Monday 16 August 2021

Shelter From The Storm.

Storm Warnings: Racism is always and everywhere the creation of elites. “Perfect storms” are invariably unleashed upon us from above.

RAWIRI JANSEN, co-director of Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, the National Māori Pandemic Group, is warning of “a perfect storm”. This daunting description was prompted by the disturbing news that, to date, only 9 percent of Māori and 13 percent of Pasifika have received both shots of the Pfizer vaccine.

Certainly, the prospect of the Delta variant of Covid-19 rampaging through New Zealand when, say, upwards of 85 percent of the Pakeha population has been fully vaccinated, but 65 percent of the Māori and Pasifika population has not, is fraught with danger. The tragedy currently unfolding in the United States, where the Delta variant is cutting a vicious swathe through that country’s unvaccinated population, is not one New Zealanders wish to see unfolding on their own shores.

Avoiding such an outcome has, however, been made extremely difficult by “official” New Zealand’s zealous embrace of racialised politics. The acute risks associated with this race-based approach were on full display during TVNZ’s Q+A current affairs programme of Sunday, 15 August 2021. The show’s presenter, Jack Tame, spoke tremulously of the possibility that Pakeha New Zealanders would “swamp” the full-scale vaccination effort scheduled to get underway from 1 September 2021. Though he was careful not to come right out and say it, implicit in his concern about “equity issues” was a vaccine roll-out that prioritised Māori and Pasifika over Pakeha. How this option could be made to work without requiring Pakeha to wait for their jabs, is one of those questions just about every person in authority is too afraid to answer.

An important factor in the success of New Zealand’s elimination strategy against Covid-19 was Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s constant reiteration that every citizen was a member of “The Team of Five Million”. This was “progressive” nationalism at its best. Ardern’s formulation spoke directly to every New Zealander. “You are Us”, it said, “Whether or not your ancestors arrived here 800 years ago, 150 years ago, or last week; you are a valued member of the team. Your health and safety is no less, or more, important than any other member of the community. This government is here for you. This government will protect you.”

Crucial to the effectiveness of the Prime Minister’s strategy was her willingness to turn a blind eye to the check-points erected by a number of Iwi to guard against any repeat of the deadly flu pandemic of 1918-19 which killed a disproportionately high number of Māori New Zealanders. With the full co-operation of the Police, the Government conveyed to Māori everywhere the vital message that, within the team of five million, many different ways of keeping communities safe will be tried and tested – and that’s okay. Just so long as the job gets done.

The great tragedy of the 18 months since the first nationwide lock-down is that neither the Government, nor the Ministry of Health, nor the DHBs, have built upon these early improvisations. Had Māori been encouraged to develop and roll-out their own plans for the vaccination of their people, just as soon as an effective vaccine became available, then the chances of securing a high Māori up-take would have been dramatically improved. The Māori Battalion, of undying fame, may have been a separate military unit, but it was also an integral part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

It has been an outstanding feature of the New Zealand state that, until very recently, it had mastered the art of both acknowledging the special status of its indigenous people while, at the same time, locating them unequivocally within the circle of citizenship. That this art quite often defied logic and science in no way detracted from its practical success. New Zealand’s No. 8 Wire constitutional and ethnic arrangements may not have been elegant – or even rational – but they worked. Until, that is, the official acceptance, and extremely rapid uptake, of the “colonisation” narrative caused them to stop working.

It is simply not possible to maintain New Zealand’s ‘two peoples, one nation’, solution in the face of an ideology that casts 85 percent of the population as “baddies” and the remaining 15 percent as “goodies”, and then invites the state to develop its policies in accordance with this uncompromising Good versus Evil dichotomy. As exemplified in Jack Tame’s concerns about Pakeha “swamping”, adherents to the colonisation narrative will look at the mass vaccination of the Team of Five Million and, rather than seeing a positive sign that New Zealand is moving closer and closer to being able to open-up to the rest of the world, they will see only more evidence of Pakeha privilege and systemic racism.

Even more counterproductively, the first instinct of the colonisation narrative’s adherents will be to demand that Māori and Pasifika (who always seem to end up being parenthesised in these debates) be vaccinated first, rather than be exposed to the Delta variant unvaccinated. Hard to believe though it may be, this approach requires the authorities to look upon the New Zealand population not as a single entity of five million human-beings – all equally vulnerable to Covid-19 virus – but as a collection of racial/cultural communities to be prioritised for vaccination in accordance with the seriousness of their historical sins.

