Saturday, December 23, 2023

Peter Schwerdtfeger, John Raine and David Lillis: Is the Decolonisation and Indigenisation Movement Dividing our Country?

Decolonisation and the Undermining of Sound Education

It is difficult not to be aware of cultural reshaping in New Zealand society. Moves have also been made by New Zealand’s Ministry of Education to politicise our schools’ education curriculum through casting it within a Treaty of Waitangi framework, and presenting mathematics and the sciences from a postmodern, relativist and decolonisation perspective which appears hostile to the core areas of student learning. Fortunately, the curriculum is now being further reviewed and developed but both this, and some university programmes, remain vulnerable to being used as a vehicle of cultural indoctrination. Here, we examine decolonisation, the need for open and constructive academic debate, and the imperative to protect democracy in New Zealand.

Why This Decolonisation Movement?

There are not too many “colonies” left in this world. In fact, with a few notable exceptions, most of them are now (more or less) well-functioning democracies. It is therefore, perhaps, more appropriate to refer to these former colonies as “territories” instead. The world is, so to say, already decolonised to a very large extent. So why are we seeing worldwide decolonisation and related activism that is closely linked to the indigenisation movement?

Why is this movement especially rampant in education and supported mostly by the social sciences? And why, according to some international observers [1], has this decolonisation/indigenisation (DI) movement gone out of control here in New Zealand, demanding major re-configuration, not only of our education system, but of our entire society? And what will be the consequences to our civilisation in general when this DI movement is successfully challenging both “western” knowledge and democratic values?

Let us reflect on the colonisation of indigenous people and its consequences for their lives and cultural values. Without doubt, aspects of western colonisation embodied a very ugly face, serving commercial and religious interests and demands for expansion of previous empires. In this process, indigenous people were indeed suppressed and colonised, had to deal with diseases unknown to them, and in many cases lost most of their identity and cultural values.

These are well known facts, and not one serious historian would question them. However, colonisation (and modern civilisation) also brought many positive aspects, as indigenous people gained access to much-advanced knowledge, education, technology and improved health and wellbeing. In New Zealand, in particular, colonisation put an end to pre-colonial inter-tribal wars. In a recent paper by Associate Professor Bruce Gilley, a political scientist at Portland State University, on The Case for Colonialism published in Third World Quarterly (Taylor & Francis) it was stated:

“The case for Western colonialism is about rethinking the past as well as improving the future. It involves reaffirming the primacy of human lives, universal values, and shared responsibilities - the civilising mission without scare quotes - that led to improvements in living conditions for most Third World peoples during most episodes of Western colonialism.“ [2]

This “offending article” engendered widespread international condemnation from scholars around the globe, with a petition demanding its retraction. It was claimed that the article lacked empirical evidence, contains historical inaccuracies, and includes spiteful fallacies [3]. Due to the immense pressure of such opprobrium, the article was eventually withdrawn by Francis & Taylor, but republished by the National Association of Scholars [4].

We Need Sound Academic Debate

Gilley may well not have offered a balanced view that recognised the many atrocities committed by colonial powers [5], but one should expect a sound academic debate from historians, followed by written comments published in the very same journal. But this is not what happened, and the international outrage and immediate condemnation of Gilley’s article demonstrate how far the decolonisation movement has advanced and underscore their willingness to distort or simply not mention evidence-based historic truths, especially here in New Zealand [6]. An interview by Neil Oliver on GB News is highly recommended [8].

For example, the life expectancies for Māori groups increased sharply after colonisation. However, one should mention at the same time that life expectancies of Māori remain behind non-Māori averages by seven years, perhaps due mainly to socio-economic factors [7], but also possibly also including lifestyle choices and genetics. It should be noted that the life expectancies of Pacific People are shorter than non- Māori by six years, and that their health and wellbeing are even worse than those of Māori across most measures.

