Tuesday 31 May 2022

Nanaia Mahuta’s Super-Narrative.

Dangerous Political Narrator? What this Labour Government risks is the emergence of what might be called a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. 

WHETHER NANAIA MAHUTA followed the conflict-of-interest rules set out in The Cabinet Manual hardly matters. A dangerous political narrative is forming around the appointment of, and awarding of contracts to, Mahuta’s whanau in circumstances that, at the very least, raise serious questions about this Government’s political judgement. Enlarging this narrative is the growing public perception that the mainstream news media is refusing to cover a story that would, in other circumstances, have attracted intense journalistic interest. The conflation of these two, highly damaging narratives with a third – the even more negative narrative of “co-governance” – has left the Labour Government in an extremely exposed and vulnerable position.

The Government’s failure to adequately prepare the New Zealand public for what Labour clearly regards as the inevitability of co-governance hasn’t helped. The party did not campaign on the issue, and kept He Puapua, the controversial “road-map” to full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – i.e. co-governance – by 2040, under wraps. Similarly unheralded was the Government’s determination to establish a separate Māori Health Authority. And the application of co-governance principles to Mahuta’s deeply unpopular “Three Waters” project has done nothing to allay public fears that the country is being changed, in fundamental ways, without the electorate’s consent.

The apparent failure of the mainstream news media to follow up on the story is being attributed to the extraordinary conditions attached to the Public Interest Journalism Fund administered by New Zealand On Air. In essence, these conditions require media outlets in receipt of the Fund’s largesse to subscribe in advance to a highly contentious series of propositions concerning the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly to the Waitangi Tribunal’s claim the Māori never ceded sovereignty to the British Crown, and that this “fact” requires the Fund’s recipients to accept and support the “partnership” model of Crown-Māori relations. The fear expressed by independent journalists is that the net effect of these conditions will be unquestioning mainstream media support for co-governance.

Since the widespread assumption among Pakeha New Zealanders is that co-governance and representative democracy are fundamentally incompatible, Labour’s willingness to be presented as co-governance’s friend runs the risk of being cast as democracy’s enemy.

Of even greater concern is the inevitability of this anti-democratic characterisation being extended to an ever-increasing fraction of the Māori population. Statements from Māori leaders appearing to discount the importance of, or even disparage, the principles of democracy have done little to slow this process. Neither have the intemperate statements of the former National Party Minister for Treaty Settlements, Chris Finlayson. His comment to the online magazine E-Tangata, describing those opposed to co-governance as “the KKK brigade”, merely reinforces the widespread public perception that the slightest public opposition to the proposed changes will bring down accusations of racism upon the opponent’s head.

The problem with this willingness to indulge in ad hominem attacks on people holding genuine reservations about the Government’s proposals is that more and more of them will decide that they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and embrace the very racism of which they stand accused. In this context, the revelations that some members of a Māori Minister of the Crown’s whanau have been the recipients of Government funds, and appointed to roles not unrelated to the furtherance of the Minister’s policies, will be taken as confirmation that all is not as it should be in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

What began as an anti-co-governance narrative, and then merged with an anti-mainstream news media narrative, risks joining with a much older and more deeply entrenched narrative concerning the entire Treaty settlement process. This is the narrative that identifies the primary beneficiaries of Treaty settlements as a collection of Crown-assembled tribal elites, along with their legal and commercial advisers. Over the past thirty years these “Neo-Tribal Capitalists” have been accused of investing hundreds-of-millions of taxpayer dollars in what amount to private tribal corporations, over which the intended recipients of these funds – hapu and whanau – exercise only the most indirect authority and receive only the most meagre of rewards.

The result could very easily be the emergence of what might be called a “super-narrative” in which all the negatives of co-governance, media capture, and Neo-Tribal Capitalism are rolled into one big story about the deliberate corruption of New Zealand democracy. The guilty parties would be an unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands. In this super-narrative, the structures set forth in He Puapua to secure tino rangatiratanga, will actually ensure the exclusion of the vast majority of New Zealanders from the key locations of power. The only positive consequence of which will be a common struggle for political and economic equality in which non-elite Māori and Pakeha will have every incentive to involve themselves.

