by birthright, it’s controlled by certain people elected by a collective of the descendants. For a third, I don’t think the current case shows anyone trying to `protects its privileges’ other than to ensure that the health of the resource is maintained at the cost of those exploiting the resource, and for a fourth I don’t see how this action is `reactionary’ unless you assume that concern for the integrity of one’s possessions is inherently reactionary (which you might well do).

    It sounds like you’re arguing that there should be no private rights to natural resources. Since you’re arguing that land is a natural resource, that would seem to rule out all private ownership of land. I assume that if this were given effect, the crown would take ownership of all land and natural resources and enjoy monopoly rights to extract rents from them. How would that be any better?


  7. Lets get one thing clear. I did not make the iwi tax comment, even thugh it was falsley attributed to me.
    All through the debate I have carefully avoided making it a racial issue, even though the oppurtunity was there. I take umbridge to implication that we attempted to gain traction by being racist and then pulled back. My comment about it not being a racsit issue was designed to make it clear where we stood, and always stood, on the racial issue.
    The issue was always about understandings and committments made in the past, legal rights and the failure of governemnts to protect its citizens when making treaty agreements.

  8. Clem, thanks for letting us know.

    I’ve added a note to the post to alert readers to your claim that the comment was falsely attributed. Readers can decide for themselves how much consideration to give the competing accounts.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *