Is emphasis on Maori culture and language unwarranted?

Maori culture and language is understandably important for some Maori, and for some non-Maori. But what about the rest of us?

This question has been raised on Reddit by Cobaltgrass: All this emphasis on Maori culture and language is unwarranted. They should be treated the same as everyone else, and otherwise it is racist. Just politicians too pussy to potentially risk votes from Maori.

We can still respect their language and culture without this bombardment of attention to Maori, By doing this, perhaps the government is going over the limit to what is necessary to the detriment to others. I am sure you would value the different cultures of other groups, even with all of them getting the same treatment. We can respect everyone by giving everyone equal amounts of care, help, and attention. I do not believe that this is happening now.

All this emphasis in the recent political cycle on how each party can help Maori and Pacific people in specific, with Pakeha, Asians and other minorities being lumped together as the general population just made me ask this question.

Orangemoa:

You could make all sorts if arguments around how the Maori people were here first, and how they have been treated pretty badly in the past but I won’t. Instead I’ll offer a different perspective.

What harm does it do to you? Is it really any skin off your back that they pronounce Maori place names correctly on the TV? Does it really matter that the census is available in Maori? Do the multilingual signs hurt anybody? Is having Maori TV really a problem?

If by being more inclusive and accepting of Maori language and culture we can help to improve the outcomes of a significant minority at negligible cost to everybody else then I’m all for it.

Besides, it’s pretty cool to have something unique which isn’t just copied from the UK or the USA.

It is part of the Aotearoa New Zealand identity that makes us unique.

Cobaltgrass:

Believe me, those are the least of my concerns. I’ll name the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

  1. Easier entry to university if Maori or Pacific
  2. Huge focus on specifically NCEA Maori pass rates in school, leading to less attention to things like the lack of STEM, or the average and top students. Seriously, this is one of the most talked about goal in the UOW Masters degree in teaching (friend recently did it)
  3. Using a portion of the lotto profits to give grants to people who will specifically help Maori or Pacifica.

Salt Pile:

  1. This doesn’t affect you in any way. The reason the easier access was granted was because it was harder for those students to get in because of their circumstances (which are from history), leading to an unfair disadvantage. If you abolished that rule, there’d be less diversity but you personally would not find it any easier to get into uni than you do now.
  2. If a group is disadvantaged for historical reasons and has a lower education pass rate, then ignoring that just perpetuates a cycle of underprivilege. Any teacher worth their salt would want to help to break that cycle. Sure it leads to less attention to the average and top students, but they need it less. That’s like complaining because your little brother broke his arm so your mother is giving him attention by taking him to the doctor.
    Allowing the vulnerable to get a hand up is a central part of being a decent human being. Again, it doesn’t really affect you personally any more than any other resource allocation choice affects you – don’t be so sure that people would give all their money and time to you if it weren’t for Maori. On the contrary, you should be happy that teachers focus on improving the education of a less educated group because it will make the society you live in stronger in future.
  3. This one was just wrong. Gambling disproportionately affects the poor, urban, and Maori and Pasifika communities. If you look at the stats overall the opposite is happening – money is being sucked out of poor predominantly brown communities and transferred to sports clubs in rich places like Remuera.

I think some Maori culture is overdone – but in the past it was grossly underdone and suppressed.

Perhaps we are just need to find the right balance (for most people).

To do this we need to be prepared to talk about it, and hear arguments from all sides.

73 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  October 12, 2017

    I’ll just wait for a bit, interested in Corky’s thoughts!

  2. High Flying Duck

     /  October 12, 2017

    The headline of this post differs from the substantive issues it raises.
    Maori is an official language, and Maori are first peoples here, so their language and culture should absolutely be emphasised.
    The rest is more on race based policy and that is more problematic.
    I have an issue with any group that is singled out as being “the victim”. Easier entry to University taints all Maori graduates (even if they performed as well or better than other graduates).
    Solving generational issues of poverty, health and well being are important, but when you grow up with the idea that you are poor because you are Maori, and that the causes are all external (someone else’s fault) and that special attention will be given to you because you are of a certain race it prevents self reflection and self improvement taking root.
    In very simplistic terms – Someone else caused it, so someone else is responsible for fixing it and I don’t need to do anything.
    There is something very corrosive in being told lower standards apply to you because of your race.
    It has previously been called “the soft bigotry of low expectations”.
    While reverse discrimination has good intentions, it can serve to exacerbate underperformance issues by entrenching the status quo as an expectation.

