Thursday 6 May 2021

Developing Separately – Or Together?

'He iwi tahi tātou'? Should Maori poverty be addressed as a manifestation of the economic and social injustices inherent in free-market capitalism; or, is it the inevitable consequence of colonial oppression, white privilege and institutional racism? If it’s the former, then Maori and Pakeha can tackle the problem together. If it’s the latter, then the only effective solutions are those set forth in He Puapua. Maori and Pakeha will have to develop separately.

I’M NOT all that interested in Maori Separatism. It does not require much in the way of historical or rhetorical skill to construct an argument that Maori have lived separate lives for most of this country’s colonial history. Prior to World War II they lived separate lives in the countryside. After World War II they lived separate lives in places like Otara and Porirua. Their ongoing separation from the Pakeha world is plainly visible as you drive up Highway One into Northland. Drive through Moerewa, then through Kerikeri, and you’ll see what I mean.

If you really wanted to be hard-nosed about it, you could argue that a hell of a lot of Pakeha would be most unhappy if Maori separatism could suddenly be brought to an end. If the barriers of income, occupation and education were dissolved, and New Zealanders of all colours and creeds found themselves living on the same street – lawyers next door to check-out operators, doctors next door to cleaners – I rather suspect the reaction would fall well short of easy acceptance. In my experience, “racial tolerance” increases in inverse proportion to the proximity of economically deprived ethnicities.

Logically, if Maori are agitating to have themselves sealed-off from the Pakeha world, then all the white supremacists out there should be celebrating. If, as suggested in the extraordinary He Puapua report, Aotearoa should, once again, be divided into distinct and autonomous tribal territories – on the model of Tuhoe – Maori might be surprised at the number of Pakeha eager to facilitate their repatriation. Although, the white supremacists might not be quite so enthusiastic when they realised that colonial land-titles were most unlikely to survive the Maori exodus.

Personally, I am doubtful whether many Maori would be all that keen to up stakes and return to their rohe. In all of human history there has been nothing even remotely as liberating as the big city. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the individualism that underpins contemporary global culture surviving in any other setting. Historically-speaking, traditional societies tended to be uncompromisingly collectivist. But, living under the watchful eyes of the group, leaves very few places for the individual to be truly alone. It took centuries for people to identify themselves self-consciously with the first person singular: “I” is a reasonably recent invention.

Ironically, it is individualistic Maori who have done the most to break down Maori separatism. I vividly recall walking back from a seminar alongside the then National Party MP, Murray McCully. He was dismissive of the Maori nationalist agenda, pointing out with considerable relish than many more Maori voted for National than voted for the Maori Party. Given that the Party Vote for Te Paati Maori in 2020 was just 33,630, he was probably right. McCully referenced figures like Winston Peters as examples of indigenous men and women who identified themselves proudly as New Zealanders first and Maori second.

This is very far from being a recent phenomenon. From the very beginnings of European colonisation there were Maori who reached out eagerly to grasp the possibilities presented to them by the Pakeha colonisers. Even when the settler government, backed by 12,000 imperial troops, attacked Tawhiao’s Waikato kingdom in 1863, as many as 50 percent of the Maori population either threw in their lot with the British Crown, or maintained a studied neutrality. The strength and vitality of contemporary Maori culture owes much to these kupapa Maori. By opting to bend, they avoided being broken.

Presumably, these were the people Dr Ranginui Walker had in mind when he said the differences between Maori and Pakeha would ultimately be reconciled in the bedroom. Genetically-speaking, it’s a difficult claim to refute. Indeed, to argue otherwise one is required to adopt the bizarre “racial science” of the American South.

In the states of the old Confederacy, to possess so much as a single drop of “African” blood was to lose forever the privilege of calling oneself (or being called) “white”. Here in New Zealand it’s the other way ‘round. To possess even a single Maori ancestor – no matter how distant – is to be permanently and indisputably tangata whenua. That being the case, the very notion of Maori separatism must eventually be rendered a nonsense. All New Zealanders will be Maori – and vice-versa.

Which still leaves us with the separation imposed by socio-economic deprivation – a condition in which a disproportionate number of Maori find themselves trapped. Sadly, New Zealand society is becoming increasingly divided on the question of how best to free the Maori poor from their poverty.

Should their situation be addressed as a manifestation of the economic and social injustices inherent in free-market capitalism; or, is it the inevitable consequence of colonial oppression, white privilege and institutional racism? If it’s the former, then Maori and Pakeha can tackle the problem together. If it’s the latter, then the only effective solutions are those set forth in He Puapua. Maori and Pakeha will have to develop separately.

