Two prominent Maori - Bishop Brian Tamaki and Hone Harawira MP for Tai Tokerau - have stirred up media storms in recent weeks. Tamaki had the temerity to require an oath of allegiance from members of the Destiny Church which he heads, while Harawira gave offence by his use of profane language in an email in which he criticised "white people" for "raping" the land.
The regime's mass media organisations have made a meal out of these events. But while Tamaki and Harawira are both deserving of criticism, the regime's response amounts to an extraordinary display of hypocrisy.
The colonial state itself demands an oath of allegiance to Elizabeth Windsor, Head of State (and let us not forget, Head of the Church of England) from every new citizen, every Member of Parliament, every Judge, every police officer and every member of the military forces. Now if one were to compare the merits and credentials of Brian Tamaki and Elizabeth Windsor, I am not at all sure which of the two might be thought more deserving of the personal loyalty of New Zealanders. But that is not the point. There is a principle at stake here, which has been exhaustively expounded in the republican post A Solemn Oath.
That principle is quite simply that no one, in any circumstances, should be obliged to utter an oath of allegiance to any other human being, or to any temporal or religious authority. It is the duty of the individual to retain an unfettered conscience, and to retain the freedom to judge and criticise every person, every institution and every idea which lays claims to authority in the affairs of the world. But not one of the regime's politicians, pundits, editorial writers, columnists or broadcasters have dared to state what should be obvious to all: namely that Bishop Brian Tamaki is simply following the amoral example of the monarchist regime which they serve.
The hypocrisy inherent in the criticisms of Hone Harawira is somewhat less obvious, but it is none-the-less irrefutable. Leaving aside the use of profanity (which is wholly objectionable) Harawira can hardly be criticised for engaging in racial politics, when the whole political system of the regime is structured along racial lines, from the investiture of sovereign authority in a family of the British race, through the racial covenant of the Treaty of Waitangi, to the formation of race based political parties. Everyone within the system plays race politics - Don Brash and John Key, Ashraf Choudhary and Raymond Huo, Peter Dunne and Phil Goff, Melissa Lee and Tariana Turia - because that is the way the monarchist regime is structured, and that is the way that the system works. It is simply impossible to do politics in New Zealand without doing race. Every important decision of state - from the appointment of a Governor-General to the construction of a budget - is made after consideration of the racial repercussions and ramifications. Hone Harawira would not be doing his proper job within the political system if he did not articulate the racial grievances of Maori.
Having said that, neither Brian Tamaki nor Hone Harawira are showing our people a positive way forward. Bishop Tamaki is blindly following in the errant footsteps of the British monarchy, while Hone Harawira has uncritically adopted the racial premises of the discredited regime which he has chosen to serve. Despite their relative prominence as religious and political leaders of Maoridom, they are representative of a doomed regime, and a deeply flawed ideology.
The colonial regime has survived for nearly two centuries on the basis
of its vaunted ability to manage, and exploit, racial distinctions.
But the longer the regime survives, the greater the risk that racial tensions
will intensify, and that new areas of racial conflict - particularly those
affecting ethnic Asian communities - will emerge. British imperialism
has always prided itself on its ability to manage and exploit racially
divided communities. Yet ultimately most of the race-based systems
of government established within the British imperial system have ended
in (sometimes intractable) social conflict - from Palestine to Sri Lanka,
from South African to Zimbabwe, and from the Caribbean Islands to Malaya.
New Zealand will go the same way if the regime is permitted to direct its
criticisms at the political and religious representatives of a particular
ethnic group while choosing to studiously ignore the inconvenient fact
that they are acting in accordance with the fundamental political premises
of the regime.