Wednesday, May 17, 2023

David Lillis: Sorry, Professor Mutu – You do not Convince!

In academia much bogus knowledge is tolerated in the name of academic freedom - which is like allowing for the sale of contaminated food in the name of free enterprise. I submit that such tolerance is suicidal: that the serious students must be protected against the “anything goes” crowd. Mario Bunge (2010)

Can we Possibly Cooperate?

Recently, we have seen numerous articles and heard interviews on colonialism and historic repression from people such as Professor Margaret Mutu. We agree with Professor Mutu that colonialism brought negative experiences for indigenous people and that historic racism has left a legacy that is felt to this day. However, as Professor Mutu knows, indigenous communities were not themselves innocent of repression and exploitation of others. Just as various oppressors across different parts of the world at different times were guilty of murder and theft of property and lands, so too did indigenous societies engage in warfare, enslavement and cannibalism – behaviours that were not unknown before the arrival of Europeans – even here in New Zealand.

Professor Mutu and others, such as Professor Jacinta Ruru, who sees co-governance as an “opportunity for New Zealand” and He Puapua (Charters, 2019) as “super-exciting for every one of us in this country” (Ruru, 2022), should remember that we live in the here and now - and that 1840 belongs in the distant past when the world was much less complex and New Zealand was very different from the cosmopolitan nation of today. Clearly, Professor Mutu and Professor Ruru stand strongly on behalf of their people and no one should criticize any person for remaining strong on issues of genuine concern – issues relating to inequality in New Zealand, for example. But they go further than that, and this is where they and others should review what they are doing to this country. Matters are indeed developing in a negative direction that looks very ominous indeed for New Zealand.

Here I comment on two articles that are based on interviews with Professor Mutu and address her in the second person.

Article One: Why we need Constitutional Transformation

Professor Mutu - in this article (Mutu, 2022) you make a very valid point. You remind us that where a significant part of the population, particularly those who were present in a land before the arrival of other groups, have no role whatsoever in deciding on the constitutional arrangements, then we have distress, impoverishment, marginalization and the opposite of peaceful relations. We agree, and colonialists and tyrants of every kind through history have indeed done wrong and caused hurt. Some of those wrongs and hurts are felt to this day across the world and, of course, here in New Zealand too. However, did not Māori leaders play their part in the drafting of constitutional arrangements?

You speak truth to power when you tell us that if a constitution is imposed without permission, then everything a people hold dear to them - their cultural values, their way of seeing the world, the way they look after their possessions and their resources - can be completely ignored. But then you proceed to tell the world that such is the situation in “Aotearoa”.

Of course, freedom of expression means that you can write anything you like but, Professor Mutu, such most certainly is not the situation in New Zealand. Many argue that the Treaty was the permission, though that is a very complex and contentious debate. Māori culture and things of value to Māori are not ignored. Further, you tell us that Māori have no control over their lands, over their lives, over their resources, and that they have “watched the whole lot be desecrated and in many cases destroyed”.

Is there not more than just a hint of exaggeration here? Professor Mutu - you are a Professor at the University of Auckland, and every professor has duty of care to state the truth at all times and, when engaging in public discourse, to aim for repair of trust and healing of fractures rather than to exacerbate bad feeling. In fact, all of us who have concern for New Zealand have duty of care, including those of European extraction, who today are indeed confronting past injustices and addressing inequalities that persist in the present.

Often, urban myths endure in spite of evidence to the contrary. Historically, cruel and unfair racial stereotyping involved characterization of non-Europeans as of lower intellectual capability than Europeans and their cultures less advanced. It is also true that in-group/out-group behavior is characteristic of all societies and indeed of our species. However, today myths can operate in the reverse direction and both people and institutions are sometimes characterized unfairly. For example, the observed low representation of Māori within the professoriate in New Zealand’s universities is ascribed to systemic bias when in fact their representation is roughly that expected on the basis of relevant Ph.D completions (Lillis, 2023a). Of course, it is a perfectly legitimate question as to why we do observe such low representation and indeed we should discuss measures that improve education outcomes across all levels.

In New Zealand today, we see many initiatives designed to assist Māori, including various financial assistance; scholarships and other education-related incentives; financial support to help Māori landowners to build housing; preferential admission to medical school; Māori wards; heavily Treaty-centric, matauranga Māori-based early childhood, primary and secondary education curricula; an increasingly Treaty-centric tertiary sector; a Treaty-centric and, apparently, bicultural, public service; naming of public institutions in Te Reo and, of course, a dedicated health authority.

