Thursday, November 26, 2009

What Jose Aylwin could teach Chris Trotter

Last week, in an article published in The Independent, Chris Trotter compared the Maori Party to Adolf Hitler's National Socialist movement.

According to Trotter, the Maori Party's 'revolutionary nationalism' recalls the ideology of the Nazis, and the conflict between Hone Harawira and the party leadership resembles the split between Hitler and Ernst Rohm, the dissident Nazi who dreamed of a racially pure workers' state and was murdered along with his followers on the 'night of the long knives' in 1934. Just as Rohm became a liability to the more conservative Hitler, so Harawira has, according to Trotter, become a liability to Maori Party leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia.

Trotter believes that the Maori Party as a whole is a liability to New Zealand, and that the mandated Maori seats which give the organisation a foothold in parliament should be abolished, before they lead either to a form of apartheid or to the break-up of the country.

Chris Trotter is not some crackpot blogger or letter writer with a tiny audience - he is a respected political commentator who makes appearances on radio and television as well as in the print media. His views on many issues are decidedly left-wing.

Sadly, the hysterical similies and dire prophecies of Trotter's article are representative of the disorientation that many Pakeha feel, and have always felt, in the face of the politics of tino rangatiratanga.

Although Trotter's article tries to draw a red line between the 'revolutionary nationalists' of the Maori Party and 'good' Maori politicians of the past like Apirana Ngata, the truth is that the Maori quest for self-determination is neither a new phenomenon nor a reactionary return to the nineteenth century. There is an unbroken thread which connects the pan-tribalism of nineteenth century innovations like Kingitanga and the Kotahitanga movement, the struggle of leaders like Ngata to keep their people's identity in the early twentieth century, and the more militant politics of the 'Maori renaissance' which began in the '70s.

Even the most conservative Maori leaders have sought to create and sustain organisations and institutions which express the special history and worldview of their people. Ngata was a convinced Tory who sat down in parliament alongside representatives of the Pakeha bourgeoisie, and yet many of his projects - his visionary, partly-realised scheme for the creation of large-scale dairy farms on Maori land, for instance - were an expression of the ideology of tino rangatiratanga.

The denunciations which Chris Trotter aims today at the Maori Party have their precedents in the '20s and early '30s, when Ngata's land scheme was criticised as race-based and corrupt, and in the nineteenth century, when independent Maori states like the Waikato Kingdom were characterised as 'rebellions' against the Crown.

For the great majority of Maori, and for the minority of Pakeha who support the politics of tino rangatiratanga, accusations of 'disloyalty' and 'divisiveness' have long been bewildering. Since the final shots of the Land Wars were fired at Maungapohatu in 1916, there has been no large-scale attempt by Maori to re-establish their old, independent states, or to establish new states. There has been the occasional proclamation of independence - Tainui activist Eva Rickard declared Whaingaroa independent in the late '70s, during the struggle to reclaim the golf course there, and a group of dissident Ngati Porou claim to have established a mini-state of their own near the East Cape in 2007 - but usually these have been publicity stunts by protesters, not serious attempts to break up New Zealand.

For Maori activists and politicians, tino rangatiratanga means not the dismantling of New Zealand but the establishment of institutions and practices that give the New Zealand state and New Zealand society a bicultural character. The outlook of most Maori nationalists was nicely summed up by Linda Munn, one of the designers of the tino rangatiratanga flag, in a recent interview with the New Zealand Herald. Munn said she was pleased that her flag would be flown from the Auckland harbour bridge on Waitangi Day, but that she wanted it to fly side by side with the 'old' New Zealand flag, which she considers a 'taonga'.

Over the last quarter century some of the ideas associated with tino rangatiratanga, like the notion of Maori-language schools, have been turned into reality, but many others, like the call by Tuhoe for regional autonomy or the idea of a Maori restorative justice system, remain remote prospects. One of the most important obstacles to the achievement of tino rangatiratanga is the sort of misinterpretation which is so strikingly displayed in Chris Trotter's recent article. As long as most Pakeha believe that tino rangatiratanga means race war and the breakup of New Zealand, they will be susceptible to the overtures of Maori-bashing politicians like Don Brash and Michael Laws.

One explanation for the failure of many Pakeha to understand tino rangatiratanga is their lack of knowledge of alternatives to the uninational, highly centralised state that has existed in New Zealand since the 1860s. We associate our system with democracy, and assume that any radically different system must be undemocratic. When Maori talk about subjects about regional autonomy and a separate justice system, many of us panic, and make ill-advised analogies to apartheid South Africa, with its patchwork of impoverished, corrupt Bantustans and separate beaches for whites and blacks, or Nazi Germany, with its ferocious obsession with race.

One man who can help us get a more accurate picture of what tino rangatiratanga might mean for New Zealand is Professor Jose Aylwin, of the University Austral de Chile. Aylwin has been a long-time champion of the rights of Chile's indigenous Mapuche peoples, and he is an expert on the situation of indigenous peoples across Latin America. Last week, at about the same time that Chris Trotter's exercise in hysteria was being published, Aylwin was taking the stage of the University of Auckland's Stone Lecture Theatre to speak about the ongoing refashioning of several Latin America states to meet the demands of indigenous peoples. Aylwin had been invited to Auckland by the university's Law School and by its Centre for Latin American Studies, and his lecture was attended by staff and students interested in recent changes in Latin America, and in the lessons which these changes might have for New Zealand.

Aylwin began his talk by noting that Latin America's indigenous peoples, which are divided into 400 or 500 groups, make up about a tenth of its population. Indigenous peoples are distributed unevenly across the continent: in some countries, like Chile and Venezuela, they form only a small part of the population, but in Bolivia they make up the great majority, and in Peru and Ecuador they are substantial minorities. Despite their cultural differences, and the differences in the sizes of their populations, the continent's indigenous peoples share the memory of conquest by Europeans, and face continued discrimination and economic marginalisation.

Aylwin argued that, since the 1980s, there have been three distinct 'waves of struggle' by Latin America's indigenous peoples. The first wave coincided with the democratisation of much of the continent, as the military dictatorships which had flourished in the '70s either imploded or were toppled by popular protest. As newly democratic countries like Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua and Guatemala revised or replaced their constitutions, indigenous peoples demanded that their concerns receive legal recognition. Many of the indigenous activists took their inspiration from the campaigns of their counterparts in the United States and Canada, and from concepts of multiculturalism developed by intellectuals in the West in the '60s and '70s. In most cases, though, the response from authorities to indigenous protest did not go beyond tokenism.

The second wave of indigenous struggle began in the early '90s as a response to the lack of progress in the '80s. Increasingly, indigenous groups allied themselves with the political left and organised labour, and made multinational companies which exploited the environment and ripped off local workers their targets. In several countries, the 'second wave' of struggle yielded unprecedented constitutional reforms, which recognised the special history of native peoples and promised protection for their cultures and languages. But these concessions did not lead to real gains, because they were cynically intended to placate indigenous peoples and break their alliance with the non-indigenous left.

In the second half of the eighties and early nineties the leaders of many newly democratic Latin American countries had adopted the set of neo-liberal economic policies nicknamed 'the Washington Consensus'. Under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund and Western governments and companies, these governments privatised state-owned assets, scrapped laws that protected trade unions, opened markets to Western goods, and cut state spending on education and health. The massive increases in poverty created by these policies undermined any gains that might have come through increased legal recognition for indigenous cultures and languages.

The third wave of indigenous struggle began when the disastrous consequences of the 'Washington Consensus' became clear in the late '90s. In nations like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, indigenous people once again allied themselves with trade unions and non-indigenous left-wing organisations, and mounted marches, occupations, and strikes to stop the privatisation of state assets, the disappearance of jobs, and the rollback of basic state services. Bolivia, for instance, was brought to a standstill, as protesters took over whole towns in successful efforts to reverse the sale of their country's water and gas to Western companies. The third wave of indigenous struggle has coincided with the 'pink tide' that has seen left-leaning governments elected across Latin America by people tired of failed policies of neo-liberalism. Jose Aylwin described how the leftist governments of Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador have overseen the creation of new constitutions which give unprecedented recognition to indigenous peoples.

In Bolivia, where the indigenous Aymara and Quechua peoples together make up four-fifths of the population, the new constitution calls for a 'pluri-national state', in place of the old 'unitary state'. Where earlier constitutions foisted the Spanish language and the culture and institutions of Bolivia's white minority on the Aymara and Quechua nations, the new document insists that indigenous groups must be able to establish institutions inside the Bolivian state which express and respond to their own special histories and needs. The new constitution allows for Quechua and Aymara living outside Bolivia's big cities to set up their own, semi-autonomous indigenous governments, take control of their own resources, and follow their own paths to economic development, rather than relying on the tender mercies of multinational investors.

Members of Bolivia's traditional, white-skinned elite have derided Evo Morales as a 'bloody Indian' and claimed that he aims to turn the coutnry into 'another Cuba'. Attempts have been made to kill Morales, and peasants who support him have been murdered by right-wing militiamen. Professor Aylwin noted that the old elite needs to be defeated, if the fine words in Bolivia's constitution are to be turned into practice. 'Indigenous empowerment requires an economic base' he noted, before suggesting that the state needs to take more resources from local and Western capitalists so that they can be used for the benefit of Bolivia's indigenous majority.

Aylwin suggested that in Latin American nations with smaller indigenous populations than Bolivia and Ecuador it is harder to move from a 'unitary' to a 'pluri-national' state. While this remark is no doubt true to some extent, it ignores the fact that the most dramatic case of indigenous empowerment in Latin America in recent years has occurred, not in Bolivia or Ecuador, but in Venezuela, a country where indigenous people make up only about two percent of the population. Despite their small numbers, Venezuela's twenty-six indigenous peoples receive considerable attention in the Bolivarian constitution which was drawn up shortly after the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998. The eighth chapter of the constitution is devoted to indigenous rights, and begins with the following statement:

The State recognizes the existence of native peoples and communities, their social, political and economic organisation, their cultures, practices and customs, languages and religions, as well as their habitat and original rights to the lands they ancestrally and traditionally occupy, and which are necessary to develop and guarantee their way of life.

In the decade since the Bolivarian constitution was approved by referendum, the Chavez government has turned rhetoric into reality by throwing its weight behind the indigenous communities in Venezuela's countryside. The government has returned swathes of stolen land to indigenous peoples, built schools which offer indigenous children instruction in their own languages, and taken the side of indigenous groups when they have been threatened by miners. Venezuela's first-ever Ministry of Indigenous Affairs has been established along with a special Indigenous Parliament and a network of communal councils designed to run indigenous affairs in indigenous communities. It is not surprising that indigenous people have been strong supporters of the Chavez government and that many of them have joined his United Socialist Party.

It is a pity that Professor Aylwin did not discuss the recent history of indigenous people in Venezuela, because events in that country underline his point that the empowerment of indigenous people and the move from a uni-national to a pluri-national state has to involve economic as well as political change. Indigenous people have made big steps forward in Venezuela, despite the fact that they make up only a small percentage of the population, because the Chavez government has followed a left-wing policy programme.

Chavez was elected on the back of popular anger at the Washington Consensus and neo-liberalism, and he has confronted both Venezuela's economic elite and big Western companies. He has taken control of Venezuela's massive oil wealth from the rich, and channelled it into health and education programmes which help the working class and peasants who make up the majority of Venezuela's population. His government has also seized idle land and factories and put them to use for the benefit of workers and peasants.

Chavez's left-wing policies have made him very popular and have raised living standards and health and literacy levels amongst Venezuelans. Indigenous people have benefitted from Chavez's policies because they belong to the poorest parts of Venezuelan society. Chavez's government has been able to hand land and local autonomy to indigenous groups because it has taken land and power from big Western companies and from the idle rich.

The lessons of Venezuela hold true for the rest of Latin America. The country which has come closest to Venezuela in meeting the demands of its indigenous peoples is Bolivia, and it is no coincidence that the Morales government in Bolivia is also following a left-wing economic programme.

Chris Trotter could certainly have learnt much from listening to Jose Aylwin's lecture. Trotter has a background in left-wing politics, and helped to found the New Labour Party and the Alliance back in the late eighties and early nineties, but he has consistently refused to accept that the politics of tino rangatiratanga have any place on the left. Trotter believes that Maori demands for biculturalism and binationalism 'divide' the working class and confuse the left, but the example of Latin America shows that indigenous groups can work towards the transformation of society in alliance with trade unions and non-indigenous organisations. Trotter has expressed admiration for Hugo Chavez, yet the commitment of Chavez to the autonomy of indigenous peoples stands in contrast to his own fear of biculturalism and a binational state.

Yet it is not only Pakeha who can learn from Jose Aylwin's account of the recent history of Latin America. Aylwin's discussion of the incompatibility of neo-liberalism with indigenous rights and of the necessity of left-wing economic restructuring to indigenous empowerment should be warnings to supporters of the Maori Party's alliance with National.

Just as some neo-liberal Latin American governments tried to co-opt indigenous groups in the '90s, in order to make their policies of privatisation and cuts in social spending more palatable, so National is trying to co-opt the Maori Party to get support for its neo-liberal policies. The Maori Party has already voted for a budget which gave big tax cuts to the rich while at the same time drastically cutting adult education classes used by the poor. Now the party is considering giving its support to the part-privatisation of ACC and an Emmissions Trading Scheme that makes ordinary people pay for the pollution produced by big business.

National has always been the party of New Zealand's economic elite, and its policies are designed to meet the needs of this elite, at the expense of workers and the poor. The Maori Party's leaders hope for some concessions from National, but none of these concessions can atone for the damage that National's policies are doing to the Maori Party's natural constituency. If the Maori Party continues to support National's neo-liberal programme then it will lose its foothold in parliament.


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8:58 pm  
Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

Aylwin is also giving a lecture down here at Canterbury next Friday December 4th (hosted by the Geography Dept) which I look forward to attending.

Interestingly enough given Aylwin's leftist politics, his father Patricio was a leader of the Christian Democrats who played a somewhat ambiguous role during the military coup of General Pinochet in '73 (initially supporting it due to a shared hostility towards the socialist Allende).

10:49 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Hi Tim,

I'm delighted that Aylwin's getting around - he has a lot to tell us, and we hear far too little from his part of the world.

His lecture at the Stone Theatre was followed by a rambling, bizarre, basically apolitical address by treechopper Mike Smith which lurched into pseudo-history and pseudo-science, and a presentation by a young Maori academic about what plurinationalism might mean for New Zealand's justice system.

Because Smith - why on earth was he invited? - went on for so long, there were only fifteen minutes left for discussion, and some of the important implications of Aylwin's talk were never broached.

(I had to leave before the end of the evening, but I was told that Smith closed the discussion by saying that neither tino rangatiratanga nor anything else really matters, because the planet is doomed to perish from global warming!)

I look forward to your report on the December the 4th talk, Tim.

11:28 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This is interesting - (Trotter is completely wrong - I like Harawira by the way] coincidentally I just read a very fascinating and moving book by Jennifer Harbury called "Searching for Everardo" Everardo was her husband and he fought for the indigenous peoples' (his own peoples') rights in Gautemala. Harbury was experienced in that area and had spent time working with human rights people and she even went into the jungle and lived with the Mayan resistance fighters where she met her husband who was a leader or commander.

Apart from the issues of human rights and the terrible abuse (murder - and far worse than murder - by the Guatemalan Army of people there (Unionists, Mayan people trying to get reforms, even Americans helping them with their farming or other things).. the experience of the book is like reading a powerful novel (a dark thriller, but not superficial, it is very well written) and I was moved by it - I was enjoying it but also it moved and informed me; but it was terrifying - the worst aspect maybe was the US Congress - the US Sate Department's indifference in covering up (or ignoring) but Harbury is very courageous and determined and (trained as a lawyer) and obviously has a powerful mind, and she was very involved - not sitting thousands of miles away - actually in there risking death all the time - as she recalled so many details -

She finally found most of the truth and even the CIA had to get rid of various of their monsters who were working for them...

