Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

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Yellow Peril: the identity game

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  • B Jones,

    The districts with the top ten proportion of "New Zealanders" are Waimate, Mackenzie, Grey, Westland, Selwyn, Southland, Central Otago, Marlborough, Timaru and Clutha.

    The districts with the bottom ten proportion of "New Zealanders" are Manukau City, Kawerau, Chatham Islands, Wairoa, Auckland, Opotiki, Waitakere, Papakura, Porirua and Gisborne.

    It's not a melting pot name. The Auckland cities have a lower ratio of "New Zealander" to "European" than most provinces, except the Chathams, Kawerau and Kaipara. In the Chathams, New Zealanders come from somewhere else.
    Stats table

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    contemporary transnational indigeneity discourse

    I am currently writing a thesis on, among other things, indigenous indentity politics in a post-modern pre-trans-industrial vacuum sealed glad wrap roasting bad, and I can honestly say that even I haven't written something that flash but ultimately meaningless yet. I am genuinely impressed.

    Sorry I am being a smart arse, what I meant to say is: Care to explain what you mean by "contemporary transnational indigeneity discourse"

    I understand 'contemporary'well enough, and if by discourse you mean 'a sign system that rhetorically produces bounded fields of knowledge in accordance with complex power relationships that operate at both a macro (i.e. societal) level and and a micro (i.e. subtextual or pre conscious) to convince subjects of the certain truths claims' then I am still with you, but somewhere at the uneasy juncture of transnational and indigeneity I get lost?

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    glad wrap roasting bad

    FFS $50, 000 plus on tertiary education so far and I can prattle on like a complete ivory tower w*nker with the very best of them, but I still can't spell.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Beer,

    Manukura: By "contemporary transnational indigenity discourse" I simply mean the way that indigineity is talked about in the present within and accross national boundries. I am suggesting that the way indigeneity is talked about in Aotearoa is not entirely a product of the space of Aoteroa - particuarly deliberation in Canada, Australia, the US, and UK have been particuarly salient to the construction of indigeneity in NZ, along with local deliberation and discourses such as whakapapa.

    You miss my point entirely. I absolutely agree that it doesn't matter who was here first. My point is that many Non-Maori are of the space/ place of Aotearoa - this is not solely a Maori experience.

    Your thesis sounds interesting.

    Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • djb,

    Chris, it comes down to language. Maori are of Aotearoa, Pakeha are of New Zealand. There's a completely different relationship to land embedded in those terms, which Pakeha can experience as well to a degree, if they learn Te Reo. But when we learn it (better than me I hope) we realise that, in fact, we are different within the terms of the language, but it's not really a problem either, it just means you behave in a certain way (i.e. not claim mana whenua).

    B Jones: Brilliant statistics. You've said it all.

    Since Dec 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Here we go, something from one of the world's foremost scholars on indigeneity and education and research:

    Indigenous peoples "is a term that internationalizes the experiences, the issues and the struggles of some of the world's colonized peoples ... enabling communities and peoples to come together, transcending their own colonized contexts and experiences, in order to learn, share, plan, and organize struggle collectively for self determination on the global and local stages. [Indigenous peoples] have been subjected to the colonization of their lands and cultures, and denial of their sovereignty, by a colonizing society that has come to dominate and shape the quality of their lives, even after it has formally pulled out." (L.T. Smith, 1999)

    Is that some contemporary, transnational, indigenous and discursive shit or what? Not a lot of room for non-Maori indigeneity to Aotearoa in that definition is there? And it isn't even similar to my definition. But wait it gets better:

    Indigeniety "has been co-opted politically by the descendants of settlers who lay claim to an 'indigenous' identity through their occupation and settlement of land over several generations or simply through being born there - though they tend not to show up at indigenous peoples' meetings nor form alliances that support the self-determination of the people whose forebears once occupied the land they ahve 'tamed' ... Their [settlers] linguistic and cultural homelend is somewhere else, their cultural loyalty is to some other place. Their power, their privelege, their history are all vested in their legacy as colonizers."

    Ouch.

    What scholarly texts on 'contemporary transnational indigeneity discourse have you been reading Chris? Clearly not the same ones as me, so i am really interested to have a read up on where you are getting you're arguments from.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    hey, um, Chris and Manakura, i hate to wade into your argument here, but you are both arguing the same point.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Chris, yes! You are absolutley right, indigeneity, and the usage of that word that is currently discursively empowered comes from an international sharing of humour, histories and experiences of colonization, largely amongst peoples who have an ancestral relationship with their land. Historically speaking, I think it was largely the efforts of AIM (Stuff the All Blacks, Jimmie Durham is my hero!)

