Wednesday 8 March 2023

The Revolution Has Begun.

Whose Country? The ideology driving New Zealand’s latest top-down revolution is not neoliberalism, it’s ethnonationalism. A potent amalgam of indigenous mysticism and neo-tribal capitalism has captured the imagination of the professional and managerial class and is relying on the latter’s administrative power and influence to drive through a revolutionary transformation of New Zealand society. 

IF NEW ZEALAND’S educational curriculum was dedicated to condemning capitalism and uplifting the working class, would that signal a revolution? If working-class culture was elevated above the cultural achievements of the upper and middle classes, would that signal a revolution? If representatives of the trade unions exercised a decisive influence over the editorial direction of the news media and the content of university courses, would that signal a revolution?

Of course it would.

Nearly forty years ago, as the newly-elected Fourth Labour Government was pursuing its nuclear-free agenda, organising women’s forums, and preparing to destroy the achievements of the First, Second and Third Labour Governments, a handful of young trade unionists – Labour Party members all – lobbied the then Minister of Labour, Stan Rodger, for a daily bulletin of trade union news on Radio New Zealand.

Way back in 1984, New Zealanders could keep abreast of what was happening on New Zealand’s farms by tuning-in to “Rural News” Or, keep up with the machinations of industry and finance by listening to “Business News”. There was even a weekly programme called “Focus on Politics”. But, the only time New Zealanders ever got to hear about what was happening in the country’s factories, warehouses, offices and shops was when workers went out on strike.

“So, how about it, Stan, why not a daily, or weekly, round-up of news about the issues confronting working-class New Zealanders?” Now to give Stan Rodger his due, he gave us a fair hearing. Indeed, I think he was personally quite excited by the idea, because, eventually, a short series of programmes entitled “Working Life” did make it to air. But a daily round-up of news from the perspective of those working on the factory floor, or driving a truck, or standing at the check-out counter? Not a chance.

Such a programme would have indicated a significant shift in social and economic power in the direction of working people. But, as we all know, the people running the Fourth Labour Government (not all of whom were democratically-elected politicians) were committed to shifting social and economic power in precisely the opposite direction – towards the bankers and the bosses. That’s why there was a vast expansion in the coverage of business affairs on Radio New Zealand – and right across the news media. That’s why, in just a few years, the ideology of neoliberalism permeated the whole of New Zealand society. There had definitely been a revolution – but not by the workers.

New Zealand is currently living through another top-down revolution. Though far from complete, it has already captured control of the commanding heights of the public service, the schools and universities, the funding mechanisms of cultural production, and big chunks of the mainstream news media.

The ideology driving this revolution is not neoliberalism, it’s ethnonationalism. A potent amalgam of indigenous mysticism and neo-tribal capitalism has captured the imagination of the professional and managerial class and is relying on the latter’s administrative power and influence to drive through a revolutionary transformation of New Zealand society under the battle-flags of “indigenisation” and “decolonisation”. The glue which holds this alliance of Māori and Non-Māori elites together is Pakeha guilt.

The origins of the present ethnonationalist revolution may be traced back to the early 1980s – specifically the 1981 Springbok Tour. A very large and well-organised anti-racist movement against the Apartheid system in South Africa took to the streets to protest the presence in New Zealand of the Springbok rugby team. There they encountered not only the brutal forces of the state, but a vast number of New Zealanders who were not in the least bit shamed or shifted by the charges of racism hurled at them by the protesters. The Springbok Tour thus revealed a deep divide in New Zealand society, leaving many of the protesters feeling like strangers in their own land.

The modern Māori nationalist movement, which had taken form during the 1970s, was quick to draw a large number of these alienated liberal Pakeha into its orbit. Using tactics developed by radical social reformers in the United States, Māori activists accused the Springbok Tour protesters of caring more about Apartheid in South Africa than they did about the racism in their own country. “Learn your own history! Read about the violence done to Māori and the confiscation of their lands! Stop going on about racism in the abstract and pay heed to those who understand it from bitter personal experience! Surrender your privilege!”

It worked. The nationalist activists had created a movement towards “Māori Sovereignty” in which revolutionary Māori would lead, and guilty Pakeha would follow. Not that these guilty Pakeha represented anything like a majority of Non-Māori New Zealanders, far from it, but they did constitute a significant percentage of the well-educated and credentialed members of the Professional-Managerial Class – and that would be enough. The Guilty Pakeha’s “long march through the institutions” had begun.

And what a very long march it has been, but, 40 years after it began, the champions and fellow-travellers of the Māori nationalist movement can look back upon some stunning successes.

Fearing that the nationalists were about to unleash a mass movement of the most marginalised Māori against the “Settler State” – fears stoked by reports of Māori nationalists being feted in revolutionary Libya and Cuba – the Crown initiated the Treaty Settlement Process with Iwi Māori. Informed by President of the New Zealand Court of Appeal, Robin Cooke’s, landmark 1987 reinterpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi’s meaning and purpose, this process brought into being the Iwi-based corporations that gave birth to the phenomenon Elizabeth Rata calls “neo-tribal capitalism”. The sons and daughters of the original Māori nationalists now have the resources they need to carry their parents’ dream to fruition.

Only one more strategic victory is required to complete the Māori nationalist revolution: Pakeha pride in their past and in their culture has to be undermined. The men and women once celebrated as nation-builders have to be recast as colonial oppressors. The country famed for being “the social laboratory of the world” has to be re-presented as just another sordid collection of white supremacist, treaty-breaking, killers and thieves.

Māori, too, are in need of a complete makeover: from slave-owning warrior-cannibals, to peace-loving caretakers of Te Ao Māori – a world to which they are bound by deep and mystical bonds. Inheritors of a culture that sanctioned genocidal conquest and environmental destruction, how can the Pakeha hope to lead Aotearoa towards a just future? As in the 1980s, the Twenty-First Century journey requires revolutionary Māori to lead, and guilty Pakeha to follow. And those guilty Pakeha in a position to make it happen appear only too happy to oblige.

Which is why, in March 2023, New Zealand has an educational curriculum dedicated to condemning colonisation and uplifting the indigenous Māori. Why Māori cultural traditions and ways of knowing are elevated above the achievements of Western culture and science. Why representatives of local iwi and hapu wield decisive influence over private and public development plans, as well as the credo and content of media reporting and university courses.

The Māori nationalist revolution is not yet complete – but it has, most certainly, begun.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 7 March 2023.


The Barron said...

I remember when this blog was leading in the confidence that we should trust expertise and specialist when medical science came under threat by those who at best clung onto nonpeer-reviewed minority reports, at worst misinformation from anonymous sources. Western academic knowledge developed so that we have specialist scholars. The degree is proof that the discipline has been studied and employment on the basis of that degree shows an expectation that the discipline is applied. What was lauded for medical science, seems abandoned is history and the law.

The new history curriculum has been put together in consultation with all history teachers, all of which have a minimum of a degree in history, many more qualified. In put has been sought from the leading New Zealand history academics. It has been coordinated by Ministry education specialists. Within that diverse group you have numerous ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Hundreds of specialist qualifications, yet apparently all unethically captured by "Pakeha Guilt", a virus which seems to infect new migrant communities as well as those generationally in NZ, and / or indigenous to NZ and the pacific. The curricular is a synthesis of the research of the leading NZ historians. Are we to believe that nothing is real and it is "Pakeha Guilt" not established history? The curricular allows for regional histories, the 'guilt' conspiracy runs deep into the provinces?

Our most decorated judicial authority, Lord Cooke, is motivated by "Pakeha Guilt". I had presumed he would have based decisions on his knowledge of NZ and international law and how to apply it. Williamson preceded him in the guilt immersion, presumably Elias and those that followed also ignored their oaths to apply the law in a fair and impartial way to implement a judicial system primarily based upon "Pakeha Guilt". Our greatest legal minds succumbed to guilt beyond the law. Once again, the guilt virus seems to have spread from the interpreters of law to the elected legislators.

It does seem that international legal bodies accept the legal interpretations. International scholars accept the histories. This is a conspiracy on a global scale. So many qualified specialists, each one abandoned ethics, discipline and knowledge to implement a guilt based regime.

Chris, a slow revolution is actually the evolution of a society.

Gary Peters said...

Any society built upon a tissue of lies is not destined to succeed ... in my opinion.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

God give me patience, this is the closest I've come to reading utter nonsense since I did 4000 words on the Critical Race Theory moral panic. Somehow telling the truth about race relations has become thought of as an attack on white people. Honestly, I can't put it any better than the barron but God this is disappointing.

Anonymous said...

The top down revolution 40 years ago was about the rise to supremacy of finance capital. It occurred in every Western nation at around the same time - NZ was not unique.

This current top down revolution is about the overcoming of the “ownership class”by the professional-managerial class, the highly educated controllers and managers of complex modern capitalism. It is also occurring worldwide. The reason that various flavours of identity politics (including extreme stuff like gender ideology, decolonisation, reparations etc) are being so eagerly taken up as government and corporate policy everywhere you look is not because the PMC are wonderful and virtuous. Classes always pursue their class interest. These ideologies serve many useful purposes - a way to control behaviour, a purity test, a jargon, an excuse to despise the people they rule over, a way of reconciling their “progressive” self image with the fact that they preside over, perpetuate and benefit from the capitalist system, a rationale for removing democratic power, etc. The exact flavour of PMC-approved idpol varies from country to country.

Make no mistake, this is not about a “Māori takeover”. This is about the PMC adopting decolonisation as the most useful and fitting form of wokeism available to them in the NZ setting. The beneficiaries of this revolution will (as ever) not be Māori, but the PMC (some of whom are of course Maori).

Anonymous said...

As commented on TDB Chris:


Thomas More said...

How quickly the former revolutionaries urge us to believe the authorities... once they themselves are in power!

Archduke Piccolo said...

I do not believe that in the history of the world there has ever been a revolution from above that has benefited the mass of human kind. The bad part is that just about every other revolution has eventually been hijacked by the people at - or near - the top, and hence has morphed into, yep, yet another revolution from above. The New Zealand Labour Party has been a slow motion example of this.

It's bloody depressing.
Ion A. Dowman.

Anonymous said...

The history curriculum was prepared by Diversity, Equity and Inclusion bureaucrats. Robin Cooke was an activist judge -- who kept Peter Ellis in jail.

Odysseus said...

The Barron: this is a "history" curriculum that omits the first 500 years of Maori history, or any mention of Abel Tasman and James Cook, and much else besides about New Zealand's achievements as a nation. It was cobbled together by the Ministry of Education, after an ostensible "consultation", the full and unvarnished fruits of which the Ministry refuses to publish. It is pure propaganda based on critical race theory which teaches young people to hate. It is Ardern (and Hipkins') most virulent legacy.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Any society built upon a tissue of lies is not destined to succeed ... in my opinion."

Given that New Zealand society has been built on trickle-down theory for 20 or 30 years now, no wonder where in the toilet. Because you don't get a bigger tissue of lies than that

Madame Blavatsky said...

The Barron
All the theory and the determinations of "experts" are all well and good. But at the end of the day, these are all arguments from authority. "Person X is an expert, therefore their opinion is sacrosanct" is probably the most ubiquitous logical fallacy that there is.

It isn't enough to be an expert (however that may be defined) – experts also need have a valid argument to support their contentions, and ultimately, to be correct as a matter of fact. There is no necessary connection whatsoever between "pronouncement of expert X" and that "pronouncement of exert X is sound." It may be interesting to hear what they say, but that's not the same as blindly following them, regardless of where is may lead. The logical conclusion of "experts know best" is to just replace democracy entirely with technocratic dictatorship.

Stepping away from disembodied abstractions and theoretical determinations, we live in a place called The Real World. In this world of concrete consequences and cause & effect, the pertinent question is, "Is New Zealand going down a path towards enshrined Maori ethno-nationalism and a bifurcation of society on that basis good for the coherence and the continuance of New Zealand society?" Only an expert or an ideologue would be so naive as to think that such a program wouldn't result in chaos, conflict and complete disaster.

Madame Blavatsky said...

The Barron

Further to my previous comment: why would you think that "White Guilt" doesn't play a significant role in peoples' worldviews and therefore the interpretations (for instance, of legal or historical matters) they thus formulate? Humans aren't wholly and coldly rational and objective. Everyone, without exception, is subject to predispositions and irrational (i.e. non-rational) biases. After 70 years of continual psyop, White people feeling pathological guilt for the actions of their ancestors (and an accompanying pseudo-moral obligation wherein they feel that they owe non-White groups everything as a consequence, even to the extent of disadvantaging their own group) is a very real phenomenon.

In fact, there is an ideological filtering system in most contemporary institutions, going back many decades, where if someone isn't deemed sufficiently ideologically conformist, then they would never be in a position to espouse their "expert" opinion to begin with.

It is completely plausible, and in fact very probable, that most "experts" reach their conclusions at least on partly irrational grounds.

David George said...

"apparently all unethically captured by "Pakeha Guilt""
Well captured by something TB; perhaps it's an extraordinary coincidence, an accidental omission, that entire important aspects of the nations history have been exorcised from the school history curriculum. I agree with Chris, though the individual motivations may vary, it represents a determined effort to indoctrinate, to create a narrative that's dishonest and divisive.

In the hunger to denigrate the achievements of our culture even the principles underlying the philosophy of science are under attack

Richard Dawkins has recently come under fire from The Herald's apparent go-to girl, Victoria University researcher Tara McAllister who claims his comments “function to embolden other racist scientists in Aotearoa” and "“Dawkins’ comments are, however, a great example of how clearly white supremacy is ingrained in Western sciences globally, and how colonising scientists continue to attempt to undermine the global resurgence of indigenous knowledge, which I will incorporate into my teaching and research,” and
.“People who agree with Richard’s poorly researched [reckonings] need to check their racist assumptions about what is and isn’t science and read a book.”
She said the function of Dawkins “inherently racist column” was “a distraction”.

No actual facts but plenty of race baiting BS, this is what our once respected institutions have become.

David George said...

Here is a peak into the disturbed and dangerous mind of Tara McAllister, she penned this shortly after the Herald rant.

Some words for the Haters

I am your worst nightmare
My existence challenges your racist assumptions
My presense disturbs your whiteness
I stand in the mana of my tipuna
And fight for the mana of my mokopuna.

I have not come for a seat at your table
I have come to destroy it
I will deconstruct your table part by part, piece by piece
I will take screws out while you are not looking
Until your table crumbles to nothingness.

David George said...

I don't know how much Pakeha guilt is around but, obviously, the intention is to increase it exponentially. Perhaps Kiwis are generally just too nice, too nice, even when confronted with obvious malevolence (see Tara McAllister above) to really believe it, to confront it.

“But there will be times in your life when it will take everything you have to face what is in front of you, instead of hiding away from a truth so terrible that the only thing worse is the falsehood you long to replace it with.”
― Jordan B. Peterson, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life

Shane McDowall said...

Here was me thinking prehistoric New Zealand was inhabited by Gaea-worshiping vegan pacifists with, perhaps, the odd indentured labourer blotting their copybook.

Nine species of moa just happened to go extinct shortly after the arrival of Austronesians c.AD 1300.

Twenty percent of the forest in the North Island and seventy percent in the South Island spontaneously combusted, shortly after the arrival of Austronesians c.AD 1300.

Us Kiwis just can't get the balance right when it comes to telling the story of our country.

Compare and contrast the postage stamps depicting the respective arrivals of British and Maori settlers at the time of our centennial in 1940. The Maori are depicted as starving wretches crawling off their battered canoes. The British are depicted as well-dressed, well fed, well groomed gentlefolk standing proudly by their small mountains of luggage.

The British settlers did turn two remote islands into a peaceful, prosperous democratic nation that is the envy of billions.

And the Maori did get fucked up the arse along the way.

But you have to keep in mind that the fuckers were expecting the fuckees to become extinct. Even William Hobson expressed this view in a letter to his wife - if my dodgy memory serves me.

Except, perhaps, the author of the image of a Maori painting the ruins of London, most Europeans sincerely believed that natives inhabiting 'uselessly extensive estates' were doomed to extinction.

Yet here I am, contributing my two cents worth to Bowalley Road.

Madame Blavatsky said...

Guerilla Surgeon
It's very disappointing that you won't take a moment to defend the need for Maori nationalism, given the potential impact that it will have. Given the profusion of your past pontifications in Chris' comment sections, it's a shame that you won't step up to the plate for the tangata whenua when it really counts. Perhaps you think it is self-evident. I don't, but perhaps you do.

Moreover, as Maori nationalism and other assorted indigenous rights movements are really just manifestations of, and downstream of, the deeply anti-European culture of critique exemplified by the Critical Race Theory of approximately the 1930s to 1960s (a topic that you, apparently, are at least "4,000 words" deep into), I'm sure we are all deeply despondent to miss out on your scintillating analysis.

Barry said...

Several hundred years ago European groups were riven by superstition and what we now call 'old wives tales'. As education improved and difficult times thinned society, things slowly changed as people had to deal with the reality of the times. Starvation and wars and droughts brought society back to reality on a regular basis and slowly supstitions etc were seen for what they were.
I have no doubt that in the next few decades the world will suffer from serious climate disasters, increased other social pressures such as localised food shortages and I have no doubt - wars. In fact the Ukraine situation has a high possibility of getting very nasty and widespread.
I expect such happenings will cause a 'concentration of the minds' and the current self imolation of society will be very quickly thrown in the dustbin.
I doubt if the victims of the floods in Northland, Auckland and the east coast care one iota about culture wars right now.......

The Barron said...

Where to start?
Thomas More - Thanks for the 'revolutionary' moniker. It is not about believing or disbelieving authorities, but about whether it is authoritative. Researched, complied and implemented by those with the knowledge and ability to hold up to peer review or in this case programmed based on peer reviewed publications.

Anon. 10.13 - consultation was through history teachers and tertiary historians. Very much a side issue around Lord Cooke, but to note: that decision was over-turned through the legal system his Treaty decisions have not.

Odysseus - First 500 years of Maori is 'pre-history', however, the curriculum is flexible enough to allow that plus Tasman and Cook to be included. There was nothing 'ostensible' about the consultation, the New Zealand History Teachers' Association has spoken publicly about the extent of the process. It is not 'critical race theory', that is a US legal program in a few universities. It would be unethical to teach 'hate' and teachers could be referred to the NZ Teachers' Council if they did. They are professional educators acting within the ethics of their profession.

Madame Blavatsky (1) - No that is an illogical conclusion. In my earlier post I identified the extent of those with qualifications and experience that have been party to establishing an academic consensus view. The majority of those that have put the curricular together are non-Maori (Chris' very point about 'guilt'), and ethno-nationalism is meaning less twaddle mainly promoted by Elizabeth Rata. "Only an expert...", the obvious flipside is "only the misinformed"

Madam Blavatsky (2) - Once again, you are ignoring the weight of expertise brought on board in the consultation. What you refer to as "White guilt" is what you perceive as a reaction to past wrongs. Many of those 'wrongs' have an impact today. Reconciliation is an acknowledgement of the past wrongs and a just approach is to minimalize that on-going impact. While there maybe some who feel 'guilt' that is a meaningless emotion. What you are seeing is a sense of justice and reconciliation. To reduce this to 'guilt' is to again make those that have benefited from the past injustices still the most important and the motivators. Self-centered and entrenched empowerment. What is actually happening is a need for all parties to understand where we are and how we got here, and work together in mutual respect to address historical disadvantage suppressing the potential of all NZ.