As said, we are living now in different times and in a democratic society of which we should all be proud. So, why do we have this strong DI movement right here in New Zealand? In a recent statement by Te Pati Māori we read:

“There is no honour in the Crown. It is tainted with the blood of indigenous nations, and its throne sits at the apex of global white supremacy. […] We do not consent, we do not surrender, we do not cede, we do not submit; we, the indigenous, are rising.  We do not buy into the colonial fictions this House is built upon.”  [9]

But what are these colonial fictions? More seriously, democracy is currently being challenged, but for what purpose? Bringing down statues of “colonisers”, cancelling the names of James Cook and Ernest Rutherford, calls for ceasing the performance of Shakespeare, pushing mythological aspects of Mātauranga Māori into the core sciences, opening meetings with a Karakia, accepting Te Reo Māori in meetings even though most members do not understand the language, to name just a few of these activities, constitutes a major shift in our society and is in our opinion disrespectful of the valuable contributions of the many cultures that have settled in New Zealand, and the many achievements of humans all over the world. Those who tout the DI concept are more than happy to do this with technology developed by the rest of the world.

We Must Retain our Hard-won Democracy

The overambitious and divisive He Puapua document, initiated by the Labour Party, was perhaps supposed to correct the wrongdoings of the past, most notably by calling for co-governance, but many of the policies articulated in this document run contrary to democratic values. It was rightly abolished by the new National/ACT/NZ First coalition. On the very extreme side, we have seen a poem as part of the book, The Savage Coloniser, published by the Christchurch author, Tusiata Avia, and funded by Creative New Zealand, calling for violence towards the descendants of James Cook [10].

The question here is whether this is acceptable as art by expressing how some minorities in our society feel, or if it constitutes plain hate speech. One may argue that if we fund such hateful pieces of “art”, we might well have to fund anti-Semitic literature too. Acceptance of such poetry, which is not recommended for any child to read, shows clearly how far New Zealand has advanced in this DI movement and how aggressive it has become.

Perhaps the greatest influence on the decolonisation movement comes from Distinguished Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and her book: Decolonising Methodologies, Research and Indigenous Peoples [11]. Smith argues that Western paradigms of research are inextricably linked to European imperialism and colonialism, and that Kaupapa Māori research methods should be implemented within our education system. She believes that there is a Māori way of looking at the world (the Māori world view) and a Māori way of learning. Professor Ranginui Walker described her book as a dynamic interpretation of power relations of domination, struggle and emancipation. Because of the huge impact that her book and research has had in the field of indigenous studies, recently she was awarded the Rutherford Medal by the Royal Society Te Apārangi. However, her book does not come without criticism.

British academic, Doug Stokes, in “Against Decolonisation” [12] states (pp. 83-84):

“Activists impose decolonisation as part of a counter-power move to push back against what they claim is knowledge power plays of historically tainted thinkers and institutions. ……….it becomes politically acceptable to impose your agenda in the name of social justice and a form of restorative activism. Decolonisation is thus an explicitly political power play.”


“The assertion that all human knowledge is equally valid and the university is a site of power contestation makes it easier to understand the abandonment of fundamental academic principles, not least that of academic freedom; Itself often portrayed as a conspiracy on the part of bigots to justify discrimination and ideas that may run contrary to those of the progressive ‘woke’ Left.”

A New Zealand historian, the late Professor Peter Munz of Victoria University of Wellington, writes [13] that Smith explicitly and uncritically follows the postmodernists Edward Said and Michel Foucault, both of whom argue that the pursuit of knowledge about one culture by people of another culture constitutes an instrument of aggressive domination, colonisation and expanding imperialism. Furthermore, Kaupapa Māori education and the Māori world view have been criticised by Professor Elizabeth Rata of the University of Auckland [14]. Professor Rata states:

“According to Kaupapa Maori theory, the Maori revival of the past three decades is an organic response emerging from the colonial circumstances of Maori impoverishment and dispossession in order to revive traditional ‘more humane’ communities. The impoverished material circumstances and the putative disturbed psychological states or ‘post-colonial trauma’ experienced by many Maori are considered to be the consequences of colonization.”

and she argues that:

“ … rather than an organic response to Western knowledge, kaupapa Maori is the academic discourse of a neotraditionalist ideology that is best understood as a localized response to fundamental changes in late capitalism. This is the ‘ideological traditionalism’ that Habermas refers to as ‘self-conscious traditionalism’.”

Other Ways of Knowing?

Probably, there are more than 5,000 indigenous knowledge systems in the world. Postmodernists should ask themselves why Kaupapa Māori, with all its mythological aspects, should be preferred over all other indigenous knowledge systems, and whether Mātauranga Māori should be incorporated within the science institutions of other nations.