Always left unstated in these outrageous, racially-charged discussions about who should go in front of whom, is the likely reaction of those being asked to accept a lower priority. The anger and resentment engendered by such a policy do not seem to enter the political equation. Not even when the quantum of the group being asked to wait is greater than the quantum of the group being promoted to the front of the queue. The assumption is always that if moral suasion does not ensure compliance, then coercion will.

It is in this dangerous assumption that the essence of the problem with the colonisation narrative lies. It presupposes the rectification of historical injustice by judicial fiat. Rather than seeing the state as a body of self-governing citizens, the adherents of the colonisation narrative see it as a kind of court, whose uncontestable judgements must be obeyed – on pain of severe punishment. In a country where the Māori Renaissance was kicked-off by crucial judgements in the Court of Appeal, or the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal, this is not, perhaps, surprising. It would, however, be a huge mistake to forget that this nation’s highest court is Parliament, and that the balance of power within the People’s House is determined by the people themselves – by majority.

It is to be hoped that Jacinda Ardern and her government will resist the racially-charged demands of the colonisation narrative’s adherents, and continue to deal with the Covid-19 Pandemic as a problem afflicting human-beings – not racial groups. Also to be hoped is that the Government will, at last, display a readiness to devolve the responsibility for achieving the only rational vaccination target – 100 percent – to those groups most likely to engage successfully with their communities. These may include Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust, or the Congregational Church of Samoa, a local Marae, or a nationwide trade union organisation. God knows, they could hardly do worse that the Ministry of Health and New Zealand’s DHBs!

Democracy’s direction of travel is always downwards and outwards. Only authoritarians draw decision-making inwards, and send it upwards.

Racism is always and everywhere the creation of elites. “Perfect storms” are invariably unleashed upon us from above.

This essay was originally posted on the website of Monday, 16 August 2021.


AB said...

The government appears to be sticking to its decidedly non-racial priorities for vaccination - border workers, healthcare providers, the immunocompromised - and then in a succession of age bands. Their collaboration efforts with Maori and Pacific community groups seem to be entirely focused on ensuring that uptake by those communities is as high as it is for Pakeha in the same category.
This is completely as it should be. I see no reason to think that your alarmist scenario is playing out. Perhaps when you have only one drum, there is nothing to do but keep beating it?

John Hurley said...

Labour's Public Media policy is shonky. According to Steve Maharey they have to take the conversation off Nigel Farage and Trump. Their policy is fitted to pluralist societies where public media tells us about our communities - but only in a positive light.

On the other hand when Labour decided NZ should pursue "diversity" it was like the abolition of slavery and there was no going back. To make it work those opposed had to be publically stomped on.

The left made a big miss-judgement in the Soviet Union and other communist countries because prices are signals etc. I am thinking there will be practical consequences to thinking you can act now and explain later.

For example a property developer has an advertising campaign saying we have lost our Kiwiness. Paul Spoonley replies with:

Massey University sociologist and immigration professor Paul Spoonley said the suggestion that New Zealand had become less "Kiwi" was disrespectful to the new New Zealand.

"The idea that we once had something – an imaginary "Kiwiness" – and now we have lost it is both a form of misplaced nostalgia but it is also disrespectful to the New Zealand that has emerged," Spoonley said.

When New Zealand was a more homogeneous country around the mid-20th century there were things that were shared by many if not most New Zealanders, he said.

"But that was a product of highly homogeneous immigration." [therefore immoral]

New Zealand was now a "superdiverse" society, he said.

"In a statistical or social sense, there is no quintessential Kiwi community – except that communities in their makeup and views are all different."

Concerns about a loss of identity were common in other countries, he said

"You see the same concerns around the western world as communities experience major social, cultural and economic changes.

"It is often a form of harking back to something that was seen as simpler and more unified period – but this is often little more than nostalgia."

Is he serious?

How can public media be "sovereign" under those terms?

As for national identity we are to sit and enjoy NZ On Air's programs on ethnic groups and conclude that "they are us". Eric Kaufmann explains about ethnic groups as having at least one marker (language - religion - race). What ever it is it is exclusive and we recognize ourselves. Genomic comparisons between groups show language is as effective as a range of mountains and is as much a code to keep enemies in the dark as well as for communication.
I don't think public media will be sovereign any time soon.

Jenny said...