Finally, funding of research that is based on ethnic affiliation, is about to appear within New Zealand’s Performance Based Research Fund and perhaps in other funds too (Lillis, 2023b). In addition, the Subject Area known as Māori Research and Development will enjoy higher priority than any other area, including engineering and technology; agriculture and other applied biological sciences; architecture, design, planning, surveying; biomedical; clinical medicine; pharmacy; public health; veterinary studies and large animal science; dentistry, Pacific research and many others.

Frankly, Professor Mutu, we acknowledge a pressing need to close gaps in health, income and education, and we accept that sometimes combative activism is necessary to effect hoped-for social change. But many of us are concerned about certain of these developments, especially in community relations, in education and in research priorities and funding. Specifically, we have genuine fears that trust between communities will erode, that the quality of early childhood, primary and secondary education will be debased for millions of students into the future (Lillis, 2023c) and that New Zealand’s research effort and anticipated outcomes of research will degrade too.

Narratives on the Treaty of Waitangi

Today, debate about the Treaty of Waitangi focuses almost exclusively on one ethnic and cultural group and, in the ongoing conversations, others do appear, but almost as an afterthought. Can you inform New Zealand as to whether other ethnic and cultural groups, such as Asians, Pacific and Muslim and other immigrant populations, deserve similar treatment to Māori within the framework of the Treaty? If not, then why not? Professor Mutu - are you aware that many indices of both health and economic deprivation of Pacific are even worse than those of Māori? You should be aware and, if so, why do you and others not invoke more often the Treaty of Waitangi to address the needs of all groups that suffer shortfalls in economic, education, health and other domains?

You inform us that the notion behind the “doctrine of discovery” was that, because the immigrants were white and Christian, they could take over the country and reduce the indigenous people to servitude or commit genocide against them and strip them of every possession. Professor Mutu - are not your assertions of servitude and genocide a great exaggeration in relation to New Zealand? The problem with exaggerations such as yours is that they whip up very negative public sentiment and rancor among both those who have particular and sometimes negative and self-seeking agendas, and those who are well-meaning and look genuinely for social justice.

Your stated view is that that colonization of this country was illegitimate and illegal, and that it has done huge damage. From contemporary social justice and moral perspectives, all colonization is illegitimate, but it has not always been so, as both the colonization of New Zealand by Europeans and the colonization of the Chathams by the Māori tribes, Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Mutunga, in the 1830’s exemplify. We agree that damage was done to Māori mana and culture, but surely genuine attempts are being made to address that damage.

You assure us that we need to engage in a meaningful conversation about what is required to ensure that balance is restored in this country; not only lawyers or experts, but everyone. Again, we agree, and the corollary is that both Government and New Zealanders of European extraction confront the wrongs of history - and that is already happening. The world of today must confront an often chequered history, but it is also crucial for the future that we avoid slipping into a culture of sustained victimhood.

The second corollary is that you and other agents of change, such as Professor Ruru, must be fair and objective too. Your argument is that balance would mean an environment where Māori are fully recognized and respected as mana whenua and the original people of this country; where tikanga, mātauranga, He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti are all a natural part of the agreed order of this country. However, we suggest further that balance should mean an environment where every person has equal opportunity and status, irrespective of social background, ethnicity, religion or country of origin.

Many acknowledge the Moriori people as the first inhabitants of New Zealand, thus for them diminishing the validity of tangata whenua claims for Māori. We do not propose to engage in that rather unhelpful debate here but, in any case, surely you know that already there is widespread recognition of Māori as mana whenua and the original people of this country. Further, you must be aware that matauranga Māori is already embedded very firmly within our education curricula, within our universities and within scientific and other forms of research, despite considerable disquiet about its effect on both education and science.

Article Two: Call it what you want, co-governance isn’t going away

In this second article (Yates, 2023), you inform us of concern about the increase of the extreme-right attacks around the Three Waters proposals for co-governance, and the level of viciousness of those attacks, but also against Māori in general. You are correct in your concern about far-right extremism. Many of us are concerned about it too but are also worried about the attitudes and actions of the so-called progressive left. In addition, we fear post-modern ideology that sees racism everywhere, refuses to accept that there was both positive and negative within all communities in the historic past, explains every disparity as resulting from systemic bias in the present, and that seeks to force the traditional knowledge and language of one or other minority on absolutely everyone. Here I quote you directly from the above article:
There seems to be a very widespread concern that having Māori at the decision-making table is somehow a threat to Pākehā.
Professor Mutu - of course, having Māori at the decision-making table is not the concern, and you know it. There was marginalization of Māori in the past, such as ring-fencing of only four Māori seats in Parliament from 1867 (Taonui, 2023), but in fact Māori have been at the decision-making table for a long time. After the introduction of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting in 1996, the percentage of Māori in Parliament increased from 8% to 14%, giving a total of 17 MPs. In 2011, 22 MPs (18%) were Māori. The number increased to 28 (23%) in 2017, but fell to 25 (21%) in 2020, when no New Zealand First MPs were re-elected (Taonui, 2023). Thus, since about 2011, Māori have been represented in Parliament somewhat more than their presence in the total population (about 16%).

