Another trumped up ban at The Standard

So things seem to be much the same at The Standard – a trumped up ban from Te Reo Putake. I don’t care about bans at The Standard, but this is quite shonky moderation – ironically when discussion was generally working quite well.

I posted this comment:

There was actually some reasonable discussion, apart from a few like Sacha trying to say I should shut up because i didn’t know enough about something that is very vague.


I’m used to special standards of attribution for me that many others are never asked or required to meet. I’m used to trumped up bans.  But that’s pathetic TRP. Embarrassing for The Standard .

TRP – did you do that on your own? Or did Sacha or someone else put you up to it?

So it seems that decolonisation is a touchy subject in some quarters. Can’t have the general population talking about it.

See What does decolonisation of Aotearoa mean?

Oh, and TRP, do you actually know what plagiarism means? I note that you haven’t attributed to the cartoon replicated in your post.


What does decolonisation of Aotearoa mean?

I’ve started to see mentions of ‘decolonisation’ over the last few months, a new term to me. Some comments associated with it have made me wonder what it’s about. What is it?

Decolonization (Wikipedia):

Decolonization (American English) or decolonisation (British English) is the undoing of colonialism, the latter being the process whereby a nation establishes and maintains its domination over one or more other territories.

The concept particularly applies to the dismantlement, during the second half of the 20th century, of the colonial empires established prior to World War I throughout the world. However, decolonization not only includes the complete “removal of the domination of non-indigenous forces” within the geographical space and different institutions of the colonized, but it also includes the intellectual decolonization from the colonizers’ ideas that made the colonized feel inferior.

The “complete removal of the domination of non-indigenous forces” sounds like fairly major, albeit vague, change.

The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization has stated that in the process of decolonization there is no alternative to the colonizer but to allow a process of self-determination,[5] but in practice decolonization may involve either nonviolent revolution or national liberation wars by pro-independence groups. It may be intramural or involve the intervention of foreign powers acting individually or through international bodies such as the United Nations.

Decolonization of Oceania

The decolonization of Oceania occurred after World War II when nations in Oceania achieved independence by transitioning from European colonial rule to full independence.

New ZealandSamoa (1962)

That refers to New Zealand as a colonial power rather than a colonised country.

British Empire:

The Balfour Declaration of 1926 declared the British Empire dominions as equals, and the 1931 Statute of Westminster established full legislative independence for them. The equal dominions were six– Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, the Irish Free State, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa. However, some of the Dominions were already independent de facto, and even de jure and recognized as such by the international community.

1931 – The Statute of Westminster grants virtually full independence to Canada, the Irish Free State, and the Union of South Africa when it declares the British parliament incapable of passing law over these former colonies without their own consent. This doesn’t take effect over New Zealand, Newfoundland, and the Commonwealth of Australia, until independently ratified by these dominions.

1947 – New Zealand ratifies the Statute of Westminster 1931.

1986 – Australia and New Zealand became fully independent with the Australia Act 1986 and the Constitution Act 1986.

So New Zealand is ‘fully independent” of the colonial power the United Kingdom, despite still being a Monarchy with the Queen of England as a head of state – albeit symbolic rather than wielding any power.

What about recent talk of decolonisation here?

Massey University:  What we can teach the world about decolonisation

This was one of the learnings for Massey PhD candidate Jodi Porter, Ngāi Tai, Whakatōhea, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou who recently attended an international summer school that focused on decolonising knowledge and power at the University Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain.

Ms Porter says while it was great to be exposed to global schools of thought and leading academics from a range of cultures, it made her realise how far Māori have come in their journey to becoming more self-determining. “As Māori, we’re really quite advanced in terms of what we’re doing across a whole range of levels and sectors. Things such as our growing Māori economy and developments in education through kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and whare wānanga are just some of the examples of how we as Māori are actively working towards a decolonial agenda.”

Ms Porter however acknowledges there is still much more to be done. “I think there are significant strategic shifts we can make to allow us to actively participate on the global stage, whilst still being authentic to our Māori ways of being and knowing.