The painful irony of this super-narrative scenario is that Labour will have positioned itself as its cause – not its remedy. Rather than repeating in the Twenty-First Century the fruitful political alliance between the Pakeha working-class and the victims/survivors of the deals done between the Crown and the Māori aristocracy in the Nineteenth and Twentieth, Labour will be seen to have facilitated the creation of a Treaty Partnership that not only undermines democracy, but also exacerbates the inequality between Māori and Pakeha, Pakeha and Pakeha, Māori and Māori.

What lies ahead, as the institutions of co-governance take shape, is the coming together of two very privileged birds of a feather: the Pakeha professionals and managers who have taken command of the society and economy created by Neoliberalism, and the Māori professionals and managers created to produce and operate the cultural and economic machinery of Neo-Tribal Capitalism.

This, ultimately, will be the spectre that arises out of the controversy swirling around Nanaia Mahuta. The spectre of the worst of both the Pakeha and the Māori worlds. Worlds in which the powerful trample all over the weak. Where tradition constrains the free exploration of ideas and techniques. And where the petty advantages of separation are elevated above the liberating effects of unity. Where “Aotearoa” creates two peoples out of one.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 31 May 2022.


boudicca said...

Thanks Chris for an excellent summary of the crisis this country is facing. That the mainstream media (with the exception of one article in the NZH - paywalled and filed under 'Business') are ignoring the Mahuta nepotism story merely confirms what we all know. That they are in the Government's pay

Ray M said...

Bet TV1 or the Herald won't contact you for an interview Chris. Again, well said and the many of us out here witnessing the trashing of democracy and the rise of Neo-Tribal Nepotism will hopefully unite, inspite of our many differences, to preserve democracy and equality, albeit in its imperfect form.

Anonymous said...

Succinct summary. This is a topic of conversation amongst many who I mix with. Are we racists or do we have genuine concerns? The later me thinks.

The Barron said...

When Sandra Lee was Minister for Conservation she approved the media labeled 'road to no where'. This was the strengthening of a bridge in the then Urewera National Park that experts deemed unsafe. As the Conservation Ministry had overseen the Cave Creek disaster years previous, the Minister was not about to allow similar under her watch. Immediately claims of nepotism was made, this was the inevitable result of the media and social perception of a Minister who is Maori somehow being compromised when there is consideration of Maori within the portfolio. The Mana Whenua of the Urewera was Ngai Tuhoe, if Sandra Lee's Poutini Ngai Tahu tipuna met them they would have trouble even understanding the Tuhoe dialect [as even those in the Kingitanga did during the NZ Wars]. No matter, Maori Minister must be something wrong if some Maori benefit.

20 years later, has anything changed? If the Minister of Local Government is from Auckland the perceived bias on Three waters would not have been subject of similar comment, nor if the Minister was perceived to be rural. Any Minister brings with them a background, and most an electorate. Yet, this particular scrutiny seems only reserved if there is an ethnic or Iwi perception.

We use terms like 'partnership' or 'co-governance' but only give credence if led by the traditionally dominant party. If the other side of the partnership has a leadership role, then there is bias. This ignores the reality that we are where we are through one party's dominance in the relationship. That there is a shared role in restoring the partnership would seem essential. Yet even though the Cabinet and caucus remains majority Tauiwi, it is then argued that the Maori caucus and Ministers are somehow ruling through duress. Even when a former National government Minister attests to the fact that co-governance is simply an extension of the general direction of Governments of both hue, and the direction of the courts, he is decried.

Returning the above example of Sandra Lee, she was also Minister of Local Government and redrew the Act to allow the direction Nanaia Mahuta has continued to progress. Since Lee retired in 2002, Chris Carter, Rodney Hide, Nick Smith, David Carter, Chris Tremain, Paula Bennett, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Anne Tolley have held the portfolio. Issues of water use has been left in the too hard basket while the quality worsens, especially for some rural poor. All those Ministers showed their bias by refusing to commit their political capital on an increasingly urgent issue. Mahuta has used her considerable mana to engage in the necessary, and accommodate our move towards co-governance.