Moreover, and undeniably for those who can think in a rational way, science is a universal knowledge system [15]. It is there for everybody - Māori and Pakeha alike! Science has developed over millennia and many cultures have contributed to it. It is always open to question, new discovery, and debate. Decolonising the sciences makes no sense! Chemistry, physics and mathematics do not need any decolonisation. Instead, we need great ideas to further advance science and to address, for example, the climate change problem we face today. Therefore, we need more science education in our schools; not less. And, it makes no sense to condemn our greatest scientists, such as Ernest Rutherford, as colonisers. They should be celebrated instead. Teaching and understanding basic science is neither imperialistic nor an indoctrination of the people who first arrived in this country.

Perhaps Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s greatest achievement is to engender a controversial discussion on decolonisation, a subject which became even more popular with the start of the “Black Lives Matter” movement [16]. For sure, our society needs to be aware of, and should never tolerate, racial discrimination. However, the decolonisation movement does not help in this respect, as it divides our society on racial lines even further.

Moreover, the decolonisation movement also exhibits a darker side, and was used as an excuse for the recent HAMAS massacres in Israel [17, 18]. As the Atlantic article [18] states:

“Whatever the enormous complexities and challenges of bringing about this future, one truth should be obvious among decent people: killing 1,400 people and kidnapping more than 200, including scores of civilians, was deeply wrong. The Hamas attack resembled a medieval Mongol raid for slaughter and human trophies.”

The DI movement has now become truly radical to the extent that any challenge to it is labelled as racist, even at universities where healthy debates should be the norm [19]. Unfortunately, university leaders are fuelling and exacerbating this deep social divide, and it is difficult to comprehend why some of our colleagues, who are credible academics, are buying into this kind of ideology. What we need instead, as a nation, is to work together, to remove social barriers and to provide the opportunity for everybody to receive a first-class education. Kaupapa Māori and DI epistemologies belong in social science and history classes, but have no place within the core sciences.

Apart from degrading of education and science, the decolonization agenda brings other dangers. For example, in recent years we have seen calls for traditional medicine to exist outside of health legislation. Abbot et al. [20] remind us that in other countries decolonization in pharmacology involves teaching about drugs that have been developed from folk remedies and, in addition, focusing primarily on the contributions of non­-Europeans.

“While such topics might be appropriate for a history of medicine course, centering the curriculum around them, as has been proposed, would be detrimental to training health professionals. The vast majority of today’s pharmacopeia is derived from the research and development efforts of the modern pharmaceutical industry; effective treatments derived from traditional medicine are rare, especially in the era of bio­ and immunotherapies.” [20]

Abbot et al. express deep concern about the proliferation of identity-­based ideology that seeks to replace core liberal principles, essential for scientific and technological advances, with principles derived from postmodernism and Critical Social Justice.  It is very sobering to note that in other countries decolonizing of pharmacology has contributed to the public’s infatuation with traditional medicine and that health agencies report numerous therapeutic accidents involving herbal products that have not been validated according to “colonial” standards [21].

Systemic Problems in Higher Education

Today, we are witness to degrading of the constitutions of our universities and threats to the careers of staff who attempt to protect the quality of teaching, the right of free speech on campus, and the independence of the universities from political and social action. Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott have expressed the current problems in The Canceling of the American Mind [22], as follows:

“Over the past several decades, higher education began encouraging the dismissal of arguments based on a speaker's identity, past transgressions, and other factors unrelated to the argument at hand.” (pp. 8) 


“If we want to truly strive toward truth, we have to relearn how to address the argument and not the person. The only way to circumvent the perfect rhetorical fortress is to refuse to play by its unfair rules.” (pp. 129) 

We advocate the Kalven Report of 1967 [23], a statement on the University’s role in political and social action. Specifically, it was commissioned by, and intended for, the University of Chicago, but it retains great relevance today for all universities across all nations. It states that the mission of the university is the discovery, improvement and dissemination of knowledge, and that its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society. The statement advances the view that the instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual member of faculty and the individual student. Most importantly, the unit of challenge in relation to political and social issues should not be the university as an institution. Further, it proposes that the university is the home and sponsor of critics but is not itself the critic. Thus, the neutrality of the university as an institution arises out of respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of views.

The Kalven Report notes:

“To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures. A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community.”

The Kalven Report emphasises that, since the university is a community only for the limited and distinctive purposes of teaching and research, it cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its very existence and effectiveness. Further, there is no mechanism by which it can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent on which it thrives.

Unfortunately, in New Zealand society we have lost freedom of speech and our universities have lost both freedom of inquiry and independence from political and social action. It is critical for the future of our country and, indeed, the civilization of the world of the 21st century, that we fight to regain these ideals without delay.


The opinions expressed here are those of the writers, and not of the universities with which they are or were formerly affiliated.


Peter Schwerdtfeger is a distinguished professor in theoretical chemistry and physics and Head of the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study at Massey University. His research is concerned with fundamental and philosophical aspects of science.

John Raine is an Emeritus Professor of Engineering and held Deputy and Pro Vice Chancellor roles across three New Zealand Universities. His responsibilities have included research, research commercialisation and internationalisation. 

David Lillis is a retired researcher who holds degrees in physics and mathematics, worked as a statistician in education, in research evaluation for the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, and for several years as an academic manager and lecturer.



[1] Jerry Coyne, A powerful University dean in New Zealand touts merging higher education with indigenous spirituality.


[3] Retract "The case for colonialism".


[5] Inside Higher Education (IHE). Is Retraction the New Rebuttal?

[6] RNZ News, Draft history curriculum misses 600 years of Aotearoa New Zealand's past.

[7] The Hui, Life expectancy for Māori has improved since 1840, National's Dr Shane Reti claims.

[8] Professor Bruce Gilley joins Neil Oliver on GB News to debate the "Case for Colonialism".

[9] An Oath to Our Mokopuna, Friday, 1 December 2023, 11:01 am, Press Release: Te Pati Māori .

[10] Tusiata Avia, The Savage Colonizer

[11] Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd., 2013.

[12] Doug Stokes, Against Decolonisation: Campus Culture Wars and the Decline of the West Paperback – 15 Sept. 2023. 

[13] Peter Munz, Open and closed research. New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa, Issue 41, Otago University Press (1999).

[14] Elizabeth Rata, Kaupapa Māori Education in New Zealand. In: Demaine, J. (eds) Citizenship and Political Education Today. Palgrave Macmillan, London (2004).

[15] Richard Dawkins, Why I’m sticking up for science. The Spectator, UK, March 4 (2023).

[16] Black Lives Matter, .

[17] Outrage over Māori lecturer who lined up New Zealand colonisation with Palestine - and what the university bosses had to say. NZ Herald, October 20 (2023).

[18] The Decolonisation Narrative Is Dangerous and False. The Atlantic, October 27 (2023).

[19] Mohan Dutta, Zionist hate mongering, the race/terror trope, and the Free Speech Union (2023).

[20] D. Abbot, A. Bikfalvi, A.L. Bleske­ Rechek, W. Bodmer, P. Boghossian C.M. Carvalho, J. Ciccolini, J.A. Coyne, J. Gauss, P.M.W. Gill, S. Jitomirskaya, L. Jussim, A.I. Krylov, G.C. Loury, L. Maroja, J.H. McWhorter, S. Moosavi, P. Nayna Schwerdtle, J. Pearl, M.A. Quintanilla­ Tornel, H.F. Schaefer, P.R. Schreiner, P. Schwerdtfeger, D. Shechtman, M. Shifman, J. Tanzman, B.L. Trout, A. Warshel, and J.D. West. In Defense of Merit in Science. Journal of Controversial Ideas 2023, 3(1), 1; 10.35995/jci03010001

[21] M. K. Parvez and V. Rishi, Herb­Drug Interactions and Hepatotoxicity. Curr. Drug Metab. 20: 275–82 (2019).

[22] Greg Lukianoff & Rikki Schlott “The canceling of the American Mind. 2023.

[23] Kalven Committee: Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action


Scott said...

You lost me at one of the opening paragraphs – "Without doubt, aspects of western colonisation embodied a very ugly face, serving commercial and religious interests and demands for expansion of previous empires. In this process, indigenous people were indeed suppressed and colonised, had to deal with diseases unknown to them, and in many cases lost most of their identity and cultural values."

Here in New Zealand we have been justly proud of our race relations, at least until the last few decades. In 1840 everyone got the rights of British subjects. And today we have a society where everyone is equal under the law. And that's all that anyone can reasonably expect.

New Zealand is a great little country. Every year thousands upon thousands of people, mostly nonwhite people, voluntarily immigrate here from many many countries. People want to come here. Western civilisation is good and great and we should improve it and not trash it for unproven utopian schemes.