So - marginalization did occur, as did suppression of Te Reo, though Te Reo was never illegal and often it was Māori who did not want it in schools. Indeed, very shameful was the kind of segregation that has indeed occurred in places (Bartholomew, 2022) but, to be fair, there was integration as well as segregation. In New Zealand we had widespread intermarriage to an extent that possibly did not occur in other countries.

Professor Mutu - the real concern is misallocation of asymmetric political and decision-making power and status across different ethnic and cultural groups. Indeed, one ethnic population arrived here before most others and indeed we see residual inequalities, but the concern is that you and other activists want more than equality. Co-governance does indeed give one group greater political power than others, at least in certain domains, on the basis of self-identified affiliation to one or other ethnic group. One world view and language is being pushed at everyone in this county, but the world views and languages of others receive scant attention, if any. Surely, in a democracy we hold to one overarching world view – that of freedom, equality and human rights, but also to the belief that people have additional rights to practise their own world views too.

In New Zealand one group has its own health authority but not others - not even those whose health is demonstrably worse than that of Māori (Lillis, 2023d). Only one form of traditional knowledge is being held equivalent to world science. Today, one minority language only is used to name institutions and places. Finally, we hear talk of a bicultural nation, when in fact we are very multicultural and we have a small but growing Islamic community, for example. Here I quote you again:
If you take the time to understand what co-governance is about - it’s the wellbeing of everybody in this country.
Co-governance is about the wellbeing of everyone in New Zealand? Asians? Pacific? Muslims? Sorry, Professor Mutu, but non-Māori/non-European people (about 25% of the total population) receive sparse attention in Treaty-related dialogue from you, Professor Ruru, Dr. McAllister and those others who are pushing the revised, matauranga Māori-based curriculum and re-configuring science and our tertiary system around traditional knowledge. You do not convince.


Of course, some colonialists and early settlers held the belief that their own culture was greater than all else, thus giving licence to dominate and plunder others’ lands and resources. There is truth here, just as historic infanticide, inter-tribal conflict, enslavement, low life expectancy, cannibalism, maltreatment of and warfare against other indigenous people have truth in many indigenous communities across diverse parts of the world, including New Zealand.

We are given to understand that all you want is for Māori to make their own decisions about their own lives, and then we are invited to watch as the benefits flow to the rest of the country. You assure us that this shouldn’t be a threat to anyone. However, will you support autonomy for Asians, Pacific and Muslims too? If not, then why not? Is not the Treaty of Waitangi for everyone? Professor Mutu - have you or Professor Ruru performed a cost-benefit analysis to estimate the scale of the anticipated benefits from rangatiratanga to everyone else? If so, can you provide the details? However, the fear is that you want more than simply a mandate to make decisions about your own lives, and that in fact you seek preferential status and special treatment without showing great concern for others.

Professor Mutu – evidently you believe that “Te Tiriti o Waitangi” confirmed that this was a country where Māori would have the overall say, and that they would exercise mana and tino rangatiratanga (self-determination) for the good of the country. Did the Treaty in fact confirm that one ethnic or cultural group is to hold overall decision-making rights? So - is it the ultimate aim of yours and of the present activism in New Zealand that one particular ethnic community will indeed have overall say in most or all domains of public interest?

How will those who have that overall say be identified? Do they self-identify, as in the Population Census? Must they demonstrate 50% genetics of one particular group or some other amount? How will the exercise of mana and tino rangatiratanga benefit everyone else and how will that benefit be measured and reported?

Further, Professor Mutu, along with Professor Ruru and others who drafted He Puapua, you advance the view that New Zealand will or should be a country in which everyone is fluent, or at least has competence, in both English and Te Reo, affirming that this state of affairs would be natural for Māori. Maybe it is natural for you, Professor Mutu, but is it natural for Muslim people from the Middle East or North Africa, or Pacific children or Asians? Do their parents, and indeed New Zealand European parents, have the right to decide whether or not their children are to spend significant class time acquiring fluency in Te Reo and absorbing your own particular form of traditional knowledge? To what extent will their new-found fluency and mastery of traditional knowledge help them to compete for and hold rewarding careers in the international marketplace?