David (1,2 & 3) - Dawkins is the descendant of slave-holders who is an evolutionary biologist who has claimed knowledge on everything else. No problem with a polymath, but he is so grounded in his own sense of importance I would not expect him to be able to give weight to anything but his own western science. I should note, he claims atheism but his theories on behavioral evolution is more predeterminist that the most radical Calvinist. He is not widely respected in his field for these views. Peterson, I think I have covered before. His specialist area is as a addiction psychologist, who got himself addicted to benzo and has had his Ontario practicing certificate revoked because of on-going comments that may cause psychological harm. Again, no problem with a polymath, but he falls down on his specialist subject.

Finally, is there really anyone reading Bowalley Road who believe that Maori have an unfair advantage in the judicial system or education? Or, is it just that their own sense of entitlement seems challenged?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Mme ...

"It's important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding and/or access to empirical evidence."

If we're not to believe experts who are we to believe? You? How much relevant experience do you have in New Zealand history? I doubt very much of a single one of the commenters on this site who opposes this has any knowledge of New Zealand history gained in a formal setting. But I bet they've all "done their own research."

Historians themselves usually have different viewpoints and I'm pretty sure that a number of people with relevant qualifications would have been consulted, not to mention history teachers.

"In fact, there is an ideological filtering system in most contemporary institutions, going back many decades, where if someone isn't deemed sufficiently ideologically conformist, then they would never be in a position to espouse their "expert" opinion to begin with."

Jesus wept, you know nothing. Some of the most fervent and occasionally outright vicious arguments take place between professors of history. Although on the surface of course they are usually very polite. One of the first things you learn in a history degree is how to assess and evaluate the arguments of rival interpretations. Funnily enough, in spite of the opinions of many commentators here history departments are not full of communists all waiting to take over the University and by implication the country. You don't get much more right-wing than Michael bloody Bassett, and it didn't seem to hurt his career very much.

Gary Peters said...

"Given that New Zealand society has been built on trickle-down theory for 20 or 30 years now"

Good lord, some people are hard to educate aren't they?

I was born into a 3 bed home with a single toilet. No one in my family had ever attended university.

By the time I turned 19 I was earning more than my father had ever earned in his life, while i attended university part time.

I raised 3 professional kids who all attended university subsidised by my wife and I.

I am now in a financial position greater than any parent in the immediate circle of my childhood friends could ever imagine let alone attain.

And you say there's been no trickle down ......

Now where the metrics have worsened, mainly among maori, I would accept there has been no trickle down but maybe the lack of education is the reason there is no trickle, that and the abscence of intelligent policy from the idiot ardern government.

However, if you has any contact with members of the maori elite you would find there's plenty of money floating around, it just struggles to leave their pockets.

DS said...

Our most decorated judicial authority, Lord Cooke, is motivated by "Pakeha Guilt". I had presumed he would have based decisions on his knowledge of NZ and international law and how to apply it.

As you might be aware, Cooke was notoriously "creative". Rather infamously, he asserted limits on parliamentary sovereignty - which was something quite outside his role.

So far as the Principles go, that started out as simply the Fourth Labour Government engaged in a bit of window-dressing. Sticking "Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi" into the legislation was only ever intended as a meaningless political sop. They actually had no idea that someone like Cooke would use his power to determine what those Principles were, much less that it would revolutionise the application of the Treaty for decades to come.

In short, Cooke's decision wasn't the neutral application of law. It was the judicial making of law, and it most certainly had an agenda behind it.

Madame Blavatsky said...

The Barron

"Finally, is there really anyone reading Bowalley Road who believe that Maori have an unfair advantage in the judicial system or education? Or, is it just that their own sense of entitlement seems challenged?"

"Being Maori" is demonstrably frequently a consideration within the judicial system, usually presented as an excuse for bad behaviour. We see this in the ubiquitous "cultural reports" that are presented to courts in an attempt (often successful) to sway the judge towards lenience:

"Your Honour, what chance did this man have, being as he is Maori? Agency should thus not be attributed here, in the interests of combatting systemic racism. I refer you to his cultural report as evidence of his lack of agency, and the inevitability of his alleged offending."

No one claims that Europeans have as high a rate of crime as Maori do, so it follows that Maori will be sentenced at greater rates as well. But even with sympathetic treatment on the grounds of "cultural handicaps" they still top the crime stats. It would be even worse if justice were indeed blind.

Similarly, "being Maori" (and by implication, being subject to systemic oppression by non-Maori) is often used to excuse or explain away Maori underachievement.

In both cases (justice and education) Maori are generally at the bottom of most metrics. This isn't due to "systemic racism," it is due to, in the case of justice, a greater proclivity to commit crimes, and in the case of education, a more common unwillingness to do the work required to succeed. In contrast, I cannot think of an obvious trend where someone’s “being White” allowed them to access some systemic advantage. They are in fact held to a higher standard and are never excused for their behaviour on account of their race.

Madame Blavatsky said...

Guerilla Surgeon
"If we're not to believe experts who are we to believe? You? How much relevant experience do you have in New Zealand history? I doubt very much of a single one of the commenters on this site who opposes this has any knowledge of New Zealand history gained in a formal setting. But I bet they've all "done their own research."

Nice attempt at answering a different argument, but you'll not that I didn't say "we should never believe experts." I said, rather, that we should never believe them simply BECAUSE they are "experts" (and how do we define what an "expert" is?). These are two different propositions, but it obviously suits you to conflate them.

Moreover, you may very well "doubt" the knowledge of history of Bowalley Road commentators, but your "doubts" don't demonstrate anything other than your own mental attitude. Once again, your argument is entirely one from authority, and as I've already explained above, that argument is a logical fallacy.

I couldn't care less what your or anyone else's formal qualifications are – I care only that the person making the claim is right, and that they have the argument and the evidence to support it. A quasi-religious reverence of the pronouncements of experts is about as unscientific as one could get. The only relevant consideration is "Are they right?"

David George said...

There's no need to get into verbal stoush about what expert said what about the history curriculum, there's not much actual disagreement over the facts of our history. What is at issue is the selection of facts that are to be included or excluded. There is a theme evident, a slant in one direction. Why is that? To what end?

“If you can't understand why someone is doing something, look at the consequences of their actions, whatever they might be, and then infer the motivations from their consequences.
― Jordan B. Peterson

Historian Michael Basett: "Students will be given a lop-sided picture of our early history if the curriculum ignores or romanticizes the pre-1840 period where several Maori tribes went on annual marauding exercises to settle old scores. They killed between 40,000 and 50,000 Maori, approximately 25% of the total number of Maori in the country at that time, eating some, and enslaving others."