Chris Morris said...

I agree with most of what you wrote but for the last few paragraphs. Is it really Neo -liberalism and Neo Tribal capitalism? Crony capitalism or late stage Communism (like Russia is returning to) seem more appropriate. Or is it just a return to pre Industrial Revolution times where the world is rich elites and the rest are serfs?

David George said...

Great essay Chris, nothing much to add, I think you've summed up the issues very well.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions" they say.
Though I've good reason to doubt just how honourable some of the intentions really are, the hell part looks likely. It's like we're on a voyage in an out of control ship to an unknown destination, the past has been lost beyond the horizon, the people are confused, uncertain, but those among them saying we've already gone too far are ignored and vilified.

“What shall I do with a torn nation? Stitch it back together with careful words of truth. The importance of this injunction has, if anything, become clearer over the past few years: we are dividing, and polarizing, and drifting toward chaos. It is necessary, under such conditions, if we are to avoid catastrophe, for each of us to bring forward the truth, as we see it: not the arguments that justify our ideologies, not the machinations that further our ambitions, but the stark pure facts of our existence, revealed for others to see and contemplate, so that we can find common ground and proceed together.”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Odysseus said...

Whoa, careful Chris, you will be accused of spreading "disinformation" by the government's academic "experts". This seems to be the latest ploy to smear those who express concerns about "co-governance". Many New Zealanders have serious, well-founded reservations about "co-governance" as outlined for example in the 3 Waters project. It is not democratic and it demolishes accountability to those who actually fund the 3 Waters infrastructure.

Incidentally, the UN Declaration is not about co-governance as such; it proclaims the need to ensure the autonomy of "indigenous" communities. The Declaration arose in the first place from efforts to protect isolated "indigenous" communities in the Amazon Basin; diplomats from Cuba, whose indigenous people were largely wiped out a long time ago, seized on it as a stick with which to beat the "white settler" countries, particularly their arch-foe the United States. Helen Clark showed her wisdom in not having a bar of it; she appreciated the Declaration was thoroughly alien to New Zealand's experience as a nation.

It is very hard to see how democracy and co-governance can co-exist. Democracy recognizes the innate and equal worth of every person. Initially an idea that emerged in Athens in the 5th century BC, it is also a fundamentally Christian concept. The push for co-governance is being led by those who take the interests of their tribe as their point of reference. They are coming from a very different perspective where ancestry and birth determine one's place in the world. This government cannot reconcile these different worldviews and risks aggravating division every time they open their mouth. We are not in a good place.

Chris Trotter said...

To: The Barron.

Apples and Oranges, Comrade.

To the best of my knowledge, Sandra Lee did not appoint or contract, cause, or allow to be appointed or contracted, to any remunerated government position or service, any members of her immediate or extended family.

I would also argue that it is wrong to speak of the Treaty “partnership” as if it was anything other than an agreed fiction among certain elements of the administrative state. Certainly, the Courts have not declared the relationship between the Crown and Māori to be anything more than a relationship “akin” to a partnership. Which is not quite the same thing.

It certainly explains why many New Zealanders see merit in David Seymour’s suggestion that the nature of the Crown’s relationship with Māori be defined explicitly, in entrenched legislation, which can only be activated by a positive popular vote in a binding referendum.

Failure to clarify the Crown-Māori relationship legislatively can only lead to a further deterioration in race relations, which, according to the Government’s “experts” on misinformation and disinformation, are already showing signs of rapid and serious strain.

This is not helped by a former National Party minister indulging in ad hominem abuse, such as characterising opponents of co-governance as “the sour Right”, losers” and “the KKK Brigade”. Indeed, such rhetorical tactics suggest that he has no rational case to make.

Odysseus said...