Our unique Māori identity is most definitely our greatest asset. At present, for many of our iwi, the tribal governance structures that we have colonially inherited through government legislation are dominating the way we do things. We really need to challenge the role these entities play in advancing our tribal agendas, because we can see that our iwi have become so corporatised.”

Ms Porter says she was fortunate to attend the summer school alongside another Māori delegate, Dr Jennifer Martin, Te Rarawa, who is currently a lecturer at the University of Auckland. As indigenous academics trying to contribute to discussions that were primarily focused on the global North, the pair felt that the New Zealand and wider Pacific context was very different to the colonised realities of other cultures throughout the world.

“At the end of the day Māori are actually doing things, rather than talking or theorising about change. We are actually living and breathing it by being self-determining.”

John Moore: The politics of anti-racism and decolonisation in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2017

Those who argue that Maori oppression is primarily a result of the pakeha colonisation of New Zealand, argue that “decolonialisation” is the way forward for Maori. Such a position has been articulated by Kassie Hartendorp, who spoke at the launch of new left think tank Economic and Social Research Aotearoa (ESRA). Hartendorp equates capitalism in this country with colonisation, and argues that Maori as a whole face a shared position in relation to “colonial” capitalism in Aotearoa New Zealand:

I don’t think if indigenous people were given a space to be able to think about what system would work for them, I don’t think that would look like capitalism… Capitalism as a social relation is not one that upholds mana, it is not one that upholds true connections, it is not one that upholds manaakitanga. The exploitation of surplus value is not on the basis of manaakitanga. That to me is not compatible in any sense… indigenous people did not come up with capitalism, and yet we are the people who bear the brunt of capitalism and colonization most of the time. And that capitalism has been a huge colonizing project, and still is to this very day.”

That is arguing that decolonialisation means somehow undoing capitalism – does that mean socialism? I don’t think that Aotearoa was a socialist society pre-colonisation. It had a number of tribal hereditary class based systems.

Our society is not simple, and there is not a clear delineation  between Māori and non-Māori.

Rather than Maori being a homogenous socio-cultural group, Maoridom is in fact made up of peoples with various worldviews, lived experiences, and in various positions of either relative privilege or positions of oppression within society. Reducing all Maori lived reality down to the single factor of being a colonised people, within a colonial capitalist system, fails to account for the growing divisions that exist within Maoridom itself.

I expect that decolonialisation may mean different things to different people who have Māori heritage.

Most people with Māori heritage will also have coloniser (United Kingdom) heritage. Does that create a conflict? Or can they choose the heritage that gives them the best advantages at any given time?

New Zealand now has a new Maori elite that wields significant economic and political power.

Using capitalism.

Maori academic Evan Poata-Smith argues that there is now an increasing income gap within Maoridom itself. His analysis brings into question the very direction of Maori social and economic development over the last few years. He asks the question of which Maori are benefiting from current ideas of Maori development, and which Maori are becoming further disenfranchised and marginalised. Clearly Poata-Smith’s critique is a damning indictment on Treaty politics, which has benefited only a few and left the majority of Maori economically disenfranchised and politically marginalised.

Dealing with treaty claims was supposed to be a form of decolonialisation, but while it may have addressed some things, and at least partially righted some wrongs, it has created different problems.

So, if anti-colonial politics and the politics of indigeneity has failed to benefit the majority of Maori, and has only enriched and empowered an elite of Maoridom, then what is the way forward? The answer lies in a rejection of the obsession with difference and with culture that has dominated leftwing and Maori political discourse over the last few decades, and the need for a leftwing renaissance that focuses instead on radical egalitarian and emancipatory politics.

That final paragraph takes a bit of getting your head around.

Another issue is a possible conflict between somehow returning to pre-colonial Māori power structures and equality – both gender and class. Pre-European Māori had a class system, including a slave class. No one will be advocating a return to this.

And what about moves towards gender equality?

Jessica Hutchings: Decolonisation and Aotearoa – a pathway to right livelihood

What I wish to share within this essay are some of my thoughts on decolonisation and why I believe it must be an essential part of unfolding learning societies. I focus specifically on decolonisation as it relates to Maori women, because I feel though we are of one cultural tradition, Maori women and Maori men have very different experiences and realities.

Colonisation has played a significant role in terms of shifts and changes in the status of Maori women. Pakeha men brought their own gender/race/class notions in regard to Maori women, and we experience/d the imposition of Pakeha worldviews that operated heavily within colonial notions. It is therefore important to look at how independence and sovereignty discourses among Maori, including decolonisation, have been informed by a distinctly colonial patriarchal hegemony.

As a Maori woman, I must assess whether these discourses are representative of a particular political vision, in which women feature only as “a metaphor for the [independent] state and therefore become the scaffolding upon which men construct national identity.”

To allow for a more just, inclusive and sustainable future, I profoundly believe that all aspects of our cultural reclamation should be critiqued. I see gender is a fundamental aspect to this critique. I feel that such critical insights into the concerns of Maori women will be valuable in understanding how decolonisation should manifest in learning societies.

Decolonisation can’t mean going back to how things were pre-colonisation, that is impossible. So it must mean a reassessment of many things in relation to power, money, race and gender.

I believe decolonisation is opening the minds of many Maori and non-Maori in understanding both a truer history of this country and generating new tools to create a more meaningful process of reflection and dialogue.

For non-Maori people, part of participating in decolonisation processes is about recognising their role as belonging to the dominant colonial grouping.

I have no idea what this means.

From my experience as a Maori woman attending decolonisation programs, and carrying out reading in this area,  it was a wake-up call of just how colonised I had become with regard to my culture and way of living. For example, I had become alienated from the Maori language and needed to re-learn the language.

Decolonisation is also about my right to determine how I will live with and within Maori communities; to reject non-Maori analysis of situations and events that concern me; and to value myself as a Maori woman. Decolonisation is an essential part of being a Maori woman; it recognises the colonial reality we still live in and provides space for Maori women to be visible, by valuing Maori women’s on-going analysis of all areas of life, such as education, language and health systems.

On ‘Decolonizing Our Lives as Maori’:

Within New Zealand, colonisation is alive and flourishing. It has embarked on a greater journey of alienating the Maori peoples from their lands, practices and fundamental freedoms, now with new and more powerful tools of oppression. Maori sovereignty activist Moana Jackson draws an analogy between the processes of colonisation and of film-making:

“Colonisation is about creating a suspension of disbelief, which requires that those from whom power is to be taken have to suspend their own faith, their own worth, their own goodness, their own sense of value, and their own sense of knowledge. Today, colonisation is a process of image-making, where we’re bombarded by Hollywood about what should be worthy in our lives, and today’s scriptwriters, today’s controllers of knowledge [and therefore research] are the descendants of the old scriptwriters of colonisation.”

The proliferation of base illustrations of Maori is one example of this colonial image-making. Maori are only portrayed in the media when there is something negative to report, and we are continually told our culture is inappropriate and heathen.

There are certainly aspects of this but “only portrayed in the media when there is something negative to report” must be false. And “we are continually told our culture is inappropriate and heathen” may be true in part but this seems to be overstating somewhat.

Genetic modification is also viewed by Maori as another wave of colonisation, as it tramples over Maori traditions and disregards Maori cultural and intellectual property. The New Zealand government has approved genetic engineering experiments, in which synthetic human DNA is injected into cows — despite Maori stating that this is a cultural obscenity in every way possible.

“Viewed by Maori” must surely be ‘viewed by the writer’ and perhaps ‘viewed by some Maori’. I would be surprised if all Maori have the same views on genetic modification.

Today, however, it is important to differentiate between theory and practice. While many Maori believe that the continued depletion of resources necessitates restrictions on human activity, and that a balance is required between development and sustainability for future generations, most do not have the resources or capacities to act on their beliefs. Or more tellingly, they are prohibited by colonial legislation to transfer this theory into practice at the iwi and hapu governance level. Decolonising our knowledge means recognising this gap between Maori cosmology and colonial practices.

