National Opposition leader Judith Collins, in attempting to get the Ardern government to “come clean” in divulging the He Puapua Report on constitutional changes to Parliament, was roundly condemned for her “racist” attempts to create division in New Zealand - you know, that “team of five million’ who are “all in this (waka?) together”.
The flamboyant co-leader of Te Paati Maori, in his Stetson hat, was so incensed at Collins’s blatant attempt to expose the traumatic contents of He Puapua to Parliament, he performed a haka in protest and was (rightly) kicked out of the House.
Professor Margaret Mutu of Auckland University, long noted for her unrelenting racist rhetoric, promotes the terms “white supremacy” and “white privilege” as being normalised in New Zealand (Ref: Newshub, 3 June 2021). She claims “white supremacy” is synonymous with racism, which she claims is an everyday experience of our Maori peoples.
Mutu’s ultimate aim of co-governance for New Zealand is set out in the following reference: Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Volume 49, 2019, Issue Sup 1, 4-18
Then, to cap it all off, apparently a Whangarei school child (yes, a child,) was made to stand in front of his classmates and denounce both his white heritage and ”white privilege” - the very terms used by Mutu in her racist claims (Ref: Wanganui Chronicle, Letters, 5 June 2021).
Yes, racism is definitely the most widely-used term of insult in our daily lexicon - but just who are the real racists?
New Zealanders are being blasted on a daily basis with claims that the whole of our society is inexorably racist and only strong political action, including massive constitutional and political change, will reverse this dreadful trend. (See Mutu reference above). Shush, be quiet, Ardern demands of us!
Well, let’s hit the “Pause” button here and have a look back at our New Zealand heritage, which in turn is under imminent threat from a politicised, biased and warped draft history curriculum, due to be taught in schools from 2022.
Prior to the signing of the treaty of Waitangi in 1840, New Zealand was a country the size of the United Kingdom populated by an estimated 60-100,000 relatively-recent migrants of Eastern Polynesian descent, comprising some hundreds of individual tribes, often at war with each other. With the introduction of muskets in the early 1800’s, this inter-tribal warfare reached a grisly crescendo whereby some 40% of all Maori were slaughtered by other Maori who had the muskets. (Ref: The Musket Wars: A History of Inter-Iwi Conflict 1806-45, Crosby, R.D., Reed, 1999).
The Treaty brought stability, the rule of law and relative peace, attributes harshly condemned and totally negated by today’s cultural and political activists. But one must not say this in 2021 New Zealand, for the Treaty brought the dreaded “colonisation” in its wake, resulting in multiple social issues for our Maori people. To even refer to any benefits of post-treaty New Zealand brings forth the most vitriolic invective.
New Zealanders, on the whole, are a tolerant, decent people, of many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. who abhor racism and inequality and indeed any other “ism” which purports to establish some sort of domination or superiority. “Jack is as good as his master” is a colloquialism long espoused in New Zealand to describe our egalitarian approach to life. There is no doubt whatsoever that any person in New Zealand today, if they have the ability, can aspire to and achieve whatever they want. The opportunity is undoubtedly there. In recent times, the highest offices of the land have been held by distinguished New Zealanders of multiple ethnicities - Maori, Fijian Indian, and yes, those of European or Asian descent. Ethnicity, gender or religion, amongst other political identities, has been no barrier to New Zealanders achieving their goals and dreams. We, all of us - Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika, Asian, African - attended school together, have worked together, played sport together, served and died for our country New Zealand together, and have intermarried to the extent that virtually every person of Maori descent today has a European or Asian ancestor. Few other countries around the world can claim such egalitarian, inter-cultural and relatively peaceful outcomes.
But suddenly, all of this is now being exposed as a facade. (Mutu,2019). Underneath, those of us who might be of European descent especially, (including, ironically, many who identify as Maori), are the enemy, are racist and superior to any other ethnic group or groups.
The ageist, sexist and racist term “Old White Males” or OWMs is a favourite insult freely applied by young, female, migrant members of the Green Party - Oh, and also their young gay MP who recently migrated here from Mexico. His gay “partner” has also been admitted to NZ, despite our Covid19 restrictions.
“White privilege”, “black lives matter”, the “cancel culture”, “wokeism”, ”Critical Race Theory”, and other imported terms from North America, are being used to condemn and suppress any attempt to comment or challenge issues of immense political and constitutional importance in New Zealand today. Fear of being branded a “racist” results in the majority of Kiwis remaining silent on such important matter, including unfortunately, members of the parliamentary Opposition. Shush, be quiet!
Any suggestion that colonisation might, just might, have had a few positives, is blasted as “disgusting” and “dangerous” by Maori activists and politicians such as Marama Davidson - as Opposition MP Paul Goldsmith found out in a recent statement. (Newshub, 6 June 2021)
In a recent post on NZCPR, I set out a new, modern typology of racism and repeat it here.
Racism can now be described as:
Overt; covert; personal; systemic; institutional; asymptomatic; unconscious bias; stereo-typical; intergenerational; internalised; unintentional; structural; individual; “everyday”; micro-agression (jokes); akratic (or knowingly); colorism; and so on. More versions of racism are being defined every day.
It is now claimed that the New Zealand health, education, welfare, and justice systems are racist; they discriminate against Maori people; and must be replaced by separate systems which are focused on the term - “by Maori, for Maori”.
But are these systems actually racist (whichever version or definition of racism is employed), or more a result of inequities which are socio-economic rather than discriminatory on the basis of ethnicity? Claimed inequities in our health system, for example, can easily be dismissed as being primarily socio-economic, as opposed to claims that clinical treatments are being deliberately withheld on the basis of a person’s ethnicity - as grotesquely and dishonestly stated recently by some Auckland University academics.
Similar claims regarding the profiling of Maori by police can also be dismissed on the grounds that the police (normally) arrest people for criminal offences. And judges (normally) imprison people for serious crimes, not because they happen to be of a particular ethnic group. The majority of violent and abusive offences against children which require their uplifting for their own safety, are caused by people of a particular ethnic group. As a matter of fact, our Police and Defence Forces are totally integrated and essentially bicultural, (though that in itself is somewhat dismissive of other cultural members of those organisations from our Asian and Pasifika communities).
The hypocrisy in all of this was exposed when Judith Collins claimed in Parliament that “ separatism” is being proposed in He Puapua,(it is, actually), as favoured, condoned and demanded by Maori activists such as Margaret Mutu and Moana Jackson. She was condemned for being “racist”! How dare she even raise these important issues in our Parliament! ”Separatism” if used in Parliament is blasted as racist, but not apparently when claimed as an alternative system by cultural activists! Shush, be quiet!
There is no doubt that racism of many types is alive and well in New Zealand. OWMs; a clear anti-Asian approach from Labour Party and NZ First politicians regarding property investors of “Asian-sounding names” in Auckland; the harassment of Indian dairy owners by ethnic gangs in South Auckland and elsewhere; and the constant, almost daily, anti-Pakeha rhetoric of prominent Maori activists, such as Mutu and Tamihere, all combine to give substance to Taika Waititi’s statement at the start of this article.
Then we have the failed programmes of positive discrimination, affirmative action and enforced acculturation in our education system, as further examples of racism in New Zealand today. Preferential treatment of ethnic minorities results in further injustices by denying otherwise-worthy candidates of an equal opportunity.
Other race-based policies such as enforced acculturation of the majority (inverse acculturation) create resentment, not empathy or understanding. In fact, inverse acculturation is hardening attitudes in people who might previously have been anti-racist.
For example, at a university seminar on the Treaty, a person in the audience suggested that proposed cultural requirements of staff might be more willingly accepted by staff if staff were invited, as opposed to being expected or required, to participate in cultural elements such as karakia (prayers). The response was - “if we take that approach, nothing will ever get done”. Coercion was clearly the preferred, intended and stated outcome of these seminars.
In a recent discussion with veterans of the Mururoa Nuclear Testing, at a meeting in Wellington to discuss their health issues, they were asked by a Maori bureaucrat - “and how many Maori were on your ship at Mururoa?” They replied “none actually, we were all sailors”. Doesn’t this example illustrate the problems New Zealand is facing if we continue down the road of racial/ethnic division and separatism?
Are we not, after all, all human beings, in the same waka - in the above example, a naval vessel?
This is not to say we should not be indifferent to the cultural identification, beliefs, needs and practices of cultural minorities, including our Pasifika, Asian and Maori communities - we should of course acknowledge and respect those cultural differences where appropriate. But equally, the same attributes pertaining to the current ethnic majority also need to be acknowledged. Terms like “white privilege” and “white supremacy” are racist insults which have NO PLACE in New Zealand.
Racism goes both ways and is equally hurtful, no matter what a person’s ethnic or cultural identity. My Irish and Polish ancestors, as well as our Pasifika and Chinese brothers and sisters, have all experienced racism in New Zealand. Let’s unite and stamp this out-wherever it comes from, including from Maori!
So, let’s hit the “Play” button.
There is no excuse for justifying and supporting insulting accusations of racism of any type in New Zealand, be it by Pakeha or by Maori, or indeed by anybody else who uses ethnicity as a point of difference. Let us condemn ALL racism, overt, covert or inverse. Otherwise we have no future as a nation.
And still Ardern says “Shush, be quiet!”
Armstrong is retired, follows politics, and writes.