This is the separation that truly troubles me. Not the separation of Maori from Pakeha, but the division of New Zealand society into two mutually incomprehensible camps. The first camp, highly-educated and well-remunerated, is concentrated occupationally in the caring, teaching and communications professions, and in the administration and governance of society generally. The second, much larger, camp is composed of just about everybody else.

In the first camp, the ideas contained in He Puapua are regarded as both morally correct and politically necessary (not least because they will have to be implemented by people like themselves). For those in the second camp, such ideas (when they are comprehended at all) are perceived as dangerous and divisive. With Maori in both camps, this societal bifurcation has nothing to do with ethnicity. New Zealanders are being separated by an ideology which elevates cultural difference above social solidarity.

Personally speaking, I cannot think of a better way of bringing Maori and Pakeha together than to try and impose an ideology committed to forcing them apart.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 6 May 2021.


David George said...

Let me tell you about Harry.
Harry was a great friend of my father and I spent a lot of time with him as a young man -drinking and yarning with dad, fishing trips and so on. He was witty, intelligent and urbane, a real character. He fought with the Maori battalion in North Africa and on through Italy and to victory.
Harry was born about 1913 (he wasn't sure of the year himself) to a French Father and a Maori mother. I don't know what happened to them but he was brought up by his grandmother from a baby or small child. Gran would have been born about 1860, she had no English and neither did Harry till he went to school. She told him what she knew of life when she was a child and her people before then. Talking to him about that was a living widow to a long gone past.
It would be an understatement to say that Harry was a supporter of all things European; he simply adored the culture, the technology, the history, the art and the liberty - particularly anything French. Though he could acquit himself on the Marae and his wife was full Maori he wasn't that keen on what he called Maori bullshit and simply couldn't respect the motivation for the attempts at revival of Maori culture in the 70's and 80's. He regarded it as an expression of failure, a failure to adjust to the new and better reality, to modernity itself. A dead culture pretending to be alive?
So what's going on now? The dead culture, the zombie, is trying to rise from the grave a hundred and fifty years after it lost it's reason to exist, after it was killed by modernity. More to the point, what is happening to the culture that usurped it.

David George said...

I can't help reflecting on that essay by Paul Kingsnorth and his revelatory assertion that the forces (and the rise of a counter force) tearing at the values, the religion, the institutions of the West are a mere symptom of something far deeper: the death of the civilisation itself. Excerpt:

"No, something else is surely going on in the West, and especially in the Anglosphere, which can’t be explained purely by historical karma. Over the last few years, a new and still-coalescing ideology, which has been gathering steam in the post-modern catacombs of America for decades, has burst out onto the streets and into the studios, and is now coursing through the culture, overturning what was until recently uncontroversial or unquestioned. The energy around it is not that of the self-declared love and justice. It tastes of deconstruction, division, intolerance, hatred and rage.

The resulting cultural tension, the violent language, the polarising stances, the hot-button issues, the radical intolerance, the deepening anger, the cancellations and impositions, the online battles that are distressing so many people - these are the waters we are all forced to swim in now. But the question that haunts me daily is a bigger one: what polluted the spring?

What is a culture? It is a story that a people tells itself. Whether or not that story emerges from the Earth and then creates a people to tell it - as Spengler believed and I am tempted to believe too - we build and rebuild our cultures every day, in the stories we tell to our children and ourselves. Stories about who we are, where we came from and where we’re going. Stories about the deeper meaning of human life, about what matters, about what we stand for and will not. Stories, ultimately, about Truth. When the story stops being told, the people will disappear; and vice versa. And when the story is turned in on itself, when its tellers lose faith in it, when it is mocked or abused from within, or when it simply burns itself out - then the people begins to dissolve: to come apart, to slough away from the centre, to stumble and eventually to fall."

David George said...

Great, thought provoking essay, thank you Chris.
You raise the issue of Maori (relatively) lower prosperity (obviously crime and ill health are a concern as well) and should their situation be addressed as a manifestation of economic and social injustices or as the consequence of colonial oppression, white privilege and institutional racism?

What if it's something else?

The easy temptation, which you have fallen to here, is to observe a racial/cultural correlation and then assume a racial cause. Life is not that simple and the problem can't be solved if the cause isn't properly identified to start with.

Why are diverse immigrants, people that arrive with little money, no English and no friends or family able, within a generation or two, to rise to high levels of well being while Maori languish? What are they doing differently? What are successful Maori (and there's plenty of them) doing differently?

If you take, say, crime stats, ignore race and look at the common factors in criminal behavior (fatherlessness (the big one), truancy, illiteracy, poor educational and vocational achievement, domestic violence and substance abuse etc.) they far outweigh any difference between races. Once all those causal factors are taken into account the racial differences (largely?) disappear. They are fundamentally failures at the individual and familial level and, therefore, almost impossible to solve at the national or political level.

