Laws: We're racist and becoming more so

MICHAEL LAWS
Last updated 14:10 24/11/2013

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OPINION: One of the great failures of modern New Zealand is that we are an overtly racist society. Indeed we even legislate to grant one ethnicity special rights and privileges solely because of their background and culture.

New Zealand is composed of Maori and non-Maori. But only Maori are special.

And not special as in "special education" but special as in deserving especial favour, irrespective of contribution. One hundred years ago being born Maori was a social disadvantage. Today, it is exactly the opposite.

In fact, Maori are granted their own special seats in Parliament and their own political parties. Any other ethnicity, seeking similar racial sovereignty, would be condemned as divisive and racist. Not Maori.

Now liberals may care to justify this favouritism, but it is still favouritism. An encouraged favouritism that has had both foreseen and unforeseen consequences.

And one of the latter is that such privilege should extend to all individuals, even if the individuals are undeserving.

Cue recidivist criminal and Mongrel Mob sandwich board Fabian Jessie Mika. His Pakeha lawyer James Rapley has argued, to the Court of Appeal no less, that his client should not receive proper criminal sanction because … he's Maori.

Rapley's logic might have been crude but it was direct. Mika has been born to a race and culture that is grossly disadvantaged. His past decade of serious criminal endeavour is, in good part, due to that disadvantage. As a result he was almost predestined to offend.

Ergo, it's unfair to punish him in the same way a Pakeha, Asian or Samoan offender may be treated. Give him a discount, he's Maori.

Interestingly, this logic has been applied before - and by a current Cabinet minister. Associate health minister Tariana Turia argues a similar case for Maori being granted access to National Superannuation five years before every other ethnicity.

We die earlier, she says. Because we're unhealthy, but we're unhealthy because we're Maori and disadvantaged. And because Pakeha have been beastly to us, runs the not-so-subtle subtext.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the recalcitrant Rika. In doing so, some of their remarks were gloriously un-PC. What's a Maori, asked one. How much blood do you have to have to qualify for the Rapley remission?

Yes, but the entitlement train has left the platform and Fabian Rika has given it further momentum. Already significant swathes within Maoridom seek further privileges, well beyond the scope of the Treaty of Waitangi, simply because they are tangata whenua.

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It can't be long before university academics and liberal bloggers take up the cause that cultural failure should be rewarded. That because more than half of all prison inmates are Maori automatically means the justice system is biased. And that this bias - as Rapley alluded to - requires redress in the courts.

So if a Maori, or part-Maori offender kills someone - as Rika did - then give them a reduced sentence. After all, they were predestined by their ethnicity. It wasn't really their fault.

Expect more such pleadings very soon. It is the nature of New Zealand race relations that the unreasonable and the radical eventually become mainstream. And that racism becomes more entrenched, not less.

- Sunday Star Times

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