I found Finlayson's allusion to the "KKK Brigade" abominable for a former Cabinet Minister and a QC. He demonizes a very large number of New Zealanders who have substantive questions about the "co-governance" agenda that has been sprung on the country by Labour. It is also an extremely inflammatory thing for a person who has held such high office to say in the current febrile atmosphere.

The "partnership" canard has now acquired the status of holy writ. Although it is totally invalid, it is very hard to undo. The next step, "co-governance", is however a shape-shifting illusion built on sand that has no place in a modern democracy.

The Barron said...

Finlayson's rhetoric sets himself up as a strawman. His basic premise is that co-governance models became the norm long before the current government and few commented because it has been a quiet success.

The great Eddie Durie described the Treaty as a living document. The reason Seymour wants the entrenched definitions is the same as the right in America become constitutional literalists (and biblical inerrant), the idea of freezing the narrative while there is dominance will favour those currently empowered and continue to impede those currently disempowered. If we have a independent (i.e. the UN) literalist view of the 1840 text, Maori did not cede customary rights. Seymore wants definitions under the current hegemony to prevent successful models and naturalization from developing and changing the hegemony. I do not think I have the right to bind future generations on either side of the signatories. As Durie said, it is a living document and it will give meaning as it develops in our service delivery, national identity, social and financial spheres and governance.

Finally, Nanaia Mahuta's father was adopted into the top echelons of the Kingitanga, which in itself has an intimate relationship with the Ratana movement. None of this should exclude her from senior leadership in the NZ government, indeed, it enhances the credentials. I return to my previous posting, someone who is Maori and a Crown minister is more scrutinized than any other member of government. The role of the Auditor General is clear, and if there was smoke, let alone fire, there are plenty that would put the complaint. No smoke, no fire.

Slijmbal said...

There is a reason that Feudal and Tribal ruling approaches have been discarded in favour of democracy as flawed as it is. Tribal approaches invariably are elitist and unfair with the odd exception. @Chris - there are reasons you heavily promote democratic approaches in the Labour party and unions. Flawed as it is, democracy is the best current governance approach we have despite the many flaws in implementation,

Maori tribalism is a problem. Talk to urban Maori - majority I know are anti.

Co-governance is not democratic - end of story - One person one vote is the absolute core - if you believe in democracy then this is a problem. One can jump through various forms of cognitive dissonance to believe it is somehow OK to share governance and still be democratic - it isn't.

Unknown said...

Dear Chris

Fantastic article. There is, however, a point that would benefit from clarification. That is: "Is co-governance a form of privatisation"?

Obviously, we do not usually think of “Māori” as a private group, and it is unusual to see proposals for co-governance described as “privatisation”. But there are sufficient similarities between co-governance and privatisation that it appears defensible to describe asset transfer proposals and co-governance proposals as “privatisation”.

Obviously, there are significant differences between historic 1980s style privatisation (e.g., sale of Telecom) and the recent proposals in relation to three waters. But there is also a significant commonality of purpose. The intention is for assets (or actual control over assets) to be taken out of public/common ownership and placed into the ownership of private entities controlled by a segment of the population.

A further significant difference between 1980s style privatisation of state-owned assets and the proposed taking of councils’ three water infrastructure is the criteria for who will ultimately get to own or control the assets. In the 1980s if you had the money to buy shares in SOEs then you could become the shareholders/private owners of these former public assets. (As the criterion for achieving a share of private ownership was wealth, the group of people who had the opportunity to acquire a share of private ownership was limited). But, with 3 waters style proposals, the criteria for acquiring a share of ownership or control are not money/investment/wealth – it is race.

Co-governance itself can also be seen as a more radical form of privatisation – where the goal is to take control of public democratic decision making. The so-called co-governance proposals, if followed through, will take significant political decision-making power from the public at large.

The above positions do appear to ne present in your article where you discuss “Neo-Tribal Capitalism” and the “unholy alliance of Pakeha and Māori elites determined to keep public money flowing upwards into protected private hands”. Also, in relation to co-governance, you note that proposed structures that “will actually ensure the exclusion of the vast majority of New Zealanders from the key locations of power”.