She clearly very much loved her Mayan husband who was tortured horribly and then murdered by the CIA-Guatemalan Army, and also she loved the Mayan people who are abused and murdered or discriminated against every day...

Here is a video clip or link to - an interview with her - there is also an interview with Edgar Foster Wallace the strange tormented US author (of Infinite Jest and even a book on maths) who committed suicide fairly recently..he was a polymath and so on - but the relvant thing is about Harbury and Guatemala and eth CIA and the Mayan people.

While reading the book (and it is a book of great courage and love - I was terrified of the Guatemala army (as if I was there or I was being tortured or mutilated, or they might gun me down here in Auckland..) and I am thousands of miles way from the place!! But Harbury confronted the army (who murder or mutilate anyone they feel is a threat)* director, went to exhumations, went on hunger strikes..incredible) I did some research - in fact I didn't know where Guatemala was or that there were any Mayans or whoever on the earth I thought Indians had mostly been exterminated in South America - but it isn't a part of the world I know much about...but the book got me reading about the place.

The racism of the white "upper classes" etc is intense.

So I learnt a lot - get a hold of her book and look at the videos and do some poking around on Google etc

Here is the video link

* I suspect that while there has been change that such situations are only the tip of the ice berg.

1:05 am  
Blogger Sensa said...

Signs, who sees them
and who in time?

A mother may dream of a two headed lamb
the kind that is born sometimes on farms
Two headed and without a mouth

In his sleep a son may run through
entrances streaming with bile
he may lash about him to smash
precious things, his limbs kick
through a sea of photographs
a gale sweeps them away
and carries him above Ruapehu
above a crowd gathered by the lake
he may struggle to open a frozen hand
and when he does, he may be unable to hack out
the pieces of change burning in his palm

but when she wakes
she will sing the good in him
when he wakes
still day will still tell him
all is calculable

1:33 am  
Blogger Country Lane said...

Trotter is wrong, of course. I think the feeling among many of us Pakeha - supporters of tino rangatiratanga - is one of sadness, though. Not because of we are afraid of Maori aspirations but because we didn't vote for a Maori Tory party.
I think Goff's speech contains mistakes but he's essentially expressing that disappointment - AND - saying "If you sleep with the enemy - become the enemy - then expect to be attacked AS the enemy." The MP is now a Tory party and will be treated as such.

6:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goff is the new Don Brash

8:53 am  
Blogger Country Lane said...

I'm not going along with that.
Some have called Goff's speech "cynical".
Let’s talk about cynical for a moment.
I’m sorry but it seems to me that there is an idea that the Maori Party are somehow apolitical and should be shielded from crticism because what nthey are tryiong to do is further worthy Maori aspirations.

The reality is that the MP “cynically” support the Tory party in order to further their aims. The MP have cynically chosen to support some appalling pices of destructive legislation that will see this country – all of this country – damaged for years to come. The Maori Party cynically used the ETS (the disguisting, useless, Tory ETS) to leverage some concessions for their mates in the forestry industry and bypass legal processes relating to Treaty settlements. They and their mates are now lying about that process.
For that they deverve to be pilloried and exposed. Their agenda is now obviously one of a Tory Party. As such they deserve everything they get.

And actually Goff is right. The sort of backroom deal they’ve done in order to support a piece of shit legislation IS damaging to race relations in this country. Voters WILL be shocked at how cynbical it is. The National Party IS using the Maori Party to further their agenda and the MP are going along with it and by doing so under the guise of furthering Maori aspirations, the Maori Party ARE damaging race relations in this country.

9:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goff uses all the words of Brash and Peters.

He deserves to be shot as Hone says for the most racist piece of law in NZ history - the F and S Act.

Yes the Maori Party is wrong to be with National but can you not understand that the racism of the F and S law drove them there?

And now Goff rubs in some salt. Fuck him.

9:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Scott, I heard Mike Smith's presentation and quite liked it, he sent me a copy of his speech ...

Thank you very much for your introduction
And I would also like to pay my respects to you Jose for your support of the ongoing struggle of the Mapuche peoples of Chile.

Our people are separated by the largest ocean in the world “Te Moananui a Kiwa” However all our anscetsors were great seafarers and navigators
And as a result the pacific peoples spread across the entire pacific ocean and there there is significant evidence of contact between our peoples in the distant past.

Recent DNA analysis has confirmed that the Mapuche chicken is of Polynesian origin. And we are very familiar with the kumara, which comes from coastal South America ......and to this day we refer to our native potatoes as peruperu.

There are other language similarities for example in the Mapuche language the word for an elected war leader is “Toki” meaning axe or axe bearer which is identical to our Maori word for axe, “Toki”

No rei ra, Haere mai Te Toki .....haumi e ..... hui e ....... Taikii e

Which means ....

“The axe has been brought here amongst us ... and now bound together we may become of one mind.”

So it is with this whakatauaki or ancient proverb that I welcome you, the axe bearer for the Mapuche ....Welcome here amongst us the people of this land - Nga tangata whenua Maori

I also welcome your other ancestors that are here with you today
The ancestors from the Slavic nations of Europe.

Dobro Dosli - nau mai haere mai - Welcome.

Me nga mihi hoki ki a koutou nga kaihautu o te whare wananga nei, me nga iwi o nga hau e wha ...tena koutou katoa

Both Nin and I have been working together lately as part of a ministerial working group on constitutional issues and Maori.

Our conversations are concerned with power, authority.... rights and responsibilities ...... from within the parameters of western political principles ......and on the other hand our traditional Maori customs.

So for a moment, lets consider the world-view of Maori in regard to power and authority


10:26 am  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

"Trotter believes that Maori demands for biculturalism and binationalism 'divide' the working class and confuse the left"

I hate that. We get a fair bit of that down here, and I've been criticised for my invovlement in gender-rights work, as that "undercuts and divides the struggle of the worker". Fuck that. All of this goes together.

10:26 am  
Blogger maps said...

Hi anon,

please do post the rest of Smith's speech: it would help discussion if we could see it. I'll point out the parts of his speech which I thought were ill-conceived when you've given us the complete text.

10:52 am  
Blogger maps said...

'We get a fair bit of that down here'

Ross, I call it 'South Island Marxism'! I reckon it's cut from the same lilywhite cloth as the old 'South Island myth' of Brasch et al.

It goes with this odd conspiracy theory which says that the state is somehow using biculturalism - Maori langauge schools, Maori TV etc - to divide workers. In reality, the state's commitment to biculturalism is a bit like its commitment to 'fair workplaces' - it's a metter of empty rhetoric, except where activists have forced some sort of progressive measures to be enacted.

I had an exchange with this good southern man blogger on the issue of W(h)anganui which probably brought out the sort of view we're criticising:

The ironic thing is that very few if any of these self-proclaimed 'Marxists' are aware of the interest that Marx himself was showing in Maori and other indigenous peoples in the last decade of his life, and the extent to which he subjected his earlier, somewhat Eurocentric works like the Communist Manifesto and the first volume of Capital to a late critique.

I have a chapter in my forthcoming Manchester University Press book on EP Thompson which deals with the subject of Marx's late reconsideration of his Eurocentrism; there'll be another, more formidable treatment of the topic published next year by Kevin Anderson, the UCLA sociologist who has been in the forefront of publicisng Marx's 'secret' late work:

11:08 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:50 pm  
Blogger Marty Mars said...

Thanks maps it is so good to have some solutions presented.