Another article is referenced: A Pakeha (non-Maori) Male Perspective of Decolonisation in Aotearoa (Alex Barnes):

The emphasis was on the constructive roles young Pakeha can adopt in building real relationships with Maori, as opposed to blaming individuals, who had little to do with the current systems of oppression and inequality. We realized we had to be open to unlearning behaviours taught by the dominant system/paradigm. But I also understood that unlearning behavior is a hard and complex thing to do, especially when surrounded by an environment that actively discourages it.

What I learned in the decolonisation workshop is this: Being part of the dominant culture is not a bad or shameful thing. Instead, it creates an opportunity to make conscious, constructive steps in understanding the people of the land. It is obvious to me that the challenge starts with myself, with my pronunciation, practice, values and everyday thinking. Decolonisation brings with it the challenge of personal development, which will in time re-shape partnerships, families, communities and nations.

I think I’m only scratching the surface here. This is a starting point in trying to understand what decolonisation means in Aotearoa.

Justice summit and “unless we’re willing to decolonise”

Green MP continues to attract attention on Twitter. On Tuesday she said “We can’t fix our justice system unless we’re willing to decolonise. That begins with handing the mic over to tangata whenua.”

Someone else asked the obvious question: What does willingness to decolonise mean?


It means acknowledging this prison industrial syndrome existed before colonisation.

I have no idea what she means by that.

It means prioritising Māori tikanga at every level so tangata whenua have the outcomes they deserve in health, education, employment…Mostly, that they get to say what those systems looks like.

Certainly Māori should have a say in what health, education, employment systems should look like, but those systems have to cater for all New Zealanders – better for Māori for sure, but for everyone else too.

Ghahraman wasn’t the only person referring to colonisation.

Sio is an Labour MP (who migrated to New Zealand from Samoa when he was eight years old).

Sure, the effects of colonisation need to be considered amongst all other factors in which (some) Māori are adversely affected.

But decolonisation?

This was mentioned by two speakers at the justice summit. Newsroom: Systemic concerns outlined at justice summit

Former police officer and Te Puea Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis…

…spoke about “the big brown elephant in the room” which had in the past been ignored but was now front and centre.

“I have to say I’m extremely encouraged by the language that you’re using, the audacious position that you’ve put yourselves in, and the direction – tena koutou.”

Dennis said one of his concerns was the lack of a consistent strategy by and for Māori across the entire justice system, setting “terms of engagement”.

“We’re talking about a 30-year system focused on punitive and colonial attitudes and now we’re saying we need to change that – this is not going to happen overnight, it will take time.”

Laura O’Connell Rapira, the co-director of ActionStation…

… said the campaign group had carried out a survey on Māori perspectives of the justice system, with 90 percent agreeing that structural racism, colonisation and intergenerational trauma were the reasons for their over-representation in the prison population.

“It speaks to the need for systemic change, really transformative change, and my hope is that is what comes out of this hui because it’s been called for pretty much my whole life from Māori communities.”

Associate Justice Minister Aupito William Sio agreed that colonisation was an issue that could not be ignored, but warned there was no quick fix.

“We’re talking about a 30-year system focused on punitive and colonial attitudes and now we’re saying we need to change that – this is not going to happen overnight, it will take time.”

Justice and prison systems largely based on British systems certainly have flaws and need to be improved, as do outcomes for Māori – not just involving crime, but their whole family and social systems, including education, employment and health.

But the current system can’t just be replaced. It somehow has to be improved, and Māori  need to play a significant role in how that is done.

Talking about the effects of colonisation is important, but  I don’t think that throwing potentially divisive terms like decolonisation into the discussion help. We all have to work together on this, an us and them attitude is unlikely to fix anything.

However as Māori   are a big part of the justice problems, they need to take prominent roles in looking for solutions.

Learning from the past is fine, just blaming the past is unlikely to lead to positive change,.


“Whiteness”, decolonisation and dumping capitalism

Max Harris writes about Racism and White Defensiveness in Aotearoa: A Pākehā Perspective

More accurately that should be ‘one Pākehā’s perspective’.

