Sunday, June 19, 2022

Oliver Hartwich: Māori deserve better than the RBNZ’s cultural appropriation

Pick your favourite bit of bad economic news. How about a 10 percent hike in food prices? 8.6 percent US inflation? Or the stock market crash?

The Reserve Bank Governor should be all over the fragile state of the world economy. Surely, he will figure out how to reduce the RBNZ's settlement balance of more than $40 billion. You would think now is the time to talk to other central banks about avoiding monetary Armageddon.

But you would be wrong to assume any of this. Because at the Central Banking Global Summer Meetings, Governor Adrian Orr delivered an entirely different speech: “Why we embraced Te Ao Māori”.

“Te Ao Māori view encourages us to think holistically and long-term,” explained the Governor.

He went on to declare that “We seek to implement our legislated purpose through the concept of Matangirua ki Matangireia – working in unison, to fulfil our ultimate purpose.”

He then elaborated on that the RBNZ has “also refreshed our values through a reconceptualisation through Te Ao Māori” with the values of wānanga, tauira and taura.

And once again, the Governor likened his bank to the “Tāne Mahuta of New Zealand’s financial landscape.”

In the past, the RBNZ has been criticised for losing focus on its core responsibility of maintaining price stability.

But what I find even more objectionable about the Governor’s speech is something different.

Here is the Reserve Bank that has burdened taxpayers with billions of losses from its quantitative easing programme. That is costing all of us through inflation. Which has dangerously overheated the economy with its ultra-loose monetary policy.

By claiming that his Reserve Bank follows Te Ao Māori principles, the Governor implicitly holds Māori responsible for these outcomes.

If I were Māori, I would find this offensive. Because it is all wrong, and Te Ao Māori has nothing to do with the RBNZ’s mismanagement.

There is nothing holistic or long-term about the RBNZ’s loose policies which got us here. The RBNZ is no strong Tāne Mahuta either. If it was a plant, it would be more of a Pua o te Rēinga, a parasitic flowering plant, rather than a strong Kauri tree.

And as for its proclaimed wānanga, tauira and taura values, well, what is innovative, inclusive or honest about pushing up inflation?

By its cultural appropriation of Te Ao Māori, the RBNZ is abusing Māori concepts. It portrays them in a bad light, but it is not living up to them.

Of all the things one could criticise about the RBNZ’s statements about Te Ao Māori, that is probably the worst. Apart from the fact that Māori are among the groups worst affected by our cost-of-living crisis, of course.

Māori are not responsible for a central bank that has lost its way.

Dr Oliver Hartwich is the Executive Director of The New Zealand Initiative think tank. This article was first published HERE.


Robert Arthur said...

Early settlers recorded the curious ways of maori. Any misfortune was compounded. If a wife ran off the husband's few belongings were trashed or purloined by the tribe. Shipwrecks suffered the same fate with the perpetrators actions fully justified to themselves. Sailors from overseas were not impressed.
Seems Orr is adopting the same approach. Savers have been hammered by after tax rates far below inflation and even further below the inflation of the objects most commonly saved for..houses. Savers having already suffered severely, adoption of a te ao approach "going forward" does not auger well for them.

Max Ritchie said...

I’m sure many Maori, particularly the elites, tribal and academic, are delighted by this adoption of Maori terminology. They’ll probably seek some sort of acknowledgment, financial or the appointment of some further staff. It is just another example of woke behaviour. We can but hope that the next government will do away with the behaviour and the Governor. And all the hangers-on.

Anonymous said...

You've misunderstood. When he said the RBNZ was inspired by Tane Mahuta, he was actually referring to another one of Nanaia's sibling's that she has appointed to the governance board to pass on her instructions to Adrian Orr.

DeeM said...

Yet another cringingly woke public official earning big bucks and trotting out Maori phrases so he can look good with his employers and those even more woke than himself in government.
The whole NZ public service needs to be cleaned out root and branch of these preening dick-heads and we need competent people in charge for the good of everyone...including Maori.