2:14 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

The Maori Party can be criticised they are, by Maori, and many others. But such as it is and considering the actions of Labour who in some ways are more duplicitous than National - I remember the Nazi 1985 Government under Dr G. Lange and Herr Adolf Rogerstein - then the Clark Govt deported some poor Indian girl back to a war zone where she would be killed or raped and Labour still grovelled up to the Yanks and sent troops to Afghanistan on the sly - pretending they were peace keepers, and copping out by supposedly not going to Iraq...they are the most hypocritical Governments...there is no future in these bourgeois Governments.

They would sacrifice the Maori if suited them - so would National.

There needs to be some kind of Government that is just of and for all the people - no parties, no preconceptions - and is made up of many representatives who aren't paid much more than ordinary workers. These to come from all sectors of society and representing all levels. And these to have no permanent positions, just to be representatives (with NO perks) in the true sense.

Wages need also to be evened out so that ordinary people get more - this has to happen throughout the world.

In addition it is good what is happening in Venezuela and opther parts of Central and South America - they are showing signs of more progress than we are (in many areas )...recognising at least on paper the rights of indigenous in NZ we are making some progress thanks to the actions of (such as) Harawaira and even Mike Smith etc.

Smith smashed that yachting Cup I think? Now, if he did, good one! It is something I hate - that yachting is for the rich all that.

Maori (and many other people from Polynesia and other nations -we now have far more multicultural nation than when I was young) HAVE been dealt heavy blows over time and are still in the lower economic levels - however this not to say they themselves have not made great progress with tino rangatiratanga, the revival and extension of the Maori language, more Maori becoming more educated in Maoritanga and Pakihatanga etc etc and other well as at least some more Pakeha (such as myself and Maps) taking an interest in Maoritanga etc

Trotter is not evil (nor is Goff - these guys can be "good" but they are seduced by power and the big wages they get at the Beehive)* but he is wrong on this one - Pakeha and Maori have to live together and we have to understand our mutual histories and cultures which Trotter is avoiding - and he could learn from Central and South America.

*They all get paid far too much.

3:58 pm  
Blogger Country Lane said...

We've got two discussions here now. Trotters commentrs andd Goff's speech.
As i said - don't agree with Trotter. He's got it wrong. Believe that Goff is on the right track attacking the Maori Tory Party - not Maori.The best analyses I've seen so far:

5:24 pm  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

Scott - I totally agree re: SI Marxism and SI Myth - both hardline exclusive masculinism. And both, on at least one level, fascist (dominant ethos imposing will on the Other)

8:06 pm  
Blogger Sensa said...

Dear Ross and Scott, Are we talking about Charles Brasch, poet and founding editor in Dunedin of Landfall? OR Brash, Don. I hardly think the words fascist applies (and even not masculinist, a recent term). I reckon we need to be careful about taking phenomena such as the raising of literary consciousness which Charles B achieved, out of their historical context.

10:59 pm  
Blogger Ross Brighton said...

I didn't mention Brasch, that was Scott - for the SI Myth I think early (pre Dead Low Water) Curnow would be a better example, or Dennis Glover (though his sing-song stylistics add something that confuses the aesthetic a bit). Though much of Brasch does have a masculine austerity - John Newton's study of gender and sexuality in Cultural Nationalism is very interesting on this topic.
Regarding the fascist comment, one only has to look to the literary politics of especially Curnow (eg his treatment of Eileen Duggan) for a very domineering ethos.

11:09 pm  
Blogger Sensa said...

I see, yeah. The group of expatriate New Zealand writers in England (& Europe, Spain) at the time of the Spanish Civil War – Brasch, Ian Milner, Mulgan, and Geoffrey Cox - would turn a somersault to be labelled that way... or put in the same box as Glover or Curnow, I suspect... And Eileen Duggan deserved better, that's for sure! phew! cheers.

11:52 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Hi Bill,

I was referring to this recent post about Brasch and the South Island myth:

Are you a Brasch man or a Smithyman man, comrade? ;)

3:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Smith speech continued....

Traditional Maori Society was and still is, tribal by nature.
It is bound together by common traditions and a world-view that at its core holds natural process and environmental values as paramount.

Mana Atua - The supreme power of the universe represented on Earth by Nature and all its aspects

Mana Tangata – the role’s, responsibilities and processes that regulate human activity.

Mana Whenua – The use of resources in accordance with the
constraints imposed by the laws of nature.

This introduces the concept of Whakapapa, that all things have a point of creation and descend through a process of evolution.

And that adherence to these frameworks of understanding is a way of ensuring the “correctness” of any given thing. In the Maori Language we call this “tika” or “Tikanga”

This matrix of power and responsibility is by no means unique to Maori

The Mapuche laws of admapu in which the “Ngen” – the equivalent of our “Atua” reflect their spiritual association with nature.

Equally this notion of the fundamental law of nature is expressed in the writings of the early American constitutional theorist Orestes Bronson who explains that there are in his interpretation, three "constitutions"

- The first being the constitution of nature that includes all of what is called "natural law."
- The second is the constitution of society, an unwritten and commonly understood set of rules for the society formed by a social contract amongst the people.
- And the third constitution, which is the constitution of government.

7:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Smiths speech cont....
As I mentioned in my opening comments Nin and I along with a number of others have been working on a ministerial working group on constitutional issues which was put together in advance of the soon to be held series of referendums on MMP.

In the context of the current National governments treaty policy which is to:

- Remove references to the Treaty from legislation.
- Remove race-based funding from education and health.
- Abolish Parliament’s Maori seats.
This constitutional reform process is hostile to Maori aspirations.

As you can imagine this is most unsatisfactory to many in our working group and as a result we have widened the scope of our deliberations to include a more substantive consideration of constitutional issues

More specifically how to give effect to the notion of shared power and authority contemplated in Te Tiriti o Waitangi..... The article two rights we know as “Tino Rangatiratanga” – Absolute authority of Maori over matters Maori.

So fundamentally we are concerned with the survival of our people.... as Maori.... as well as citizens of the nation of New Zealand.

This raises issues such as the codification of “Maori Law”
I.e.: What happens if we subsume the creation, interpretation and administration of Maori Law within a western paradigm?
Is it still Maori Law? .... Or is it a watered down, manipulated and controlled token accommodation of tikanga Maori used to pacify and further assimilate the Maori population?

My view is that any constitutional reform within Aotearoa – New Zealand should be limited to the acknowledgement of the right of Maori authority and self-determination rather than prescribing it.

And it is the prerogative of Maori people to determine what that means and how it is enacted.

In respect of drafting such provisions.... it is a reasonably easy thing to do.... the UN Declaration of Indigenous rights provides a useful template.

The difficult task will be gaining the acceptance and agreement of the State to these rights.

We will need to overcome the notion of a unitary state which is embedded within the principles of our Westminster democracy.

And of course the political will amongst the general population would need to exist in order to provide a popular political mandate.

This would require a quantum shift in attitude amongst the population.

This process of transformational change would be a long slow intergenerational process, that would require a co-coordinated progamme of “rediscovery and recovery amongst the Maori population together with a co-coordinated programme of “Understanding and acceptance” from the rest of the population.

7:59 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Smith's speech cont... While there is much evidence of a Maori cultural renewal I’m not sure how well the required “understanding and acceptance” programme is going.

Another way of effecting change would be by way of a constitutional crisis precipitated by rebellion, and or revolution.

However the legacy of bitterness that follows such events usually requires further state repression in order to maintain security regardless of who wins.

Which brings me to the third aspect of my talk this evening which deals with “A Climate for Change”

Back in 1992 I had the privilege to travel to Brazil and participate in the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit which was a gathering of world leaders and representatives of indigenous peoples from through out the world.

The focus of the summit was to consider the environmental problems that industrial societies have inflicted upon the planet and to seek solutions to these problems.

One of the issues identified was air pollution resulting in what we now know as global warming and subsequent climate change. and one of the results of the summit was the Kyoto agreement that aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the “developed nations”

Our delegation from Aotearoa were identified to the Brazilian organizers as being natives from the south sea islands and so in their wisdom they decided rather than put us in the opulent hotels that line Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, they would instead locate us with the indigenous people whom were coming to attend the summit from the Amazon basin.