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Good lord, some people are hard to educate aren't they?

Yes they are. Some people don't seem to know the difference between anecdote and data. Here is a start. And there's plenty of actual academic evidence if you have access to the databases.

Madame Blavatsky said...

The Barron

"...but [Dawkins] is so grounded in his own sense of importance I would not expect him to be able to give weight to anything but his own western science."

I agree that Dawkins is very blinkered in his atheism and it means he can't see the wood for the trees. His presupposition is that science can tell us everything we need to know, and anything it can't isn't worth knowing. This is circular logic. His militant materialism is grounded in his own biases.

That said, there is no such thing as "Western science." There is just science (which, however, I believe is limited in scope). Science is a method and approach to investigating the world of causes and effects – it is therefore culturally and ethnically neutral. It is a very specific concept and involves a very specific method and specific criteria, and is an activity that can be undertaken by anyone anywhere. Science is science whether it is an Asian, a German or a South American doing it.

By contrast, "Maori ways of knowing" don't conform at all to the concept of science, so they cannot, by definition, be thought of as "science." They are something else, but they aren't science. In fact, "knowing" is itself a very specific concept as well, usually understood as being "justified true belief." Now, the existence of taniwha may be true, and people may believe in them – but they are still left with being unable to justify their belief (i.e. on objective grounds), so it is impossible for anyone to say that they "know" that taniwha exist. I am a Christian and, by exactly the same principle, I cannot claim to "know" that God exists, because His existence isn't a matter that science can determine. It is a matter of faith, and so are taniwha.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Ah Mme – as I have said more than once in these columns, those who tend to criticise Critical Race Theory are those who know the least about it. Maori nationalism as a response to a couple hundred years of discrimination. If nothing else it will scare the crap out of white people so they might be tempted to negotiate with more moderate groups.

Madame Blavatsky said...

Guerilla Surgeon
"Jesus wept, you know nothing. Some of the most fervent and occasionally outright vicious arguments take place between professors of history. Although on the surface of course they are usually very polite. One of the first things you learn in a history degree is how to assess and evaluate the arguments of rival interpretations"

Again, you are arguing a different point than the one I made. History professors having "different interpretations" is one thing; but having genuine ideological diversity in universities is a relic of the past. For instance, a Marxist professor, a liberal professor, and a fascist professor engaging in vigorous ideological debate in the staff cafeteria would never happen, simply because the fascist would never (in 99.9% of university settings) be allowed to rise to a professorship in the first place (not unless he hid his politics very well). Moreover, the fact that you think that Michael Bassett is "right wing" is about as ludicrous a proposition as those you criticise for claiming history professors are all communists.

David George said...

A response to Tara McAllisters poem (copied above) from the Diary of a mad not quite black woman, Corina Shields.

I am your worst nightmare.
A poem for "Dr Tara McAllister"

I am your worst nightmare.
My existence challenges ALL assumptions.
My presence disturbs your narrative.
I stand in the mana of MY tīpuna,
And fight for ALL mokopuna.

I have not come to sit at a table of racists.
I have come to dismantle it.
I will break it, bit by bit, narrative by narrative.
I will stand tall in my truth, while you try to divide,
Until your narrative crumbles like our roads.

From 2020:
"But here's what astounds me every time I say something, the colour of my skin means I get away with saying things some “Pakeha” feel like they can't say despite the fact I'm also Irish, Scottish and Yugoslav. Racism is a funny thing in a not haha kind of way. That's why I don't like the idea of seperate entities for Māori because at the crux of it, many of us are not JUST Māori so we need systems and politicians that work for all of us and not just for the few radicals who demand equality whilst creaming the government coffers whilst their people rot in motels."

Loz said...

You either believe that liberty and equality are absolute rights, or you believe the Treaty is New Zealand's Magna carta and outside of its interpretation there are no rights – certainly no right to equality between ethnic groups.

I do wonder if the @'the Barron' is about to remind everyone that like Dawkins, all Maori Chiefs were descended from slave-holders too? Accepting that a family tree needs to be reviewed back to the 1700's before a person can be respected was once tried in Nuremberg. It's not the tradition I would want to align myself with.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen have been the affirmations of universal human rights for two centuries. They are far more aspirational than the Ancien’ claims to genetic rights through ancestry. These principles for freedom and equality were at the heart of all great social movements from woman's and men's suffrage, anti-slavery and anti-apartheid movements. Who could not be moved by Martin Luther King's famous dream that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal"? How truly aspirational are the words:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood... All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law."

"Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be based only on considerations of the common good... The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of Man."

How ironic that those who seek to undermine and dismiss the most liberating principles of the ages consider themselves "progressive"!?!

Anonymous said...

Loz @ 16:15 says that you are born free and equal.

your words will appeal to many seeking excuses for ungodly worldly behavior, just as it does with 90% of the contributors prior and herein attest.
You are most definitely not born equal. That is a ridiculous statement.

The peace that you and all mankind seeks, begins with a universal recognition.
It is not up to anyone anywhere here on this earth to create equality, but there is to universally recognise that freedom and equality are one.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Whatever the declaration of dependence said, whatever Martin Luther King said or the United Nations for that matter, is irrelevant. Human rights cannot by definition be separated from human society. No one is born with rights. They are given rights by society, and as a matter of practice, rights can be taken away by society – like it or not.

My mother lost her right to the pursuit of happiness during World War II. My father pretty much lost his to life and liberty.

To suggest that this is trying to undermine and dismiss the liberating principles is nonsense. No "progressive" I know does this. We all agree that human beings should have rights, but we don't happen to agree with you where they come from – some amorphous nothingness.

If there were "natural" rights then animals would have them because they are as you put it in a state of nature. They don't. They can't even express the concept of rights.

We are obviously talking past each other, and you don't seem to be making a great deal of sense to me so – enough said.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"There's no need to get into verbal stoush about what expert said what about the history curriculum, there's not much actual disagreement over the facts of our history. What is at issue is the selection of facts that are to be included or excluded. "

And what facts the right don't want included are those that might "embarrass" white people. And perhaps what facts Maori don't want included are those that might "embarrass" them. Is really no need to exclude either of them.

But Michael Bassett is an extreme right-wing commentor, and a labour historian. He doesn't know a hell of a lot more about Maori history in spite of the fact that he was on the Waitangi Tribunal for a while, then you or I.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I couldn't care less what your or anyone else's formal qualifications are – I care only that the person making the claim is right, and that they have the argument and the evidence to support it. A quasi-religious reverence of the pronouncements of experts is about as unscientific as one could get. The only relevant consideration is "Are they right?""
God give me strength, are you being deliberately obtuse?
1. Formal qualifications, research and experience mean that you are more likely to be right than someone with neither of these. Would you get your medical advice from a plumber?