    Yes, non-Maori are of the space of Aotearoa, but they are not descended from the land, therefore non-indigenous. I do not dispute tauiwi have a relationship with Aotearoa, clearly they do, but it is not an indigenous relationship. Add to that definition that indigeneity, as currently used in indigenous discourse, also refers to the world's peoples that have been and/or still are being colonized, again not something that is part of the lived experience of Pakeha.

    Yes my thesis is interesting, I can't wait for my first guest appearance on 'Better Living' with umm, ... what is that woman's name? i swear she is actually an android or some sort of domesticated zombie.

    O hang on, your location is Canberra Chris, spose you don't know what the Better Living ad campaign is?

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Interesting stuff, B. Jones. Can I seek an exemption to our universal condemnation of stereotyping and make some rude remarks about South Islanders? Oh, go on, please ...

    OK, we're not immune up here in Babel City. As evidenced by a judge's recent comments (he was lucky there were some pretty big news stories around to distract us, so he missed his 15 minutes of infamy). He also had a very clear view of "New Zealander", reinforced by his mirror each morning:

    he then said "... indeed to New Zealand eyes, people of Chinese extraction or race are difficult to identify, facially and also by name"

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3879218a11,00.html

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 815 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    hey, um, Chris and Manakura, i hate to wade into your argument here, but you are both arguing the same point.

    O christ no! Arguments over the small matters of semantics are hard enough to follow when only two egg heads are involved, chaos reigns when interlocuters step in. lol

    Anyway, no there is a crucial difference, which is over what indigenous means and who is allowed to use it. Chris seems to be arguing that inter-generational occupation is worthy of being conferred, but I hold that indigeneity is more about ancestral relationships to land, and also where a person or group sits in colonial relationships... hence semantics!

    Its one of those "my dad is tougher than your dad because..." situations.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    lol. "my dad is....", indeed.

    i get what chris is saying, and lean towards your argument manakura. but, to perhaps add clarity to your debate, the aspect of indigeneity being overtaken by the disciples of Michael King is the attachment to place.

    would it be helpful to suggest that the greater weight to indigeneity is leant by the relationship to being a colonised people?

    to clarify, my ancestors arrived in whalers. i have a deep, deep attachment to this place. so, my family has become naturalised, and their identity has changed as the national identity has grown (note: there were no national identities prior to the latter C19th).

    their attachment to place has generated a new identity, for which there is no clear term. hence the cooption of the indigenous label.

    if you're still reading, i'd suggest David Pearson. or maybe a lebanese australian called Ghassan Hage. "White Nation" is a damn good read.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    PS. clarity [for other observers]!

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Manakura, I'd be interested in your translation of tauiwi. My impression is that it contains a sense of otherness (people from far away?) that pakeha (people who are fair-skinned, like the pakepakeha) doesn't convey. The way I've heard it used makes me wonder whether it's a little like "native", in the sense that it's technically accurate but gets up the noses of people it's applied to.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    And also how your definition of indigeneity applies to nomadic peoples.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 819 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    the aspect of indigeneity being overtaken by the disciples of Michael King is the attachment to place.

    Perhaps, but there is a lot of resistance to it. Have you read Jeff Sissons 'First Peoples', published this year? He doesn't seem to think King's version of indigeneity cuts any ice either, not that he mentions King specifically, and Linda Smith certainly leaves no room for the descendents of settlers to be 'indigenous.

    I agree there is an identity emerging amongst non-Maori Aoteroan, but it is not an indigenous identity, being that it is largely associated with the descendants of colonials, and however deep the attachment to land it is not ancestral. No less valid for not being indigenous though. The co-option of the term indigenous is a colonial move, in that it takes a marker of identity for the colonized and reshapes it to suit certain nationalist ideologies insecurities or whatever.

    Not saying that you, or Chris, or anyone else have bad intentions, but when you are born out of a history of being colonized any co-option by the dominant group is to be viewed with intense suspicion.

    I don't see why people who adhere to this idea of a new identity emerging that is tied to Aotearoa and the descendants of settlers aren't happy with the names generously gifted to them by Maori: 'Pakeha' or maybe Aotearoan. But not indigenous, it just doesn't fit.

    Tangs for the reading tips - does the Aussie tome contain anything about the history of colonisation there? if so, i don't think i can read it - that histroy is too horrendous to stomach, all the more so because it continues today. After I read Pilger's short account in 'The New Rulers of the World' or something similar I decided my constitution wasn't suited to hearing about what has been and is been done to Aboriginal Australians.