So a fleet of trucks arrived at a public park in Rio and dropped a quantity of tree trunks and palm fronds in the middle of the park and by the end of the day the Amazon people had put together a longhouse for sleeping and another shelter for cooking and we were in business, safely protected from the gangster police that we observed chasing the gangsters drug dealers up and down the boulevards outside the flash hotels. I’m not sure what the tribesmen made of us “western natives” but they looked after us really well.

Its has now been 17 years since that Earth summit and we now know that as a result of the abuse of nature by those that seek to live beyond its limitations, we are now facing the greatest threat to mankind in the history of human civilisation.

8:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-The world is heating up
-There is going to be worldwide famine
-There is going to be an energy crisis in both electricity and fuel.
-There are going to be droughts and conflicts over access to water
-There are going to be catastrophic storms and floods.
-The oceans are dying and that’s going to effect all life on the planet.

As it stands at the moment global warming is unstoppable and world governments are unable to reach agreement on how to prevent it

So we are going to have to look to ourselves for solutions.

And this may well be the catalyst for transformative change, not born from rebellion or revolution or enlightenment.... but from simple necessity.

Which brings me back to the theme of my presentation to you all tonight

“The Nature of Law and the Law of Nature”

And that tinkering with the “constitution of government” is not the starting point in my opinion that we need to revisit what it is to be human within the our responsibilities to our environment and that a new social compact must be entered into amongst our populations and only then reflected in the constitution of government.

So in the event of a world bereft of water, electricity, fuel, food and security..... I know who I’d want to be standing with.....

The indigenous peoples of the world have much to offer in respect of re establishing a harmonious relationship with nature.

Let us hope that at this time of impending world crisis that their voices may be heard.

Thank you for coming tonight and best wishes to you our honoured guest Jose and best wishes to you all.

8:01 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So there you go Scott ... and yes I'd be interested in why you described his speech as rambling, bizarre, basically apolitical which lurched into pseudo-history and pseudo-science,

8:09 am  
Blogger maps said...

Hi anon,

thanks for that. I think Smith's pointless individualistic stunts - chopping down a tree, smashing the America's Cup - are a parody of real activism, and I think his talk's forays into historical linguistics and the theory of evolution were the stuff of pseudo-scholarship. He seems to me to offer no suggestions as to how the cause of TR might actually be furthered, and to give the cause a bad name. But I'll make these points properly in a separate post when I have the time.

10:58 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh OK ... so Maori linguistics and creation stories are the stuff of pseudo-scholarship? And Mike Smith's not a "real activist"? and has not contributed to advancing the cause of TR? ...... How old are you Scott?

And by the way the guy that smashed the America's cup was Ben Nathan ... you may want to revise YOUR historical scholarship young man .... and do an anti racism course while your at it ....

12:33 pm  
Blogger maps said...

OK - sorry about confusing the Cup and the tree. Really, though, the basic point stands - Smith's attack on the pine on One Tree Hill was an individualistic parody of real activism which only succeeded in antagonising large numbers of Pakeha who might have been won over to the cause. By suggesting that Maori gains have to come at a loss to ordinary Pakeha it played into the hands of right-wingers who present race relations as a sort of zero-sum game.

As for Smith then trying to make some money out of his deed by flogging the chainsaw off...I just think he's more of an exhibitionist than an activist.

I don't object to Smith's creation stories or his reference to the finding of Polynesian chickens in Chile - I think that was a nice point to raise - but I was dismayed by his foray into historical linguistics, because it relied upon exactly the same nineteenth century 'pick two words that look alike' method which is used by modern-day anti-Maori pseudo-historians like Martin Doutre.

Smith's suggestion that evolution has some inherently progressive quality and leads to the selection of progressively better human societies is also something that should have been left in the nineteenth century.

I just think the guy's a political and intellectual flake, but I'm happy to be convinced otherwise if someone can show me what he's actually achieved either in politics or in the realm of scholarship.

1:12 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Scott, there you go again shooting from the lip about things you really know nothing about ......

"As for Smith then trying to make some money out of his deed by flogging the chainsaw off...I just think he's more of an exhibitionist than an activist."

The saw was put up for sale on Trade Me by its owner (not Smith, he was merely asked to vouch for its provenance)

In regard to the linguistic issue regarding the kumara, In Peru, the Quechua name for a type of sweet potato is kumar, strikingly similar to the Polynesian name kumara in Fiji its is known as Kumala, -Hawaii uwala- Marquesan Kuma'a
-Rapanui Kumara - Rarotonga kumara -Samoan umala - Tahitian umara - Tongan kumala - Tuamotuan kumara -Vanuatu kumala .......

Go figure? they swapped a chook for a kumara and now Kumara are all over the pacific ..... but it aint real until its in the realm of pakeha scholarship .... well at least not to you Scott........ do the Racism course buddy

1:55 pm  
Blogger maps said...


you can't establish historical relationships between languages by pairing isolated words from those languages.

The method you are using belongs to nineteenth century amateur ethnographers like Treager, and led to all sorts of dodgy theories about Polynesian connections with Egypt, the Jews and so on. Today it is being revived by pseudo-historians like Martin Doutre, who want to 'prove' that Maori got parts of their lenaguage from ancient Celts.

I've spent quite a bit of time criticising people like Doutre, so I'd be hypocritical if I didn't fault you for using one of the same shoddy methods.

2:10 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

Maps is the last person I would consider racist.

I also heard Mike's speech and I thought he seemed like a nice guy and funny but I thought his speech was a little disappointing overall - he didn't give us many concrete ideas on how Tino Rangatiratanga could be progressed (he basically said what's the point anyway as we are all doomed because of global warming!).

I talked to one Maori academic who attended the lecture and they felt his speech was lacking in content too. He says that indigenous people have a lot to offer - we KNOW that - so, how are we going to achieve constitutional change and the right to self determination?

It just seemed to me that he said Indigenous people have rights & important knowledge that could help everyone but he didn't go any further - other than to say that most efforts were a waste of time 'cos the end of the world as we know it is nye!

Personally, I would have liked to see someone who was a strong Maori academic speak or a strong/revolutionary activist who could offer a way forward.

2:36 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Speaking of Doutre, it's worth taking a look at this exchange which linguist Mark Newbrook had with the doyen of the Celtic New Zealand 'theory':

Newbrook explains to Doutre why it's not a good idea to follow the lead of Tregear and other ninteenth century ethnographers and leap to conclusions about connections between widely-separated languages on the basis of similarities between words.

Doutre's response to Newbrook is to accuse him of being part of an academic conspiracy against white people.

I find it ironic that Mike Smith is using the same method as Doutre - a method which was created by nineteenth century Europeans and used to distort the real history of Polynesia - and trying to suggest that those who reject it are part of some 'Pakeha scholarship' racket and in need of an anti-racism course.

2:40 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

So what do you understand Tino Rangatiratanga to mean? ..... Its the absolute authority of Maori to self determination .... so, unless you're a Maori, your not part of that discussion, well at least amongst Maori you're not ... unless of course you think you've got the right to impose your views in that discussion .... do you think you've got the right to advise Samoans on being Samoan? Chinese on being Chinese?

Sure talk about it amongst yourselves, confront the racists amongst your own people...... challenge the power structures that oppose TR .... that's your contribution.

Listen we've got our own stories about our associations with pacific people including those from South America and Asia if you don't like them .... too bad .... we know how to differentiate between authentic cultural knowledge and the lunatic fringe .... do the racism course ...

3:10 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

Mike, you are correct that Maori have the right to self determination (we all agree here - me, you and Maps and others). All I wanted Mike Smith to include in his lecture is how he thinks Maori can get it. I think that's the point Maps was ultimately trying to make too.

I agree that Pakeha can't lead or even possibly be involved in the discussion about Tino Rangatiratanga - unless invited. We (Maps and I) will carry on combating racism - definitely don't need to take a racism course.