    • Blazer

       /  October 12, 2017

      have you ever thought that the template=a job at Bunnings is not so appealing for many …Maori.Externalities affect us all and are often beyond our…control.If you can concede that Maori are unique and they are ,then you can accept that they deserve unique consideration.Your conclusions are actually quite simplistic ,because they imply that Capitalism and the european ‘way of life’ are some panacea for all people,everywhere.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  October 12, 2017

        All people are unique. Maori culture has a place in NZ that needs protecting, due to their indigenous status.

        The rest has nothing to do with capitalism or European ways of life. It is a more universal truth. As soon as you can externalise a problem, it becomes someone else’s issue. This prevents you taking action on your own behalf.

        Who do you think would do better:

        A) You are struggling with something and are told you have the ability if you try. You are good enough to work it out and can be better than you are if you persevere. But it will take perseverance and effort on your part.

        B) You are struggling with something and are told not to worry because it is not your fault you are struggling. It is expected that you will struggle due to your circumstances and upbringing so lets just make things a bit easier for you because of who you are.

        By putting in special rules for Maori you are entrenching lower standards and expectations because of race.

        Resources should be allocated based on need rather than race (and yes there will be a large overlap) and should be focused on lifting performance and instilling belief.rather than entrenching lower standards.

        • Blazer

           /  October 12, 2017

          ‘are told’….oh yeah!When you realise that Maori are tribal people and the capitalist ‘every man for himself’ maxim does not suit many of them,then you will begin to understand .Platitudes do not address the issues of rampant consumerism,materialism and decay of moral virtue.Imposing your values and beliefs through political and military power is resisted throughout history.Condescension and patronising behaviour has no long term benefits,but becoming a more co-operative community,not obsessed with ‘keeping up with the Jones’…does.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  October 12, 2017

            What I am speaking of is essentially Stoicism. It is hardly a concept borne of radical consumerism, and definitely not capitalism.
            It is simply a maxim that you must take responsibility for yourself if you want to be the best you can be. Blaming external factors, even with good cause, does not actually achieve anything or help your situation.
            Why do you keep driving back to poitical ideologies?

            “No one can lose either the past or the future – how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess? … It is only the present moment of which either stands to be deprived: and if this is all he has, he cannot lose what he does not have.”
            “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”― Marcus Aurelius

            • Blazer

               /  October 12, 2017

              I keep referring to the real world and its impact on people in everyday life.I can assure you that Maori are not lacking in…’stoicism’.A brief perusal of the New Zealand Land Wars will surely convince you of that.The dynamics of Capitalism are ever present and everywhere.All the slogans,and platitudes you regurgitate…won’t change…that.The personal responsibility meme you peddle, is indeed a political catch cry that is applied selectively when needed.Co-operative societies prosper on so many levels whereas your individualist message delivers a jaundiced view of…success.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 12, 2017

              Personal responsibility is at the very heart of Stoicism. You cannot change what has happened to you but you can change how you react to it and should use personal suffering as a means to grow and improve.
              Stoicism also promotes eschewing unnecessary material possessions.
              So you can stop shovelling words into my mouth which are patently false.
              What you have written above shows a complete misunderstanding of the concepts I mentioned.
              You are conflating ‘everyone for themselves’ with taking responsibility for your own well-being.
              This is not at the expense of the community and is in fact helpful to it thriving as by taking responsibility for yourself you are able to far better interact with others.

            • Blazer

               /  October 12, 2017

              your semantic defence is sinking you…quickly.All your own work.I have put no words in your mouth.I have responded to your ‘Tony Robbins’ type endorsement of what you call ‘personal responsibility’ by looking through the lens of…reality.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 12, 2017

              You used a lot of words then to say…nothing.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 12, 2017

              My original point is that resources should be used to lift those who are held back, rather than lowering standards.
              Specifically, by lowering standards based on race you entrench lower expectations and stigmatise the race, even for those who excel.
              That was it.

