Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

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Yellow Peril: the identity game

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  • Don Christie,

    Ben, agreed, but on the other hand Scots do often have a strongish grasp of their history of displacement which reasonates with Maori and other peoples' displacement.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Its probably akin to the number of abused children who go on to bcome abusers. Wonder if you could use that as a mitigating circumstance "I didn't mean to colonise those people yer honour, but y'see, I was colonised myself as a youngster."

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    But...how much practise of traditional "Maori culture" would make me *coff* more Maori, & how much do the Maori people dictate "Maori culture" by just happening to be Maori, and...err...doing stuff? As far as I see it, the most relevant aspect of "Maori culture" seems to be active family/iwi affiliations. I know things like the legends & the waiata are significant, but they seem to have kind of degenerated into historical niceties. So which aspects of Maori history/culture should be retained (& developed) as a current, relevant defining feature, and which can be safely relegated to social studies lessons?

    But surely its the legends and waiata and spirituality that make up the maori part of maori culture - having active family/iwi affiliations is by no means unique: one could argue that having active family/tribal affiliations is more a defining characteristic of humanity in general; it is the specifics that make the culture maori, as opposed to scots or sicilian.
    On the bright side, with some study, and a bit of effort, you could become indigenous, as well as endemic :-)

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Finally, back to good old Deborah...

    Statistics NZ projections put the Asian population at 860,000 in 20 years, just 10,000 fewer than Maori. Is this what the tangata whenua envisage?

    Took me a moment to realise you weren't referring to me, Don, but to Deborah Coddington.

    I rather deliberately haven't posted on this thread - I can see some of what Manukura is saying, but I do feel at least a bit uptight when I am told how I must identify myself, and even more uptight when I am referred to as a 'guest' or 'stranger' when I was born and bred here, as were my parents, and my parents' parents, and my parents' parents' parents.

    And that's before I even start worrying about how it is that someone can justify their claim by reference to ghosties. Claiming that you are descended from a mountain is just a nonsense, and nodding your head in agreement when someone makes the claim is just a cultural cringe. If on the other hand, Manukura, you are making a metaphorical claim about spiritual connection, that's fine. You are welcome to your sense of spirituality. I just don't see how you can use it to justify excluding me from belonging here in a way that I can belong to no other place on this planet. I may not belong here in the same way that you do, but I really do belong here, and nowhere else.

    And that's why I claimed to be Pakeha in the census. I am not European - far too distant and far too mixed in any case. I am someone whose ethnicity was formed here.

    Hmmm... rant over, and back to work.

    BTW, I opposed the foreshore legislation, I support the use of Te Reo, I want Maori culture to be recognised, respected and loved, I want Maori and Pakeha to be genuine partners.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    having active family/iwi affiliations is by no means unique

    Yeah, I didn't mean to suggest that Maori have the monopoly on family - just that actively engaging with one's iwi seems to be the most conclusive additional measure of "being Maori" (alongside blood); in the same way that, say, a Jewish person would actively engage in the Jewish community. Maybe "involvement" is the magic word - be it political, social or domestic. OR perhaps I'm mistakenly trying to apply my New-Zealander-related material connection...dang...

    On the bright side, with some study, and a bit of effort, you could become indigenous, as well as endemic :-)

    Heh, yup, I reckon I should quit my whining and just apply myself a little! Learning the language would certainly be a valuable step.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 532 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Good thread. Rather than coming up with all the thinking again, I'll excerpt part of the intro to the Great New Zealand Argument book (still available from http://publicaddress.net/store ). It picks up from Keith Sinclair noting our struggle with a national day:

    In the same chapter of his book, Sinclair made observations that, taken a little further, go some way towards unlocking a theory. Anzac Day, a day named to commemorate not just the sacrifice of New Zealanders in the first world war, but all the fallen, found purchase where a general day of national pride could not. And, said Sinclair, it was not an affair of the church. The Dawn Service "might, indeed, have been some pagan ceremony" and the memorials to the fallen eschewed the cross in favour of cenotaphs and symbols that looked back to ancient Greece and Egypt.

    Few New Zealanders would readily identify themselves as pagans, of course. But the derived adjective of the original Latin "paganus" means "rustic" or "of the country", and many more of us would answer to that. We can far more comfortably define ourselves through the land and the sea than through churches at which we have historically been indifferent attendees. When a group of performers attempted several years ago to devise a new national anthem to replace “God Defend New Zealand” (our anthem is another facet of national pride about which we find ourselves diffident), they canvassed all the options and plumped for a song about the land; the one thing they could see we all had in common.