However, it would likely be both valuable and illuminating if you would set out your considered view on whether you also see co-governance as a form of privatisation of both public assets and public power.

The Barron said...

I should add that a Minister has a responsibility to manage any perceived conflict of interests. This usually ensures that the Minister would declare interests, and often ensure that they were not taking a direct role in an appointment of contract. I understand the Minister's sister is on the body advising the establishment of the Maori Health Authority this is an appointment of the Ministry of Health. She did not hold that portfolio. Her husband's business has a contract with the Ministry of the Environment. At the time she was the junior Associate Minister, We do not know the the tender process, but it would be unusual for the Associate Ministry to take a prominent role, and the Minister of the Environment would assure it is managed correctly.

There are two further questions as to a contract her husband's company received in the He Puapua report and her sister on the Local Government NZ. Questions should have been made as to who or what is the decision-making body on contracts, the Minister of the Ministry. If it is for personal advisors for a Minister's own office, there has always been the ability for those the Minister works well closely with.

So, where are we at with Nanaia Mahuta? Her husband has a business that consults on Maori structures. There has been no evidence any contract has been anything but above board. Her sister is educated and experienced in representing Maoritanga on bodies. They both seem to have received positions outside of Mahuta's direct responsibility. No evidence that the correct checks and balances are not in place.

Many of the groups raising these issues are aware that they have the advisors and the financial backing to take the matter to the Auditor General if they felt there as real untoward. Instead, innuendo. But how do you make innuendo into gnosis, decide that the experienced journalists in New Zealand have been knobbled by there organizations receiving Government journalism grants. And if we look very carefully at da Vini's last support we can see some Waikato rotten corn . . .

Helen Clark has a husband who was quite rightly on various health bodies while she was Health Minister and later Prime Minister. It was without question he got there on merit, and that the checks and balances could be relied on in appointment. Perhaps we should extend to Maori Ministers the same first presumption of merit and process.

Max Ritchie said...

You’ve got Finlayson right in one. He seems to be bright enough but his waspish comments cast doubt on that. Perhaps bright but not very sensible? The surprising thing thing about all this, having been connected to the Labour Party since the 1949 election, is the poor political management. In the good old days shrewder folk would have cut this off at the pass.

Kat said...

"This is not helped by a former National Party minister indulging in ad hominem abuse, such as characterising opponents of co-governance as “the sour Right”, losers” and “the KKK Brigade”. Indeed, such rhetorical tactics suggest that he has no rational case to make....."

Phew, as long as those opponents aren't "Boofheads" then everything's ka pai eh....

Ray M said...

Can we at the electorate decide! I can confirm the Minister Mahuta has used up any mana with most folk I know and across a range of cultures. I hope to God she takes the hint and resigns.

Anonymous said...

Are you really saying Nanaia Mahuta's sister isn't qualified for the job on her own merits? I can only say that I am not my brother's keeper and neither is she her sister's keeper. Shame on you Chris when you know P1akehā siblings, husbands and wives of politicians have held such jobs many times before. Mahuta is a talented woman. How surprising is it that her sister is talented too? And that she married a talented man? This is nothing less than disgraceful.

Jack Scrivano said...

In another life, I was commissioned by a major aid organisation to write a guide to good corporate governance. The guide was to be used by the directors of SOEs of a third-world country that relies heavy on foreign aid.

One of the potentially-difficult areas covered was nepotism. On no account should SOE directors be seen to be appointing their family members to high-paying jobs in the state sector.

At a subsequent workshop to discuss some of the governance issues, one of the SOE directors seemed genuinely confused. ‘If you can’t help your own family, how can you be expected to help anyone else?’ he asked. All but one of the other directors thought that he had a very good point.

Anonymous said...

Mahuta's electorate majority is 9,660. The electorate did decide.

Anonymous said...

This is a very thoughtful and insightful analysis that embodies the sense I have that I live in a country that I no longer recognise. Where nepotism is rife, free-speech curtailed, democracy abandoned and in its place an apartheid system, a supplicant and tamed media, assets confiscated and property rights trampled. Chris, it must be excruciating for you as an intellectual who is ideologically left of centre to witness the behaviour of this government and the elites that have captured the Nation (as it is for me). Change will surely come next year There are many who voted Labour twice who will never again trust Labour.