Mike, I do think that when people give public lectures on issues, as Mike Smith did, they should be open to debate/questions/criticism.

3:54 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Mike, a couple of criticisms have been made of aspects of your talk, and instead of addressing them you're complaining that your critics don't have the right to say what they said on account of their ethnicity.

The discussion at Stone Lecture Theatre wasn't just 'amongst Maori' - it involved a wide range of people. Your talk followed an address by a white academic, after all. You acknowledged the variety of people present at the beginning of your talk.

And what on earth does the consensus which has developed in the field of historical linguistics over the last 80 years have to do with 'Pakeha scholarship'?

It's your own method of comparing isolated words from different languages and drawing vast generalisations from these comparisons which comes from nineteenth century Europe, and which is used today by white racists like Doutre. Peter Buck wouldn't have had a bar of it.

3:55 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Skyler's reply to Mike raises an interesting question: do Pakeha supporters of tino rangatiratanga have the right to criticise Maori who seek tino rangatiratanga?

I dislike the tendency of some Pakeha leftists to 'lay down the law' about how Maori should operate politically. For instance, I dislike the way that Chris Trotter says that the Maori seats should be abolished because they divide the working class. Even if that were true - I obviously don't think it is - I would say that it is for Maori to decide whether the Maori seats stay or go. Trotter's theoretical premises lead him to disregard the wishes of the tens of thousands of Maori who have indicated their desire for the seats by going on the Maori roll.

But even though I respect the right of Maori supporters of TR to create their own organisations - parties, caucuses within bodies like unions, and so on - and talk about their own issues, I don't agree that Pakeha can't comment on the different visions of TR they develop, and the different strategies they suggest for the realisation of TR. After all, these visions and strategies impact on non-Maori as well as Maori.

Consider, for instance, the belief amongst some Maori that the way to achieve TR is to make alliances with right-wing Pakeha like the National Party and create a strong Maori capitalist class.

This vision and strategy for TR directly affects me, because it has led the Maori Party's MPs to give their support to a National-Act government which is cutting real spending on important services like adult education, part-privatising ACC, and failing to stimulate the economy and save jobs. The results of the Maori Party's decision to support National are bad for most Maori, and they are also bad for me. The deal with the Nats also flies completely in the face of the lessons of recent history in Latin America, as revealed by Jose Aylwin's talk.

I'm not going to hold back, then, from criticising the Maori Party's leaders for sucking up to the traditional party of the Kiwi bourgeoisie. As I said in my recent post on Hone Howarira, I'm for the vision of tino rangatiratanga put forward by left-wing Maori like my mate Justin Taua, not for the pseudo-TR of the Maori Party leaders and wealthy 'corporate warriors' like Tuku Morgan.

I thought Mike Smith's total failure to discuss the Maori Party's disastrous decision to work with National was a sign of how essentially apolitical his recent talk was. Perhaps Mike will address the matter here.

4:27 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Skyler, I was alerted to this thread and thought I'd respond to your observations...

re: he didn't give us many concrete ideas on how Tino Rangatiratanga could be progressed (he basically said what's the point anyway as we are all doomed because of global warming!).

I talked to one Maori academic who attended the lecture and they felt his speech was lacking in content too. He says that indigenous people have a lot to offer - we KNOW that - so, how are we going to achieve constitutional change and the right to self determination?

Do you seriously think that I'm going to discuss those issues in 20 minutes in a Law lecture room in front of a bunch of strangers one of whom was clearly hostile ... (yes that's you Scott)

At this stage these discussions belong on a marae amongst Maori people we trust, so we don't get bogged down listening to the ill informed racists ranting's of pakeha (yes that's you Scott)

What I will say is this a number of Constitutional Summits are occurring around the country, the last national gathering was in 2007 at Waitangi Marae which I convened and hosted.

Part 1 Constitutional summit:

Part 2:


(And Scott you're not welcome ..... for no other reason than your ill informed, insulting, judgemental, attitude)

Aotearoa's leading leading intellectuals academics and activists are currently engaged in a series of monthly meetings to formulate the constitutional development agenda .... (And Scott you're not welcome ..... for no other reason than your ill informed, insulting, judgemental, attitude)

Somehow you seem to have got it in your head that you're some sort of leading TR activist that has the mandate to critique what's really going on .... but listen up ....... you're not even aware of what that is now are you?

Let me make a suggestion to you Scott .... have a good think about your abusive language about me and man up and apologise for your ignorance.

Mike Smith

4:35 pm  
Blogger Country Lane said...

So, this got interesting.
One Pakeha point of view:
I believe Maori have an absolute right to self determination.
I don't expect to be part of the discussion about how they achieve that.
If Maori decide to achieve self determination by sucking up to a bunch of incompetent, destructive, venal Tories - I will fight them.

7:25 pm  
Blogger Steelykc said...

Blimey...Ive just spent a bit of time reading all these posts being rather interested in the various responses to Chris Trotters views but I cant believe the vitriol with which you all attack each other, or the constant references by 'Mike' to take a racism course if you disagree with him. Really Mike, thats got to be the weakest form of argument. Man up yourself and stop pretending your so dam important.

9:24 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Reread the posts it wasn't wasn't me throwing shit around. Scott 's a big boy If he wants to dish it he's got to be prepared to wear it as well.... same goes for you

9:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


By the way Mike, Scott was sitting at the lecture quietly taking notes and was respectful and supportive in being there.

You say you wouldn't discuss the issues in a law lecture theatre - why were you there then?!!

I find your attitude saddening - from the lecture you gave i thought you were a good person - (though I would have liked some more concrete examples on ways forward for tino rangatiratanga -as I mentioned before). I think it's crossly unfair that you insinuate that Scott is racist and insulting. The substance of Scott's blogpost was supportive of tino rangatiratanga but suggested it needs to be linked to left politics and that working with right wing governments is a dead end and would not help the cause.

Scott has never considered himself, or promoted himself, as an expert on TR. I think you have just gotten upset because people have critiqued your lecture and found some areas wanting.

Relax Mike - if you knew us, I think you'd like us (ask some of your Law School friends).

10:03 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This is bit confusing. In some ways I am on Mike Smith's side and in others I am on Maps.

This is not as I am fence sitting (well!) - but I feel that both are coming from different directions (or feelings-experiences about these issues (or philosophies or WAYS of thinking)). Both, I think, are making communication errors.

I feel Maps all too blithely dismisses Smith's comments - on the other hand - while Smith makes some rather vague comments in his speech he makes some interesting ones - that potentially the indigenous peoples have (the future - many solutions to many social and political and environmental problems) in their hands - this is interesting - conventional Marxism has us in for working class revolution and so on. Smith is arguing that all that is or has failed. Perhaps he is right..after all (I don't believe that Global warming is more real that fart in a Klein Bottle in the bemused minds of few mad professors and hypocrites such as Al Gore who uses more power than the rest of the planet himself... ) BUT certainly there are enormous environmental problems caused by destruction to forests and so on (also the effect of the virtually genocidal European actions in the Americas and elsewhere, coupled with massive exploitation of resources etc; has meant that alternatives Smith advocates may be necessary.

I myself don't see any problem with smashing the Cup. What protest actions do people "under siege" undertake? Who is to say what action or actions are "correct"? ... the talk has gone on and on...and nothing happens people strike out...they undertake suicide bombing...they do all sorts of things...
(The Arabic peoples would be justified in another 9/11 - after all the troops are pouring into Afghanistan ordered in by a token black President who is basically a puppet) - but then who knows who did 9/11 ... the CIA are capable of organising such things...and worse..

No, while I felt sad as a Pakeha Aucklander that One Tree Hill was no more 1 (!!) ...I can feel the anger of Maori. It was a significant act. Even necessary. Hone Heke cut down the flag pole.

Maps dismisses it too strongly.

Smith is angry (at the WAY Maps comments) so he counterattacks Maps who seems a bit smug...