    In his History of New Zealand, Michael King touched on a similar theme, linking the emergence of the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s to a new sort of national maturity, a determination to acknowledge and look after what made us unique.

    Last year, an advertising agency investigated New Zealand identity for commercial, rather than philosophical, reasons. It concluded, after an eight-month study, that New Zealanders not only loved the land, they believed it to hold their essence.

    This year, on Public Address, the weblog site where the Great New Zealand Argument project began, I invited our many expatriate readers to comment on the latest round of the "brain drain" debate that has recurred through our national history. The replies came flooding back. They talked about wages, student loans and education. But overwhelmingly, they spoke of the land, sea and sky. It was this that would bring them back – and this that defined them.

    A thing in common, of course, can also be disputed ground. The past year-and-a-half's argument over Maori customary title to the foreshore and seabed would not have been so bitter and controversial had not both Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders sensed something defining about themselves in their access to and relationship with our long coastline. And the great legislative edifice of the environmental movement, the Resource Management Act, is under perpetual challenge from those who believe it shackles our economic development.

    So, yeah, an affinity for an attachment to the land, sea and sky seems a core part of what it is to be a New Zealander of whatever heritage. It's the thing we all (or nearly all) answer to.

    Another thing that came up in the process of putting together the book was the common experience of those who we regard as our great (Pakeha) cultural nationalists - Brasch, Fairburn, etc. Visiting "home" in Europe triggered the realisation that it wasn't home after all, and that the Pacific called. I felt the same thing decades later.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    The past year-and-a-half's argument over Maori customary title to the foreshore and seabed would not have been so bitter and controversial had not both Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders sensed something defining about themselves in their access to and relationship with our long coastline.

    Attachment to land is a double edged sword. The very bitter stife occuring in some parts of the world shows just how strong our emotional attacment to land can be. A pity it's all too easy for mother earth to morph into fatherland.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    it might also value-add to this conversation for me to reiterate that 'indigenous' in relation to maori is specifically centred on the fact of their colonisation by our british ancestors. so while indigenous has a lot of meanings, when you place it near the concept maori, or native american, or aboriginal person, you get a specific meaning.

    i understand where manakura is coming from, but i think he's conflating what it is to be maori, and what it is to be indigenous. the two are not mutually exclusive, but are quite distinct. i think he's also imbibed being maori with a large and healthy degree of spiritualism. i think i can speak on behalf of maori and say that not all maori are animists.

    i'll also repeat my point that the kind of attachment russell mentions in the above comment needs a name. it currently doesn't have one, so 'indigenous' is coopted by those of us who do feel a deep and abiding attachment to this place.

    finally, our national identity, the one we don't have a name for, is fundamentally constructed from the reality of our ancestors role as colonisers. as another part of the Great New Zealand Argument states very clearly, our ancestors of the mind do not wholly reside on these shores.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Apologies, this is going to be a very long post as I can’t resist but reply to so many of today’s posters.

    Kent Parker:
    I think you are loading it with too much of your meaning, so it is losing 'objectivity' and thus universal utility.

    Perhaps, I think you will find that most of the world’s peoples who self-identify as indigenous have ancestral relationships to land, the UN definition of indigenous says as much, when it refers to “ancestral lands”. Linda Smith, probably the world’s foremost scholar on indigeneity, as regarded by indigenous peoples themselves conflates ‘indigenous’ with ‘tangata whenua’ (1999: 6). To me ‘tangata whenua’ very succinctly denotes the sort of ancestral relationship to land I have suggested is integral to indigenous identity.

    Also, if I have 1/8th Maori can I consider myself indigenous? Or if I am accepted by an iwi as a member of a tribe but have no Maori at all, can I then call myself indigenous?

    In answer to this and a number of other similar questions from Heather, Don et al.: The amount of Maori ancestry you have is totally irrelevant to most Maori, as the furore over Dr Brash’s blood quantum analysis demonstrates. If you have whakapapa then you’re Maori, regardless of your lifestyle, beliefs, where you live, whether you engage with your iwi or not. It’s this simple: if you got a Maori ancestor, you’re Maori – you may get challenged to ‘prove’ it, as has happened to me regularly as a particularly pale (we prefer the term ‘beige’ thanks!), and if you know your whakapapa then all good. To what level you do ‘Maori things’ whatever that might be has no effect on your status as being Maori, it has an effect on your mana – your value and prestige as a member of a Maori community.

