We’re bombarded constantly these days with government propaganda telling us how to be better people, to give up smoking, go for health checks, oppose domestic violence, and so on. Some of it’s just plain annoying; some of the messages are quite touching. My favourite is the slogan “He mokopuna he taonga” – “The child is a treasure”. But it is deeply, deeply ironic that this is a slogan of the government’s campaigns to reduce violence against children by perpetrating their own preferred forms of violence against families.
The word ‘taonga’ can mean anything that a person values or treasures, particularly possessions; but the more indisputably a person has produced a thing, the more indisputably is that thing a person’s own taonga – and there is nothing that a person has more indisputably produced than his own child. And the Treaty of Waitangi, at least in the Maori text, guarantees to all the people of New Zealand – not just Maori – absolute sovereignty over all of their taonga. Yet the New Zealand Government, in most of the years since the Treaty was signed, has been about the business of making all the country’s children the taonga of the state.
Only thirty-seven years after the ink dried on the Treaty, compulsory schooling was introduced in this country, at the behest of and under the supervision of the state. Following the lead of England, we continued to introduce legislation giving the state greater powers over children than their parents. The most publicized example has been the infamous ‘anti-smacking law’ of 2008, under which parents and grandparents have been threatened, intimidated and prosecuted for nothing at all. But worse than that, in reality, was the Care of Children Act which closely followed it, and which effectively declared all children to be wards of the state, with parents authorized to act as their caregivers at the state’s behest. Only last month we saw the passing of a horrendous piece of legislation which will require all children of beneficiaries to attend Early Childhood ‘Education’ from the age of three, and school from age five or six. This will mean that parents committed to educating their own children in the normal way will now be living outside of the social security safety net. And this requirement could be extended in the future to include all families receiving any kind of state subsidy or assistance – things which many have become dependent on because of the huge tax burden which we all carry. You see, a government with unlimited powers of taxation can simply starve out anyone who tries to resist its social engineering agenda.
Oh, yes, children are a treasure. But whose treasure are they?