Developing Separately – Or Together?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. The solution to all of the woes created by Europeans crossing oceans and subjugating brown people to steal resources and make way for white people is coming a lot faster than most people realise -or can even contemplate!

    Everyone is headed for a precolonial level of existence (or medieval if you like to think in European terms), at best, as ‘developed nations tread the inevitable path of energy decline and environmental collapse that are a natural consequence of allowing bankers, economists and lawyers to set policy, and totally ignore all the factors that WILL determine the future, i.e. declining energy availability and the rapid overheating of the planet that, in combination with loss of biodiversity and meltdown of fiat currencies, will lead to complete collapse of all exiting living arrangements over the next decade or so.

    There’s a whole world of sanity and realism ‘out there’ which is being assiduously ignored by our political so-called leaders and the utterly dishonest corporate media.

    ‘We now live in a strange world filled with half-truths, not too different from the world of the 1930s. US newspapers leave out the many stories that could be written about rising food insecurity around the world, and even in the US. We see more reports of conflicts among countries and increasing gaps between the rich and the poor, but no one explains that such changes are to be expected when energy consumption per capita starts falling too low.

    The majority of people seem to believe that all of these problems can be fixed simply by increasingly taxing the rich and using the proceeds to help the poor. They also believe that the biggest problem we are facing is climate change. Very few are even aware of the food scarcity problems occurring in many parts of the world already.

    Our political leaders started down the wrong path long ago, when they chose to rely on economists rather than physicists. The economists created the fiction that the economy could expand endlessly, even with falling energy supplies. The physicists understood that the economy requires energy for growth, but didn’t really understand the financial system, so they weren’t in a position to explain which parts of economic theory were incorrect. Even as the true story becomes increasingly clear, politicians stick to their belief that our only energy problem is the possibility of using too much fossil fuel, with the result of rising world temperatures and disrupted weather patterns. This can be interpreted as a relatively distant problem that can be corrected over a fairly long future period.’

    from

    ‘How the World’s Energy Problem Has Been Hidden’

    https://ourfiniteworld.com/2021/05/04/how-the-worlds-energy-problem-has-been-hidden/

    Of course there will be many other woes that are a direct consequence our so-called leaders refusing to prepare for the nation’s inevitable future.

    I’m personally preparing for collapse of the neoliberal order this year, and if it doesn’t come that will be a kind of bonus for present-day adults -insofar as we can still enjoys some of the benefits of civilisation- but will be a huge setback for the children of this [and other nations] because it will mean somewhat more destruction of the systems that make life on this planet possible.

    By the way Chris, drop the word ‘development’; it has connotations that are entirely inappropriate to the world we live in.

    • I think your conclusion is wrong. It’s totally absurd to say that because the amount of stored energy in the form of heat being trapped by earth’s atmosphere that energy levels will decline. That’s just a failure of imagination. Solar on every roof and wind turbines off the coast plugged in to a double of university graduates fixes this, you nub.

      • Sam, you demonstrate your inability to read and understand what is in front of you and your energy illiteracy every time you comment.

        Apologies for the typing error; that should be:

        declining energy availability and the rapid overheating of the planet, in combination with loss of biodiversity and meltdown of fiat currencies, will lead to complete collapse of all existing living arrangements over the next decade or so.

        • Dude, the earth is storing excess energy in the form of co2 and heat, you’re saying that yourself you moron. Yet you conclude that there will be a decline in energy. Fucking genius!

          • ‘the earth is storing excess energy in the form of co2 and heat’

            Oh really! So CO2 is an energy source? You’d better start collecting it and burning it then, and defy all the laws of chemistry. (I have an Honours Degree in Chemistry, by the way).

            The Earth has a capital E, by the way, as opposed to earth, the stuff in the garden.

            And your notion that the Earth is storing heat is only half the story: ever heard of the laws of thermodynamics Sam?

            What we have is an energy imbalance due to the trapping of heat by so-called greenhouse gases which absorb and reradiate heat in all directions, including downwards.

            Not only do you demonstrate scientific illiteracy but you also demonstrate poor use of the English language (I spent several years teaching English as a second language by the way, up to IELTS level 9).

            I think you’d be best to keep your opinions to yourself in future.

            And as for the insults, well they are the usual resort of people who lack the knowledge and skill necessary to conduct reasoned discussions.

            • I don’t take advice from unemployed profesors.

              You say all that while acknowledging that there is an excess of heat (like what mate??? Tell me, what don’t you like about that???)

              Then imply that the scientific position is that energy is in decline. Again what the fuck???

              So the question “is Afewknowthetruth wrong?” Would imply that having an abundance of Co2 and excess heat isn’t as bad as you think.

  2. I look at it as a marketing exercise. We were never going to beat china’s gifted short game in manufacturing and production, they’re just to big, to rich and powerful. So we have to beat with brands and marketing by putting our own trade marks, logo and reputation on kiwi built products and for the most part that will mean that maori has to be taught in all schools as a compulsory language with the idea being that all our brands and logos get flavoured by indigenous architecture of an internationally high standard in order to outflank China’s brute force production and check book diplomacy. This ain’t a game of checkers, we have to be planning for at least 20 years ahead.

  3. LoL !,… how clever, … when you really mean the neo liberal greedies in a more or less pointed argument.

    ————–

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

    ————–

    Well done, Mr Trotter.

    100%

  4. Shouldn’t NZ solve bi-culturalism before expanding multiculturalism at the expense of bi-culturalism.

    Sounds like things are getting worse for bi-culturalism and people have less say in their future under the neoliberal model, bums on seats (or bums on houses/land/natural and man made assets/welfare/healthcare) multicultural model.

    • All the foundation blocks have to fit, the indigenous issues, all the questions the settlers has about there place in New Zealand, it all has to fit or it might just fall over no matter how genius a government maybe.

  5. Chris Trotter should be in charge of the new compulsory NZ history curriculum. Why – because he will force students to think as opposed to be taught. This is a highly thought out, well articulated article. Of course it will fall on deaf ears given the left has ‘cancelled’ Chris already.

  6. Thankyou Mr. Trotter I enjoyed your piece.
    My mother was of French origin my father Scottish.
    I identify as a New Zealander.

    • And for all of European New Zealanders whose forbears arrived here in the very early 19th Century and are of of mixed ethnicity we scratch our heads at this concept . It is a forced union of sorts. Yes the Treaty needs to enshrined in our legal system.So many of our laws need rewriting to reflect Maori cultural values which are of Aotearoa.But we also we need the Privy Council back. To govern in the 21st Century along tribal territorial lines is open to so much misinterpretation/revisionist BS it will only lead to acrimony.

  7. A series of opinions based on the ideas in this article follows. They do not answer all the questions (because it’d take too long and well, shit, I don’t know everything!) or negate alternative views:

    “In my experience, “racial tolerance” increases in inverse proportion to the proximity of economically deprived ethnicities.”

    In my experience, (which is an alternative point of perception owing to our respective “eras”) racial tolerance is developed with regard to:

    Personal traits of the individual
    Upbringing – individual interpretation of family values (lesser influence than first point)
    Early environment (who did it include e.g. mixed races/socio-economic groups at school or in the neighbourhood, early friendships)
    Understanding personal experiences (a mix of point one and three, because it relies on the person experiencing the event to know what was/is really going on)
    Extent, duration and nature of negative experiences. (relies on point one)
    Extent duration and nature of positive experiences (impact is not dictated by duration, it would seem)

    Distance from a mix of race/socio-economic groups tends to increase intolerance of just about anything, unless the individual keeps a very close eye on themselves and their environment. If the point of observation is shifted, then no intolerance ever exists, it is just a matter of what is being done and what isn’t. Constant self awareness uses energy and focus, can obstruct creative projects, and more often than not you are going to be focussed on the task in hand, rather than who is in your periphery or in trying to reconcile old events, as you chase that last cow into the new paddock, trim branches of a freshly fallen tree, or change a nappy. It has it’s useful features, too.

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

    Logically, yes, but logic is a tool best used for it’s purpose, and this question as statement is not it. The answer to this question usually lives in religion, and requires the kind of experiences that are not endorsed by our politics or mainstream culture. Some people do know the answer – the conveniently nebulous group often referred to as maori certainly do – and I often wish both groups would quit fucking around and express it either effectively, overtly or more often, as is required or appropriate. Then any document, of the type that is He Puapua, can be written from a position and perspective of a strength that currently exists – and it’d probably be named something else, too.