I want to talk about an aspect of whiteness in Aotearoa New Zealand. And when I say “whiteness”, I’m not just talking about skin colour. I’m talking about the power, privilege, and patterns of thinking associated with white people.

I think that there are a wide variety of ‘patterns of thinking associated with white people’ – whatever ‘white people’ means.

Whiteness is connected to economic power and class — and is probably least understood by those it privileges. Most white people seem blind to its existence, while most non-white people are not.

Sweeping generalisations. Harris speaks for himself, fair enough, but not for ‘white people’. He doesn’t back up his ‘most white people’ and ‘most non-white people’ claims.

I think for those of us who identify as Pākehā, or grew up in Pākehā-dominant spaces, there’s a special responsibility to strive to be aware of our own advantages in Aotearoa New Zealand.

While I have no problems with the term Pākehā I don’t identify as Pākehā. I identify as a New Zealander. I don’t think I have any special responsibilities based on someone else’s pigeon holing of me.

White advantage is maintained in many ways: through intergenerational wealth, discretionary decision-making, and everyday racism.

Some people may take advantage of racial privileges – and not just ‘white people’.

One aspect of how racism is talked about in Aotearoa is white defensiveness in response to discussions of racism. By white defensiveness, I mean an anxiety, closing-down, and insecurity among white people and white-dominated institutions when racism is raised.

Perhaps some people feel some of those things. I don’t.

I see at least four types of white defensiveness.

First, there’s Denial: kneejerk responses that attempt to deny that there is racism, rather than taking claims seriously or considering its roots.

The second type of white defensiveness is Diversion. This is where, in instances in which facts about racism or colonisation are raised, the conversation is derailed through a claim that Māori themselves are guilty of some other wrong.

A third form of defensiveness is Detriment-centring. That’s where there’s a focus on the disadvantages faced by Māori, but without any acknowledgment of the advantages or protective factors which flow from being Pākehā.

The fourth form of defensiveness is the demand to Move on. This is where defensive demands are made for discussions about racism to end.

Let’s move on this discussion.

This discussion isn’t meant to demonise white people, or Pākehā, either. It’s about being honest and open about our advantages — and thinking about how to dismantle the system that produces them.

Dismantle the system?

Pākehā people can, and should, remain proud of our heritage and roots. But we also need to be aware of the injustices of the past and present, and how we may have contributed to them.

One very valid question is how all this relates to class and New Zealand’s system of capitalism.

Dismantle the system of capitalism?

We need to talk more about class in this country — to speak back to another lamentable and longstanding myth that we are somehow class-free. Fortunately, a new generation of activists in New Zealand is breathing fresh life into that conversation.

I think that class in a new Zealand perspective is a largely different different thing – I wouldn’t call it an issue.

There’s a need to support Māori-led efforts at decolonisation: the process of understanding and undoing the negative effects of colonisation, and recentring indigenous views.

Decolonisation? Harris doesn’t explain what that might entail.

We all must also push for a different economic order, given the way that the twin forces of capitalism and colonisation have amplified the power of whiteness.

He associates capitalism with whiteness – it is not just white people around the world who have benefited substantially from capitalism, and who continue to benefit from it, despite it’s shortcomings.

Harris seems to be suggesting dismantling ‘colonisation’ and capitalism.

Dismantling systems of oppression, including those based on race and class, is important for the powerful as well as the powerless.

While this is an interesting discussion there is a major omission.

Dismantling colonisation, capitalism and systems of oppression are a big deal.

But Harris makes no attempt to explain how this dismantling would happen, who would decide what is dismantled and how, nor what would take their place.

Many things in our world and our country are imperfect, but dismantling your house, or dismantling your country, must be retrograde steps unless you have somewhere else you can live.

It’s all very well to pile on ‘white people’ guilt, and to condemn colonisation and capitalism, but without any attempt at viable alternatives it seems to be a half cocked argument.

Like our form of democracy both colonisation and capitalism have some crap aspects, but they remain worse than everything but all the alternatives – unless perhaps Harris can suggest something better.