    Stephen Judd:
    Thus the urban Maori can reclaim their indigenous status because other indigenes acknowledge them, whereas you and I can speak te reo fluently, and point out that generations of our ancestors also lie buried in this land, and never be acknowledged.

    Well, not acknowledged as indigenous no, but unacknowledged period? Definitely not, if tauiwi, Pakeha, or whoever choose to engage with Maori communities in a way acceptable to those communities, and if they play a role in benefiting those communties, then they will be acknowledged and honoured. Capt. Gilbert Mair is an excellent example of that – Te Arawa bestowed upon him some of the highest honours possible in the form of gifts, letting him speak on the pae, and having him buried in their whenua. Of certain other iwi equate him with the boogie man, as they should, because although he was ‘good’ for Te Arawa he was monstrous to others.

    Weston:
    Manukura, you are playing with fire.

    Um, no. I am quoting a world respected Professor – I may not agree with her tone, which is a little confrontational for me, but I certainly agree with her underlying point. That being, colonisers come from somewhere else and the vast majority of their understandings of the world come from outside of the colony. This is both a negative and a positive thing at times, but fundamentally Pakeha culture is different from Maori culture and to a large degree Pakeha culture comes from Europe. If you are questioning the power and privilege aspects of Prof. Smith’s statement then I suggest you read a bit of NZ’s colonial history and take a look at the socio-economic and health stat – the differences between Maori and Pakeha are a legacy of colonisation.

    Tom Beard:
    Are you saying that Maori <i>must</i> feel a spiritual connection to the land? Can a Maori be an atheist or (for want of a better word) aspiritual without renouncing ceasing to be Maori?

    No, the single marker for being Maori is whakapapa, which by the way is far more complex than ‘ancestry’ or ‘genealogy’. I agree that there is what Jeff Sissons calls an “oppressive authenticity” (2006), whereby certain notions are enforced upon indigenous peoples and used to exclude them in various ways, particularly from their own communities. The way urban Maori are marginalised in the treaty settlement process is a case inpoint. So no, you can be an atheist and be Maori, but Wairua Maori is in your whakapapa, and is a fundamental part of your cultural history. Just as you have European atheists whose culture has a strong Christian influence and history. The interesting thing for me here is how Wairua Maori and Christianity are very much a part of our whakapapa, but that something else entirely.

    Heather … arohamai sis! Don’t ever feel guilty about your whakapapa - kia kaha e tonu! I can totally understand these things you struggle with, being Pakeha as well as Maori myself - i.e. the realisation I had the other day that statistically I will live 4 years longer than cousin who is ‘more Maori’ was pretty shit! But, never let those feelings or any other narrow p.o.v stop you from celebrating the beauty and strength in your whakapapa Maori! Might have to email you and have a less public korero about that if you don’t mind?

    Deborah:

    And that's before I even start worrying about how it is that someone can justify their claim by reference to ghosties. Claiming that you are descended from a mountain is just a nonsense, and nodding your head in agreement when someone makes the claim is just a cultural cringe. If on the other hand, Manukura, you are making a metaphorical claim about spiritual connection, that's fine. You are welcome to your sense of spirituality. I just don't see how you can use it to justify excluding me from belonging here in a way that I can belong to no other place on this planet. I may not belong here in the same way that you do, but I really do belong here, and nowhere else.

    I mean this in the nicest possible way: please don’t patronise me and belittle the concepts and values that consitute me as a person. Eurocentric notions of the world are not the universal truths many seem to think they are, particularly notions of reason and rationality, they are cultural constructs invented to make sense of the world, which means they are no better or worse or valid/true than any other way of making sense of the world.

    Please go back and read what I have thus far, and hopefully you will realise I am not arguing to exclude non-Maori. I am trying to make it clear that yes, Maori are the only group who can claim an indigenous relationship to Aotearoa. But!!! Indigeneity is only one type of relationship - Pakeha have a different one; acknowledging that does in no way mean I, or any Maori, want you and all non-Maori to pack up and sail back to wherever you may have originally came from. Arguing that would be an insane move for me – my Mum is Pakeha, do I send her off? Even advocating that divisive sort of talk would earn me a good clip around the ears from here!

    And finally Che:

    I think there is scholastic precedent for conflating ‘indigenous’ with ‘tangata whenua’, and when anyone talks of indigenous peoples in an Aotearoa/NZ context, clearly Maori are being referred to. So regardless of what is occurring trans-nationally, (and I think definitions as used internationally are similar to mine) indigeneity in our local context is inextricably bound up with an ancestral relationship to land, as much as it is bound up in colonial relationships. No not all Maori are animists, but as said above, that way of connecting to land is in the whakapapa of all Maori, its part of the fibre of their cultural history. You may not believe it, but it forms a part of who you are as a modern Maori because your ancestors believed it.

    Really need to get some of my Maori brothers and sisters to contribute a Maori voice(s) to this thread, I can't keep up, so many questions and ideas.

    To end, hell yeah, awesome thread... imagine trying to have a discussion like this on some of Aotearoa's other popular current affairs blogs! I have no doubt Godwins Law would have been invoked by page 2.

    Cheers Public Address team.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Deborah, reading over my retort to you I realise I was a little harsh, and I don't want to alienate someone who shows some willingness to support Maori.

    So, when I say you remarks are patronising, i mean it is unfair to just dismiss what I and many many people hold as core beleifs out of hand. You should have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of thses things before you call them 'nonsense'. To do this is perceived as disrespectful, especially as the 'nonsense' you refer to was integral to the greatest naval exploration in the history of the world. People who believed the natural world is their ancestor(s) sailed across the largest body of water on Earth and lived with a breathtaking range of environments at a time when Europeans were mostly too scared to sail out of sight of land. These fraidy cats were, however, building something frickin amazing temples, cathedrals, and aqueducts.

    The first step in a the equal partnership between Maori and Pakeha that you support is to respect our different ways of structuring our world. We don't have to agree, and perhaps we should not, but we should have a sound knowledge and respect of these different systems. Then we can disagree intelligently.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    You should have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of thses things before you call them 'nonsense'. To do this is perceived as disrespectful, especially as the 'nonsense' you refer to was integral to the greatest naval exploration in the history of the world. People who believed the natural world is their ancestor(s) sailed across the largest body of water on Earth and lived with a breathtaking range of environments

    Sure. The acheivements of the Polynesian navigators were astounding, and it would be absurd to think otherwise.

    What I object to is a literal claim that a mountain is your ancestor. I have never seen mountain DNA. And don't get me wrong here, Manakura (sorry - I mispelt your name first time round) - I also object to claims about the existence of gods, fairies, and teapots orbiting Jupiter. Show me the proof if you want to assert such beliefs - scientific studies, double blind peer review etc would do. That's exactly why I have such respect for the Polynesian navigators; their acheivements are well attested.

    I also object to 'respecting' anyone else's spiritual beliefs. I will respect your right to hold them, just so long as they don't interfere with my own personal (and the word 'personal' is deliberate c/f 'political' or 'social') freedoms, but I do not respect the belief itself.

    BTW I'm quite happy to buy into the idea that Maori may (and I'm only saying 'may' because I'm reluctant to make a blanket claim about a diverse group of people) structure social reality in different ways from Pakeha - that seems both plausible, and, well attested with scientific peer reviewed studies. But it's a different sort of claim from the one that you were making, that a mountain is your ancestor.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Deborah,

    Fair nuff, it seems you are operating out of a completely different paradigm to me, i.e. one that places faith in posivitism. I wont get into a critique of posivitism, as much as I would love to - I'm a former post-structural discourse junky and I still get the cravings now and again. I am less concerned with 'Truth' or scientific proof(if I was less lazy I would dig up some references to robust critiques on Positivist constructions such as those) than with what works for me and for the land. I prioritise strategic social and cultural objectives over scientific objectives. Which is not to say science has no value to me, the interface between science and soul is a growing and fascinating concern, just that I more concerned with the kinds of truths or narratives of life that will empower Maori, sustain the whenua, and ensure knowledge and identity is passed on.

    But I do think you should respect other peoples belief's, and not just their right* to have them. By respect I mean having a substantial undestanding of these 'spiritual' belief's as a prereq to commenting on them. Respect doesn't exclude questioning them at all, or placing them on a glorious pedestal, it just means you have a good idea of what you are questioning.

    To put the shoe on my foot - i would never dream of critiquing let alone dismissing Quantum Physics, because i don't know a damn thing about it. Thus anything i have to say about its validity is coming out of total ignorance.

    Also, kei te pai on making blankets claims, there's too much bland generalisation out there. I tend to be guilty of it myself.