            • Blazer

               /  October 12, 2017

              @HFD…if the words don’t work,view sorethumbs vid…that will hopefully enlighten you as to what …reality is .

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 12, 2017

              I watched the video. It was very good and quite illustrative.
              To be clear, i completely understand and accept that advantage and discrimination exist – and it happens to some extent to everybody.
              All I am saying is that we should be pushing the ones at the back forward rather than telling them they should just take a seat because it is all to hard.
              I think the guy in the video says exactly the same thing…
              The social investment program National has put in place is doing exactly that. Dealing with the root cause and lifting people up instead of dumbing things down simply because…Maori.
              Tariana Turia is another who understands this.

            • Blazer

               /  October 12, 2017

              @HFD..this social investment program National are promoting..what exactly is it,and what measures of success can you point to?

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 12, 2017

              It is a data based approach which determines the highest risk individuals (risk of crime, unemployment, long term beneficiary status). It then pours significant resources into reversing the factors that cause these outcomes.
              It costs more than standard welfare, but aims to be the prevention at the top of the cliff as opposed to the ambulance at the bottom. To deal with root cause rather than symptoms.
              There are critics (of course), but initial results have been positive.However it has only been rolled out recently so the jury is out.

              What it is:

              https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/community-investment-strategy/about-the-community-investment-strategy.html

              Latest update:

              https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/community-investment-strategy/community-investment-strategy-update-2016.pdf

              It is a fundamental shift in the provision of state support in NZ and i hope no matter which Government comes in, it is given a chance to succeed.

              I have heard Labour are against, but have not actually seen evidence either way.

              Bill English has been the biggest driver of this policy.

            • Blazer

               /  October 12, 2017

              so up until now its the ‘we don’t have the data’..excuse/argument…looks very vague and good intentioned but I have my doubts it will make any difference.Changing the letterhead type ‘progress’.
              ‘ improving the quality of the client level data we collect from providers
              •  using data analytics to bring together different sets of data to analyse patterns, correlations and other insights
              about the people who use these programmes and services, and their effectiveness
              •  using the information we gained from a stocktake of the programmes and services we fund to assess whether they
              are evidence-based and well-targeted
              •  continuing to evaluate the programmes and services we fund.
              An integral part of the Strategy is engaging with stakeholders (including providers and communities) to better
              understand what is important for them, and hearing their ideas about innovative ways to meet vulnerable people….’

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 12, 2017

              We don’t have the data is not an excuse. They have really drilled down to get far better data than previously.
              In fact the premise of Social investment is that it will have far better data and far better measurability as to how successful programs are.
              They have determined the factors that lead to long term dependency and burdens on the state.
              These are used to specifically target those at risk at the early stages to ensure the cycle is broken.

              Here is more info on the data they are using and how it is being used and the improvements being made.

              http://m.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/integrated-data-infrastructure/researchers-using-idi.aspx

              Treasury on the policy:

              http://www.treasury.govt.nz/statesector/socialinvestment

              http://www.treasury.govt.nz/statesector/socialinvestment/casestudies

            • Blazer

               /  October 12, 2017

              @HFD…all the data will reveal is the stunningly obvious imo.
              ‘Researchers currently have excellent data on the benefit population (particularly main beneficiaries) however there are substantial gaps in our knowledge particularly around clients who only receive supplementary benefits, New Zealand Superannuation, or are not currently receiving a benefit.’…appearing to find a solution to a problem created by the facts of…life.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 12, 2017

              I’ll end it here, but the biggest change is that the Government is moving from a palliative role to a preventative role and trying to ensure those at risk of state dependency (welfare or prison) are assisted to ensure they become self sufficient.
              The data is only a tool – it is used to identify those at risk and it is used to provide measurement of results.
              You say it is a change of letterhead, but it is actually a wholesale overhaul and fundamental change in how Government assistance is provided.
              It is world leading and being watched very carefully by other nations.
              We will not know for a while whether it succeeds – and if it is stopped by the new Government we may never know.
              But it is a change of mindset I think should be applauded.

