Sunday, January 23, 2011
Mike Butler: Sharples’ separatist dream
Sharples believes his pre-European ancestors were confident, secure, autonomous and generous tangata whenua” who had “well-regulated societies, effective leadership and political organisation, systems of justice and dispute resolution, sustainable environmental protection and resource management regimes.”
He did not say that the “generous tangata whenua” resolved disputes through a series of 500 or more battles, known as the Musket Wars, between 1807 and 1839. Northern tribes such as the rivals Ngapuhi and Ngati Whatua were the first to obtain firearms, and inflicted heavy casualties upon each other and on neighbouring tribes, some of whom had never seen muskets. The wars were characterised by their brutality and ruthlessness - with treachery, burning villages, killing prisoners, torture, slavery, and cannibalism.
Neither did he say that “sustainable environmental protection and resource management regimes” included setting fire to vast tracts of native bush to flush out moa, and promote the re-growth of edible plants.
Sharples said “the treaty clearly foreshadowed a plural society . . . in which the various autonomous hapu would work in partnership with the Crown for the benefit of all citizens of the new nation”. He is unconcerned that the four-sentence three-paragraph treaty has no mention of “autonomous hapu”, “partnership”, or “a plural society”.
“As the realities of colonisation became clear”, Sharples said, “Maori resisted the Crown’s demands, especially the pressure for extensive sale of lands”. He did not say that while some Maori resisted, many more were eager to sell land to benefit from the new economy. Numerous pro-government Maori fought with colonial troops against some anti-government Maori who aimed to drive pakeha colonists into the sea.
Sharples talks of the exodus of the 1960s from the country to the city, where, away from their traditional guidance and support networks, young Maori families struggled with drinking and family violence, unemployment and poverty, truancy and petty crime, unpaid bills and evictions.
He overlooks the fact that these problems are not unique to Maori. No one forces anyone to drink liquor, beat up his wife, live in poverty, skip school, and not pay bills. The problems he cites are more characteristic of dependence on welfare. He also over looks the fact that while 88,500 or 29 percent of working-age Maori (aged 18-64 years) received a benefit in 2006, 71 percent of Maori were not receiving a benefit.
Sharples boasts 40 years of what he calls progress in terms of urban marae, a separate Maori health system, separate iwi social services, recognition of te reo as an official language, Maori broadcasting, and the reconstruction of iwi and hapu, runanga and traditional leadership to extract money from the government in the form of the administration of separate welfare, as well as bloated treaty settlements.
The question is whether these steps have increased or decreased Maori dependence on the state. The answer is clear … without the continuous flow of money from the government, all of what Sharples claims as progress would not exist, and those who sign up to this vision have become more dependent than ever. Hence the current exodus of Maori to Australia . . . no amount of tribal welfare and separate social services is going to provide the jobs, businesses, and the hope for the future, which most people, regardless of race, yearn for.
In his address to the World Christian Gathering, he closed by saying “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”. He does not see that his goal of “rangatiratanga”, or Maori control of all things Maori, is steadily creating a parasitic state within a state. Despite his charming reasoned eloquence, he is just as much of a firebrand as other mixed-race pakeha-bashing zealots.
Yes, he is creating division, not unity. In-fighting between Hone Harawira and other Maori Party MPs show that it is the party of division. Sharples continues to attract disproportionate publicity for his views that have miniscule support, considering the Maori Party gained only 56,000 votes, or 2.4 percent of the party vote, in the 2008 election.
If the Labour Party puts up reasonable candidates for the Maori seats, the Maori Party could have a battle in the forthcoming election.
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples’ speech to the World Christian Gathering may be seen at http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1101/S00036/pita-sharples-speech-to-the-world-christian-gathering.htm
at 9:54 PM