Bella Moke and Te Rangikaheke Karipatea at the
Basic income in Aotearoa: a pending claim for the Waitangi Tribunal Bella Moke, Te Utu Tika Hei Oranga I Aotearoa
There were three Indigenous Maori representatives from New Zealand at the 2022 BIEN Congress.
They included Janelle Dymus from Hapai Te Hauora, the largest Maori Public Health collective in
Aotearoa. The organisation includes a Basic Income as part of its vision for community wellbeing and
that a Basic Income would confer upon all New Zealanders the right to live and be well. Also included
were Te Rangikaheke Kiripatea and Bella Moke.Both are members of Te Utu Tika Hei Oranga I
Aotearoa – Basic Income New Zealand.
The three participated in a panel discussion on opportunities that Basic Income might present for
Indigenous peoples. By way of introduction, the three, independently, spoke of various Maori
concepts that underpin their indigenous way of thinking. They included such concepts as:
1. Whakama – the feeling of shame and inadequacy.
2. Mana - having a sense of honour and being in control of self.
3. Utu - reciprocity, an important concept concerned with the maintenance of balance and harmony
in relationships between individuals and groups
4. Koha – gifting, offering and also reciprocity in relation to maintaining social relationships
Suffice to say these values have been compromised over time, mostly as a result of colonisation and
to the detriment of the Indigenous Maori people.It was therefore the view of all three that Basic
Income is fundamental in addressing these issues.
In another session, Bella and Te Rangikaheke shared their views that in Aotearoa New Zealand,
governing political parties all apply a tinkering approach to how the country is run.They said that
Government must move beyond Band Aid policies, otherwise we continue to have the same
conversations and arguments about poverty, housing crisis, health issues, unacceptable crime rates
etc etc.year after year.This is a totally unacceptable situation and one that could be put right if
whichever is the governing power would take the bull by the horns and embrace Basic Income.
To this end, at the Congress, Te Rangikaheke and Bella reported on two proposals they are pursuing.
1.A Claim to the Waitangi Tribunal
The Waitangi Tribunal is a New Zealand permanent commission of inquiry established under the
Treaty of Waitangi Act
Aotearoa is perhaps the only country to have established such a tribunal which Maori, as Tangata
Whenua (first nations people) can seek legal redress concerning historical land claims and some
contemporaneous matters. A claim for a Basic Income is to be pursued.
The history of Aotearoa is that the Indigenous people arrived in Aotearoa first in the early 1300s. The
British and others followed in the 1800s and they arrived in large numbers. Their need of course was
land.But behind the need was greed and legal machinations were put in place that enabled
confiscation, a wave of legalised theft, dubious acquisition, and murder. And to overwhelm our people
the British sent armed troops in very large numbers.
In 1830, 1840, Māori had 65 million acres, today we only have five million.By 1839, Maori and the
British Crown agreed to a Treaty to serve both parties. And the process of signing the treaty began on
February 6 1840. The problem is that the Treaty was never honoured.
Te Utu Tika Hei Oranga i Aotearoa will ask the Tribunal to hear the claim, under urgency, on the
numerous inequities across our national social and economic divides. It will submit, how, over the
past 40 years, successive governments have failed all people in Aotearoa including Maori, Pakeha and
Pasifika with its raft of draconian social and economic policies.
The Tribunal will be asked to support a call for a Basic Income to be paid to all residents.Maori,
Pakeha, Pasifika and other people who have immigrated to Aotearoa will be encouraged to appear at
the Tribunal with Te Utu Tika Hei Oranga I Aotearoa. It will be the first time that people from across
Aotearoa have taken a collective case to the Tribunal.
This will be a ground-breaking move one which it is expected will drive serious conversation and
2.A “Pou in the Whenua” – “A Stake in the Ground”
The second proposal is that:
-Everyone aged 15 years and over receives a payment of $500 with no questions, and no
-If a person is unemployed and finds a job then the first $500 of earned income will be tax free.
-Persons already employed only start paying taxonce they have earned more than $500.
-Children will receive an income, payable to their carer
-Tax will be a flat tax across all incomes.
Anything other than this is simply ‘playing the political game’ or ‘fiddling’.
Note: Bella and Te Rangikaheke were very clear that the second proposal is not a policy of Te Utu Tika
Hei Oranga I Aotearoa – Basic Income New Zealand. Rather it is what has been arrived at taking an
Indigenous view as a start point but very much inclusive of all New Zealanders.
The next election for Government in Aotearoa will be in the latter part of 2023. New Zealand has two
major political parties, National and Labour. Neither has an appetite to embrace Basic Income. New
Zealand also has a Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) electoral voting system in
which voters get two votes: one to decide therepresentativefor their single-seatconstituency, and
one for a political party.
There is obviously work to be done for Basic Income to be a serious political marker into power. We
expect to report on our efforts at the next BIEN conference.