Friday, December 18, 2009

Aidan Work and the absurdities of Pakeha separatism

Race relations are likely to be a topic of conversation around the nation's barbies over the Christmas and New Year break, thanks to the government's decision to allow the flying of the tino rangatiratanga flag at Waitangi Day ceremonies, and its endorsement of the Geographic Board's judgement that an 'h' should be added to the name of the fair town of Wanganui.

Although they only concern symbols, both decisions are responses to long campaigns by Maori, and both raise tricky questions about the character of New Zealand society and the New Zealand state. On talkback radio and on right-wing blogs, the backlash against 'Maori separatism' and 'the desecration of our flag' has begun. Caller after caller and commenter after commenter warns that advocates of tino rangatiratanga want to dismantle New Zealand and to physically separate Maori from Pakeha, perhaps by sending the latter back to Britain on the next ship.

I have argued in a number of posts that the equation of tino rangatiratanga with the dismemberment of New Zealand and the establishment of a separate Maori state is largely a figment of the Pakeha imagination. Since the invasion and sacking of Rua Kenana's community at Maungapohatu in 1916, there has been no large-scale secessionist movement amongst Maori. While activists like Eva Rickard and Tame Iti have at one time or another made declarations of independence on behalf of the people of various rohe, these proclamations have been tools to promote particular campaigns for the righting of past injustices, not serious stabs at secession. The 'Takimoana nation' proclaimed in the East Cape region of the North Island in 2007 appears to be a more serious proposal, but it seems to have attracted few enthusiasts. Even Tuhoe, the bete noire of Pakeha talkback hosts, are demanding only regional autonomy in their ongoing Treaty of Waitangi negotiations with the Crown.

The evidence suggests that, for the vast majority of its advocates, tino rangatiratanga means the creation of what Jose Aylwin has called a 'pluri-national' state, in which indigenous people have the freedom to set up their own institutions to deal with their own concerns. During his recent lecture tour of New Zealand, Aylwin showed that the ideal of a pluri-national state is becoming a reality in Bolivia and in Ecuador, where indigenous peoples are winning regional and economic autonomy.

I would argue that it is Pakeha, not Maori, who are raising the spectre of separatism in our country today. When Maori suggest the elaboration of the New Zealand state, so that it embodies the binational ideal they see in the Treaty of Waitangi, right-wing Pakeha - and one or two supposedly left-wing Pakeha, as well - respond by talking about the dismemberment of New Zealand, and fantasise about the corralling of Maori and Pakeha into separate states.

A comment that Aidan Work recently left on this blog shows up some of the ironies of Pakeha separatism. Work appears fairly typical of some of the characters who populate the socially conservative part of the right-wing fringe of Kiwi politics. In the 1990s he achieved renown in certain circles as a critic of the Family Court, and of the wider machinations of the 'feminist conspiracy' against good Kiwi blokes. More recently, he has blogged about the perfidies of Republicanism , and been expelled from the Monarchist League for an excess of fervour. Although Work is fond of questioning the patriotism of his political opponents, his contribution to this blog advocates secession from New Zealand:

I reckon that Michael Laws was more than right to have referred the issue to a referendum...

As for Tariana Turia, she is the most racist person I've ever met, considering that she is not only a racist crook, but a criminal advocate of apartheid. All this talk of 'Tino Rangatiratanga' is a load of bullshit. It makes my blood boil with anger that the Maori Nationalist criminals are allowed to get away with promoting their hate, thanks to the politicians who are sitting in Parliament appeasing the so-called 'Maori Party', who are nothing but a bunch of criminals anyway!

...I'm a native of Wanganui myself...The time for amending the Race Relations Act,1971 to proscribe criminal outfits, such as both the so-called 'Maori Party' & the 'National Front' is long overdue, as is for inserting a clause to provide for the death penalty to be imposed on those who engage in promoting apartheid.

As one who opposed the illegal occupation of Moutoa Gardens back in 1995, I still remain extremely angry that no-one has been called to account, let alone, been put on trial.

The time for Wanganui to secede from the Dominion of New Zealand is long overdue! Wanganui would be better off as a British colony like Bermuda, the Falkland Islands, & Gibraltar.

Work's proposal for the secession of Wanganui would appear to kill several birds with one stone: it would dispose of attempts by the government in Wellington to change the town's name, it would render irrelevant the question of whether or not the tino rangatiratanga banner should fly beside the 'official' Kiwi flag, and it would deprive the evil Tariana Turia of a fair chunk of her electorate (although, since Turia would, in Work's ideal world, be sitting in prison awaiting execution, the redrawing of her electorate boundaries perhaps wouldn't trouble her too much).
And, who knows, the Brits might even be keen on reabsorbing Wanganui. Despite the gangs Michael Laws is always talking about, the place would probably be easier to run than Basra.