The New Zealand Curriculum

The Curriculum Refresh is currently undergoing reconfiguration so that knowledge derived from Te Ao Māori will sit at the heart of each learning area, ostensibly in order to reflect the cultural uniqueness of New Zealand. Our view is that those behind the Curriculum Refresh, including Mera Penehira, Vaughan Bidois and Graham Smith, have genuine desire to close gaps in socioeconomic and other measures but are blinded by an obsession to bully an entire nation into embracing a distorted curriculum and submitting to a new societal order that most probably goes against the wishes of the majority. In the act of doing so, both you and they are doing New Zealanders a great disservice and will cause harm that will be felt decades from now.

Indeed, we believe that class time should be devoted to Te Reo and Tikanga Māori (Māori customary practices or behaviours) and both should be treasured and preserved but, past primary school as a matter of choice and never at the expense of literacy, numeracy and other critical learning.

Given that only about 3.5% of New Zealanders speak Te Reo as their mother tongue (World, 2023), though the Māori party claims only 3% (Māori Party, 2023), most New Zealanders experience very few, if any, environments where Te Reo and Tikanga Māori predominate. Why do you insist on forcing them on every child and indeed every adult too, beyond a level required to preserve and indeed treasure them?

To move from 3% to 100% of New Zealanders speaking Te Reo with fluency is a very big stretch but evidently, Professor Mutu, both you and others mean it - and you are making progress with the assistance of both Government and various Ministries. Clearly, you expect Pacific children and children recently arrived from Ethiopia and the Ukraine to learn Te Reo and speak it fluently too. Is that truly a more desirable expenditure of class time than developing numeracy and literacy skills?

What about the immense imposition on the 150,000 registered or certificated teachers across New Zealand’s 2,500 schools, and the unavoidable costs to New Zealand’s taxpayers in developing and delivering this new curriculum?

Similarly, others such as Dan Hikuroa, dream that mātauranga Māori will one day be ubiquitous throughout New Zealand society (Blake Leader, 2022). Possibly, Professor Jacinta Ruru and all other authors of He PuaPua believe in this dream too. Agreeing that mātauranga Māori embodies scientific elements and values that have a definite place in society of today, do you, Professor Ruru, Professor Claire Charters, Dr. Hikuroa and others wish for every New Zealander to practice mātauranga Māori - or is mātauranga Māori to be reserved for Māori only? If mātauranga Māori is for everyone in New Zealand, then is there not a case for proselytizing the people and scientific institutions of other nations into adopting it too? How would New Zealand’s unique traditional knowledge go down in Uganda, Hungary or Armenia? In Israel, Poland or Malaysia? How about any form of traditional knowledge to improve the quality of life and the economies of Sweden, Finland, Germany, Japan and the United States? What about Cambodia, Mexico, North Korea, Peru, Zimbabwe, Syria, Turkey, Italy or Vietnam?

Professor Mutu – both you, Professor Ruru and Dr. Hikuroa know perfectly well that world science is practised in every country of the world and only in very exceptional cases does any form of traditional knowledge supplant science to any significant extent or even complement science beyond genuine input of values and ethics. Then - why do you and others seek to force your own form of traditional knowledge on every New Zealander, including its leading scientists? Those who seek equality of any form of traditional knowledge with world science are encouraged to undertake advanced coursework in theoretical physics or some other branch of the natural sciences, and the difference will become very obvious very rapidly.

Indeed, we have pockets of racism and bias in this country and we must confront and address such nastiness where it occurs. Here, an article from Krishnasamy Gurunathan, former mayor of Kapiti Coast, provides edifying reading when he informs us of racist taunts and other abuses hurled at his own children and at other people of colour (Gurunathan, 2023). However, a statement from him recorded in a prior article is nevertheless very ominous:

Aotearoa New Zealand is making some significant steps towards a unique hybrid democracy - a fusion of the Māori worldview and what we inherited from Britain. The journey will be challenging.
(Gurunathan, 2022)

The concern here is that this new “hybrid democracy” is to be forced on everyone, regardless of their wishes. Of course, any such journey will indeed prove very challenging if an overwhelming majority are to be bludgeoned into accepting the new order.