So yes, it's a problem for Maori, individually and collectively but it will only be made worse by the current propensity to lay the blame elsewhere.

Sam said...

There's always been this coniving notion that maori can be improved by getting rid of it. People like David George want to make everyone indifferent maori development and there great addition to it. That is another romantic view of European superiority. We all no how that ended, Britain, Germany, Russia, not so superior now. Oh but let's blame those maaris. What a joke.

Sam said...

I'm not sure Paul Kingsnorth would put anyone in such a place and some one like George giving a completely different take on the anthropologic records. In other words poisoning you well of knowledge.

Sam said...

Oh of course you'd say it's nobody else's fault for everything wrong.

Neil Keating said...

Many thanks Chris and David. Re the cited Paul Kingsnorth piece, let me mention Dallas Willard (died about 2013).
Willard was for decades a professor of philosophy at Uni of Southern California. (He was acknowledged for his work on the German philosopher Husserl, whose writings be translated from German.) Willard also happened to be a Christian. He often asserted that the teachings and life of Jesus of Nazareth adequately answered the questions being asked in that time by many philosophers, typically: 1) what is the nature of reality? 2) who is really well-off? 3) who is a good person? 4) how do I get to be a good person?
Willard suggested we humans have three 'stories' we can tell our children: 1) theistic 2) materialistic and 3) 'nirvana'.
One can argue that western civilisation appears to have moved from telling 1, then 2, then 3. The results show up in morals/ethics and -- the biggie -- epistemology.

Tom Hunter said...

Logically, if Maori are agitating to have themselves sealed-off from the Pakeha world, then all the white supremacists out there should be celebrating.

They are. Why do you think so many of them are happy with Critical Race Theory. They have Black academics in the USA not only supporting segregated "safe spaces" for Blacks on US campuses but constantly talking about "White Privilege", which the WS's interpret as simply another way of saying how superior Whites are. It's long been claimed by the Left that White Supremacy exists in NZ. If so then there's no reason why CRT won't land here to support Maori separatism. It probably already has, at least in academia.

But, living under the watchful eyes of the group, leaves very few places for the individual to be truly alone.
True. Ever talked to Maori who've immigrated to the supposedly even more racist land of Australia from the 1970's on and not returned? Tribalism and the Big Chief mentality are part of the objections they have.

New Zealanders are being separated by an ideology which elevates cultural difference above social solidarity.
Yes, and it is Left-Wing ideology. Not what you believe of course but from your side of the fence, and the reason why the political and activist Left have glommed on to it is that the traditional Left ideas have failed Maori, just as they've failed Blacks in the USA.
Public education. Public Healthcare. Social Welfare. And still Maori are suffering worse in education, health and poverty than other ethnic groups in our society. What else has the Left got to offer? Nothing, which is why this new ideology has taken hold so quickly. I think it will ultimately prove to be even useless, but for the moment it's a salve for Maori activists and a possible electoral winner for White Leftists who otherwise have no idea what to do to improve their public institutions beyond simply dumping in more money.

John Hurley said...

Lots and lots of people have studied and been taken in by post-colonial theory. As a starting point it begins well but you have to remember it all happened on the cusp of history (check out Longitude - about Harrison's chronometer). It get's silly though with people's unique truths and ways of knowing and cultural relativism and these have been mainstreamed through the back door since the 1980's.

In 1947 Norwin Corwin visited 16 Countries as winner of the One World award. He found that Maori had a "position of respect and equality". Not that his visit was extensive but he does ask a foreigner for his perspective.

Since then the narrative has reversed and this morning I heard Donna Awatere Huata say that she discovered that parliament was just there to maintain colonialism. Which is probably true but how evolved was Maori society relative to industrialisation?
Robert Bartholomew discovered a whole lot of bad stuff about Pukekohe (the article has white robes on horses - a capping stunt - to shock) but no one (except TVNZ) believes it.

I watched Mathew Tutaki on FB.He has an important message about racism he wants is (racial) relations to share.

I analyzed his argument and it took me back to my childhood when we argued by feigning personal injury. Experienced debaters know that name-calling is ad hominem (= point won) whereas his direction is incoherent.

Nick J said...

A very confusing scenario indeed, made more so by the currents of the present that will overwhelm either outcome Chris alludes to.

What I refer to is called by some the "Great Reset", it is common parlance for the greater social / economic / political control of the world by the point zero zero one percent. In this scenario being pakeha or Maori is of no consequence, both are condemned to be the peasants of the neo feudal class.

I see He Puapua and todays culture wars as a smokescreen, a distraction from a far more malevolent imposition upon the collective us. We fiddle with this nonsense, Neros one and all.

greywarbler said...

Sam Your snatches of thought are interesting. Added together they sound negative lacking recognition for the positives that have been achieved, though known history shows that efforts have been made though not sufficient to rise above the depredations of avid capitalists which a majority of us have experienced, of all races and ethnicities. Living in a mist of rancour with acrimonious spurts of thought like farts won't move us to better outcomes. Could you try to cite your concerns with sources so we know the source of your disquiet.

greywarbler said...

David George I think you have hit a nail on the head. There may be more in your full comments, which mostly seem to miss the point.
So yes, it's a problem for Maori, individually and collectively but it will only be made worse by the current propensity to lay the blame elsewhere.

If it is looked at a problem for us all, without laying blame at all, and where we listen to Maori ideas thought through rather than just asserted, and work collectively, perhaps using pilot schemes and monitoring them for effectiveness and measure their success, we can change the face of NZ from the often sour one we have now. We can't do that by adopting the attitude you have expressed.

I think that we could call on people like Sir 'Kim' Workman* who has much experience and ideas about prison reform; there could be a panel of open-minded, culturally informed, practical people to promulgate ideas. We have a Drug Court, a Family Court, have had iwi-based courts for minor offences etc. The joint Pakeha and Maori group would see that the sectors keep working satisfactorily for all, not setting up cults that learn to hate pakeha and our culture which could happen (eg look at the way anti-vaccinators have expanded their following with the irrational rant).

This from Harry Tam who knows about gangs here. Jan.2/2021 “There is little incentive for people to take up unskilled labour and their opportunities to take up higher education or training is limited because they are unlikely to get financial support from their large impoverished whānau, thus their ‘legitimate channels to success’ is limited,” he said in an interview.

Others that come to mind are 'Olly' Ohlson, a long time activist for Te Reo, and Dennis O'Reilly, supporter of Maori in Gisborne. These are the sort of people with feet on the ground and the tikanga in their heads.

* Kim Workman - Wikipedia › wiki › Kim_Workman
Sir Robert Kinsela Workman KNZM QSO (born 1940/1941), commonly known as Kim Workman, is a New Zealand criminal justice advocate. Of Māori descent, Workman affiliates to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.
and |

But also read this. It shows how difficult it is to change from a random way of doing things or conflicting ideas needing to be settled before productive effort ensued, and the breaking through to an effective solution. Perhaps starting small projects as pilots and then expanding them would be the way to go for Maori. This excellent article from Tony Wall 09:18, Jan 23 2021 talking to Denis O'Reilly and other experienced people, shines a spotlight on one project.
On Denis O'Reilly and interaction with Muldoon.
(I notice a headline of Grant Robertson assisting Black Power members - interesting positive move.)

The Barron said...

We should have caution in regard to kupapa Maori. Each hapu and even individual had their own reason for fighting on which ever side. In the Northern war, the Hokianga hapu and the Bay of Islands hapu could be seen as a civil war if the overarching identity of Nga Puhi is imposed. Some hapu in the Waikato Wars were fighting old enemies, it is as simplistic to say the British fought for them as it is to say they fought for the British. Neutral hapu such as the Southern Kai Tahu - Kati Mamoe were left landless by non-military means.

Indeed, the term kupapa ignores the resistance that many that fought alongside the British have fought in the courts, socially and culturally. The truth is the descendants of all Maori are within the statistics that shame New Zealand.

It also worth noting in response to some of the contributors, Maori is not a frozen culture. As world contact began, Maori changed and adapted as a global culture. In the 1970s there was a revival only in the sense that both the traditionally and the adapted culture became more visible in wider audiences. Maori can draw and be katiaki of the pre-contact, while developing and participating globally. Te Ao Maori is all encompassing and growing.

A final point is that almost all decedents of the hapu signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi, also have descendancy from those that arrived in NZ under the auspice of the Crown signatories. Rights are drawn from both partners. Self-identification and choice are key here. The Maori Affairs Amendment Act 1974 did away with imposing identity on Maori based on blood quota, today decent and self-identity are the requirements.

Within the individual and whanau identity, Maori are able to choose whether to be on the Maori or General electoral roll, this can be as strategic as tied to identity. Maori can choose kura kaupapa, the local school, religious school or private school depending on the needs and situation. Maori health - parallel, syncretic or separate will give Maori the choice as to the service that may get the results that have been lacking.

Jens Meder said...