Mark Simpson said...

Thanks Chris. A couple of observations of my own.

The early treaty settlements were initially seen as a means whereby Maori tribes would be financially empowered to autonomously and economically improve the wellbeing of all of their tribal members. Tainui has evidently been a hugely economic success story. Yet, the telling indicators of their "trickle down" benefits, for me, are when one drives through Huntly and Ngaruawahia and witness the ongoing and depressing state of its main street and many of its citizens.

Secondly, we rightly decry the MSM as aiding and abetting anti-democratic trends by ignoring them. However, so-called independent publications don't go anywhere near them as well. EG North and South, Metro, Listener, NBR, etc. They're all tarred with the same spineless brush.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well said Chris.

Anonymous said...

Well said Chris.

Anonymous said...

"Where tradition constrains the free exploration of ideas and techniques". I think that, unfortunately, we are well on the way to such a sad state in science, because of the incorrect assertion matauranga Maori is science. I think the difference is that science is based on evidence, and is continually updated to the best current explanation.

E.g. The best current scientific explanation of why New Zealand has volcanoes and earthquakes is because sections of the Earth's crust move, and come into conflict where they meet. This crashing into each other gives rise to the quakes and volcanoes. Traditional tales, indigenous or Biblical, of greater or lesser antiquity, are not evidence based, and don't change as new evidence comes in. No one thought Christchurch was on a major fault, until earthquakes dramatically showed that it indeed is.

I was interested to see the pushback against the conclusions drawn by scientists based in the US, who unexpectedly found soot in ice cores from the Antarctic Peninsula. They dated the soot as beginning around 1300. From weather patterns and existing charcoal deposits in New Zealand, they concluded the soot was from the first humans to arrive in New Zealand using fire on a large scale to modify the environment. They concluded, correctly I think, that this was an example of a pre-industrial society having a measurable impact on the environment.

This set off a metaphorical firestorm. Among much else, this from Associate Professor Sandy Morrison of Waikato University: ".....authors have not caught up with the positive changes in research and science in this country where Matauranga Maori within the MBIE Vision Matauranga policy demands Maori involvement, Maori participation, and Maori leadership. This involvement starts from the basic premise that we as Maori will tell our own stories and control our own knowledge."

And much more in a similar vein, invoking such things as "helicopter science" and "dubious ethics".

One of the authors made the point in reply that none of the critics found fault with their methods and results. The critics did not, for example, raise doubts that they had correctly identified the black stuff as soot, or that their estimated ages were not correct. He also pointed out they had not considered indigenous partnerships originally, because there are no indigenous people on the Antarctic peninsula. The soot was totally unexpected, and, being scientists, they sought a scientific explanation of how the heck it got there.

Unfortunately for the authors, their conclusions went up against the currently politically useful myth of pre-European contact Maori living in harmony with the natural environment. If the scientists had been based in New Zealand instead of the US, would they still be funded at all? If they were funded, would it only be if they tailored conclusions to suit their critics?

I don't think Maori should take offence if it is pointed out their ancestors impacted the environment they found. Their ancestors showed great skill to navigate their way here. Then, like humans everywhere, they did what they had to do to survive. It is a fact no human beings practicing any form of agriculture, anywhere, ever, are in harmony with nature. Agriculture is a completely unnatural practice, but the necessary unnatural base to make culture possible. "Agroecology" is an unattainable myth. The closest humans can get to that unattainable state is subsistence level poverty.

Finally, thank goodness New Zealand relied on science, especially vaccines, to fight covid-19 as effectively as it has. Could the outreach to Maori, respecting their culture, while encouraging maximum vaccination, have been done sooner and better? Yes, it could, and should have been. But it was science, and not matauranga Maori, that produced the vaccines.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, same Anon. as 19 June at 16:18.

