Today it was announced that the Maori Council wants Hobsons Pledge to be investigated for hate speech. The call comes after concerns about an accumulating body of commentary suggesting Maori are somehow more privileged and entitled than other New Zealanders.
So who are Hobsons Pledge (H.P)?
H.P. are a group which various New Zealand politicians have been linked to, including former National Party leader Dr Don Brash. The organization is named after Commodore James Hobson, who signed the Treaty of Waitangi on behalf of the British Crown. Their purpose is to oppose alleged Maori favouritism, citing concerns about how much public funding their causes receive, that the Treaty of Waitangi grievance settlement process is some sort of gravy train and that the accepted history of Maoridom is revisionist. Their Twitter account description says that they advocate for a New Zealand in which all citizens have the same rights irrespective of where they or their ancestors came from, or when they arrived in New Zealand.
I personally find their conduct to be borderline, divisive and have tried not to give their social media any of my time. H.P. have a Facebook page on which they frequently post. A quick survey of the posts yesterday showed comments of an angry or ridiculing nature on nearly every one.
Hobsons Pledge ignore the social context in which much of the perceived grievance occurs. I wonder when it comes up how the British settlers would have felt if the roles were reversed and the Maori were coming to take their land. I wonder how history would have viewed incidents like Parihaka where hundreds of colonial soldiers were sent to occupy lands and destroy much of the village. Or what about the Wairau Affray where Maori had been coming to survey the land and had reneged on conditions agreed to in negotiations, like the New Zealand Company allegedly did.
I utterly refute the idea that the Treaty of Waitangi is a grievance gravy train. Over the course it has run thus far, six of the seven major Iwi have been able to reach settlements with the Crown – Ngai Tahu, Ngati Porou, Tainui, Ngati Whatua, Ngati Tuwharetoa, and Ngati Arawa. The remaining iwi to settle are Ngapuhi in the far north of the North Island, whose ancestral lands include the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi. Whilst a few have had a couple of teething problems with their Treaty settlements, all have accepted that they are full, fair and final.
The final point I want to contest is about whether or not iwi owned businesses pay tax or not. As charities they are exempt to paying income tax and Tainui Group Holdings Limited supply health, education, religious, cultural and other services. I have never seen an acknowledgement from H.P. about what Iwi and businesses they own actually do for their communities.
I cannot help but wonder what the reaction would be if H.P. were invited to a Hui to discuss concerns about supposed favouritism. Who would go? Would anyone turn up?