    And no Pakeha is not an insult, at least not originally, Europeans were honoured guests on the lands of many powerful iwi - to have a missionary or white trader living within your mana whenua was once a means of increasing a cheifs and his hapu's mana, how things change - so it is counter intuitive to suggest Pakeha is inherently insulting. It has just accumulated a lot of bad press over the years, for obvious reasons.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Leaving aside the the patronising aspects of pre-history as a term, I repeat it is not about who was here first, where ever here is. Indigeneity is about being able to look up at a mountain and say that mountain is my ancestor, my great-great-great ... great grandfather or mother. Indigeneity is literally being born OF the land, not born ON the land.

    So its not about how many generations your family has been living in a country, it the familial attachment you feel to your ancestral piece of the land. How does this jibe with the many, many urban maori who have lost those familial links to their ancestral landscape? Are they no longer indigenous?
    As a sixth generation New Zealander I have very strong attachments to the parts of the country my family have bonded with over the years. The hills of Wellington and the Kapiti coast have a lot of meaning to my family and I.
    Obviously your whakapapa allows you to trace your ancestral links to parts of the country all the way back to the beach your ancestors pulled their canoe up on. Just as obviously, they forged over many generations their familial relationship to the land.
    How can you measure how many generations, or what level of feelings for the land grant the status of indigenaity?

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 848 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    O um, tauiwi, "Strange tribe, Foreign Race" as defined by Herbert Williams in 1852, implying it was used back then by any hapu in reference to anyone not of their hapu. Current usage just means non-Maori, due to the evolution of a nationalised 'Maori' identity. Funnily enough, with reference to that silly debate about 'New Zealander' being an ethnic category or not, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand were originally called 'New Zealanders'. We preferred Maori (meaning pure, or ordinary).

    The real complexity lies in what Pakeha, Maori, European, New Zealander and Aotearoan (which is being used increasingly by the sort of peple who wear Huffer, love Scribe and listen to bFM) mean in relation to each other, and what they will come to mean in the future.

    For the record, I no longer really think of myself as Maori, especially when i am in Aotearoa, I identify myself by hapu then iwi. When I go abroad i 'become' Maori, and then I am also Pakeha. Along the Pakeha branch, I could identify as Spanish, Irish, Scottish, Cornish. This is why terms like 'Maori' "Asian' etc are meaningless - what relevance do any of the census terms have to a mongrel like me?

    As for nomadic peoples... no idea, not that familiar with nomadic cultures. But just because a people is nomadic, doesn't mean they don't have a familial relationship with the land the roam over. I guess if they have an ancestral relationship to particular landscapes, and/or have been colonised then, yes they would come under my definition of indigenous. Just because you roam doesn't mean you have no home (thats an advertsising jingle i think).

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    yeah, i think the negativity on the term "pakeha" began in the 80s? it's more the pity, because a decent label is just what the colonial nation needs. i always like 'Kiwi' because it has so many positive associations, is already in parlance, and is inclusive of stroppy asian girls like tze ming.

    as for the situation in australia? i conducted a big section of my fieldwork in aboriginal community groups. harrowing is the only word. that said, your aversion to their history makes me want to insist even more that a 'thinking man' like yourself needs to better understand was deeply entrenched racism really does to any indigeous people.

    that is, i tracked the emanicipation arguments of maori and aboriginal from the latter C19th to present, and they only really diverge around the 1990s. so while aboriginal people got an incredibly bad package from the British they stuck to their arguments, and with the liberalisation of western democracy in the 1960s and 70s they started to gain rights. the same pattern was repeated in new zealand, but with less shooting, poisoning, rape, incarceration, denigration, and 'enthusiatic' assimilation.

    ghassan hage is good because he really gets to the nub of why the 1990s divergence occurred. plus, you need to understand how a semantic argument about indigeneity is important, mostly to ensure that the majority don't undermine the rights indigeneity bestows. but compared to what is still happening to aboriginal people? meaningless.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2026 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I repeat it is not about who was here first, where ever here is.

    I really don't want to come across as a post-colonial opressor or anything, but how do you reconcile the above with:

    I guess if they have an ancestral relationship to particular landscapes, and/or have been colonised then, yes they would come under my definition of indigenous.

    Isn't the main definer of being colonised the fact that the colonisee was there before the colonisor?

    Because, as I'm understanding what you've written thus far, you're indingenous if you have that strong ancestral relationship to the land, but not if someone else was there first.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 848 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Damn it, where is the cavalry, i'm running out of breath over here!

    When i say familial, I mean blood, ancestral - it a genealogical link to the land, where aspects of the land are your ancestors, and ultimately the land and sky are your cosmological parents.

    I have not ever doubted many or most Pakeha have developed a strong attachment to Aotearoa - to do so would be to disrespect a large part of my own ancestors. I just recognise a difference between the way Maori tend to relate to whenua and the way Pakeha tend to.