I am pleased to report at least a glimpse of an enquiry into difficult subjects at RNZ National. Kim Hill on Saturday morning, talking to Professor Rangi Matamua, ventured into asking about the circumstances under which he left Waikato University. He had joined with other Maori academics there in loudly and publicly accusing the university of entrenched and systemic racism. He did not want to talk about it, saying he was bound by a confidentiality agreement. He confirmed though, that money was involved. "Hush money!" says Kim, "come on, call it what it is!". Then, very sweetly, she asked if all New Zealand universities were founded in the same tradition, are they not all equally racist, and how is he finding Massey, now he's employed there? To which he really didn't give a clear answer.

However, I think Massey will be a very happy place for him, because it's the most "woke" of the universities, with the tightest limitations on free speech and academic freedoms, and the greatest fear of being called "racist".

The notorious banning of Don Brash for alleged "hate speech" was the most noticeable manifestation of that.

Less noticeable was the treatment of Heather Hendrikson, a microbiologist, science communicator, and lecturer on Massey's Auckland campus at Albany. She made the very bad career move (in 2017, from memory) of speaking at a public meeting discussing genetic engineering. She described how the restrictive laws were limiting her research, into diseases of bees in particular, and advocated for a loosening of the laws. An academic promoting her science, and advocating publicly on a controversial question! Trying to help save bees! Everyone loves bees! What could possibly go wrong?

Well, when Massey came to downsize science, and centralize all remaining science in Palmerston North, guess who was out of a job? Surprise, surprise, Heather Hendrikson. Coincidence? Possibly, but I think not. Especially when science was being cut back, but "indigenous studies" were being expanded.

Heather Hendrikson is now at the University of Canterbury. I think she has learnt the very hard way to sing from the "woke" song sheet, at least to judge from her now promoting the "personhood" of rivers while avoiding mentioning genetic engineering.

Personally, I now take anything originating from Massey with a truck and trailer load of salt. (Regular locally produced iodised sea salt, not Himalyan pink rock salt). Including, but not limited to, Andrea 't Manetje on pesticides allegedly causing cancer, and Paul Spoonley on any topic whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, it's me again, same anon. as 23 June at 15:53. With the sad, but far from unexpected, news of a continuation of unquestioned, illogical, and ahistorical "woke" blathering on RNZ National.

Kathryn Ryan interviewed Paul Tapsell on his work re-uniting urban Maori with their ancestral marae. All well and good, until he made an extraordinary claim I boggled at.

That was the claim his ancestors lived on a hill near the beach, rather than on the flat nearer food, to avoid climate change and tsunamis. These, he said, were bigger dangers than their neighbours. No challenge or question from Kathryn.

Really? His home marae would be truely remarkable for that, if true. It flies in the face of both Pakeha and Maori accounts, and Maori traditions, culture, and values, surely.

Both contemporary accounts and archaeological evidence are consistent with the view that neighbours were indeed the greatest danger communities faced. Maori did not expend great effort and expertise preparing defensive earthworks and fences on hills to stop tsunami. They did not value warrior virtues, and skills with traditional weapons, as a way to halt climate change. Being challenged when approaching a marae other than your own was not a mere formality. Failing to confirm peaceful intentions before allowing visitors through the gate could turn out to be deadly to the marae's inhabitants. Which in turn led to valuing cunning and subterfuge when approaching a marae with hostile intent.

I believe Paul Tapsell is of Arawa descent. Whether that is true or not, surely he knows Arawa were, in turn, both victims and perpetrators. Victims of a notorious massacre by Ngapuhi, and collaborators with the crown's war on Waikato.

Maori owe their survival to their ancestors skill, ability, and tenacity in mounting armed resistance. Part of that was adapting traditional fortifications to better resist cannonades. A more placid, less martial, less adaptable people would no longer exist. The colonial-settler state would have destroyed them completely. The colonial-settler state was not lacking in it's intent to do that, it was lacking in its political and military ability to complete the task.

The current iteration of the colonial settler state finds dealing with the fact of Maori survival rather challenging, to say the least. Trying to rewrite history live on public radio is just one part of their trying to cope.