The Doctrine of Decolonisation

Unfortunately, a widely-held view is that decolonising and racialised ideology will destroy the foundations of New Zealand’s modern, prosperous society. Experts in education, such as Professor Elizabeth Rata, believe that the principles of universalism and secularism are critical pillars in education, as elsewhere. We agree. Professor Rata sees academic knowledge as distinct from cultural knowledge because it is universal and secular. Of course, we could live without this knowledge, and indeed our ancestors did, but would we want to?

We humans are made intelligent through long-term systematic engagement with such complex knowledge. Yet decolonisers reject the fundamental difference between science and culture, claiming instead that all knowledge is culturally-produced, informed by a group’s beliefs and experiences, and geared to its interests. Indigenous knowledge and ‘western’ knowledge are simply cultural systems and academic education re-defined as the oppressive imposition of the latter on the former.
(Rata, 2022)

We agree with Professor Rata that it is indeed deeply concerning that this ideology is believed by those in education and repeated uncritically in mainstream media. Fighting against long-term degrading of both science and education is thus rendered much more difficult, especially when the relevant ministries and their ministers choose to ignore experts.

Consistency of Traditional Knowledge and World Science

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena. Its concepts refer to the theorised structures and properties of the physical world, and its methods are those of hypothesis, testing and refutation; its procedures those of criticism and judgement. The inclusion of cultural knowledge into the science curriculum will subvert the fundamental distinction, one acknowledged by mātauranga Māori scholars, between naturalistic science and supernaturalistic culture. (Rata, 2022)

Indeed, we do see a small but tangible overlap between world science and traditional knowledge. For example, Dr. Hikuroa sees Earth system science as consistent with a Māori worldview, and he perceives it as a natural progression of understanding the world as a system, as opposed to being composed of discrete parts (Blake Leader, 2022). Again, we agree, and indeed we should understand our world as an interconnected system, in addition to conceptualising it, where necessary, as composed of discrete parts.

Perhaps it is one of the many positive hallmarks of mātauranga Māori and other forms of traditional knowledge that our world and its diverse environments are indeed interpreted and treated holistically. Thus, for Earth system science, Dr. Hikuroa sees a future in which a multi-disciplinary approach can shape our world for the better. He tells us that, for decades, scientists tried to understand the world within particular disciplines, but that it is now time to see the world as an integrated living system. We agree. In conceptualizing our world and its ecosystems this way, traditional knowledge makes a valuable contribution that is entirely consistent with how science already views our world and its diverse environments, both in discrete terms, where necessary, but also as an integrated whole.

While decolonisation is underway in most or all of the nation’s institutions, education is the key ideological institution. The ‘other knowledge-systems’ approach of the Curriculum Refresh re-defines academic knowledge as just another knowledge-system, rather than what it actually is - the universal knowledge developed across the disciplines and altered for teaching at school (Rata, 2022).

Indeed, we agree with Professor Rata and others that one of the most significant and most dangerous victories of New Zealand’s decolonizers, and of those in other nations, will be the destruction of public confidence in the science - culture distinction; a distinction which is one of the defining features of the modern world. The other most dangerous victory will be the erosion of the quality of education and impairment of learning of millions of New Zealand children over decades to come.

We agree with Professor Rata that decolonisation will indeed divide society into two groups - but not that of coloniser and colonised, locked into the permanent oppressor-victim opposition that is widely used to justify ethno-nationalism. Instead, one group will comprise those who receive an education in academic subjects. These young people will proceed to tertiary study with a sound understanding of science, mathematics and the humanities.

The second group comprises those who remain restricted to the type of knowledge acquired from experience and justified in ideologies of local culture. Distrustful of academic knowledge as colonising and oppressive, they find social and psychological security in ethnic cultural beliefs and practices. Further, just as there are insiders, there must also be outsiders. In traditional ideologies these are the colonists who are seen to have taken everything and given nothing. And yet the tragedy is that it is the cultural insiders who will undergo exclusion from the benefits that a modern education provides (Rata, 2022).

Traditional Medicine

...logical positivism remains the tacit philosophy of many scientists. Regrettably, the anti-positivism fashionable in the metatheory of social science is often nothing but an excuse for sloppiness and wild speculation. Mario Bunge (1996)

Indeed we have sloppiness and wild speculation in New Zealand and some of it is potentially very dangerous. For example, in relation to treatments for cancer and other illnesses, various material available online is deeply worrying. One short video exemplifies very real risk when traditional knowledge is taken literally (ACC, 2022). Much of what is said in the video we can agree with, especially in relation to addressing a patient's needs holistically. However, the healer who features in the video tells us that:
The Western health and healing system is awesome. It's not better. It's not worse than Maori healing.
She also tells us that it is for everyone; not only for Māori. However, all cultures and societies have developed and used proto-scientific rules of method but putative science, which has no experimental basis, has no place in the twenty-first century.

