Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fiona Mackenzie: Who are these Maori?

With recent claims of Maori ownership of water, wind and the digital spectrum - combined with the concerning prospect of a new, race-based constitution being developed for our country - I am left pondering: Who are these “Maori”?  Who are these people who want to separate themselves from other New Zealanders while thinking they are entitled to take more than their fair portion of the public pie?

I look around at those I share my life with - in our families, our neighbourhoods, at the shops, in school, at the gym, wherever – and can’t imagine how this separatist policy is supposed to work at street level.

Since 1974, the term Maori has not been legally defined by blood percentages and good interracial relations has long since intermingled the many ethnic bloodlines in this country. Yet we constantly read of “Maori” statistics, “Maori” entitlements and “Maori” claims on the public purse. It seems like we should know, yet it can be hard to tell who’s what anymore.

Many of us will remember the farcical episode back in 2003 when the ex-All Black and very “white”, blue-eyed Christian Cullen joined the Maori rugby team for an international tour, despite only having 1/64th  Maori blood. There was controversy, but he still went.

Another close-to-home example is a friend’s red-headed, green-eyed child getting a special phone call from the principal of a North Auckland school welcoming her as the newest Maori pupil. So because of a distant “Maori” ancestor, she can apparently look forward to preferential treatment, lower entry requirements and financial subsidies at university despite her dominant Caucasian bloodlines and middle class origins.  (Where is that in the Treaty again?)

Then you note the European names, the light skins and fine features of some of the Maori activist elite. It’s almost amusing when, for example, a Scottish-named, Caucasian-skinned person wears a greenstone carving around their neck in a desperate attempt to display their Maori-ness while collecting taxpayer-funded, race-based pay packets.

The beautifully tailored suits and super-shiny grooming are also impressive. Although it amazes me that Tuku Morgan stills expects credibility after his taxpayer-funded, silk boxer misdemeanor. So one understandably questions whether race has anything to do with these rampant ‘contemporary’ claims. It certainly seems as if “greed, not need” is driving this game.

An inevitable conclusion is that the Maori claims/separatist industry has very little to do with the people at street level. This is evidenced by the case that despite the billions of dollars that have been paid out in Treaty of Waitangi settlements, we see no major improvement in the “Maori” education, health or welfare statistics. So then it must be all about the political animals who use contrived corporate entities to claim “on behalf of Maori” and then richly reward themselves for successfully working such an incredibly farcical system.

I wonder whether one day the tables will turn and there’ll be backlash? Will other New Zealanders have enough? Will those “Maori” who don’t agree with the preposterous claims in their name, get tired of being tarred with the same brush and speak out?

Mike did recently. He wrote on Facebook: “This Maori boy has worked hard all his life, has paid his taxes, has studied using a student loan rather than claiming any race-based grant or concession, has no police record (never even had demerit points despite driving 3000 odd km per week) and provides for those close to him without any handouts. I've never poached seafood, I don't particularly like KFC. Oh, and I'm also half "non-Maori". So despite all that, I'm lumped in with the claimants am I??”

I feel his pain but also feel that the ball is in his court.


ronan said...

oh wait so because some (mostly pakeha) kid at your rich school is taking advantage of the system, therefore there is no such thing as maori?

there is simply no moral high ground that permits you to claim that maori do not exist.

Anonymous said...

i am a non-european immigrant in nz but english is my native tongue. i lived in nz for a while but packed my bags and headed home because of the poor job market.

the europeans were generally nice to me...of course there were quite a number of assholes...but they were generally nice people and well-mannered.

the pacific and maoris were...very disappointing...if i can put it that way....

Anonymous said...

For many decades, there has been no such thing as a discrete or separate "Maori" ethnic group.

Prior to the passage of the Electoral Amendment Act 1975, the legal definition of “Maori” for electoral purposes was “a person of the Maori race of New Zealand or a half-caste descendent thereof.”

After panicked complaints from its Maori MPs that soon nobody would be eligible for the Maori Roll, the then-Labour Government changed the second half of this definition to read “or any descendent of such a person.”

Under current electoral law, New Zealanders of Anglo-Maori descent can determine once every electoral cycle whether they wish to be on the Maori Roll or the General Roll.

We thus have a legal definition of “Maori” that defies definition in the Courts because it is based solely on an individual’s periodic decision to identify as “Maori.”

All so-called “Maori” alive today are in fact of mixed Anglo-Maori descent. It would be virtually impossible to find a “Maori” who doesn’t possess more of the blood of the colonisers than that of the colonised. There is no logical reason why public policy should support the notion that someone less than half-Maori should lawfully be regarded as “Maori.”

"Maori" is thus today not a definable ethnic group, but an artificial creation of statute and a cultural identity sold to its part-Maori adherents by "entrepreneurs of ethnicity," and adopted for the psychic rewards of belonging to a supposedly "oppressed" people.

Writing in 1972, historian Joan Metge offers a compelling explanation as to why a subset of New Zealanders today might continue see themselves as “Maori:”

"New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha, tend to identify others as 'Maori' if they 'look Maori,' that is if they have brown skin and Polynesian features."

Since the Maori phenotype tends to predominate in a person’s appearance, those who are considerably less than half-Maori are often identified by others as "Maori" whether they like it or not.

It's not hard to theorise that individuals are highly likely to compensate for this psychic wound by aggressively embracing a collective "Maori" identity and seeking utu from the majority culture they feel shut out of.

Some people need a shrink, not regular infusions of taxpayers' money.

John Phillips said...

Fiona Mackenzie asks a very timely question and gives a very well reasoned supporting viewpoint. Especially her comment that the ball is firmly in the court of those "Maori" who do not want to be identified with the preposterous claims of various greedy Maori groups. All points missed by Ronan above, who resorts to a contemptible level of ridicule and personal attack because it doesn't suit him to have these things pointed out.

Anonymous said...

My wife is 1/8th Maori therefore my children are 1/16th, yet they regularly get letters asking if they want to register to go on the Maori roll for voting. My children are also part English, Scottish, Irish and who knows whatever else. They don't care because first and foremost they are New Zealanders, Kiwis.
When is this race based greed and crazyness going to stop, are we all sleep walking to disaster in this once beautiful country.
Some and it will not take many are so brain washed by all this BS that when the brakes do go on as one day it must there will be terrorist action. Lange, Clarke, Palmer, Graham, Finlayson, Key and the weak political party's we have had over the last 30 years have laid the foundation of hate and racist division that is slowly destroying our country.

Anonymous said...

Thanks fiona for telling it like it is.It is people like yourself who are not afraid to speak up that give people like me who are afraid some hope for the future.

Unknown said...

The system (government) provides benefits to "Maori" in many ways. When Peter pays Paul then you will find a lot of Pauls. For everyone's sake stop this nonsense now. Those who have lost selfrespect and are now content to grab any freebie going will do so just as long as the system keeps giving.
It is up to the majority to now call a halt. Organise and vocalise so that political parties will be lost if they continue to support the current nonsense. It is not the Maori that matter - it is if and how well NZers can create the changes now obviously needed.
In so many cases before it has been the lack of cohesion amongst the "Peters" (NZers in this case) that enable the "Pauls" (Maori) to keep taking. Like hungry wolves they will demand more and more, build up their numbers and power by whatever means available. If there is something to be gained by being "Maori" everyone will want to declare themselves "Maori" - its not complicated.
Are we too stupid to stop this craziness?

Anonymous said...

IMHO New Zealands' collective commonsense has been hi-jacked by white, intellectual liberals haunted by Christian based fear and guilt for the actions of their longdead ancestors. And all this handwringing, cleverly manipulated by a bunch of parasitic TOW lawyers - eyes squarely on the money

I actually can't blame this minority of Maori opportunists going for all they can get. The potential rewards are enormous. And all they have to do is continue blaming the pakeha for everything. From Maori crime, health problems, ignorance, societal & family violence, unemployment etc etc, right through to the death of Te Reo and a Taniwha with onset Diabetes 2.

The more 'primitive' spiritual belief systems eg; Hawaiian, African, Maori, Aboriginal, Red Indian etc; don't use guilt to control their followers. Get the rules wrong and you get the bone pointed at you - fast justice.

But not the Christians - oh no. They make you wait for *The judgement* after you kick the bucket and then, "You're sentenced to fry in the juices of your own guilt for all eternity!" Talk about priestly threats to control the masses. What an utter nonsense - and they're still at it..!

Is it any wonder that this handful of souped-up Maoris are having a guilt-free giggle. And as for John Key - he can't see the Pork for the Puha

Had Adam been gay, it would've solved the whole bloody problem

Anonymous said...

These People (Maori)?..
that were here before Tasman and Cook were of mixed race, Chinese, negro, arabe etc. Here by mishap many years ago. No different to all us others that have made New Zealand their home.
One nation one people New Zealanders, Stop the gravy train and see how many want to call themselves Maori

John Ansell said...

A very good post, Fiona, thank you.