Maps feels that pseudo science is involved - I don't feel so - the connections of words can lead into pretty dodgy territory but that is o.k. - people always look for these kinds of connections.

I myself have often wondered if the word ra - sun has any connection to the Egyptian ra -it could perhaps - it could be a linguistic hang over from the Africa connection .... and, also, Maori may have gone to or come from South America...on the other hand it would be dubious to accept these connections as set in stone as such, I feel.

The Maori Party connects with National - well the Labour Party initiated the Sea and Foreshore Bill and so on. Can we tell them who to talk to?

But we should be able to comment on
tino rangatiratanga but I understand Smith's anger:

"..... but it aint real until its in the realm of pakeha scholarship ...."

But we can and must critique these things (but not as if we know all the answers because of our Eurocentric "realm of pakeha scholarship" as we are all in the same boat or waka together now and Maps has a point that National are not good for anyone - well nor are are Labour!!

But I feel Smith had a right to give that speech and it was mostly o.k.

But Mike - I feel you bear this anger too much - Maps sometimes cones across on his high horse but I know him and he means well. Maybe the way Maps went about "demolishing" or attempting to disparage Smith's speech was not as diplomatic as it could I feel Smith (while I can see some parallels) is miles way from Doutre's position.

10:19 pm  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Richard Taylor - I'll only take you up on one point (responding to all your meanderings would raise my bp too much): kindly read- or reread- what Maps wrote about Treager.

Or research Barry Fells.

Or just take a wee look in any good dictionary - or ask a native speaker - about all meanings of 'ra' (long a).

"It could be a linguistic hangover from the Africa connection." Yeah, right.

It's a basic phoneme of human languages.

11:36 pm  
Blogger maps said...

I regret the vituperative tone this comments thread has developed and I'm happy to apologise to Mike for confusing him with Ben Nathan and for mistakenly saying he was flogging off his famous chainsaw for cash.

I also should have immediately substantiated my claims that Mike's talk was flakey, instead of disappearing without providing evidence. It's not fair to criticise someone's ideas in strong terms without immediately providing evidence.

I usually comment in these threads when I have a couple of minutes spare, and so I'm not as formal and careful as I am when I write posts. My bad.

I don't resile, though, from the comments I made later in the thread about the content of Mike's talk.

I thought the talk rambled, and didn't say anything of political substance, but those are political opinions, and thus somewhat subjective.

What is less a matter of personal opinion is my reaction to
the pseudo-scholarship that informed parts of Mike's talk.
I think Mike's claims about linguistics and also about the theory of evolution's relevance to human societies were completely off-beam.

No twentieth century, let alone twenty-first century linguist would go along with Mike's method of comparing isolated words from widely-separated languages and then making conclusions about historic contacts between those languages.

In the nineteenth century, the method Mike is using caused great damage to the study of the history of Maori and other indigenous peoples, as the career of Edward Tregear shows. Apart from Mike, the only people who use the method today seem to be white racists like Martin Doutre and his mates.

It's complete nonsense for Mike to claim that his method is somehow grounded in Maori society, and is beyond criticism from Pakeha. The method comes from nineteenth century Europe, and should be left there.

Mike's claims (which seem to have been made off the cuff, because they're not in the text of his speech, but are there, in some detail, in my notes on his speech) that evolution is about progress, and that there is a parrallel between natural evolution and the evolution of human societies, also have unpleasant echoes of the nineteenth century.

Darwin said over and over that evolution does not involve any sort of moral, technical or spiritual progress - it is simply the way living things change over time. Darwin also warned against attempts to try to judge the history of human societies in terms of evolution.

Far too many nineteenth and twentieth century politicians abused the theory of evolution to justify oppressive practices as the product of evolution, or to assert that one society was more highly evolved, and thus superior to, another. Surely we don't want to go down the road of politicising the theory of evolution again?

The one good thing about this disagreement is that it shows the Pakeha pseudo-historians who are always attacking me as a politically correct lackey of 'radical Maori' that I don't automatically agree with every argument a Maori makes! I think that a bad research method is a bad research method, regardless of the skin colour of the person using it.

Finally, Mike's suggestion that I somehow disrupted his lecture and stopped him from talking about certain topics is quite untrue. I sat quietly near the back taking notes until I had to clear off. I might have picked my nose at some stage, and this action would have no doubt been distasteful, but I don't think it could count as a serious disruption.

12:26 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Kerry Hulme - points noted - but I stick to what I said in so far as I can recall what it was I was saying and in so far what said is what I now think it is that I said, given that I did indeed say it.... You seem to have misread what I said. But then I misread things all the time. But then that is my job - I am a Misreader but I am a Mr Reader - what's going on here? - I trained as one! Maybe I mis-wrote but I stick to mis-writing.
I reserve the right to write and to contain multitudes...Is this right? What rite is this? What is this rite and what is right?

1:31 am  
Blogger Richard said...


I cant see that what Mike Smith said is bad at all. It seems that he used forms of rhetoric - e.g. his ref to "evolution" was to "evolution downward" that is he is referring to the tracing of ancestors and Maori creation myths not Darwinian theory!

I see here more difference in culture or "philosophy" or Weltangschaung rather than in "logic" - hence different views of the world.

And I don't see that comparing words is terrible crime. I don't care if your blood boils.

Well I do care...sorry if it is boiling! Sounds bad! (Sorry.)
I DO care if you get ill though; so don't get ill!

But don't read my meanderings if it bloods your boils - they are probably completely invalid (not your bloody boiling boils - my meanderings)...and I don't reread myself them or I cant sleep! I just make things up...

Throw some bricks at Comrades Smith and or Maps.

But I also feel Maps has flogged this pseudo science theme almost to death...scientists are all mad men...

1:37 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Skyler: "You say you wouldn't discuss the issues in a law lecture theatre - why were you there then?!!"

1) I'd been invited to spend some time with Jose Alwyn whom is interested in comparing the Maori / Mapuche experience of indigenous struggle.

2) I'd been invited to talk at a lecture entitled
Constitutionalising Indigenous Peoples Rights.
(which is not the same thing as Tino Rangatiratanga)
see Moana Jackson interview

And so that's what I did.

I was not invited to talk about TR sorry if that dissapointed you.... that wasn't the brief.

Some people fall into the trap of equating constitutional change with TR ..... it's not the same thing. So if you thought it was and were expecting
to hear a lecture on TR that was your mistake.

8:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Chris has rumbled ya...

9:13 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe we should all go a bit easier on each other?

The thing that disappoints me so much about the left, and a major reason why I'm not active at the moment (despite really wanting to be) is that we are so good ripping each other apart. Maps and Mike, from what I know of you (little admittedly) is that I think you'd like each other and be able to work together.

I'm not sure that Mike was saying that South American people and Maori were directly related, but more that there were relationships. Drawing linkages like this is pretty common in speeches, even if not historically accurate. I wouldn't necessarily read too much into it.

I've met Mike and worked with him a little bit (some years ago). For what its worth I never once found him racist (I'm Pakeha for what its worth), and I'd be pretty surprised if Maps is.

When Mike attacked the tree on One Tree Hill, I believe he did it it with a very clear understanding and plan to open up debate on Tino Rangatiratanga.

It wasn't a subject in mainstream political and media discourse before - afterwards it was. Of course he pi..ed people off, both racist and liberal. But sometimes you need actions to do that. Call it a classic propaganda action. You can argue about whether thats legitimate but I don't think it was pointless.

Mike has had to deal with many pakeha liberals who like the glamour of a Maori radical but who are quick to run away when they hear something they don't like.

Maps, I don't think you're like this, but I think that explains some of Mike's reaction (feel free to contradict me Mike).

Mike, I find Maps one of the best left bloggers out there. In that he actually thinks critically, which I find pretty rare in left blogs. Of course I don't always agree with his views, but that's how it should be.

Maps has done some really good work in challenging pseudo-history in the pakeha world. He's tuned into the language of it, so it's not surprising he'll pick up on language in speeches.