Of course, the problem here is that patients who present with cancer or other serious conditions, believing such messaging, may choose traditional methods. Unfortunately, well-meaning traditional faith healers will deliver treatment that simply does not work, and feel-good messaging to unwell people, many of whom could be either desperate or credulous, is highly unethical.

The New Zealand Herald of 9 May of this year featured an article on rongoā Māori (traditional Māori healing), which encompasses herbal remedies, physical therapies and spiritual healing (Tyson, 2023). In addition to herbal remedies, rongoā Māori includes karakia, wānanga, exercise, playing the puoro (a musical instrument) to calm a person, wairua and other physical practices such as mirimiri and romiromi, a Māori form of massage.

The article reminds us that the Therapeutic Products Bill is intended to replace the Medicines Act 1981 and the Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985, in order to regulate therapeutic products, such as medicines, medical devices, natural health products and their ingredients. Rongoā Māori practitioner, Donna Kerridge, features in the article, saying that Māori will take out a Waitangi Tribunal claim under urgency if the bill progresses in its current form and that the Crown has no right to regulate the practice of rongoā Maori.

The article tells us that in her submissions to the Crown, Ms. Kerridge has offered recommendations for the bill to recognise Māori rights to tino rangatiratanga over their taonga, as guaranteed in Article 2 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and for nothing in the bill to apply to rongoā Māori. We are told that a 2021 Medsafe report found no evidence that rongoā products posed any risk and that only 19 of 3581 suspected adverse reactions were associated with complementary and alternative medicines (which include natural health products). Of those 19, none were attributed to rongoā Māori.

Traditional medicine may or may not pose direct risk, but to what extent have we evaluated its efficacy in relation to contemporary medicine? Here I quote a very well-known New Zealand surgeon:
If the contest to keep traditional world views out of science is lost, traditional "healing" will be inserted into medical school curricula, to sit alongside standard courses.
Here, we have people in positions of trust, who claim medical expertise, offering remedies that do not stand up to the rigour of modern clinical trials, but assuring vulnerable patients that their conditions are curable through treatments that are either poorly researched or not researched at all, and who expect their remedies to be protected and to exist outside relevant legislation.


Ironically, decolonisation ideology is justified using the universal human rights argument for equity. But the equity case misrepresents the problem. As with all groups, it is not ethnic affiliation but class-related cultural practices that are the main predictors of educational outcomes. Māori children from professional families are not failing. Rather it is those, Māori and non-Māori alike, living in families experiencing hardship and not engaging in cognitive practices of abstract thinking and literacy development, who are most likely to fail at school. This is not inevitable. Education can make a difference to a child’s life chances but it requires all schools, Māori medium immersion and mainstream alike, to provide quality academic knowledge taught by expert teachers.
(Rata, 2022)

Some of us say the things we say and write the things we write in the hope of influence for the public good. Why? Because, in the view of many of us, the future does not look positive for New Zealand. We are creating a distorted curriculum, soaked in one form of traditional knowledge, and we have the gall and the arrogance to force that curriculum on every child and across every school.

Science is being debased, potentially resourced to the level of one particular ‘way of knowing’ of communities of half-a-millennium ago, and very soon we will resource research partly on the basis of ethnicity. We have universities pandering to aggressive activists and forcing traditional knowledge across many degree programmes and courses. Loudmouths and bullying managers are indeed threatening the careers of world-class scientists. We pretend to be bicultural when we are very definitely multicultural - but most of all we are universal human beings.

New Zealand has much work still to do but moves ever closer to achieving equality of opportunity and even towards equality of outcomes. To the extent that equality of outcomes is possible or even desirable, given variations in preference, choice, aptitude and potential for different lifestyles, activities and careers that exist naturally across groups, we appear to make progress. However, there is a fine line between standing up for those who face disadvantage and pushing agendas that clearly favour one group over others. Once the general public senses that the agenda articulated to it concerns the latter rather than the former, a degree of credibility is irretrievably lost.

Inequity and prejudice must be recognized and addressed where they exist, possibly most effectively through education and through establishing true equality of opportunity. However, aggressive activism and postmodern ideology threaten New Zealand, not least its social cohesion, community relations, education and science. So does blind stupidity. Our education and science communities must now step up to fight further polarization, loss of trust and degrading of our country.


ACC (2022). Rongoā Māori: A traditional healing choice for all.

Bartholomew, R. E. (2022). No Māori allowed. New Zealand’s Forgotten History of Racial Segregation

Blake Leader (2022). Dr. Dan Hikuroa

Bunge, Mario (1996). Finding Philosophy in Social Science. Yale University Press. p. 317. 1960s-1990s

Bunge, Mario (2010). Matter and Mind, p. 264

Charters, Claire. et al. (2019). He Puapua: Report of the working group on a plan to realise the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand

Gurunathan, Krishnasamy (2022). Councils should think twice before insulting their Treaty partners

Gurunathan, Krishnasamy (2023). Welcome to the life of coloured people in New Zealand

Health Navigator New Zealand (2023). Complementary and alternative medicine

Lillis, David (2023a). Allegations of Racism in New Zealand Universities

Lillis, David (2023b). Capture of Research Funding in New Zealand?

Lillis, David (2023c). New Zealand Must Fight the New Curriculum

Lillis, David (2023d). Our Prioritised Health System and Pacific People

Māori Party (2023). Te Reo Māori - Executive Summary

Mutu, Margaret (2022). Why we need constitutional transformation

Rata, Elizabeth (2022). The Decolonisation of New Zealand Education. The Democracy Project, 22 April, 2022

This article was re-published in The Australian:
Rata, Elizabeth (2022). Racialism, Decolonisation and the Revolution in NZ Education’. The Australian 25th May 2022

Ruru, Jacinta (2022). Jacinta Ruru: Co-governance is an opportunity for New Zealand

Taonui, Rawiri (2023). Ngā māngai - Māori representation,increased%20in%20number%20to%20seven.

Tyson, Jessica (2023). Therapeutic Products Bill: ‘Crown has no place in regulating rongoā’ says expert

World (2023). Te Reo Māori speaking countries,M%C4%81ori%20as%20their%20mother%20tongu

Yates, Siena (2023). Call it what you want, co-governance isn’t going away

Dr David Lillis trained in physics and mathematics at Victoria University and Curtin University in Perth, working as a teacher, researcher, statistician and lecturer for most of his career. He has published many articles and scientific papers, as well as a book on graphing and statistics.


Anna Mouse said...

Academics usually use one of nine criteria to fomulate their arguements.

These are (in no order) Archaeological and Forensic evidence, Socio-political bias, cultural bias, presentism, selectivism, arguement ad nauseum, strawmanism, personal bias and lastly academic careerism.

People like the ones fingered in your article use all except Archaeological and Forensic evidence as the basis for their 'research' and 'academic' study.

They favour the particularly obvious cultural bias, presentism, arguement ad nauseum (screaming until you shut up) and academic careerism because it fits snuggly into both the narrative they cling to and the money they can garner in research grants, tax payer funding or tenure etc.

Whenever I read an article or a research paper I tend to look at the author and then the codes words that are used in the paper to establish whether they have spoken without agenda.

Sadly when any of the above folk (and a few others in NZ Historical circles and others) speak they always have at the core of their writing their well established personal bias and they can never have that challenged because they cannot deviate from the absolute of their ideology of thinking.

In NZ today we have a serious issue accross all aspects of our social, political, educational and economic spectrum and none of these folk and folk like them, our politicians nor our media seem to want to seek truth, reality and accountability to failure where we see it as citizens and desire a better outcome. All we ever get is the equality/equity arguement which is a proven false 'economy'.

Without accountability to reality in the present where we live in the today (because we do not live in yesterday and certainly cannot live in the tomorrow) there can only exist dissonance.

Where dissonance prevails, society and politcal instability thrives and in that environment created by the academics and those that choose chaos over stability tyrants arise.

Sadly today in New Zealand (not Aotearoa because it is not the official name of our country) we see ongoing (and sometimes deliberate) chaos and social and political dissonance.

When then will we see the tyrant arise or have we already seen its shadow in the writings of the people fingered in this article?

Anonymous said...

The state of this country. Being stolen by racist idiots hell bent on power and control. They do not even realise how wrecked the country will be once they get what they want. Meanwhile, our education system is churning out good little ethno-marxists by the hundreds every day. This country is doomed it really is.

Anonymous said...

i wonder why people don't call for 'defund the academia' akin to 'defend the police'!

Anonymous said...

I no longer feel rational towards these people or their so-called work. Instead it is a visceral response of loathing. I deeply resent their descriptions of my antecedents who were good hardworking people.
I consider myself well educated, moderate, inclined to the intellectual, well travelled and with some competence in other languages. Yet these people trigger a response of loathing in me that I am at least aware of and contain except for responding to this article and with my vote. God help the country formerly known as New Zealanders and others when these emotions generated by aforementioned and their ilk are acted out by those who do not understand their anger or cannot or will not contain it.