2. How would you, with your fairly limited it seems to me appreciation of New Zealand history judge who is correct and who isn't? I suspect you'd go with whoever fits your political beliefs.

3.I suggest you research the straw man fallacy. I have never advocated a quasi religious reverence for the pronouncements of experts. I simply reject the opinions of people who haven't done any research, who aren't qualified, or who have "done their own research" under the aegis of a tinfoil hat, or an extreme right political position.

DS said...

You either believe that liberty and equality are absolute rights, or you believe the Treaty is New Zealand's Magna carta and outside of its interpretation there are no rights – certainly no right to equality between ethnic groups.

Some of us believe in neither. Insofar as I accept the existence of rights, it is through the Benthamite lens, and not through Locke, and I have a noted distaste for "rights" being misused to enforce policy preferences. I happen to believe that NZBORA ought to be repealed, for example.

Incidentally, a "right" is an "others must" claim. It places a burden upon society to do something. The issue then becomes how that burden is to be actually applied in practice - which turns out to be a good deal trickier than high-minded Enlightenment rhetoric would suggest, and why democracy and "rights" can be very much at odds.

David George said...

"A quasi-religious reverence of the pronouncements of experts is about as unscientific as one could get."

True Madame B., what a bloody mess we've got ourselves into thanks to an undue reverence to "expert opinions". The problem is who decides who to listen to? The government and legacy news media appear to have their stable of experts conveniently aligned with their agenda, contrary views from those similarly qualified are routinely dismissed, denigrated or simply disappeared.

The threat, and the highly risky and costly strategies deemed justified in response, of climate change and covid, for example, are being so heavily promoted (propagandised) that even proper political opposition cowers in submission. What hope for the truth?

We've been relentlessly told that the recent severe storm was "unprecedented", the inevitable result of climate change. Turns out there were worse, and more frequent, storms recorded, in NZ in the later 19th century. And God knows what in the millions of years before that. Heard any contrition, any admission of that from the media, any thing from the politicians?

Another example: The lab leak theory was constructively deconstructed by "experts", experts that, rather than being admonished and embarrassed for their foolish (and corrupt?) assertions, are being promoted. Neo Lysenkoist lunacy!

Ian Birrell: "Who could argue with the need for evidence-based science and the unfettered flow of information to help make the world a better place? It was no surprise, however, Farrar chose The Guardian for his valedictory interview as he heads to Geneva for a new post as chief scientist of the World Health Organization. For this ensured there would be no challenging questions over his central — and profoundly anti-science — role in stifling debate on the pandemic origins and effectively pushing his own conspiracy, cooked up with a handful of influential colleagues, including Anthony Fauci in the US, which suggested any idea that Covid might have emerged from some kind of laboratory incident in Wuhan was crackers."

llloyd said...

I for a short time taught New Zealand history in Outer Mongolia. The students wanted to know about the development of the country. Maori culture they disregarded or treated as a joke. It is the folly of politicians and apathy of Kiwis that allowed this to happen. I have been warning since 1984, like the Trojan about the wooden horse.

David Stone said...

I can't help remembering a seminar I went to in Wellington with a friend I have who was in the PSA at the time being employed to run the breaking down station for the electricity dpt. in Thames at that time. It was called and hosted by the PSA and CTU . The purpose was to explore and discuss the background to the radical changes Douglass was introducing and see if anything could be done to resist them.
They had brought in two economists fro Holland who had been engaged by the Dutch wharfie's union to help them argue their case against neoliberal type changes that were being imposed on them by the Dutch Government at that time or shortly earlier. As a result of that contract the pair had made a study of Thatcherism and the whole neoliberal campaign that was seeking to transform the world's economy in that era. What they realised or learned was that the architects of that movement had realised that it had been a mistake to try and implement this change in a piecemeal way as resistance would be mounted and other labour organisations could see what was happening and be prepared in advance. What was needed was an isolated economy behind in what was happening in the old countries where the whole philosophy could be implemented in one fell swoop without anyone having any idea what was happening or what was going to happen. Then this could be an example to the rest of the world how well an economy would work in neoliberal's purest form.
It was certainly not unique to NZ but it is not generally recognised what an important role the NZ transformation was in the Global transformation.
An important consideration identified by the architects of this movement according to these economists was the need to pay particular attention to getting indigenous populations on board ,so part of the strategy was to elevate them in the narrative associated with promoting the overall ideas. It all fell into place and is continuing.
The need to make a sop to indigenous peoples was of course that just as here they tend all over the world to be over represented in the areas of employment that were going to be most adversely effected by neoliberalism and hasn't it all gone accordingly, Huge parts of our manufacturing was outsourced to China and other low wage economies , whole industries were wound up or moved overseas and the export of jobs was huge.
As the neoliberal globalist experiment having been on the life support of QE since 2008 which the powers that be have now decided must be reversed to dampen inflation , we are now headed for a massive global reorientation . Nationalism is going to return and perhaps this will allow countries such as ours to become self sufficient again and provide a niche for everyone again as it once did. Then I think we won't need the apartheid ideas being worked on politically at the moment and we will all get on as we used to.
Does any one have a clear concept of what Co Governance looks like in it's final form? Is it really apartheid or is it rule of the majority by a minority?

The Barron said...

Polynesians developed cutting edge boats, sails and navigation which was well ahead of Europe for millennia. All of this developed through trial and error. Papuans independently invented agriculture simultaneous with the near east and mesoamerica.

The Lapita people (proto-Polynesians) took this technology and with 4 animal types and a limited number of plants established thriving communities throughout the largest geographic feature on Earth.

When arriving at a temperate land of NZ, those that became Maori managed to establish agriculture here despite the plants they had being tropical. Innovation such as the kumara pit allowed tropical plants to survive frost. The knowledge of the endemic flora and fauna was detailed. Medicines developed through trial and error and knowledge shared and passed on to those with expert knowledge (tohunga).

Maori 'ways of knowing' is scientifically based.

My point on Dawkins is he has a narrow view of what he thinks is important. That importance is usually centered on him. My point as to his atheism is as a behavioral evolutionist he has simply replaced Calvinist predetermination with his scientific justification for predetermination. This is not a world view of many other atheist, and if predetermination is Dawkins' belief how is that atheist?

The Barron said...

