Metiria versus Pākehā men #2

Another view that a few Pākehā men may not entirely agree with (and probably some non- whites and non-men).

Miriam Aoke (Vice): Metiria Turei and How the NZ Media Ignores Its Own Prejudice

For the past few weeks, New Zealand has dwelt on Metiria Turei (Ngāti Kahungunu) and her admission of benefit fraud. Many were quick to label the move divisive, a ploy for votes, and condemned Turei for what they saw as a lack of remorse.

Turei was persecuted by media agents with no concern for her hauora or that of her whānau.

For Māori, mainstream media is mired in colonial framing, misrepresentation and exclusion—yet mainstream media continues to insist its coverage is non-partisan. Metiria Turei conceded the scrutiny on her whānau was unbearable, and she resigned as Green Party co-leader last Wednesday.

The voices of Pākehā men were once again triumphant in drowning out the Māori worldview.

Aoake may have a reasonable point but she has expressed it unreasonably.

It is ridiculous to assert that all the ‘drowning out’ was by Pākehā men.

Media treatment of Māori and Māori issues is deeply prejudiced.

Research conducted by Māori academics between 2006 and 2007 analysed close to 2000 stories across ONE news, 3News and Prime. In total, only 1.8 percent of stories referenced Māori. Of that 1.8 percent, 56 percent were concerned with child abuse.

That’s ten years ago and may or may not be out of date, but it raises an important point. But having started by slamming ‘Pākehā men’ she will have turned off a substantial potential readership before she got to detail her case.

Representations of Māori, and our stories, remain under the control of Pākehā-owned television, radio, and print media.

That is absurd. Ownership of media is varied. Some media is probably dominated by Pākehā men, but where is the evidence? I’m sure there must be some. I have concerns about how some media is run.

Some media is Maori controlled. I watched a couple of very interesting programmes on Maori television last night, that is a very good channel.

There is nothing stopping Māori people setting up and owning and running media.

Journalism is informed by Western pedagogies, which emphasise the need for objectivity, but the definition has shifted over time. Journalists recognised bias as inherent, and resolved to develop the practice to test information and prune any cultural or personal bias. Objectivity, in a modern context, translates as free from bias.

Purging journalism of an unmoderated bias to which it freely confesses is impossible.

Purging media of anything, including of ‘Pākehā men’, is impossible – and it would be abhorrent to try. I’m fairly sure most people including most Maori would have serious concerns about targeted purges of media.

In 2005, Aotearoa was visited by UN Special Rapporteur Rodolfo Stavenhagen—he was responsible for assessing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Māori. The report, published in 2006, was damning. His findings suggested there was a systemic attitude of racism towards Māori within the media.

I think things have changed in the past decade, but systemic attitudes of racism are no doubt still a problem.  Aoake is promoting a sexist racist attack of her own, it just happens to be not against Māori.

He found that potential Māori ownership of resources is portrayed as a threat to non-Māori and that a recurring theme is Māori as incompetent managers or as fiscally irresponsible.

I don’t understand this. If Maori want to own media then they should choose to do that.

In his recommendations, he advocated for the establishment of an independent commission to monitor media performance and intervene with remedial action when necessary.

Intervention and remedial action would be very tricky, and potentially dangerous.

He also pleaded with political figures and media outlets to refrain from using language that may incite racial intolerance. The glaring scrutiny which prompted the resignation of Metiria Turei is evidence that mainstream media has made little to no progress.

“The voices of Pākehā men were once again triumphant in drowning out the Māori worldview” looks like language that may incite racial intolerance.

I don’t see how racism can be defeated by promoting a different slant of racism.

Aoake quotes Patrick Gower and Barry Soper as examples of the male Pākehā  problem in media. This is very selective. I saw many articles written by females, and by Maori.

I presume Aoake knows that Gower and Soper have no Māori genes. It’s not uncommon to make inaccurate assumptions – when Green MP David Clendon withdrew from the Green list he was slammed by some for being a ‘white male’. Looks can be deceiving – Clendon no doubt has some non-Māori genes, but he is also tangata whenua.

The need to demonise the poor and impoverished, to distract from the issue of a broken safety net, to stifle a Māori voice is indicative of an experience shrouded in privilege. The approach is necessarily punitive by design. It is an offensive which, when successful, exacerbates the division of wealth and equality, the “us versus them” rhetoric. Both for Turei and Māori women, navigating post-colonial Aotearoa is exhausting and arduous.

We prune and trim, yanking the weed out by the root on our hands and knees. We sow seeds to harvest and bloom when the time is right. We scrub the blood and dirt from the beds of our fingernails. We sleep heavily, satisfied that our labour will make an impact. In the morning, we wake to find the weeds overgrown, the soil infertile, and the flowers wilted. Yet still, we persist. We rise every morning, repeat the mahi, and reclaim our whenua.

It’s good to see Māori women who strongly promote what they believe in.

But when they make mistakes, as Turei did, they must not be immune from examination and criticism, even if they are Māori and female and left wing.

Entrenched problems need to be vigorously fought against. There are entrenched problems in media and in politics.

But in combating them a criticism free pass should not be given to someone simply because they may be a minority. As a white middle class male I’m a minority, but that shouldn’t give me any special immunity from criticism or examination.

Pākehā men who are politicians get investigated and criticised by media more than anyone – because there are more of them than any other minority.

There may well be bias and different races and different genders may be treated differently. By all means try to measure and monitor bias and try to address it.

But it’s racist, sexist and counter productive to protect Turei from criticism based on her gender and genes, while slamming and trying to exclude all Pākehā men.

Many Pākehā men would (and do) support promotion of better media and better politics. Isolating and ostracising them as a group won’t help.


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 15, 2017

    Identity politics. Nothing more or less.

  2. artcroft

     /  August 15, 2017

    Recently I advised that I was “hearing privileged” because I wasn’t deaf. I got the feeling the author would have enjoyed revoking my privileges. #Sad

    • Corky

       /  August 15, 2017

      Arty, that travelling salesman who sold you ear plugs was on the money. However, nowadays you must account for good fortune and good planning to those who have neither

  3. PDB

     /  August 15, 2017

    “Research conducted by Māori academics between 2006 and 2007 analysed close to 2000 stories across ONE news, 3News and Prime. In total, only 1.8 percent of stories referenced Māori. Of that 1.8 percent, 56 percent were concerned with child abuse.”

    Sounds a crock to me – would like to see how this was done. ‘Maori’ the word, or Maori people? Using Maori the word would seriously limit what the stories were about whilst there would be no way of knowing if people in particular stories were part-Maori or not except where it was obvious. The sports news alone would be full of Maori achievers shown in a positive light.

    And what story was big in 2006 & 2007? The Kahui twins killings.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  August 15, 2017

      I don’t know if Willie Apiata’s story mentioned that he was Maori each time. Why would it ? How patronising to make that an issue, as if bravery in a Maori was somehow special.

  4. Blazer

     /  August 15, 2017

    pretty hard to argue with this….’The need to demonise the poor and impoverished, to distract from the issue of a broken safety net, to stifle a Māori voice is indicative of an experience shrouded in privilege. The approach is necessarily punitive by design’

    • PDB

       /  August 15, 2017

      Hardly a ‘broken safety net’ in Turei’s case considering she was able to live the life of Riley whilst claiming a benefit it looks more than likely she was not entitled to.

      If she is the standard for ‘poverty’ in this country then this country has no poverty.

    • There is no “need” to demonise the poor. Just a willingness to include wanton welfare fraud in a conversation worth having. It will be had at the same time as poor, hard done by, live at baby daddy’s house, claim full bene, get education paid for, bludge off PIL, larp, stand for anarchist parties, never work a day and join the one percent plays the povo card.

      Stifle, shrouded and privileged. Identify politics and weasel words that apply to her. Most of the population think she’s a liar and crook. Great person to front poverty.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  August 15, 2017

        I have had a few conversations on the bus about her….not one supported her….one of the group was Pakeha (me)

        This white men argument is old, tired and shows that the user has nothing credible to offer.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  August 15, 2017

          If anyone seriously believes in institutional racism, let them look up the special privileges in education which are only for Maoris.

  5. sorethumb

     /  August 15, 2017

    Typically something like the foreshore and seabed is viewed as racism if you reject Maori ownership.
    Them: “Don’t you believe Maori will be good stewards”?
    You: “Maori are no different than anyone else (rejects uber culture)”
    Them: That’s colonial oppression .

    • Gezza

       /  August 15, 2017

      That’s interesting. Can you link us to whoever it was had that had particular conversation?

      • sorethumb

         /  August 15, 2017

        That’s my understanding.
        It was considered racist to not let Maori test their case for ownership of the foreshore and seabed in the [?] court, despite the implications given the shakey basis under which we colonised. By that I mean like Taupo erupting.
        From my recollection of arguments Maori argued that they had “kaitiaki responsibilities” that they needed to execute (like taking a pee) etc, and if you didn’t believe that you were racist.

        • Gezza

           /  August 15, 2017

          So, reduced to making shit up to enable you to keep harping on with your anti-Maori agenda then? Apart fom that and your general anti-immigrant trumpet, do you play any other instruments?

    • Stewardship? Moa’s?

      • Thanks spellcheck. Just a plain plural will do – Moas

        • Gezza

           /  August 15, 2017

          Still waiting for sorethumb’s link. Thumb mght be less sore if he unclenched his cheeks & extracted it.

          • Now, now Gezz. Think cheeky little Pukekos, dancing Waxeyes, preening Tuis and dappled sun through wet Karaka leaves.

            Don’t give me botty visions, I’m still digesting brekkie.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  August 15, 2017

              Think waxeyes stuffing themselves with tangeloes every morning on the bird table.

              Smorgasbird Menu this week-wheatmeal bread cubes, crumbled muffins, tangeloes and Braeburn apples.

              Woodpigeons flying across the path right in front of me.

              Fantails dancing aerial ballets, lambs frisking across the road….

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  August 15, 2017

              I turned off spellcheck years ago-I’ll risk an odd ytop .

  1. Metiria versus Pākehā men #2 — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition