Waatea News Column: The challenge for Maori and Pakeha politics in 2021


As the planet is plunged into the economic whiplash of the growing global pandemic, the dance between Māori and Pakeha politics in 2021 will become far more aggressive in tempo and demands.

At the root cause is how each side defines sovereignty and the values built into that self-determination.

Māori can point to almost every State agency and list a cascade of negative statistics to prove that universal service provision within a Pākehā cultural world view has failed them.

Their argument that they take the funding themselves and provide the provision of services within a Māori cultural perspective is made easy when you look at the failures of Oranga Tamariki, Waikeria Prison and basic Public Health.

The Labour Government understands that there must be some concessions to these arguments, the trouble is passing such enormous changes without provoking a white backlash and a Wellington Bureaucracy that is more focused on protecting their budgets than sharing with Māori.

This year water ownership, the need for a separate Māori Health Agency and prison reform will dominate alongside housing, poverty and inequality.

The energy within a younger more dynamic Māori population won’t accept the status quo any longer and in a Black Lives Matter social media landscape, the demand for equality will drown out the defence of the existing interests.

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The challenge for Labour will be to provide actual agency as well as extra funding if they wish to hold the Māori vote in 2023.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. It doesn’t matter how we define sovereignty one group has had control and power and the resources in our country have never been fairly distributed. With more foreigners pouring into our country it makes sense that Maori are asking for our fair share of the pie as we are sick of receiving crumbs and we are sick of being tramped on.

  2. I don’t understand what a Maori worldview entails. What is the difference between a Maori cultural perspective and a European one?
    What changes would be made to Oranga Tamariki and prisons if Maori were running them?

    • “What is the difference between a Maori cultural perspective and a European one?”

      If you go back far enough, not much, conceptually. Compared to today’s commercial pakeha view however, quite a bit. In fact, compared to today’s pakeha, even their pakeha great grandparents would disown them. Do distortions exist? Absolutely. Luckily, people know about them.

      “What changes would be made to Oranga Tamariki and prisons if Maori were running them?”

      Whatever they thought best, I guess. At face value from the policy they advertise, better outcomes for communities. Are you asking if maori would get a hall pass for crime, especially crime against white people? Are you asking if maori could operate outside the wider law and throw white babies into the road? Where do these myths come from? It’s unlikely a maori state within pakeha soveriegnty would be able to be free of human rights. Maori are people too. They get pissed off when someone steals their yoghurt out of the fridge just like anyone else. You don’t have to go very far back to read historical cases of “justice” that rival Pakeha for the level of corrupted immoral stupid, but surely that’s attractive for most people these days. In the very least, a seperate administration for maori is a fantastic cost cutting exercise. Our world view is all about small government, is it not?

  3. Oranga Tamariki and prisons are European for starters but its not up to people like me to tell you what is what far better for you do some research yourself there is plenty of literature on what you are asking. Maybe you might want to start with NZ history, a timeline.

  4. Thanks for your reply Covid. I have genuinely tried to understand what a Maori worldview would be like.
    I googled the topic over Christmas and read the following which looked relevant.
    Mai i Hawaiki ki Hawaiki: The Evolution of Maori Culture
    The Evolution of Pakeha Culture
    The Maori Worldview and Maori Policy
    The Mythology of the Whanau-Hapu-Iwi Construct
    The Origins of Corporate Iwi
    The Maori Economy – A Fanciful Notion
    The Myth of the Maori Entrepreneur
    The Treaty of Waitangi Revisited
    Te Ture Whenua Maori Review – Who Benefits?
    Perspectives of Time, Small Prophecy & Maori Policy
    Draining the Swamp – Some Fundamentals for Maori Policy Makers
    Maori Policy: Challenging the Status Quo – A Call to Reengage in the Struggle
    He Tangata – Maori Policy, Economics and Moral Philosophy

    But none of this helps me to understand specifically what Maori would change if they were given the reins.

  5. Who said we want the reins some of the reins need to be cut, gone kaput. We don’t want to inherit a mess
    made by someone else some of the damage done under a European view/model for our country is unrepairable we don’t want to be set up to fail.

  6. I arrived in NZ in 1972 and was told the racial harmony was great . A few years later I was manager of a KFC store and my best worker was a Maori. A new store was soon to be opened and I suggested he would make a great manager . I was laughed at by the area manager and told that that would not happen on his watch . Hopefully things have changed for the better but I doubt it even in government offices.

    • thats funny I applied to northland polytech to do auto mechanics- got laughed out of the interview, echoes of “no women or maori” pretty fucked up eh?

  7. Early call, but if the Māori Party keeps up its recent staunch profile, and Labour neo kindness continues to not deliver to the working class, then it is quite possible that MP becomes quite attractive to people seeking a viable alternative to Greens or Labour. A “Mana 3.0” could be a 5% proposition in the general roll, and pick up some more Māori seats for some real heft in Parliament.

    2023 is when the successor gens to boomers will have the numbers if they choose to use them in that Election. Quite a number of the thousands rallying in defence of Ihumātao were non Māori, there is a trend there. All those issues in the too hard category–MSD and neo liberal public service, union rights, state house builds, water rights and bottling, mental health, racist police, raw log exports, etc could be dealt with unequivocally with a young, brown, party with little to lose, but a lot to win.

    The Māori world is getting a lot done these days, and fronted up really well in supporting their communities in remote areas such as Northland during the COVID 19 Lockdowns. Māori Party let a lot of people down with its blatant class collaboration and toadying to National, may that have changed for good!

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