"Racism is always and everywhere the creation of elites".

In that case, we better work out who American Lev Woolf, who helped arrange both finance and logistics for Ihumātao as well as the new "land occupation" on Waikiki, is working for.

This Lev Woolf:

Anonymous said...

@John Hurley

For which state in the world would "blood and soil" be beneficial; or for which state in the world would the re-tying of blood to soil make them look less racist?

Makes you think.

Stu W said...

Chris, once again you are right on the money. As one of the baddies, I feel that my culture, the one I identify with, which has developed over the last 170 years and has for "most" delivered a successful New Zealand is being discounted and devalued. The people I talk to and the circles I move in it is the first topic of conversation. There is a deep feeling of concern and unease that is bubbling below the surface that must appear more overtly sooner or later. The fear is that the path we are on is divisive not inclusive. Is there another way to reach the goal espoused rather that the path this government has set us on? Or am I just a grumpy anachronism?

Shane McDowall said...

I know English, Scottish and Dutch people who have been in New Zealand 50-plus years and they are still English,Scottish and Dutch.

If closely related peoples never become real Kiwis, what chance do the hundreds of thousands Asians and Pasifika who have flocked here in more recent times have?

They are not us... and they never will be.

When my ancestors arrived here returning "home" was not an option. Cheap air travel and the internet have obliterated distance.

We now have ethnic communities with strong ties to alien nations, and little or no loyalty to New Zealand.

Subtract migrants from the UK and most of the migrants that have arrived here come from Third World kleptocracies and over crowded Asian police states.

New Zealanders do not benefit from migration from shady countries.

Our political leaders have sold out our birth right to the lowest possible bidder.

The Barron said...

...never become real kiwis

This is always the problem with your correspondence Shane, you freely use terms without providing definition.

Perhaps you can take the time to explain to the rest of us exactly what you mean by 'real kiwis'

Shane McDowall said...

Real kiwis means you and your parents were born and raised in New Zealand. What is your definition?

Nick J said...

Shane, I'm not sure how to take what you are saying. It sounds like the British scenario that was expounded upon by Enoch Powell. He was pilloried for his prediction which 60 years later has proven extremely prescient.

Powells basic observation was that cultures aggregate rather than assimilate. He premised the localised displacement of native populations to their discomfort and disadvantage. In this he attacked both Labour and his own Conservative party policy.

Powell was not a racist, he went on record describing Indians as a superior culture. It was cultural assimilation he spoke to, he believed that it was ignored and assumed to just happen automatically. For this question Powell sacrificed his career.

Pakeha and tangata whenua were working through this question in Aotearoa, basically two overlapping cultures. This takes time (it took 300 years after the Conquest for Normans to speak English at Court).

It seems to me unfortunate that the process of defining cultural relationships in Aotearoa was disturbed before resolution to the point that our commonalities and acceptances made our differences inconsequential.

To this process we have added for better or worse other cultures. What a pakeha or Maori considered Kiwi culture in the 60s and 70s is past, not relevant. What is relevant is how we forge our new cultural relations.

I would contend this is never driven by elites nor by activists. Those parties will however try to dictate which is why we cant get Labour, the Greens and the Wellington civil service to discuss He Puapua with the people.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Enoch Powell. He was pilloried for his prediction which 60 years later has proven extremely prescient."

In what way? Where is the river of blood? I think he was very, very mistaken.

"A contemporary survey for British Future found 91% of people felt comfortable if their work colleagues were of a different race, and 81% felt comfortable if a boyfriend/girlfriend of one of their children was of a different race and 19% uncomfortable. The highest ‘Powellite’ figure was the 21% uncomfortable with the idea of a UK Prime Minister of a different race, with 79% comfortable."

"Powell was not a racist he went on record describing Indians as a superior culture."

That's pretty much the "He can't be racist because he had a black friend" excuse. That's like saying someone can't be a serial killer, because they have friends who are still alive. If he wasn't racist in a crude sense he certainly knew how to stir up racism. And even some Tories described the speech as racist. How much was racism and how much was simply his penchant for saying outrageous things I don't know, but the result was much the same. And it does seem to me that at least some of his statements had been racist. For instance – “The West Indian or Asian does not, by being born in England, become an Englishman.”