Regardless of how the tone has gone, I suggest this is actually a good conversation to be having - at least its happening!

9:28 am  
Blogger Unknown said...


Thanks for your acknowledgements about the insults you made to me which were based upon some mistaken assumptions. I'm glad that those matters are now resolved because I get the feeling these assumptions may have somewhat clouded your opinions .... shit Happens... we're humans.

I'm a Ngapuhi human and what we do when we meet people from distant shores is engage in elaborate encounter rituals so as to minimise the chance to give any offence to the people being welcomed, because historically giving offence before a relationship is established would be considered an indication of ill will and antagonism which would lead to immediate retribution.
I'm sure your people have similar codes of diplomatic conduct.

One of the ways we do this is that in the opening speeches we attempt to establish historical links with the visiting people however tenuous these might be.
This does not constitute subscription to any linguistic theory or practice .... it's a custom ... and as you recognised in your comments about my reference to the exchange of food, its a nice thing to do.

Don't read too much into it Scott, its not science, well it is actually, its social science.... which is not necessarily defined by logic but rather emotion.

Its about how you arrive .... and how you leave ...
anything goes in the middle ... but if you leave well that is your final statement that determines future encounters.

So in your future dealings with Maori bear this in mind.

Therefore these are my last comments to you on the matter.

Have a nice day and get on with the things you're meant to be doing!

Mike Smith

9:42 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Anon Geez have you got my mind bugged?


9:46 am  
Blogger Skyler said...

I'm glad the tone of the last few comments is changing. I thought the previous anon's comments were good/useful.

Mike I do realise the difference between constitutionalising indigenous peoples rights and Tino Rangatiratanga but I would have thought they were linked.

I guess it would have been nice to hear more of how you thought we could achieve indigenous rights in our laws. Moving on, I thought that Kingi Snelgar did offer some ways he thought we could do this which was useful.

Mike, thank you for coming to the lecture I think it's vital that these conversations happen. I do wish you all the best with your work.

I agree the Left needs to stop arguing amongst itself (it also one of my main frustrations) - I know it puts people off.

9:56 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ok I'm back now .... seriously ... thanks to you Richard and the other contributors in this conversations ... its all food for thought .... kai o nga rangatira!

9:59 am  
Blogger Skyler said...

Kia ora Mike

10:05 am  
Blogger maps said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:43 am  
Blogger maps said...

Sorry, I'll try that comment again without the typos that indecent haste causes -

Fair points anon. You're probably right that I've gotten a bit paranoid about the language of racist pseudo-historians like Doutre, and thus over-react to much more harmless manifestations of it! But I'm also a great admirer of the work that linguists have done in tracing the prehistory of humans, and I do think it would be a shame if the discipline were misrepresented, or written off as 'Pakeha scholarship'.

I don't consider Mike's attack on the tree was in any way racist, just counterproductive. It convinced a lot of Pakeha that Maori nationalism involves the destruction of their cherished symbols and the making of Maori gains at their loss.

This sort of zero sum attitude to race relations - if we give those Maoris anything, it'll be hardworking whites who pay the price - is what politicians like Brash and Laws and now Goff play on. It seems to me that the great advantage of the concept of pluri-nationalism is that it can be used to convince Pakeha that they can allow Maori tino rangatiratanga without losing their own identity and institutions.

There's also the fact that my 'cultural heritage' (tongue in cheek) as a dyed in the wool socialist makes me averse to spectacular individual actions like the attack on the tree at the top of Maungakiekie. I think important political actions should be discussed first and taken collectively.

As I understand it Mike cut the tree down partly because he wanted to protest the fiscal envelope, which was going to limit Treaty compensation payments to a billion and put a time limit on them. The fiscal envelope was effectively an attempt to bring to Treaty issues the same neo-liberal cost-cutting that saw National slash benefits and attack unions. I don't think cutting down the tree helped explain the neo-liberal nature of the fiscal envelope, because it upset a lot of Pakeha who were concerned about things like health and benefit cuts and the Employment Contracts Act.

I think something like a mass planting of native trees by Maori and Pakeha activists on the summit of One Tree Hill - an activity that probably would have resulted in mass arrests, and thus still gotten a lot of publicity - would have been preferable to cutting down a tree.

The tragedy is that some of the misunderstandings of the '90s may be repeated in the years to come, as Pakeha who become upset with the neo-liberal policies of a new National government (and the process of disillusionment is just beginning) associate those policies with the Maori Party, and therefore with Maori nationalism, and thus become extremely hostile to Maori issues.

I think Phil Goff is banking on this happening: he's opposing neo-liberal National policies like the Emmissions Trading Scheme, which penalises workers and effectively subsidises businesses, at the same time as he tries to associate these policies with the Maori Party, without tino rangatiratanga, and with 'Maori privilege'.

This is a disgraceful tactic, of course, but it's only possible because the Maori Party has decided to commit slow suicide by shacking up with the Tories.

10:58 am  
Blogger Richard said...

So Mike is related to my reprobate mate Kaio (Awarau) Rivers!! And Mangu... aiieee!

3:16 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I think in deep ways we are all "racist" - I don't mean that is bad. [And I don't mean as in Klu Klux Klan or whatever!] I think it is condition we are more or less born with and also it is socially inculcated - it's the extent that a we are NOT racist that differentiates us. We need to acknowledge these deep feelings or aspects of ourselves, but no excessive liberal "guilt" is necessary...

What is mild xenophobia or healthy paranoia (that bloke is really out to get ya!) and can change into intense paranoia and racism depending on factors such as character, home life, knowledge levels, experiences, influences, teachers, etc etc

Mike could say that that part of Maps that said: "x and y" might be racist (maybe due to misunderstanding); but not to factors "f and e"...(and I know the kind of holier than thou Pakeha he means who jump ship when the going gets hot); and conversely Maori can react and become very sensitive on an issue or issues that are very important to them: and (this can be) as we cant experience directly what it is like to be Maori. We have to make assumptions... there is a divide - but that alienation is between all peoples. But there are universal meeting points, and the indigenous peoples of South American and elsewhere can show us things as can Maori and others. We need to unite as much as we can.

Humour helps - we need to understand each other.

My trouble is I don't understand myself!

But in no way do I see Mike as like a Doutre; but conversely Maps has done great work in opposing wrong ideas in that direction (of course not all scientists are mad ..but!)

I think also that Maps has here (on this Blog) given a lot of information that is positive to and about Maori.

3:44 pm  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Richard Taylor - my name is KERI HULME
-not your fuckwit playing around with it.
Yes! I get very angry when someone - who should know better -makes shoddy games with my name.
I would curse you - but I've grown up, 50 years ago.
You should too.

12:16 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Keri - sorry I actually forgot how your name was for a second as typed that - there was not anything intended - the rest was just silly buggers.

So my apologies.


11:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't see where to email you, but thought you might be interested in this Marsden Grant fund -

Redrawing the Polynesian Triangle: Did Polynesian settlement extend to South America?

$710k over 3 years.

4:55 pm  
Anonymous Danyl Strype said...

Kia ora

Thanks for a great post. Comforting to know I'm not the only one opposed to Trotter's attempts to present paakeha nationalism as compatible with a principled left wing position.

Since Trotter is raising comparisons with the Nazis, I wonder if he's considered the parallels with the Nazi state's claim of a right to rule Poland with the NZ state's claim of a right to rule Tuhoe.

You may disagree Maps, and I've been told off by Leninists for suggesting this in the past, but in my view Aotearoa was recolonised by the USA as a consequence of WW2. Many Paakeha have swallowed the myth that the USA are our allies, when in fact they are our economic occupiers, as we found out when they beat us around the head with the Washington Consensus policies of the 80s and 90s. As such, we have much more in common politically and economically with the Latin American countries than we do with the USA, or Europe, or Key's favourite human rights basketcase, China.

Nga mihi mahana

2:32 am  
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