And lastly because it's Christmas, let's remember the first missionary, Samuel Marsden who on Christmas Day 1814 preached to a vast crowd, "Behold I Bring You Good News of Great Joy".

John Raine said...

Some things need to happen to constructively lower the temperature around decolonisation in the education sector:
1. We need a much more open public debate in NZ on the extent to which the Treaty of Waitangi should underpin/overlay our education system. I see its relevance in history curricula and how it affects the operation of Government, but it should not be the framework within which our schools and universities work.
2. The new Government must bring pressure on the universities with financial levers to return to the principles in the Bologna Accord and Kalven Report which clearly make the distinction between the institutions fostering open internal discourse on all matters, and the institutions themselves taking a politicised and /or cultural stance that affects their neutrality. Insisting on freedom of speech and academic freedom are part of this.
3. Over the past 50 years, numbers of younger academics were educated in postmodernism and relativism, and this has inclined them to support ideas of decolonisation, which tends to go hand in hand with anti-science thinking. Constructive and open debate would help to resolve this within academia. While acknowledging both the bad and the good about our history, we should also steer clear of decolonisation talk at the primary and secondary school level.
4. Academic standards have I believe been affected adversely as a result of embracing of relativism and critical social justice theory in some disciplines.
5. It is to be hoped that universities become aware that if they continue on an inward-looking Treatyist pathway they will lose international standing, credibility and international student enrolments, which are critical to their financial viability, a point made in our late June article and elsewhere.
6. In the universities’ regard, Government would do well to implement the 13 points in our “The Post” recommendations to the incoming government article of November 3rd,2023.
John Raine

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to introduce a less than cheery note, Scott, after your Samuel Marsden quotation, but the one that increasingly occurs to me is from the honest little lad who cried, "But the emperor HAS no clothes!"
While we wring our hands and smile hopefully (patronisingly?) desperately waiting for the wisdom to emerge from the 400 years of isolation in these lands, what do we have? to compare with Einstein/Stephenson et al?
Yes, we get the celestial navigation - and? genealogies yeees, and? a little herbal healing, but absolutely minimal here compared to vast numbers of killings!
This is all sooo boring! What human beings have done since they fell out of the trees is COLONISE - move in on their neighbours -and that's how we've learnt and developed.

David Lillis said...

A joint statement by the International Science Council (ISC) and the Inter-Academy Partnership (IAP) on threats to the autonomy of academies of science as mechanisms for science advice

Merit-based scholarly academies of sciences, medicine and engineering are fundamental components of national and international advisory systems for governments, public interest organizations, and the public. A critical foundation of their work is independence from political, commercial, or other vested interests.

Both institutions are concerned about interference in the independence of national academies - the universities; for example, influencing member-selection processes and undermining the independence of academies’ scientific advice. To those concerns, perhaps in New Zealand we could add engagement in and enforced adherence to, positions on political and social issues, sometimes against the will of members of academic staff.

The Statement says that State-led actions against national academies and otherwise enforced adoption of institution-wide views on domestic and international issues mirror a broader climate in which the value of, and trust in, science to assist societal decision making is compromised by the politicization of scientific issues; the suppression or distortion of scientific evidence; restrictions on free communication and expression; restrictions on choice of research topics, and funding constraints.
David Lillis

David Lillis said...

A joint statement by the International Science Council (ISC) and the Inter-Academy Partnership (IAP) on threats to the autonomy of academies of science as mechanisms for science advice is here:

Now I quote two paragraphs from the above Statement directly:

“State pressure on the autonomy of academies – and their individual members – risks compromising the ability of academies to inform on important scientific issues affecting humanity and the planet, to provide valid and ethically sound science policy advice, and to develop rigorous research agendas. In turn, this may result in an erosion of public trust in science and evidence-based decision-making. This not only represents a grave threat to the integrity of national science advisory systems, but also to the development of sustainable societies as enshrined in the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and other international targets.

Governments have a critical role to play in creating an enabling environment for the free and responsible practice of science. In this time of unprecedented global polycrisis affecting humanity and the planet, defending the scientific freedoms and responsibilities of national academies, as well as individual scientists, is more important than ever. The IAP and ISC urge all governments to uphold the principles of freedom and responsibility in science by protecting the autonomy of their national academies, including through the adoption of legal frameworks to safeguard against state, industrial and commercial and other interference.”
David Lillis

Erica said...

This is a fairly academic article which for me is quite complex.