Work's proposal has something of a precedent, too, on the central west coast of Te Ika a Maui. In 1879 a Republic of Hawera was briefly established in the south Taranaki, by a local landowner - 'President' James Livingstone - and his armed and exclusively Pakeha supporters. Like Aidan Work, the Hawera settlers were motivated by anti-Maori bigotry: they had been frustrated by the failure of the government in Wellington to suppress the movement of passive resistance to land sales that was being led by the Parihaka prophet Te Whiti. The Hawera secessionists hoped that by establishing their own state they would be able to deal more ruthlessly with the troublesome prophet and his followers, but they were quickly placated by Wellington, and in 1881 they rejoiced at the invasion of Parihaka and the smashing of Te Whiti's power.

More recently, there have been rather quixotic attempts to establish a Pakeha ethno-state in some of the remoter regions of Te Wai Pounamu by Kyle Chapman and his neo-Nazi chums. After 'patrolling' a slice of the southern high country with their air rifles, and Kyle and co announced plans to buy land for a whites-only settlement in north Canterbury. Unfortunately for Kyle, WINZ wasn't keen on paying for his idea.

Aidan Work's proposal for the secession of Wanganui is no more likely to bear fruit than Chapman's campaign to win lebensraum on the Canterbury steppe. In its very extremity, though, Work's position brings clearly out some of the essential features of the right-wing Pakeha backlash against tino rangatiratanga. Work's demand that the Maori Party be violently repressed is only an exaggerated version of the call by so many blog commenters and talkback callers for the abolition of the Maori seats and MMP, which are held responsible for 'giving the Maoris too much power'.
Work's silly attempts to compare the Maori Party to Sinn Fein and the Zimbabwe African National Union - organisations with their own, very particular national antecdents - reflects a widespread Pakeha failure to understand the Maori political leaders of the present in terms of New Zealand's past, and the Maori experience of that past. And Work's rather pathetic appeal to dear old Blighty to rescue Wanganui from the savages reflects the failure of conservative Pakeha to embrace their identity and destiny as New Zealanders, rather than seeing themselves as displaced sons and daughters of Empire.

As usual, talkback radio has got it wrong. It's Pakeha racism and separatism we should be worried about, not the advocates of tino rangatiratanga.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:46 pm  
Blogger Lewis Holden said...

Also worth reading (for laughs):

He put a lot of effort into vilifying myself.

11:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Livingstone was a settler who had actually fought against Titokawaru at Te Ngutu-o-te-manu in 1868. Eleven years later his land was ploughed up under orders from Te Whiti during the Parihaka conflict.

12:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS The secession ended quietly when colonial troops arrived two weeks later.

12:20 am  
Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

Aidan Work is (how shall I put this delicately?) a bit of an 'eccentric'.

When I met him in Wellington some time in the mid-late 90s he was known to walk around town dressed in the attire of a member of the Ulster Protestant paramilitaries and affecting a Belfast accent...he went to great lengths to research and carry-off his chosen 'persona'.

11:06 am  
Blogger Edward said...

Interesting post Maps. I really can't understand the extreme views of Work, or even the slightly less but equally disturbing views of rightwing radio hosts such as Laws. The nonsense about aparthied and analogies to troubled nations is nothing short of frenzied madness. I fully agree with the notion that the seperatist rhetoric is being driven, in a popular sense, by silly Pakeha from both the right and, as you say sometimes from the left, rather than from the recognition of indigenous rights. Such movements toward recognition are becoming wide spread (and rightly so) in post-colonial countries and is slowly being implemented through legal and social mechanisms. The seperatist rhetoric floating around at the moment only denotes that many pakeha have an embarrasing lack of understanding of both NZ history and society, but also a lack of understanding of current attempts to address indigenous rights around the globe. Perhaps if the media, for example, focused less on telling us about Tiger Woods and more about these issues (which are much more relevant to NZ), and the education system supported such, many of the scream-for-blood pakeha in this country might aquire an informed empathy in place of their horrible ethnocentricism. Easier said than done though I suppose..

11:47 am  
Blogger Richard said...

I cant listen to talk back radio (although I have done in the past) - it is full of the most excruciating drivel known to mankind...

The degree and extent of racism in NZ cannot to be overestimated. It will increase as the economy gets worse. People will start turning against even those they tolerated before. Divide et imperum.

I love the Maori tino rangatiratanga flag - there are two houses not far from where I live who fly them and I took pictures of their flags - some Maori have the courage and pride to put them on their own houses.

I prefer that flag by far than the Union Jack copy (basically) we have...

9:53 pm  
Anonymous Gabriel White said...

In some ways it's the soft hysteria, leading to the suffocation of history that is the Kiwi specialty. This is part and parcel of a pre-disposition to opportunism which indirectly feeds many forms of discrimination. A very telling comment from a litigation lawyer I was chatting to last might at the neighbourhood Xmas BBQ: "If every piece of land that could be disputed was disputed, then there would be nowhere left to do anything at all." Therefore, she implies, history compromises progress, dispute is negative, knowledge is paralyzing. This is the NZ ethos in a nutshell. It has less to do with misunderstanding Maori than a failure to grow out of the childish opportunism inherited from colonialism.