            • Blazer

               /  October 12, 2017

              @HFD..’those at risk of state dependency’….Have to laugh,when I think about the banks and their need for Govt GUARANTEES AND BAILOUTS.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 12, 2017

              Completely irrelevant Blazer. This is about giving people the tools to be self sufficient and to make themselves better. It is putting Government resources into a ladder as well as the safety net.
              Bank bailouts are a completely different issue.
              But laugh away if it makes you feel better.

            • Blazer

               /  October 12, 2017

              @HFD..I will laugh.You say..’This is about giving people the tools to be self sufficient and to make themselves better.’One would think Labours apprenticeship enrolement scheme of the new millenium ,sidelined by National ,would be one way of doing that.

            • Fight4NZ

               /  October 12, 2017

              Thanks for that debate . A fairly good airing of both side’s views without too much petulence.
              My assessment is that stoicism, welfare, or even bootcamps have some aspects of appeal and no doubt some successes. But for the young Maori or PI kid who from their first conscious moment has been made to feel inferior, unacceptable, an under achiever in appearance, academically, financially, socially, behaviorally in the pakeha world, it is hugely unsurprising that these well-meaning gestures do not get the expected response .
              Perhaps National’s wrap around approach will bear fruit. If that is what it genuinely is then it sounds promising and also like it has leant heavily on Maori party input.
              Labour would do well to let it continue.

            • Fight4NZ

               /  October 12, 2017

              The welfare support of financial institutions is very relevant. Condoned and accepted by voters. But outside of the wealthy and the sensible economist types (largely self-deluded) the first thing out of National supporters mouths is “I hope Labour don’t get In, they’ll just give everything away to those bloody maoris”. The stoicism argument is just a refined version of the same double standard.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 13, 2017

              Interesting comment Fight. I’m not sure how you equate fear of giving everything to the Maori’s with stoicism.
              I don’t want Labour to get in because the sheer number of taxes they want to implement will kill growth. They also want to close charter schools that are starting to provide genuine acheivement for the underprivileged.
              Also I want the SocialInvestment approach to get a proper chance of success (this may still happen under Labour).
              National have, with the guidance of the Maori party done a great deal for Maori in the last 9 years. If anything I would suggest Labour will pull back from that.
              Stoicism is really just a refinement of taking care of the things you can control, and not letting anything else bring you down. It is an important mindset to enable those who come from nothing to actually try to succeed rather than being dragged down by circumstance.
              That doesn’t preclude state assistance.

  3. robertguyton

     /  October 12, 2017

    Nga whakaaro a Corky? He aha ai? Ka pai ki aha i nga whakaaro a Pete George i te wa nei – pai rawa Pete.

  4. robertguyton

     /  October 12, 2017

    aha/ahau – oku matimati pakihawa!

    • Gezza

       /  October 12, 2017

      Google Translate – Maori to English:

      M: aha ahau – oku matimati pakihawa!
      E: what I’m doing – my dash pink!

      • High Flying Duck

         /  October 12, 2017

        I think that is about the most intelligent post Robert Guyton has ever put up.

  5. sorethumb

     /  October 12, 2017

    What is interesting is why it is such an issue for the not so practical left. Chris Trotter says the Treaty became “the litmus test of authentic revolutionary praxis” . Religions that have more draconian practises are also the strongest.

  6. sorethumb

     /  October 12, 2017

    What role Post Colonial Studies in all this. PCS attempts to critique and undermine European New Zealand (“Unsettling the Settler.’) Colonialism bought capitalism and racism (Spoonley)

    • Gezza

       /  October 12, 2017

      I shouldn’t worry too much about this, ST. Look around. European NZ is thoroughly well entrenched! ☘ 👍🏼

  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  October 12, 2017

    Same question I asked before: How long before Maori get tired of being treated as a separate species?

    • Gezza

       /  October 12, 2017

      Let me ask you two.

      1. Are Pakeha & Maori both homo sapiens sapiens?
      2. If .yes, why the fk are you being so stupid?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  October 12, 2017

        So stupid they need separate laws and votes. And that you think that is sensible.