However in university chemistry in the 1970s we were taught the scientific method so I have kept up an interest in this. We were also told in these lectures that western medicine was not strictly a science. I have observed this over the years and particularly so in the last three years with the occurrence of covid. I believe the covid bio-pharmaceutical industry has lost its integrity and become more interested in power and money than human health. Mention was made in this article of traditional herbal cures causing harm because of lack of proper scientific research and testing yet I am now convinced, along with a growing number of educated people and others the same could be said of covid vaccines.

Another aspect I feel is missing is the fact modern science uniquely developed in the Judeo-Chrisian West and not even in the advanced civilizations of for example the civilizations of Islam and China. These cultures developed technology but did not have the multi -faceted , socio-political , religious and legal climate necessary for the scientific method. Maori , obviously totally lacked these conditions and could never go beyond some primitive technology and observational conclusions which may be valuable but do not come under the category of science.

Modern Science rests upon the emergence and legitimation of the assumption that the world is governed by lawful natural forces and the presumption that mankind is capable of understanding the structure of such forces in the natural world.

Reference 'The Western Development of Modern Science' Rane Vigil.

robrt Arthur said...

On 23rd am on RNZ a rerun of 2004 interview of Rangi Walker by Kim Hill. I don’t know who chaired the RNZ Board back then, but was before the current maori worshipping era. So a reasonably insightful interview with several searching questions sufficient to render many of Walker's smooth stock answers very flimsy and conflicted. Walker wrote "Struggle Without End"(1990), the maori Mein Kampf, largely the basis of the maori decolonisation mantra and associated general insurrection and counter societal maori attitude of recent years. Brandished by one of the Te Pati primitives at the parliament signing in. Kim, especially before recent maori influence, was a world beater interviewer and it is very sad she has retired. Available on RNZ Recent Audio.

And re the reference to religous interests, the early missionaries were not primarily concerned with colonisation and were very wary of(possibly leading to some Treaty wording difficulties). They ripped themselves from civilisation and family and came here to risk living among to improve the lot of savage cannibal locals, succeeding to a remarkable degree. They had to establish significant private holdings on the then near worthless land to ensure their self sufficency, and for agriculture instruction of the natives.
According to Polack maori had no qualms disposing of land, including burial grounds, of conquered tribes.

Anonymous said...

How would Maori go trying to de-colonise NZ if the French, Spanish, Portuguese, Germans, Russians, Chinese etc had tipped up here ahead of the Brits.
What Treaty ?
No chance !
Be bloody grateful that the benevolent Brits civilized these islands.

Ray S said...

I have perhaps a cynical view of the reason why decolonization attracts so called indigenous proponents and followers.
The reason is that most of the hard work building a nation has been done by colonizers.

Complete decolonizing of a country ignores all the racial and ethnicities in a country other than those considering themselves the true indigenous people.

As in New Zealand, the push by Maori de decolonize many aspects of life, particularly education and culture, is a precursor to tribalism.

I suspect we, as a country, will go around in circles about all this until such time as ordinary non elite Maori figure out what tribalism will mean for them.
If they read their history, they will see their future.

Peter said...

An excellent article and a damning indictment of where our education system is at.

To put it in more blunt, laymen’s terms, while one could perhaps imagine that there might be some merits in studying and emulating a prior civilization that had some stability and provided some profound elements of advancement for humanity (say, for example, the Greeks or the Romans), to suggest it is in any way sensible and appropriate to give any more than a moment’s thought to the “world view” of an Early Neolithic tribal existence that was at best transitioning from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to more settled agrarian behaviour—were it not for incessant inter-tribal conflict, slavery, infanticide, and cannibalism—and wherein a written language, metallurgy, yet alone pottery, and even the wheel were still foreign concepts, is simply madness beyond belief.

In their irrational virtue-signalling crusade to decolonise and indigenise, these education ideologues within our Ministry of Education and universities would perhaps do better by researching the 1870s to determine what created the educational environment that produced great minds and humanitarians like Sir Apirana Ngata (1874), Sir Maui Pomare (1876), and Sir Peter Buck (1877). But even back then, these three notable individuals all had some Pakeha DNA in their bloodlines (just like all Maori of today), and I don’t recall reading that they had any difficulty nor lamented adapting to the ways of the Pakeha. Especially, they didn't feel a loss of their mana because of British sovereignty, the desire to speak English, and the vast knowledge systems of the more civilised world that greeted them.