Not one of the dozen comments so far contains a positive, constructive idea on how to cure - not just cover up through welfare donations - the most mutual goodwill sabotaging problem of wealth differences between Maori and those - not only Europeans - who prosper by practicing saving for security and trading and investment abilities - i.e. capitalism.

Through systematically raising the savings and wealth ownership rate by the ownership-less poor - including Maori - (and making it impossible for all wealth owned to be consumed for pleasure before the superannuation entitlement age) - and strong education on what the benefits of wealth ownership enable and deliver -

raising of all have-nots to middle class wealth ownership levels eventually is achievable and practically inevitable unless we in our "wisdom" resort again to destructive fighting instead of working and saving for universal prosperity.

Of course - the co-operation in this effort by the really wealthy and high income earners is essential for better harmony and results in a shorter time.

David George said...

Thank you for your response Grey.
I agree with Harry Tam, it's important to have identifiable and traversable pathways to legitimate success, particularly for young men. The alternative is crime and violence or a collapse into despair, meaninglessness and nihilism. Also, as he points out, we need to incentivise unskilled labour more and ensure that education and training is aimed at acquiring proper marketable skills. These are fundamental and widespread problems not, by any stretch, limited to Maori

I can't see why learning te reo is all that helpful in this regard and haven't heard any persuasive argument as to why it would be. They've been trying to revive the Welsh language for decades; compulsory at schools, in signage and so on. No one's genuinely interested and the trouble with ramming something down peoples throats is that they're just as liable to barf it right back out again.

Some of the best initiatives have been proper grass roots efforts. The Maori women's welfare league did great work helping with the challenges of adapting to urban life and a Pakeha dominated world - although it now appears in danger of capture by political activists. The Man Up programme (Destiny Church) is having very positive results in our community, encouraging men to be the courageous, loving, providers and protectors they should be. Taking responsibility IOW.

I'm not a believer in political answers to what are fundamentally moral problems anyway, but what makes me really concerned is that we're not honestly confronting reality. We've got used to accepting a lot of comforting lies, on this and right through society. It's not good. The society that becomes corrupt, that lives by lies, will drown. That's the Biblical story of the flood.

David George said...

Just to add, I agree with Chris: "New Zealanders are being separated by an ideology which elevates cultural difference above social solidarity"

It seems a strange way to reduce difference between cultures by emphasising differences between cultures. All of the problems confronting one group are common to all to varying degrees.

There is a lot of lazy, dishonest and politically correct (same thing) thinking going on that simply won't solve the problems it pretends to address. The number one health problem for Maori is obesity and it's various unwelcome manifestations in heart disease, diabetes, strokes and so on. Those problems are common in other ethnicities as well of course but the accepted delusion that they are the result of failings within the health system to address this as a problem unique to Maori is mad thinking in the extreme. A concocted excuse perhaps? Why add an expensive, separate, and largely unaccountable, ethnic based tier to a system that's already struggling to meet the needs of all.
Suffering is universal.

sumsuch said...

The unspoken implication of laissez-faire in 1984 was leaving the poor behind. And it hit Maori the most, and there was not enough sympathy for them to do anything. 37 years on. Very angry. But most pakeha are about their mortgages at my age.

Patricia said...

What if that great current bogeyman China invaded New Zealand now like the English did 180 years ago. Our children would not be allowed to speak English at school and would be strapped for doing so. We would be ridiculed for speaking our language instead of Chinese. Nothing that we know now would be recognised by the ‘superior culture’. Nothing. Some of us might cope over the next 100 years but the majority of us would not. We would be told that we are ‘one people’ and that we just must adjust and adapt to the now new culture. Just imagine what that would be like. Then think of what the Maori must have felt and still do.

David George said...

Patricia "Just imagine what that would be like. Then think of what the Maori must have felt and still do."
No need to imagine Patricia, just ask them.
The idea that Maori are still grieving over a culture even their grandparents never knew, and unable to function in the world because of it, is preposterous or an affectation, they're not avatars of your imagination.

John Hurley said...

One thing that strikes me about the first Maori we met and recoded was their clear communication. They used metaphor; that cuts across cultures. Would they have had any time for post-modernist "te ao Maori", strategic essentialism etc?

My Great grandmother was like that. A politician called to their Shetland scale farm at Church Bay. He said: "da, da, da". She replied "Oh, you mean set up a cackle!?"

Jens Meder said...

Still no discussion on constructively co-operative ideas or practical propositions to overcome poverty and achieve universal prosperity through at least some meaningful level of wealth ownership and management responsibility by all citizens eventually ?

Or how else can we overcome poverty by the have-nots in a sustainable way ?

By redistributing all our wealth for consumption by the have-nots?