New Hebrides Dual Systems era recalled as race-based separatism evolves in Aotearoa
Unbeknownst to most of its inhabitants an Oceania nation is transforming itself into the world’s newest condominium a rare form of governance in which sovereignty is shared by two legally defined categories.
In New Zealand’s case the two categories are Maori and non-Maori.
This transition is incremental and the change is imperceptible to all but the political activists driving the split governance scheme.
This imminence of it was reinforced by the New Zealand government serving notice that it intended to nationalise municipal water.
This followed the announcement of a centralising of public health currently run by 20 elected boards centred on district local hospitals.
In both these shakeups there is scheduled to be in both outcomes a substantial if not dominant role for those claiming Maori heritage.
Maori electoral districts known as wards are being shunted through for local government authorities.
State broadcasting channels are ramrodding through the Maori language at every and any opportunity.
In this whole evolving framework the government taps into a deep-seated craving for New Zealand to achieve recognition on the world stage wherever progressive values command the agenda.
This is variously described as “holding our head high,” or more colloquially and more famously “punching above our weight.”
The Labour government is acutely conscious of this yearning to be seen to be leading any social advance. It now sees what amounts to condominium government as its instrument for attaining its international “best in class” status, as it sees it.
It knows it has the power to implement a condominium bipartite or two system governance because its polls still continue to tell it that it has the allegiance of the commanding blocs of the electorate.
These voting blocs include the entire education system, anything to do with the media-arts along with most of the other public institutions
In contrast this leaves its National Party opposition holding only the property and real estate sector and clinging with an increasingly tenuous grip to its traditional agribusiness base.
As a condominium looms for the nation it is salutary to examine the last one in Oceania. This was the New Hebrides before it achieved independence in 1980 and became Vanuatu.
Governance was shared between Britain and France. Everything existed in mirrored pairs. There were for example separate British and French governments, which meant two immigration policies, and two corporation laws.
There are signs that the New Hebrides condominium experience has been studied by the local condominium governance architects. This is because language in practical terms became in the New Hebrides era the most serious impediment to smooth running because anything official at all had to be interpreted and then re-interpreted into French and English.
The condominium scheme, the new one for New Zealand, is well under way. So anticipating the same New Hebrides language operational obstacle government agencies daily increase their double up of Maori and English in announcements as well as in correspondence and documents.
Officials in any capacity understand that their career prospects will be much enhanced should they use every opportunity and at the expense of effective communication to apply Maori and ideally whole phrases or better still entire sentences.
In the old New Hebrides condominium inhabitants were given the choice of which government they wanted to be ruled by. The French one or the English one. This is the evolving pattern in the New Zealand scheme.
Matiu Rata (above) was the Minister of Maori Affairs in the nation’s third Labour government and he was renowned for bluntly yet concisely summarising any state of affairs as he saw it.
On one occasion he was asked who exactly was a Maori?
“You are a Maori if you think you are a Maori,” he declared.
As New Zealand incrementally but so purposefully moves toward condominium governance Matiu Rata’s yardstick like the New Hebrides experience demands earnest evaluation.
So does the taxpayer funded report known as He Puapua which has surfaced and which sets out the scheme for the dual governance.
He puapua means a petal. The ministerial working group that compiled the report translates it instead as “a break” meaning a sudden change.