11:08 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Gabriel - I read and reread what you have said here several times, but I have no idea what you mean. Can you expand on what you said? Explicate it all a bit more?

12:05 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Troter is getting as bad as Aidan Work. In his new article/blog he says that the Maori activists are creating a national emergency and the official NZ flag should be flown upside down on Waitangi Day to reflect this. Chris Trotter warns of a national uprising. Does he know that the army is 60% Maori?

9:53 am  
Blogger Jeff Rubard said...


'You know WHUT?'

I *am not* Sam.

/I did a good enough job at this/.

Being and Time: "Tribute to a King" edition, /de-munged/ notes of foot: Anglo psychos *integrale*

11:05 am  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

Nowhere near 60 percent, I am reliably informed, Anonymous. And which "Maori"?

Once again, I am told that the tribes of the East Coast predominate (the same tribes who helped the Settler Government defeat the resisting tribes in the 1860s and 70s).

I'm further told that their fanatical loyalty to the Crown (their Commander-in-Chief) would cause them to shoot their Maori brothers down like dogs without a moment's hesitation.

9:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Trotter, I do not know you but you make me feel uneasy with your confrontational remarks. My uncle Charlie was attached to the 28th Battalion during WWII – he was known as Charlie ‘YM; Bennet. He drove the YMCA truck above & beyond the call of duty (why didn’t his Maori co-driver also get an MBE???? – interested parties please follow up on this thought) While I have some reservations about my uncle’s religious views (somewhat stern), I am proud of his work throughout his life – not bad for a boy who survived physical abuse and poverty via a violent father (saved by his beautiful mother – she was the light). The message I got loud and clear as a child was that my uncle was blown away (not literally, thankfully, though close) by the way ALL the men fought and stuck together – little info was forthcoming - we were Dunedin protties via Andy Bay, after all. Yes, the Battalion was created along tribal divisions, but isn’t any army based on ‘division’? If the 28th’s Battalion’s ancestors are filling the ranks of the NZ army, I say that’s pretty bloody wonderful. And why did they fight so proudly? In my perhaps ignorant but well meaning Pakeha view, I reckon it’s because these men were defending their homeland, despite not owning their land or being able to vote or being citizens. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t, etc must have been in their very strategic mindsI left my homeland long ago, so perhaps I should put a sock in the proverbial. Or should that be a pig’s trotter in the proverbial? As a semi-vege, I think not. In peace, and togetherness eh?

9:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant 'descendants' not 'ancestors'. Uncle C might have smiled at my drongoness, my Dad would be having a good old giggle and saying there goes my youngest again!

10:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant 'descendants' not 'ancestors'. Uncle C might have smiled at my drongoness, my Dad would be having a good old giggle and saying there goes my youngest again!

10:22 pm  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Imrb - you hearten me.
I find Chris Trotter very confrontational - and in his comments in the ODT & elsewhere- almost willing a racial war.

I come from a Kai Tahu/Scots/English family - a not-uncommon mix in the South.
My great-Uncle Peter Miller died in 1917 over in France: 2 of his brothers came back home. In the WW2, 4 of my whanau served overseas.

I find Chris Trotter's vile & ludicrous statement that
fanatical East Coast Maori loyalists would "shoot their Maori brothers down like dogs" explicitly racist and am tempted to take that comment to the Race Relations Conciliator. I'll think on that overnight.

Publically, I think you, Chris Trotter, are an unmitigated fuckwit. You are a stirrer, useless as anything else but a yapping wee publicity crawler.

2:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Publically, I think you, Chris Trotter, are an unmitigated fuckwit. You are a stirrer, useless as anything else but a yapping wee publicity crawler."

are but convincing the rest of the population: that's where you don't excel!
Why can't you lot get your point across (despite) "there have been volumes written about it"

11:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your product isn't saleable.

And your product is:

Sins of the father should be vested in all Pakeha (as though it was only yesterday and we are all swindlers) but anyone with Maori ancestry gets a free pass as victim.

"all the land was stolen".. (actually territory) and that suggestion is a 1/2 truth.

Maori have a superior culture uniquely adapted to Aotearoa in the 21st century.

If Maori were free to practice their culture they would be a prosperous people free of "negative statistics" (but first give up ownership of land owned by non-Maori)

12:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trotters insight comes from the fact that he isn't full of negativity and hate.

12:16 pm  
Blogger maps said...

On the contrary, anon, I argue against making history a blame game:

You should try thinking about the past in a somewhat more dispassionate manner sometimes.

7:15 pm  
Anonymous buy Cialis said...

I think that it is one of the best new things in the nation's barbies, so It is so interesting and important to many people in New Zealand.

10:20 am  
Blogger John Eccles said...

I have just read this article.

I have known Aidan for 27 years.

He certainly is eccentric, partly due to the fact that he has Aspergers Syndrone

5:06 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home