Cheers David. I have faith in the professionalism of the history teacher. I have not been a teacher but worked enough with high school teachers to respect their knowledge and ethics. I think it a shame that is often undermined by some commentators.

That said, the training for the primary teachers and those teaching social studies at lower high school is essential. If there are problems with the roll out it will be as those teachers gain knowledge and techniques. They too are professional and ethical and the medium and long-term will be unproblematic, I just hope there is fair evaluation when minor errors occur. In my view it is long overdue and understanding is a natural step as part of reconciliation

The Barron said...

I personally not the biggest fan of 'the principles ', many Maori have noted their tipuna did not sign the principles. However, with the Tribunal and court decisions, as well as many internal departmental reports. Lange believed a legal framework that defined the Crowns obligations. Those principles were evolved and added to.

The judiciary interprets the law in regard to national and institutions precedent, the elected legislators make the law in accordance with their mandate. In the case of the principles, this has been lasting through numerous Parliaments and judicial appointments.

David George said...

A conservative solution?
"A profound crisis of meaning currently afflicts, destabilizes and demoralizes the
sovereign citizens of the West and the social institutions upon which we depend. That crisis has increasingly spread to the remainder of the world’s people, generating confusion and sowing distrust; producing a counterproductive discord in place of the peaceful, voluntary cooperation and competition that could instead reign over and unite us.
That crisis is in the first place the consequence of a corrosive doubt sowed not least by the careless intellect regarding the value of the principles of value, aim and action that have heretofore inspired, guided and stabilized us. That crisis is in the second place the consequence of the historically unprecedented realization of our ignorance about the ultimate source, nature and reality of those principles, and our resultant inability to formulate and communicate a clear moral justification for their existence.

That crisis is in the third place the consequence of the presumptuous, premature, and finally narrowly self-serving insistence, arising from that doubt and ignorance, that nothing but the will to power—the willingness and desire to dominate and exploit—motivates all individual perceptions and actions and gives rise to and maintains all social institutions.

That crisis is, finally, use of the frustration and resentment that necessarily arises when doubt, ignorance and intellectual pride combine to demonize, divide and exploit; to insist upon an impossible and final conceptual certitude; and to demand recognition of a false and unearned moral virtue. That crisis manifests itself in the idolatrous battles, simultaneously petty and terrible, that currently divide our world—in the disputes about identity that lead astray and render hopeless; in the stoking of suspicion between men and women, in the insistence that enmity must divide black, brown and white; in the subjugation of the education that should enlighten to the ideologies that possess; in the cycle of accusation that threatens the trust upon which peace and prosperity necessarily depends; and in the panicked, antihuman, apocalyptic doomsaying that undermines the spirit of our sons and daughters.

What can those who attempt to abide by and manifest a courageous faith in the traditional
values of our past offer, in such times? Not the thoughtless and instrumental appeal to cynicism and bitterness, associated with the insistence that our social and political institutions are fundamentally unreliable, corrupt and untrustworthy. Not the harsh and condemnatory exhortation or demand to accept and uphold a moral code noteworthy only for its joylessness, sterility and tendency to forbid and damn. Instead, the confident and forthright transmission of the abandoned eternal verities to all of those who currently wander, thirst and starve in their absence."

David George said...

"The ARC of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice" MLK

I'm delighted to see the establishment of this new, participatory, international, organisation ARC, the Association of Responsible Citizens. It is to structured

"The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) is being established as an international community with a vision for a better world where every citizen can prosper, contribute and flourish.
We are seeking answers to some of our day’s most fundamental questions, grounded in our core belief that everyone has intrinsic worth and something to contribute, and humanity has an extraordinary capacity for innovation and ingenuity."
Check it out:

Gary Peters said...

The real joy of this blog is that it allows some to shopw their "se;ective knowledge" which is based on ideology rather than actual facts.

Thankfully that ideology is slowing showing itself to be what it is. my way or the highway and the most repetitive commenters here clearly oemonstrate that.

The simple fact tha ardern's ideology drove policies that have worsened every metric from education to child poverty yet there are still a few adherrents that think .... "next time".

As for primary school history, I suggest you have a chat with a few teachers and see what resources have been provided to teach the "new histroy". I'll help, none and they have been tolf to approach local elders to get "their" versions of history. I can assure you tyere are not many takers and what we have ended up with is each marae has their own history and where they overlap we seem to get different facts. How can that be, the history is settled isn't it?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship? Just looked at their membership, a bigger crowd of political graspers and general conspiracy theory lunatics I haven't come across for a while. Except perhaps for Niall Ferguson, who writes very good if often controversial history. Describes himself as a "classical liberal" which of course means conservative in the argot of people who don't really want to be labelled conservative.

Of the rest of, Jordan Peterson is of course these days a lunatic.

Mike Lee, according to my American Internet acquaintances was deeply involved in the January 6 incident trying to overturn the election that Biden won by a landslide.

To be fair, Crenshaw is all over the place when it comes to political ideas – but it does get a 90+ percent rating from the NRA, which pretty much means he is a gun nut.

Morrisey is on the board of GB new which tells you pretty much all you need to know about – because that's a nest of crazies.

Johnson is another 2020 election conspiracy theorist – need I go on?

I suspect that none of these people really care about justice or responsibility. Or rather responsibility for the but not for me.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I don't know anything much about Outer Mongolia, but in every country I have been in, which includes much of Southeast and East Asia, people have been very interested in Maori culture, one of the reasons why they want to come to New Zealand for a holiday. No one ever treated it as a joke at least not in my hearing.

Anonymous said...

The transatlantic slave trade was based on perception of race and generational (children of slaves automatically became slaves). Maori taurekareka were war captives who had lost their mana to the captors. Children were not born into slavery.

This is not a defense, but a reminder not to conflate two different ontology.

Dawkins is the inheritor of considerable family wealth that can be directly attributed to slavery. The descendants of those in slavery do not have that wealth. Many descendents of slaves are the descendants of the slave owners and supervisors through rape.

At the time of emancipation in the British Empire, the slave owners got massive crown compensation. The 1837 Slave Compensation Act did not compensate slaves. The payments of bond to the creditors was only finalized in 2015.

Madame Blavatsky said...

The Barron
"...the elected legislators make the law in accordance with their mandate."

The current Labour government did not receive a mandate on enacting co-governance, so it follows that they have no legitimacy in doing so without one. In fact, not only weren't they given a mandate, they never asked the electorate for a mandate by revealing their plans to radically alter New Zealand's constitutional arrangements in the first place. Quite the opposite was the case, in that they deliberately kept their intentions secret, clearly because they knew they wouldn't be given a mandate if they were open and honest.