    Urban Maori is a difficult, complex and painful issue. But in short, no matter how socially cut off you are from your whakapapa and ancestral homes, the connection remains. It is there and never goes away, but can lie dormant I guess, or be ignored, or whatever. Thats a hard question, with no easy answer, but I believe any Maori can find and reactivate their whakapapa, if the have the desire. The trouble is that most urban Maori suffer the worst from what I call post-colonial stress disorder (tongue sort of in cheek!) And the definitions of indigeneity and how that gets translated into the redistribution of wealth, land, etc out of the Treaty settlements for example, is that because they have no iwi affiliation they miss out on what is supposed to be an integral part of remedying what ails them. Incredibly complex stuff.

    As for the idea that my ancient ancestors came here on a waka, well thats is true for a lot of hapu. Personally I don't whakapapa back to a waka, I trace my descent directly back to a specific landscape. as far as I am concerned my Maori ancestors never came from anywhere else. But that is besides our point here.

    What I have been trying to stress is how long you have been here, and who was first, etc etc is irrelevant when it comes to indigeneity. It is what you beleive that counts, and how you put that into action in your everyday life. I think one day all the peoples of Aotearoa will eventually have ancestral relationships with the whenua here as beleifs slowly change and as Maori assimilate the rest of the population!!

    Now

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Che, I hear what you're saying, but reading about all that is no good practically, i.e. you read it, or hear about it, and it gets difficult not to get bitter, and very angry, both of which are great antidotes to thinking, yes? Its difficult to convey the raw emotional impact that reading about such things has on someone who has that sort of violence as part of their lived experience. For example i find it near impossible to read the colonial history of my iwi unless i am somewhere far away from other people, somewhere extremely reflective, like a bush hut in the middle of the Coromandel. The sort of feeling that gets generated are distracting to say the least.

    Anyway, back to rational argument mode. I would disagree that indigeneity confers rights, rather it entails obligations and responsibilities. My status as an indigenous Aotearoan gives me nothing that i see as rights, and if it did I would likely reject them.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Manakura, what I'm trying to do is clarify your definition, Che has been straightforward in his definition of indigenous - it about the colonisation, and generally some degree of opression. If this is the case, then obviously non-maori can't claim to be indigenous, regardless of how long they've been here, and their relationship to the land.
    We do need another,less loaded, term to define people who do have that attachment to the placeness of a place, who have the contours of the hills and the feel of the wind in their blood, but haven't been driven from the land or had it confiscated or otherwise been opressed.
    The family vinyards of france have been inhabited by the same families going back well over 1000 years, their feelings towards the terroir have been expressed in poetry, prose, wine and song for at least that long. But indigenous isn't the word that springs to mind to descibe that relationship with the land.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 848 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    But indigenous isn't the word that springs to mind to descibe that relationship with the land.

    Well, no, thats probably because those French farmers don't see the land they farm as their ancestor(s) as much as they haven't been colonised.

    It seems fairly obvious too me, indigenous is used to refer to colonized peoples, but to me, and many of the Maori I know, it laso denotes a particular kind of relationship to land, i.e. an ancestral one, summed up nicley by the term 'tangata whenua'. As i understand it, since the 1970s 'indigenous' has come to be a kind of international shorthand that describes those ancestral relationships to land as well as the condition of being colonized.

    Yes there is a relationship between the coloniser coming to the place after the colonized, but I place far less weight on that than I do the values and relationships of those two broad groups of people. I think adhering to that sort of linear history is a bit narrow, and it doesn't take into account that the values and relationships will change over time, hopefully gradually in a direction which will see the aforementioned colonised/coloniser dissovle.

    Time is important in the sense that if i was to bump into in the streets of insane bloggersville, and you suddenly claimed, "Hey, contrary to what i said 12 hours ago, I now claim Taramaki is my ancestor, therefore I am indigenous now, how bout them law school quotas" I'd come over in big red splotches and try very hard not to get up in your grill over it.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    We do need another,less loaded, term to define people who do have that attachment to the placeness of a place

    Agreed, lets hijack the word of the year thread with that very quest! The best those boring bastards have come up with is 'cancerous'. Yawn. (while lol... almost painful).

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • djb,

    Here's a backgrounder on the definition, and why one isn't really necessary or desirable. The bottom line here is that Maori were very involved in developing the recently scuttled (by New Zealand!) United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Pakeha weren't. You don't see too many Pakeha at indigenous peoples' conferences, for good reason. While I appreciate that many kiwis find this unsettling, in the end the problem with talking in English is that New Zealanders can't control it or "find other, less loaded terms", without also gaining agreement in England and the US, at least. Which kind of proves Manakura's point.

    Since Dec 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

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