        • Gezza

           /  October 12, 2017

          You are a qualified scientist. Therefore you know your first question is inane & totally unworthy of you. It follows that any subsequent pathetic attempts to explain & redeem yourself are worthless, but fortunately, I will still look foward very much to coming to Northland & staying with you & your intelligent Mrs, then Possum, & I have already accepted your grovelling apology in advance.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  October 12, 2017

            You dodged the issue. Again. Must try harder. Repeat the assignment please.

            • Gezza

               /  October 12, 2017

              In this matter, Sir Alan – clearly – I am the tutor, not the pupil.
              Sir Gerald.
              AAA

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 12, 2017

              You are a tutor only on the subject of ducking, Sir Gerald. In that alone, you are a specialist.

            • Gezza

               /  October 12, 2017

              It’s sad in a way that you are so impervious to embarrassment, Sir Alan, it necessarily must fall to everybody else to be embarrassed for you!

              Never fear. I have your website address. I shall send Mrs Wilkinson a Sympathy Card, with my best wishes, on the morrow!
              Yours devastatingly deafeatingly
              As always
              Sir Gerald.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 12, 2017

              FiP struck again. You meant defeatedly of course.
              As always
              Sir Alan

            • Gezza

               /  October 12, 2017

              Please! Sir Alan! There is a limit to how much more embarrassment I can endure on your behalf before I am driven to the drinks cabinet to get completely blotto to try & forget how appallingly you bombed out!
              Sir Gerald.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  October 12, 2017

            Are you saying that we are all the same, but Maori should be treated differently?
            You are attacking Al but I’m not seeing you answer his substantive point?

            • Gezza

               /  October 12, 2017

              If you can link me to where I said that, I shall be glad to respond.
              Otherwise please go to the bsck of the class with Sir Alan.
              I am currently busy on a project at home. I will deal with both of you later.
              GOBB (Sir)

            • Gezza

               /  October 12, 2017

              * bsck = back. Apologies for the covfefe.
              GOBB (Sir)

            • Gezza

               /  October 12, 2017

              What I am saying is that Maori & Maori culture are indigenous to this country. They are special. They deserve to be recognised as such. I do not even generally bother to debate this sort of thing with ignorant, arrogant, monocultural English-only-speaking pakeha because it is a waste of my time. I just hope their children don’t inherit their ignorance.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  October 13, 2017

              There are lots of people with special cultures in NZ without needing special laws and votes because some of their ancestors lived here – or a need to insult people who disagree with them in the absence of any other response.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  October 13, 2017

              I was going to expand on my original question, but stopped as I know how sensitive you are on this subject and how quickly you drop in to ad hom attacks rather than having a reasoned discussion.
              So I stopped, and having seen your last comment it proved a wise choice.

            • Gezza

               /  October 13, 2017

              Is that comment just above directed at me, HFD, or Sir Alan?

              If it is me, you are mistaking my intent to inject a little expression of my rather broad soectrum sense of humour (I do a very good line in irony, amongst many other flavours, for which my whanau should perhaps largely be blamed) & doing me a disservice.

              This is a matter on which I could discourse intelligently with you for several pages but it would take up a huge amount of time to back it up. I resoectbyour opinions. As it was, I was tired, & others had already cogently covered many of the points I would make in refutation of your & Sir Alan’s position.

            • Gezza

               /  October 13, 2017

              ❗️ FiP & its tiny bloody screen left available for proofreading when the on-screen keyboard is up! 😡

              * soectrum = spectrum

      • High Flying Duck

         /  October 12, 2017

        Great video. Sorethumb posts some interesting stuff in amongst the chaff.

  8. sorethumb

     /  October 12, 2017

    I had an argument with my wife regarding moko. I don’t like tats or piercings and I argued common sense should prevail. Elizabeth Rata uses the term “cultural fundamentalist”

    • Gezza

       /  October 12, 2017

      Although generally not a tats fan myself I think they can be quite stunning on a Maori woman, especially when it inclues the lips.

      What position did your wife take on the matter?