    “Personally, I am doubtful whether many Maori would be all that keen to up stakes and return to their rohe. In all of human history there has been nothing even remotely as liberating as the big city.”

    I’m certain some won’t. That’s the inconvenience of referring to people as a group, when they aren’t. The trick here is that “we”, as the pakeha partner, in deferring to our heritage and ancestry as we so love to do, are obliged to allow them to pass here and there as they please; to assist this passage as required, offer support and mediation as required, and do it all “for free”. Being British doesn’t mean we must wave a musket at everyone who wanders past. The comments on “liberating cities” truncates and distorts history, and denies the effect of time on people and cultures. The past cannot exist as it was in the future, even if we want it to, it’ll always be different. Evolution happens naturally. Cities rise and fall. It isn’t the building of a city that powers liberation. Using the “cities first” argument, it would be impossible for NZ to exist. Using it to define the future, with reference to our current challenges, sounds either inadequate, dangerous, or negligent.

    “Murray McCully… was dismissive of the Maori nationalist agenda, pointing out with considerable relish than many more Maori voted for National than voted for the Maori Party… McCully referenced figures like Winston Peters as examples of indigenous men and women who identified themselves proudly as New Zealanders first and Maori second.”

    McCully was not the first man alive, and maori people did not magically appear with him. McCully represented a very specific period of political and economic… developments. Also, that’s an interesting definition of a “New Zealander”. I was born here, but I am not a New Zealander.

    “To possess even a single Maori ancestor – no matter how distant – is to be permanently and indisputably tangata whenua. That being the case, the very notion of Maori separatism must eventually be rendered a nonsense. All New Zealanders will be Maori – and vice-versa.”

    Curiously, it looks like He Puapua tries to do this in reverse. Once people understand this point they can go further and answer the question contained in the earlier claim that white supremists should celebrate the departure of maori. He Puapua has the imprint of a particular type of politics all over it – one of the things that should to be reconsidered in that document, since it effects how both parties will respond to an unforeseen obstacle in the future. Even with it’s flaws, the direction outlined in He Puapua does not lend itself to being cast as separatism, especially in view of the Treaty still existing and being a foundation for a lot of what people do in NZ. The definition of separatism, as it’s been used so far, is not complete. It is not always a final, negative, destructive extreme.

    “ Sadly, New Zealand society is becoming increasingly divided on the question of how best to free the Maori poor from their poverty.”

    This article implies that Murray McCully knew the answer.

    “New Zealanders are being separated by an ideology which elevates cultural difference above social solidarity.”

    Much like Murray McCully’s politics.

    How do we teach people to empathise? To be something they aren’t? To see what they can’t see, appreciate what they don’t appreciate? We don’t. We can try, but it becomes either stereotype, wokery, dysfunction, disease, or just slumps off later like mud off a wall. The closest I can get to an answer is to suggest things that aren’t politics, or if we must absolutely use politics, then use it at a really low level. Talk to people as people, and not as stereotypes or convenient political pawns. Who are New Zealanders? No such person exists. Who are maori? No such cohesive group exists. We use those terms, inadvertently eliminating the individual who simultaneously is the group. Eventually we have to talk directly to another real person, not an image of one. Doesn’t help that we keep asking the UN and everybody else far away how to do it. Sounds like we’re reading off a script half the time. He Puapua is half way there. In the meantime, why not build some houses for people who need them, and offer some tailored health services. Maybe talk to each other while we do it. Is that a comfortable enough start?

  8. I like Chris’s article and I like EJ’s thinking. In my opinion many Maori aren’t asking for a separate health system, or any other system they just want the one we have to work for them. EJ’s last two sentences seem to agree with this as I do. The separate health direction is a political response that has been born from our failures. The problem of course is where do you stop with any parallel systems and how do we pay for them when clearly there has never been enough resources to make our present system a good working model. We either give Maori the power to run the health sector for everyone if we think they have a more collaborative approach or FFS just fund the present system in a culturally sensitive way (and I don’t just mean Maori). As EJ’s last few comments highlight if we build the houses and communicate properly all these problems will shrink considerably.

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