Don Brash offers nothing but race-baiting

Last updated 13:20 29/09/2016

Don Brash has once again exercised his white privilege in conjuring up his latest project, writes Aaryn Niuapu.

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OPINION: Only an old, rich, Pakeha male like Don Brash could say 'He Iwi tahi tatou' (we are one people), and have it come across like some battle cry for Western assimilation.

Like an overused hashtag or an overplayed song, Brash has once again exercised his white privilege in conjuring up his latest project leading up to the 2017 election.

The question remains: does all this ‘One Nation’ rhetoric actually create meaningful dialogue around constitutional transformation let alone race relations? Well when the conversation is shaped, articulated, and propagated by mostly wealthy Pakeha baby-boomers, then it’s a high probability that the answer is no.

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Hobson’s Pledge, a lobby-esque movement of ‘like-minded people’, are vowing to vanquish so-called racial separatism from New Zealand’s political landscape and are even hinting at financial incentives for political parties that share their enthusiasm for Kiwiana hegemony.

The group is not something new, nor are their key people a bunch of strangers unified by recent urges to further colonial power dynamics and teach those ‘Mar-rees’ a lesson (albeit in a ‘I’m not being racist but’ sort of manner).

Hobson’s Pledge is essentially a re-jig of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, 1 Law 4 All, the Independent Constitutional Review, and every other group on Don Brash’s LinkedIn page.

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There’s something that Hobson’s Pledge has in common with its predecessors, besides the whitesplaining of Tino Rangatiratanga and ethnic diversity, and that is the lack of a coherent narrative. The group warn against the ‘slide towards apartheid’ within New Zealand society, with so-called race based laws, although they don’t actually do any critical analysis of specific legislation.

It’s ironic that there is no mention of the English Laws Act 1858, with retrospect reach, that fundamentally transposed English legislation, policies, and worldviews onto a diverse and sovereign Indigenous population.

Race-based law much?

Nor is there any discussion about our nation’s premier census in 1851 which included only the European populace, yet a full but separate population count of Maori was not institutionalised till 1867 (this segregation persisted until 1951) – thus it is obvious as to which populace counted - literally - in the building of the New Zealand State.

The list goes on, the Tohunga Suppression Act 1907, this article cannot do justice to the plethora of New Zealand legislation that has directly benefited Pakeha, while further assimilating Maori and the diverse ethnic migrants of Aotearoa for nearly two centuries.

The problem of a Pakeha-centric group trying to talk on behalf of diversity, democracy, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the same problem as Governor Hobson’s te reo catch phrase (more a colonial statement than an oath for democracy): White privilege.

There is nothing diverse about Hobson’s Pledge, let alone any real heart for racial equity and justice. Even their go-to picture, a multicultural group of people holding up the New Zealand flag, is just an internet stock photo.

At the end of the day, Don Brash and his Orewa buddies offer nothing new nor positive for our country’s race relations.

Money can obviously buy advertising and marketing resources on tap but it can’t buy creativity. You can dress a dog up in a jumper but it’s still a dog, and Hobson’s Pledge is another example of white privilege.

Aotearoa New Zealand is better than the racism innate in this new (but same old) campaign. We’ve grown since 2004, well some of us have. Meaningful community discussions, and actions, are taking place.

The Matike Mai Aotearoa report, published this year, is a great example of community-centred conversations around constitutional transformation. Asians Supporting Tino Rangatiratanga, Racial Equity Aotearoa, the list goes on of grassroots movements that are committed to meaningful dialogue from within New Zealand’s diverse ethnic populaces.

It’s time to start dismantling the tiresome practices of the race-baiting Orewa Old Boys Club, and it’s time to actually talk about multiculturalism that goes beyond lip service.

It’s time to address the constitutional korero, and it’s time for decolonization.

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