      • sorethumb

         /  October 12, 2017

        My wife thought it o.k.

        It looks like she has barped and something is running down her chin?

        • Gezza

           /  October 12, 2017

          No, I’ve expanded the image – I think the chin moko looks good. Aesthetically I think she has ruined the look with the forehead tat tho.

          • Gezza

             /  October 12, 2017

            PS: I would like to add that, tho I have seen some shockers on mungies & gangstas, I actually LIKE the full-face moko on Tame Iti, & in fact I was blown away by the full-on Goldie Painting look including hat & dress-style he adopted during his trials. That was, visually, a class act, imo.

            I personally think Tame & crew were up to no good in the bush & that tho it was a farce in fact, in the end, there was a danger at least one of the impressionable young numpties associated with him might just at some point have damaged persons or property, because dum as fk bro. But I have a better understanding of the Tuhoe issues now, & sympathise with their claim & their valid complaints about the Crown – a century ago & now.

            There was stupidity on both sides during the Training Camps debacle. I regard it as over. Lessons learned. Reason returned. Forgiveness not only possible, but given, even by Tame, to some extent – though his now pushing for a pardon will be interesting.

  9. sorethumb

     /  October 12, 2017

    Demands for Maori culture and for language to be spoken are not done in good faith. People think “oh, they want A, B and C and then they will be satisfied. I don’t believe that.
    It comes down to sins of the fathers and inherited grievance plus group identity and contested space. And I would argue activism (although I hope those types get set packing).
    I just note that I know one group of Maori who are very agro (service with agro).

    • Gezza

       /  October 12, 2017

      Sorry went in wrong place below: I’ll just repeat it here:

      “Possibly they’re just reflecting back what they’re picking up as a hostile, negative vibe from you? I pick that up from you.”

  10. Gezza

     /  October 12, 2017

    Possibly they’re just reflecting back what they’re picking up as a hostile, negative vibe from you? I pick that up from you.

  11. unitedtribes2

     /  October 12, 2017

    The emphasis on Maori culture should be reserved for Those people who need to make it important to them. In a small way thats me too. Especially when I are watching the start of a test against South Africa. Culture can be nurtured or in fact cultured. My Great Grand farther came to NZ from Denmark. I don’t know much about him but have always had a cultural soft spot for the Danes. Never been there. Recently I found a document who indicates he was from Schleswig and he claimed to being German. What records I have suggest he didn’t have much going for him so in his Honour I purchased and are flying the Schleswig flag. I are developing a culture of Schleswig now. Pure United Tribes.

  12. sorethumb

     /  October 12, 2017

    Forty percent of the world’s 7000 languages at risk of disappearing, according to estimates by the Endangered Languages Project. That trend is linked to economic globalization, as suggested by new work published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    The impact of intertwining global economies on language diversity has been suggested for years by linguists like Lenore Grenoble at the University of Chicago. It’s an argument that goes all the way back to the 1970s, when Herbert Schiller proposed the hotly debated theory of cultural imperialism, which suggested economically powerful nations hold immense cultural sway over the weaker countries they infiltrate. However, the connection has never been fully quantified until now, according to researchers.
    ……….
    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/pga3jm/globalization-is-a-leading-factor-in-the-death-of-minority-languages

    Auckland Airport.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  October 12, 2017

      Language is simply a way of accessing information and systems. Obviously those which have massive historic and current resources of both are going to be most useful and valuable. That’s all.

  13. sorethumb

     /  October 12, 2017

    Lesson from The Tower of Babel: You can’t maintain a culture on diversity because every person will speak his/her/their/zher own language.

  14. patupaiarehe

     /  October 12, 2017

    Te reo is something to be proud of. But it is difficult to feel pride in something, if it is forced upon you. Ask any nursing or teaching student in private, if they think it is reasonable that a third of their education is spent learning about Maori culture. The romanticised version of it anyway…
    As one of the few white kids who grew up in my neighbourhood, I know how to pronounce Maori properly. It does get me a few strange looks from my ethnic brethren, which don’t concern me, because I know I’m saying it right.

  1. Is emphasis on Maori culture and language unwarranted? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition