The Māori Party, without any apparent blush, makes a provocative claim about the genetic superiority of Māori on its website.
The claim is to be found in a section which sets out the party’s sports policy:
“It is a known fact that Māori genetic makeup is stronger than others.”
This genetic strength perhaps attenuates when Māori join the ACT or National Parties and express opinions that challenge the Government line on what must be done in partnership with Maori because of obligations supposedly demanded by the Treaty of Waitangi.
Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson earlier this year said ACT leader David Seymour, of Ngāpuhi descent, claimed to be Māori – but “he’s just a useless Māori, that’s all”.
“Absolutely [he’s] Māori but maybe just the most useless advocate for Māori we’ve ever seen.”
He subsequently told Morning Report he did not regret his comment because Seymour was a “dangerous politician” whose views must be challenged.
“If me calling him a useless Māori brings to the fore all the useless policies that he’s talking about then I’ll call him a useless Māori every day.”
A few years earlier, when he was Employment Minister, Jackson said:
“The Māori in the National Party are useless.”
“Paula Bennett, she doesn’t know if she’s a Māori – some days she does, some days she doesn’t.”
Jackson seems to be well steeped in Orwellian doublespeak. He denied being racist but maintained Bennett had done little to advocate for Māori and is the one guilty of racism.
“She’s talking nonsense. If I’m guilty of racism, then she must have been 20 times back in her career.”
Jackson also said
- National Maori MP Dan Bidois (who lost his Northcote seat in 2020) “needs to go back to Italy”; and
- Jo Hayes (who became general manager of the Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trust after the 2020 election) “wouldn’t have a clue”.
On the other hand, Labour deputy leader and Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis apologised last week to ACT’s Karen Chhour, who is championing the repeal of a requirement for Oranga Tamariki to operate in accordance with the Treaty of Waitangi.
At Question time in Parliament, Davis told the Māori MP on the other side of the ideological divide she should “cross the bridge that is Te Tiriti o Waitangi from her Pākehā world into the Māori world” and advised her it was “no good looking at the world from a vanilla lens”.
An ill-considered remark made in the head of during parliamentary battle?
Hardly. When reminded by journalists later that Chhour is Māori, Davis said:
“I know. She whakapapas to Māori.
“But she was raised in a Pākehā world. She needs to cross the bridge that is Te Tiriti o Waitangi so she gets to understand her Māori world better.”
The apology was delivered – and accepted – next day.
The Prime Minister will not label Davis’ comments as racist.
While the mainstream media have focused on who said what about whom and who has doubled down and who has apologised, Lindsay Mitchell has been looking more deeply into the insults.
Stoush between collectivist and individualist Māori
A stoush between collectivist and individualist Māori is long overdue. It has simmered for a long time but this week boiled over when Kelvin Davis exposed his thinking for all and sundry to examine. He confirmed that a Māori world with its own set of values exists, and that anyone with even a smidgen of Māori heritage should get themselves into it. It wasn’t a kindly suggestion. It was a command. The cost of not complying? Derision and ostracism. It’s reminiscent of the treatment handed out to those who don’t want to be part of the Gloriavale commune.
The tribe is a communistic unit. The tribe takes precedence. It owns you. Its culture is all-encompassing. It provides strength in numbers, security and identity. But it is also stultifying and limiting depending on which lens it is viewed through. Ultimately, inevitably, whether at the micro or macro level, the question must be answered. Is your allegiance to the tribe, or is it to yourself and your chosen group of family and friends.
If the two overlap, all well and good.
But in New Zealand (and Australia), for tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of Māori, they don’t. Mixed partnerships are more common than those with the same ethnicity. And each of these partnerships – many producing children – will face issues of concurrent cultures.
Increasingly, through media and public services, through health, justice and education, the Māori culture is being prioritised. To the point of being romanticized and lionized. Long-standing rules about the state being secular are broken to accommodate Māori spiritualism. Te reo – or knowledge of te ao – is de facto compulsory inasmuch as, if you don’t have it there are now careers that are barred to you. The Māori ‘team’ propelling this are on a roll. They are in ascendancy. They have gathered non-Māori into their tribe with astonishing success and seeming ease, though reflecting on the creeping compulsion maybe ‘ease’ is the wrong word. As far back as the nineties you wouldn’t progress through a public service job interview if unable to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the Treaty.
Prior to this compulsory cultural renaissance people managed their own conflicts. Where they had a foot in both camps – the tribe and the alternative – they made their own decisions. Some stayed, some divided their time, some rejected. In the middle of last century sociologists observed Pakeha men who married Māori women tended to move into the tribe; Māori men who married non-Māori moved into the non-tribal society. Tension would have existed always but so did the freedom to choose.
What kind of society wants to remove that freedom? One in which the collective trumps the individual.
Forget all the hoo-ha about culture, values and Māori mysticism. Colonisation, oppression and racism. They are only trinkets to tempt followers of fashion.
What is happening is a clash between philosophies. Politics is the practical expression of philosophy.
So it isn’t surprising that the strong-arming to get with the Māori worldview programme is coming from the left (the Labour Māori caucus, Green and Māori Party MPs). And those resisting are coming from the right (National and ACT). What played out in parliament this week, and is still reverberating with non-politicians now entering the fray, is the age-old stoush between collectivism and individualism. It’s New Zealand’s cold war.
If we are going to be forced to take a side, and mounting evidence points to this eventuality no matter your ethnicity, think of the conflict in these terms.
Do you want to own your own life?