The weirdest thing about the reaction to Taika Waititi’s description of NZ being ‘racist as fuck’ comment is that the list of things Taika holds up are actually incredibly mild…
Interviewed for Dazed and Confused magazine, he was asked whether New Zealand was “like Australia without the racism and the blokeish sense of humour”.
Waititi replied: “Nah, it’s racist as f***.”
He added: “I mean, I think New Zealand is the best place on the planet, but it’s a racist place.
“People just flat-out refuse to pronounce Maori names properly.
“There’s still profiling when it comes to Polynesians. It’s not even a colour thing – like, ‘Oh, there’s a black person.’
“It’s ‘if you’re Poly then you’re getting profiled'”
He said he experienced discrimination growing up.
“I remember getting a job at a dairy and they would never give me a job at the till,” he said.
“I was always at the back washing vegetables. And then one day one of the owners asked me if I sniffed glue – like, ‘Are you a glue-sniffer?’
“In my head I was like, ‘Motherf*****, you grew up with my mum!’
“And I knew for sure that he didn’t ask other kids in the store if they were glue-sniffers.”
…mispronunciation of Māori words, profiling and being asked if he was a glu-sniffer are pretty mild examples of racism in NZ, yet for some it’s been like a black flag to a Klu Klux Klan bull…
The truth of course is that beyond micro-aggressions we have a very, very, very racist country but by focusing on middle class interpretations of racism we risk ignoring the grim reality of racism for the poorest.
Maori are 380% more likely to be convicted of a crime and 200% more likely to die from heart disease and suicide. Maori are paid 18% less and 34% leave school without a qualification. Maori die earlier and suffer more.
This is a morally reprehensible obscenity in a country that pretends that it is egalitarian.
I believe that the majority of white New Zealanders live in a constant state of wilful ignorance when it comes to racism in this country. The facts of how racist our system really is are glaring in the statistical outcomes, but still we have the Don Brash’s of this country screaming Maori privilege.
They are Trump like in their denial.
It took 136 years to get an apology for Parihaka, who will apologise for the racist failures of NZ since the Treaty?
I admire Taika’s staunchness, but we limit the debate if it’s left to be defined by individual experience when there is so much more that needs discussing.