Tiriti Justice and Co-Governance
Change the way decisions are made to give everyone a voice – Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti (or Tauiwi) – rather than big business.
What Must Be Done
- Ensure the public understand the severity of the inter-related climate, ecosystem and social inequality crises and how these arose from our collective colonial and capitalist history.
- Formally recognise the primacy of Te Tiriti text and that Māori sovereignty was never ceded.
- Welcome and use the Matike Mai process to create new forms of respectful relationships between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti, and forms of co-governance that reflect our interdependence, shared values and responsibility to Te Taiao (The Environment/Planet/Universe)
- Ensure that decision-making and governance structures reflect true participatory democracy, not the voices of corporate vested interests. Explore new structures, such as Te Tiriti-based citizens assemblies, that ensure equity between Tangata Whenua, Tangata Moana (related peoples from the pacific) and Tangata Tiriti (the rest of us) and give a voice to ordinary people’s concerns.
- A formal information programme to tell the truth about the interrelated crises, so everyone is well informed.
Raise Indigenous Voices
Indigenous people around the world are leading the charge against the climate crisis as they see clearly how it is driven by corporations who exploit their resources.
Their fights for their whenua are fights for Papatūānuku, with benefits for all of us. In Aotearoa we need to highlight the connection between the struggles of iwi and hapū for their land rights, and the damage that is done to whenua and taiao when they are treated primarily as a private profit-making resource.
We cannot expect to find workable solutions for the climate and ecosystem crises if we don’t address the deep injustices at the heart of our society and economy that arose from the colonisation of Aotearoa.
We can’t ignore the reality of this injustice and then expect those who’ve been most affected by it to support climate solutions that just maintain the status quo.
Defusing the power of big corporate lobbies
We know the single most important thing we must do to avert catastrophic global warming is to cease greenhouse gas emissions – both CO2 and methane.
One of the most direct responses to this, and an example of indigenous leadership, has been the legal case of injury initiated by Northland iwi leader Mike Smith against the seven corporations most responsible for Aotearoa’s greenhouse gas emissions – Fonterra, Genesis Energy, Dairy Holdings, NZ Steel, Z Energy, NZ Refining Company and BT Mining.
In a competitive capitalist growth-dependent economy, these corporations won’t (in fact cannot) just stop operating. They will use their immense lobbying power to ensure any government acts in the interests of their shareholders.
Without some form of deep transformation in our society’s power structures, without changing who is listened to and who isn’t, how can we ever hope to achieve the first most basic step of ceasing our greenhouse gas emissions?
In Aotearoa, as overseas, indigenous people are taking the lead in challenging corporate power, using legal and United Nations precedents and meeting with increasing success. it makes sense for the rest of us – tauiwi / tangata tiriti – to support them in this and to commit to working with them to develop constitutional and governance structures that reflect our common love for Papatūānuku and Aotearoa.
Tangata o te Moana
We have specifically named Pacific peoples in this conversation as they are our closest neighbours in Te Moana Nui a Kiwa and they share ancestry with tangata whenua of Aotearoa. As such their lives are interwoven with ours and their homes and livelihoods are already being destroyed by sea-level rise and ocean heating.
How we can do this
Recognising Te Tiriti text
Recognising Te Tiriti text as the legally binding version* of the Treaty of Waitangi is fundamental to acknowledging the injustices that occurred in the past and are perpetuated today.
Engaging with the kōrero on Matike Mai
Matike Mai is a Māori initiative for constitutional transformation. The group of constitutional experts and respected Māori leaders looked at how decision-making would look if it were based on tikanga and Māori values. Between 2012 and 2015 they took these ideas to 252 hui around the motu for feedback from Māori. Their 2016 report on constitutional transformation for Aotearoa New Zealand has been circulated and discussed widely since by tangata whenua and tauiwi.
The Matike Mai process offers a unique opportunity for tauiwi and tangata whenua to come together to create new, fairer forms of co-governance based on shared values. It is a chance to create real alternative structures to the corporate vested interests that currently dominate decision-making.
Interweaving our cultures – the co-governance discussion allows tauiwi to explore and bring the complexity of their own cultures to the conversation. For instance, Europe and other cultures have long traditions of dissent and radical alternatives to the ruling hierarchies – e.g. protection of the commons against enclosure, defence of working people against exploitation, and a vision of a fairer, healthier and happier society based on collective welfare.
Engaging with He Puapua
In 2019 the government asked a working group to create a plan to realise the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Aotearoa. The resulting report, He Puapua, includes co-governance among many other changes aimed to be achieved by 2040. However the government has been backing away from it. We must make it clear that, as the United Nations recognises, climate justice cannot be separated from tiriti justice and He Puapua is an essential part of the solution.
Telling the truth about the planetary situation
For citizens to make informed decisions, we need easily available reliable scientific information on the physical reality of the planetary crisis. Coverage of this has been patchy in Aotearoa, despite steadily worsening IPCC reports since 2018. The public needs an official source of reliable information, as in any other crisis (eg earthquake, covid). It should cover:
The causes of global warming – greenhouse gas emissions, the impact of burning fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, ocean bottom trawling …
Biodiversity loss, extinctions and ecosystem collapse.
Resource overshoot and planetary boundaries being exceeded – eg phosphate
Increasing global occurrence of heatwaves, droughts, floods, storms, coastal inundation, warming and acidifying oceans and changes to large ocean currents, species migration (including pests)
The impact of these physical changes on food productivity and supply, and on people already being starved, displaced or killed in large numbers by these, which will escalate as the temperature goes up.
How Aotearoa fits into this as a Pacific country that both imports and exports products with embodied emissions.
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