In response to an earlier blog on the He Puapua report I’ve had some email correspondence from people opposed to what they see as separatism and favouritism towards Māori. Here is a letter I received a few days ago and my response underneath. I’m putting this into a blog because the issues are real for many people however poorly they are sometimes expressed.
It may be true that without land , as such, nobody could survive, except those living on the waters . Nor is it likely , civilisation would occur without it . Hence , early settlers of New Zealand (such as Kupe ) would still be living in huts with earthen floors driving nothing but their canoes and blistered feet . Whatever else has occurred internationally , maoris have a lot to be thankful for .
Tribalism contains no democracy and no form of monies . An alphabet did not exist nor did mathematics . Consequences of civilisation .
The 85% of New Zealanders who pay most if not all , the taxes in this country , did not exist , he puapua would be up the creek without a paddle . And so would their supporters . To revert to tribalism is certainly a step in the backwards tradition .
You fought against a minority who controlled a majority and repressed the same . Now , we have a minority being favoured with money and power to do the same . And forcing the majority to speak a language which is foreign and of little use outside New Zealand .
The children graduating from Maori Schools , are exceptionally poor in reading and understanding English and very poor in basis arithmetic .
Not a good sign for future leaders and businesses .
And to think 550 maori doctors looking after a population of 800,000 is not a healthy system . And maraes and most iwi businesses do not pay taxes . So , you are 1/2 right…..maoris could NOR finance themselves . BUT , the other 85% could happily finance themselves , and do .
Kia ora Pete,
Thank you for responding. I think your ideas are based on long-standing resentments and prejudices which in my experience are common in the older generation of New Zealanders. Earlier in my life I probably would have shared some of your views but I’ve become a lot better informed about the history of Aotearoa with its wholesale confiscations of Māori land, the destruction of Māori culture, language and the Māori economy. We have a desperate need for all of us to understand our history better, warts and all, which is why I’m a strong supporter of the proposed new history curriculum.
I’m taking the time to respond with a few points of my own because I think debate and discussion is healthy and we all need to believe in the capacity of our fellow citizens to change and modify their ideas when they read different perspectives. I hope you give these responses some serious thought.
- Don’t confuse technological development with “civilisation”. Most of the sailors on Cook’s ships would have seen the lives of many Māori as better than their own in 1769. Most sailors were illiterate, there was no education system or health system and they had no vote. They faced brutal inhumane punishments and their lives counted for little. They were not much more than slaves and were kept that way by the British ruling class.
- There are four problems with you using the word “maoris”. Firstly there is no “s” in the Māori language so leave it off. Secondly there should be a capital letter M and thirdly you should use a macron over the ā as it has a longer sound than the o which follows it. Fourthly, because of the previous three points, it is disrespectful.
- No-one is suggesting a return to what you call “tribalism” except in the sense that most Māori want to assert their rights to “tino rangatiratanga” (self-determination) which was specifically promised to them under the Treaty of Waitangi. Discussion about democracy within iwi and hapu is an issue for Māori themselves where tribal leadership and democratic decision making are being intensely and hotly debated, just as these issues are debated within Pākehā society and across the country as a whole.
- You are wrong about taxes when you suggest the Pākehā majority pay almost all the taxes. Working class New Zealanders – Maori, Pasifika and European – on the lowest incomes pay a HIGHER proportion of their income in tax than anyone else. A person on the minimum wage for example pays about 15% of their income in income tax and a further 14% of their income on GST. That’s a total of almost 30% of their income paid in tax. The wealthiest New Zealanders on the other hand who get their income from capital gains on shares etc pay less than 10% of their income in tax. (The typically pay no income tax because they don’t receive wages or salaries and they pay less than 5% of their income on GST because they can save most of their income rather than spend it) Therefore because Māori are generally on lower incomes than Pākehā – Māori pay HIGHER proportions of their incomes in tax than Pākehā. I see from your address that you live in an area with a high Māori population so the next time you see your working class Māori neighbours – thank them for paying a higher proportion of their income in tax than most New Zealanders.
- It’s true I fought against the apartheid system in South Africa which was a brutal racist system designed to oppress black South Africans and have them work for measly wages in capitalist factories and mines. However government support for Māori initiatives is not designed to oppress anyone – it’s simply a belated attempt to recognise the extra barriers Maori face in areas such as health, education and employment.
- We do have a “minority favoured with money and power” in Aotearoa but it isn’t Māori. It’s the 1% wealthiest New Zealanders – very few of whom are Maori.
- Despite what you seem to think, Māori have received only a piddling amount from successive governments. For example the TOTAL payouts to iwi through the Waitangi Tribunal process since the very beginning is a modest $2.2 billion – around 3% of the actual value lost to Māori through theft of their land and destruction of their economy brought about by racism and colonisation. Compare this with the more than $2 billion the government paid out to wealthy investors in finance companies such as South Canterbury Finance when they collapsed through appalling mismanagement at the time of the global financial crisis and you start to understand how the economy is not there for Māori or working class New Zealanders. It’s being run for the wealthy.
- Te Reo Māori is the indigenous language of this country. If any language here is foreign it is English. You are not being forced to learn Te Reo but I hope the day will come soon when it is a compulsory part of our school curriculum – alongside other compulsory subjects like English and Maths. It will be a tremendous step forward for the whole country. Aside from anything else, an understanding of a second language has huge educational benefits to children in their other subjects as well.
- The children graduating from Kura Kaupapa Māori schools are doing better than Māori graduating from the public education system generally so please don’t spread lazy lies based on the prejudices of others.
- There is no shortage of incredible Māori leaders emerging – I’m constantly astonished at the amazing young people, especially young Māori women, who are showing up all over the country, despite the huge barriers many of them face. All of us living in Aotearoa New Zealand should be proud of them. I’ve taught too many Māori, Pasifika and working class students who have had to leave school early because they had to become breadwinners for their families. For a teacher this is devastating but much more so for the students. I could give you numerous examples from my personal experience. You might have seen a report on TVNZ a few nights ago which featured a young Māori woman in exactly that same position despite her having a promising future in sport and higher education.
- You are right that 550 Māori doctors is nowhere near enough. Maori health statistics are dreadful and are worse than those for the working class generally. The proposed Maori health agency is a brilliant move in the right direction. Māori live for seven years less that Pākehā on average – “by Māori for Māori” is part of the way forward.
- Iwi businesses pay taxes the same as any other business although I agree there are serious issues with companies like Sanitarium which claims to be a charity and pays no tax.
Pete, I hope I haven’t wasted my time asking you to consider these things. I think it’s important people raise issues as you have because if they stay unsaid they will fester and build unjustified resentments.
I don’t want to sound patronising but I’d like to suggest you get Vincent O’Malley’s book “The Great War for New Zealand” out from your library and have a go at reading it while putting yourself in the shoes of Waikato Māori as they tried to defend their land and people against a brutal, aggressive, rapacious enemy. It’s a long book but it’s well written and easy to read. I think you will find it eye-opening. If it’s too much to read then just focus on the battles at Rangiaowhia and the famous battle at Orākau Pā – Rewi’s last stand.