Robert Arthur said...

Mutu should have been torn to shreds in the msm over the years but as a maori very able to trigger cancellation she has largely escaped scrutiny. She and Moana Jackson were instrumental in spreading the "imagining decolonisation" mantra, adopted by most as rejection of all norms traceable to colonisation (except the acceptance of race based assistance). Hence the disconnect and lawlessness of so many maori today.

Anonymous said...

Would Prof Mutu ever deign to reply?
Activists have a specific mind set which cannot change.

Anonymous said...

Anna Mouse - the new laws on common use of words as discussed on this blog in the last few days, means it doesn’t matter what the official name of NZ is, Aotearoa is now quite legitimate. Next we will be assured that as Maori is an official language so too is the ‘Maori’ name. Stealth. Mind boggling that said the country formerly called New Zealand is now so racially corrupt- may be Aotearoa is a good name for it. Land of the Long White Cloud. Or Land of Tall Stories hidden behind a Screen of quasi virtuous Hot Air that suffocates all who breathe it.

Gaynor said...

The present education is failing everyone, Maori or not. My mother, privately taught 1500 students to read in the high decile Kapiti Coast.The schools had failed to teach these children to read. These remedial students were the children of professional parents.
Balanced Literacy (aka whole language,WL) still dominates in NZ classrooms and NZ has the longest tail of underachievement in the developed world. This only happened after WL was introduced. It is a discredited way to teach reading and its advocates the most dangerous and unscientific cult we have had. The philosophy behind it permeates through all of our educational institutions.
Just this week, a Maori tradesman, I talked to said on the topic of Te Reo ." Forget it, I just want my daughter to be able to read English and she can't".
These Maori radical academics do not speak for all Maori and are far from the root of the problem which is not colonization but the present rotten education system.

Anonymous said...

David, I read every word of your article and admire your content and delivery. Your passion and your pain calls out.
We are witnesses to ardent believers/perpetrators not being prepared to listen. The aggression, ignorance and stealthy sneakiness is a credit to their names and race. It is not in their interest to take the slightest notice. They have an agenda of winner takes all and they are single mindedly pursuing it. Sadly, they seem to have captured all the support they need.
The propaganda was seeded many years ago and even our 30-year-olds have been sympathetically brainwashed to "Maori having self-determination". They will not listen to the evidence of the erosion of democracy in legislation or the conditions of the application for the PIJF media bribes.
As Anonymous at 12.35 says we are repulsed and angry. I don't think we are doomed yet but it will take some turning around. Thanks to people like you and others who write on this site I have hope that there are enough people to be aware and stand against this madness. I will do my bit and am prepared to fight for democracy and common sense.
Comrade Ardern (and all of her government of which not one has spoken against this) has already and will have much to answer for in the long term. I'm saying this after being a LP member since 2016 and being an LEC executive committee member until I saw the light in 2021 and resigned.
My hope is that Labour are thoroughly trounced in October. If not and/or if Luxon is the PM and he doesn't stop the rot I expect civilians will take action.
The worst aspect is the distraction it is making from the crucial issues we face as a small country that could be doing so much better. Thanks David.

boudicca said...

If I want to use so-called traditional medicine, then why should I not look to medieval and older European folk remedies. Why on earth would I want to subject myself to rongoa Maori?

Anonymous said...

The Maori mafia and their shills pushing their manifesto (He Puapua) based on fraud and greed and seemly getting away with it.

Anonymous said...

Both Profs. Mutu and Rata have a European parent and the latter wasn't even born in New Zealand. It's truly amazing how they seize upon one line of ancestry and seek to claim special benefits for themselves and others based on this partial genetic lineage and, when it suits, a corrupt interpretation of the Treaty and the belief that Maori were indigenous. One only has to note their false use of 'Aotearoa' as the name of this country to know that most of what they espouse comprises distorted revisionism and other falsehoods.

You are far to kind to them David, but at least you are attempting to keep them honest. Alas, a wasted effort I think you'll find.

Anonymous said...

David, your conscientious research on these important topics deserve commendation. You are very brave. I trust your sense of fairness and know you to be a kind and compassionate person, so worth listening to.

Unknown said...

Just for clarification (Anonymous May 18 10.22pm) I think you meant "Ruru" not "Rata".

Murray Reid said...

Very few New Zealanders have benefited more from colonialism than Margaret Motu. The phrase "biting the hand that feeds you" springs to mind.