Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Dr Peter Winsley: The mask has slipped - now we can see tribalism’s true face

The mask has slipped - now we can see tribalism's true face (but things are looking better overall

In recent weeks the mask slipped, and we saw tribalism’s true face. Kiri Tamihere-Waititi delivered a declamatory call for Māori to overthrow the Government, declare sovereignty and do what the f##k they want.

AUT’s Dean of Law dismissed a legal practitioner as an old racist dinosaur who should slip away into the corner and die. Karen Chhour, Minister responsible for Oranga Tamariki, was attacked by others with Māori ancestry, essentially because she gave priority to children’s wellbeing rather than to cultural identity and whakapapa.

The Māori Party (Te Pāti Māori or TPM) issued a declaration of political independence – Te Ngākau o Te Iwi Māori. This seems ambitious given that TPM does not represent Māori. Meantime, investigations continue into John Tamihere’s murky financial dealings, or are these dealings tikanga that will in time become law? Other investigations are underway into misuse of census data, and alleged inducements to voters.

Social media postings or reposting by some Auckland University staff suggest deep antisemitism, or perhaps a failure to understand context and check facts. The obscenity of language used against Israel, or “Zionists” or “Jews” defies belief. Some university departments or faculties seem influenced by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement which targets Israel, whilst ignoring violence and human rights violations in other countries.

New Zealand faces daunting challenges, including macroeconomic imbalances, low domestic savings rates, high private and public debt, homelessness, infrastructure backlogs, and public sector underperformance (for example in the education system). We lack new knowledge-intensive businesses that can diversify the economy and enhance its innovation capability. Why then is so much energy diverted into Te Tiriti and race, cultural, and other identity issues that have little bearing on productivity, incomes and living standards?

Walter Benn Michaels (2006) chronicled the shift in the US from an inequality focus to an identity focus. Post-modernism has falsely claimed that there is no such thing as objective truth, and that knowledge and belief are subjective and social constructs. However, when post-modernists travel abroad they choose to do so in advanced aerospace engineering artefacts, not in social constructs.

Environmental breakdown is a visible threat to New Zealand. A less visible threat is corrosive tribalism that separates people and communities, rather than fosters comity among and between them. This tribalism is not supported by most Māori. However, those who do support it are strategically placed, adept at cancelling alternative voices, and, except for a few journalists such as Andrea Vance seem largely immune from mainstream media scrutiny.

Under the previous Labour-led government, He Puapua became a blueprint for a shift from democratic government towards a bicultural system. It advocated massive transfers of Crown land to iwi, with Māori control over water and with a dominant voice in much resource management. It implied that mātauranga Māori would have equal status with international science.

Te Tiriti provided a framework for education, and a new history curriculum was launched that is biased towards a narrow, ideological and selective account of our nation’s story. Te Tiriti-related requirements started being imposed for professions ranging from law to real estate.

He Puapua, the Labour government’s “Māori caucus”, the TPM and Green parties, and academics in faculties such as Law and Māori studies formed what can be described as a tribalist movement. The tribalists see all New Zealanders as either indigenous people (tangata whenua) or people entitled to live in New Zealand through the grace of Te Tiriti (tangata tiriti). Indigenous people are those with bloodline whakapapa, whilst tangata tiriti lack it. Tribalists take no account of whakapapa of the mind rather than the blood. Nor do they reflect that history shows that no tribalistic or race-based society has ever succeeded in the modern world.

So, what should New Zealand be doing differently?

New Zealand needs to reaffirm its commitment to secular democracy, equal voting rights, and the rule of law. In sovereignty there can only be one sun in the sky (McQueen, 2020). However, there is scope for more subsidiarity in social services delivery, more light-handed regulation, and stronger property rights. This is tino rangatiratanga made manifest in the real world.

Effective democracy does not come from everyone agreeing with each other. It depends on contests of ideas, free speech, and critical thinking, and is stifled by their absence. A system without requisite variety will fail whenever it encounters the unexpected. Implying that a simple document such as Te Tiriti o Waitangi can be a framework for everything from designing a nation’s constitution to running a sausage sizzle is risible.

We must move from inwards-looking to outwards-looking, lift domestic savings rates, improve tradeable sector performance and build a more sophisticated and higher skilled industrial base and innovation capability. Māori can be key players in this paradigm.

It accords with Māori custom to look back and reflect on their history before moving forward. After early encounters with Europeans, Māori quickly saw the benefits of new technology and literacy and actively competed to attract missionary stations to access them.

Māori adopted new ship-building techniques. Rawiri Taiwhanga, of Nga Puhi was believed to be New Zealand’s first dairy farmer in the 1830s. In 1848 Tamati Waka Nene ordered flour-milling machinery from Sydney – leading edge technology for the time. Competing missionaries plying the Wanganui River were played off against each other with promises of “souls for flourmills”.

Most think of the “Māori economy” as collectively-owned marginal land that is used primarily for pastoral farming and pine trees. However, a deeper look highlights unexpected advantages. Where the land cannot be sold Māori land management can take a longer-term view rather than “farming for capital gains.” International trade agreements New Zealand has signed often include a “Treaty of Waitangi clause” that has the effect of giving New Zealand businesses more freedom to operate.

Māori are already strong in some knowledge and technology-intensive fields. Ross Ihaka, Ian Taylor and Garth Cooper have made world-class contributions in programming, animation and medical technology. Tauranga-based Envico Technologies is an award-earning drone technology company. Cameron Baker, its CEO has made Māori values integral to the business. Elle Archer chairs Te Ao Matihiko, a Māori entity that fosters excellence in the technology sector. Its kaupapa is service to whānau, hapū, iwi, with this kaupapa based on guardianship (kaitiakitanga), and interconnectedness (whanaungatanga).

Māori are a young demographic with great talents and energy. Iwi control multi-billion dollar assets and cash holdings. Rotomā, a Rotorua-based iwi investment and asset management vehicle that dates from a 1908 Māori Land Court decision has in 2024 moved into technology-based venture capital investment.

The future looks brighter than ever for young Māori. However, it depends on their becoming entrepreneurs and technologists following markets and advanced technology rather than following hare-brained “leadership” from fringe politicians and certain law, culture and post-modernist academics.

McQueen, E. 2020: One sun in the sky. Galatas NZ Ltd.
Michaels, W. B. 2006: The trouble with diversity: How we learned to love identity and ignore inequality. New York: Metropolitan.

Dr Peter Winsley has worked in policy and economics-related fields in New Zealand for many years. With qualifications and publications in economics, management and literature. Peter blogs at Peter Winsley - where this article was sourced.


Anna Mouse said...

The latest from Tuku Morgan stating very clearly that New Zealanders having the sames rights maori is "a nonsense".

His meaning and his demeanor is of course that maori have greater rights than anyone in New Zealand.

The mask is well and truely off.

Hazel Modisett said...

The simple answer of course is to stop funding them. If they want self determination & sovereignty over there own lives, then in order to have any semblance of integrity, they need to stop expecting the very govt & people they so obviously despise to pay their bills for them. When Maoridom finally understands that this nonsense only profits a few self appointed elites, they will soon be kicked to the kerb.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this article is still racist drawing a line between what young maori can do and others. And what is a maori.

In addition whakapapa is nonsense. I too have a family tree and can confidently trace it back to 1066 and before. As it is now de rigeur to be racist I am proud to say I have no known maori connection. However I am firmly of the opinion that my family have done more collectively for NZ than most maori ever did.

NZ sure has lost its way when maori is the only way

Anonymous said...

With six out of the seven Maori seats occupied by TMP members who clearly do not represent maoridom and who are actively promoting sedition/treason, there is no better a time to cut them loose and be rid of the undemocratic inequality of these Maori seats in our parliament. It would be both a good riddance and a saving.