The Barron said...

A final note on experts. The study and qualification shows knowledge and discipline. When joining a profession most are bound by professional ethics. Those in academia should publish in accordance with peer review. This is a process in which other academic of the field are able to cross check references and show the research is robust. In scientific discipline, the ability to be able to repeat and experiment gives credibility.

At the top of this thread I noted -

"science came under threat by those who at best clung onto nonpeer-reviewed minority reports, at worst misinformation from anonymous sources"

The inability of many (right or left) to identify and analyze source material is a threat to the cohesion of our society. Decisions must be based on reliable research. Facts must be fact-checked. We should have reasonable faith that the consensus conclusions of those with specialist expertise has undergone robust professional scrutiny in accordance with the ethical practice required.

Anything less is superstition or belief. It is always interesting to see commentators on this blog tread define others world view, while maintaining there own pre-enlightenment relationship to research.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Let's face it, reliance on non-experts gave us I think about 1 million excess deaths in the US because of Trump?

Anonymous said...

Thank you David George (March 9 at 13:22) for the poem by Tara McAllister.

The dilemma facing the Labour government is attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable. On the one hand "trust the science" (or at least, trust what we say on climate change and vaccines) but also incorporate Maori mysticism. Try to ignore the contradictions between skeptical enquiry based on the assumption no supernatural forces are involved, and mystical assumptions that see supernatural forces as prime movers. Also try to ignore the contradictions between a longing to return to past ways, and a world that has fundamentally changed. Climate adaptation is going to involve managed retreat. That will be highly stressful for everyone. It will be extra stressful for tangata whenua who wish to maintain marae on traditional sites.

The government can set up and fund self proclaimed "Centres of Research Excellence" such as Te Punaha Matatini,but wishful labelling doesn't automatically deliver results in line with the highfalutin titles. Overpromising and under delivering is why Jacinda had to go, and why Chippy needs a policy bonfire if he's to cling to office.

There is real success in science in New Zealand to celebrate. The FDA approval for the treatment for Rett syndrome is one recent example. Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble and her team solved a problem in synthetic organic chemistry. They had an idea of which molecule would work, but found it challenging to make. They succeeded not only in making it, but making it to pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, for use in human trials. After a twenty year process, it has now been approved for use.

Rett syndrome is a very nasty disorder of neurological development. It mainly affects females. It is carried on the X chromosome, and tends to be rapidly fatal in individuals with only one X chromosome, (i.e. males). Individuals with two X chromosomes (i.e.females) survive, but with devastating faults in nervous system development.

Dame Margaret can be justifiably proud of the achievement. But it's an achievement based entirely on mechanistic materialist assumptions about how the world really works. It is based on understanding enough of the chemical basis of biology to see that a "tweak" to one of the natural chemicals involved might have therapeutic value. Then successfully making that synthetic chemical. Then careful testing through clinical trials to establish that it is both safe, and beneficial.

I don't, myself, see how matauranga Maori would have helped at all in Dame Margaret's great achievement. That chemistry and maturanga Maori might be irreconcilable is also suggested by Margaret Mutu's career. She started out studying chemistry at Auckland university, then left that behind to take up Maori studies, and her advocacy for her people.

sumsuch said...

Och aye tha nu, you say so much truth, though not much good about climate change.

You seem to be right about the Maori details but can you really see that coming to political light? And is it the major thing? Continuance of the species is everything. Ten years.

RedLogix said...

I might take MM seriously as a science if someone can show me the pre-European Maori equivalent of the Dirac equation. Or perhaps Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem.

Most people who prat on about how wonderful everything Maori is - are revealing how little they know about their own culture and the scientific revolution it gave birth to.

David George said...

Meng Foon, race relations chief, has previously called out "It's OK to be white" as deeply offensive and racist. He's now saying, quote: "I always say to white people, you actually still have a lot to contribute to society". Thanks Meng.

I'm confused, what the hell is going on?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

For crying out loud, no one is trying to incorporate Maori mysticism into science. But Maori did have an intimate knowledge of the ecology of NZ before Europeans arrived, and still have quite a bit left.
The motivation was probably different to biologists studying for a PhD, but the observation was much the same. I wouldn't necessarily call it science, because it didn't use the scientific method as we know it necessarily, but it's certainly a body of knowledge we could possibly take advantage of. If I remember correctly science courses often offer a brief history of the subject, usually Eurocentric and completely ignoring advances in India and China, with the occasional nod to the Arab Middle East. Maybe it's time we just spread it round a bit.

Anonymous said...

Same Anon. as 14 March at 15:39. In reply to GS 15 March at 14:45. Yes, there may well be elements in maturanga Maori that could be advantageous. There certainly are in traditional Chinese medicine.

But realizing some of those benefits took re-examination in the light of modern knowledge.

Rhinoceros horn was highly prized, traditionally. It consists almost entirely of keratin, the same protein as hair and fingernails. The chances of finding therapeutic benefit from rhinoceros horn are greater than those from fingernail clippings in a placebo controlled, double blind trial would be negligible.

The opposite is true of Chinese herbal remedies. Tu Youyou won the 2015 Nobel prize in medicine, for her discovery of the antimalarial artemisinin, derived from the Chinese herb sweet wormwood. Her discovery has been credited with saving millions of lives.

She was trained in both chemistry and traditional Chinese medicine. She looked for herbal remedies recommended for recurrent fevers. Sweet wormwood gave a tea that was ineffective. Her search in traditional medicine found a recommendation for steeping the herb in cold water, rather than making tea. With that insight, she tried a cold extraction of the herb. The cold extract was effective.

The active compound is heat sensitive. It was named artemisinin from the scientific name for sweet wormwood, Artemisia annua. She established a structure for the compound, and confirmed that structure by synthesizing the molecule in the laboratory.

In a 21st century development, the genetic pathway for making artemisinin can now be engineered into microorganisms. This means in can be produced anywhere a fermentation tank can be run, no need to try growing the herb in conditions that do not suit it.

Could traditional Maori knowledge hold a similar key to success? Traditional knowledge of what works, when prepared a certain way? Its certainly possible.

However, it would take a Maori version of Tu Youyou, someone familiar with both science and traditional knowledge. Like Tu Youyou, she would need to use her scientific training to pick what does work out of what doesn't in the traditional knowledge base. It would help if she was comfortable with the idea that using her discovery at scale might take genetic engineering. It would help even more if she could persuade other Maori using such modern techniques might help both themselves and others.

It's possible. But I think given the decline in trust in science, the decline in school students achievement in science, and the muddying of what is and isn't science, it's becoming almost daily less and less likely.