But I'm not surprised about the racist reactions, considering Britain was trying and failing to maintain great power status at the time. It must've been humiliating for them. Looking for a scapegoat – very common.
But he wasn't alone, in 1964 the conservative electoral slogan for a by-election I think was “if you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour.”, and British workers were striking when companies were hiring immigrants – many of them "superior" Indians.

The Barron said...

Of course you have just excluded John Key, most of the people that served and died in war for NZ and good luck forming a rugby or cricket team.

Kit Slater said...

It seems to me that an under-examined virtue of society is trust, one which tends to be held in highest regard for one’s in-group. With the far-Left’s increasing racialisation, fragmentation, polarisation and hyper-individualism of society, out-group trust is bound to diminish, despite Ardern’s efforts. Maori autonomy for vaccination may be an answer to this symptom of societal decay, but the longer-term outlook is grim.

D'Esterre said...

AB: "The government appears to be sticking to its decidedly non-racial priorities for vaccination.......

That's not what's been happening in this neck of the woods.

We're in group 3 (over 65s) and in Wellington. Vaccinations were supposed to start in May. But they didn't: instead the local DHB prioritised Maori and Pacific people over 55. Apparently, the rest of us were at the back of the queue.

I'd add that there were some truly bizarre - and presumably unintended - consequences of this prioritisation. Such as this comment: "....the local loudmouth (pakeha) boasted he had already received his two COVID vaccinations. When questioned how he achieved that distinction, he replied his wife had had a Maori grandparent so he was treated as whanau."

I've heard other stories like this. It makes no sense at all. And this is the rabbit hole down which DHBs and the government go when they attempt to prioritise people on the basis of ethnicity.

The risk factors are well known: ethnicity isn't one of them. And there's no reason why it would be: biology doesn't work that way.

It wasn't until the afternoon of the last day in June, that we got a text from the DHB to say that we would "soon" be able to book an appointment. We heard nothing until the end of July. And we've only in the last week had our first vaccination: just in time for the delta variant to descend upon us all like the wolf on the fold.

"Their collaboration efforts with Maori and Pacific community groups seem to be entirely focused on ensuring that uptake by those communities is as high as it is for Pakeha in the same category."

One would have expected the government to put similar efforts into ensuring that Asians were vaccinated. As a percentage of the population, the Asian group is very close to the same size as Maori, yet there have been many more cases in that group: 26.8%, compared to 7% for Maori. Though there have fortunately been no deaths thus far in the Asian group. As far as I know, there's been no special focus at all on Asians.

"I see no reason to think that your alarmist scenario is playing out."

What Chris has described is exactly what's happened here. I've also heard accounts which suggest that our experience here is being repeated elsewhere in NZ.

Shane McDowall said...

Barron. You did not answer my question. What is your definition of a "real Kiwi"? Glad I exclude John Key. My definition in 1914 and 1939 would be more flexible than in 2021 - much more flexible. Always hated boring cricket, lost interest in rugby over 20 years ago.

Nick J said...

Any readers who want to know more about Enoch Powell this review of his life is a good place to start.

I got interested in his prediction during a visit to Britain where I traversed Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford and saw massive aggregations of a culture living in total separation from the local English. Eyes dont lie.

This coincided with the locals voting for Brexit, their rejection of Labour and racial tension over grooming gangs etc.

What the hell was going on? Neither the Left nor Right really knew or cared. I read Powells speech, his predictions were consistent with observed reality. His politics are not mine and dont offer a solution other than "dont do it".

The central question remains for a national polity that is open to massed immigration. Do we live together or separately? How and under what conditions can we get on?

Powells contribution was to warn us of what would happen if we ignore such issues.

The Barron said...

Shane, the very term 'real kiwi' is used as an arbitrary exclusion zone to create a them and us. The fact that you feel the need to self-proclaim your national identity and challenge others self-identification speaks to your personal outlook, not to New Zealand's

Shane McDowall said...

Barron, You still have not answered my question. What is YOUR definition of "real Kiwi"? Women wearing burkas are welcome to self-identity as Kiwi - does not mean I have to agree. Others can self-identity as Elvis if they so please - does not mean I have to agree. Now answer my question please.

The Barron said...

Sorry Shane,but I find the preposition of real or false in excluding or defining national identity preposterous. In case you think I am defensive, I will share that my great grandparents met your criteria of both parents born in NZ. My view of your definition as being arbitrary and irrelevant is not based on personal circumstance.

Shane McDowall said...

You just can't give a straight answer to a straight question. All you have if sophistry at best, waffle at worst.