    On another topic: it seems there is a lot of interest in this sort of topic. How much interest would people here have in a blog that provides a healthy and lively forum for cross-cultural, identity and Treaty issues, but has a stronger emphasis on Maori and indigenous perspectives than is currently availiable? I have been thinking for a while of setting up a blog of this nature with a variety of Maori, indigenous and Pakeha voices on the roll.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Kent Parker,

    Those are great responses, Manakura.

    Maybe the definition of indigeneity should include a 'not being easily able to return to whence they came' factor. Sure the Maori came by canoe, but there was no established pattern of return to Hawaiki. Similarly the American migration 10,000 yrs ago was cut off by the disappearance of the Alaskan land bridge. All other 'indigenous' people as we understand them live within a limited geography with no habit of 'return' to place of origin.

    Colonization during the Age of Discovery however was based on returning the profits to Europe (and NZ served this function right up to the 1970's). Once that no longer happened and those colonies became independent, Europe remained the cultural center with no small amount of competition from the US.

    I remember as a kid, it was assumed that NZ produced no 'culture' eg NZ music was crap, NZ films were amateur etc. Now we have a lot more respect for our own ability to create cultural items that are as good as anywhere else. That doesn't then start to make us 'indigenous' people, because we who have European geneology can still easily return to place of origin.

    I would tend to agree with you that indigenous can only apply to Maori. Being 'indigenous', even as a 5th generation NZer, is not something I have ever imagined myself being.

    Hawkes Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 36 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    What I object to is a literal claim that a mountain is your ancestor.

    Hmmm, is Manakura making such a literal claim?

    I am a descendant of Abraham and my fathers were slaves in Egypt. I can't begin to demonstrate the literal truth of those claims. But those claims are not intended to be take literally. They are an assertion of identity and group belonging.

    In the context of a claim of connection to an area, saying Taranaki is my ancestor is a way of saying "I am really, really, really strongly connected to this area."

    No comment on you, Deborah, and I know you didn't do this, but something I hear way too often is disparagement of Maori sensibilities as stoneage or animist or whatever, from people who would never dream of disrespecting mainstream Christian practises which are equally irrational.

    That doesn't then start to make us 'indigenous' people, because we who have European geneology can still easily return to place of origin.

    I dunno about that. My antecedents are variously Scots, English, and from the former Russian empire, and the first ones got here 6 generations back. After the successful indigenous revolution in this country, where will I be deported to? In fact I think that's precisely what's behind the need people like me feel to claim the sort of native status that Russell alluded to above: we are not native to anywhere else, therefore we must be native to here.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    No comment on you, Deborah, and I know you didn't do this, but something I hear way too often is disparagement of Maori sensibilities as stoneage or animist or whatever, from people who would never dream of disrespecting mainstream Christian practises which are equally irrational.

    Well, I wouldn't do that, because I don't see how Christian ghosties have any more claim to truth than Maori ones, or Jainist ones, or Hindu ones, or Pastafarian ones, or whatever.

    Here's the rub. If someone wants to believe in Tane or Krishna or Jesus Christ, that's just fine. But they can't then use that belief to justify political claims, like who belongs in this country. Equally, I could say that I believe that Santa Claus gave this country to me, so I can say who is allowed to belong here.

    Let's be quite clear about this. I think that there were massive injustices done to Maori, starting with the theft of Maori land, and continuing with the inequal distribution of resources today (for anyone who wants to claim that Maori get 'special treatment', that's demonstrably false: as a group, Maori get less resources than Pakeha, and it shows in all the social statistics, such as Maori dying on average 8 years younger than Pakeha). And that's without getting into the vexed question of sovereignty.

    I'm quite happy to run with the idea that Maori have a particular type of connection with this land, but actually, so do I. It's just different from the Maori connection, but no less morally valid.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I am less concerned with 'Truth' or scientific proof(if I was less lazy I would dig up some references to robust critiques on Positivist constructions such as those) than with what works for me and for the land.

    I'm curious to know, if you aren't impressed with positivism and scientific proof (2 discourses amongst many I assume), how you go about working out

    what works for me and for the land.

    I imagine that what you see as "working" is something that works for a community, you therefore need to have a means of communicating knowledge about the physical world accurately to others. Is science not the only way of doing this?

    I don't spend a lot of time worrying about identity and the meaning of "indigenous" but am interested in language. I see language as a house (rather than a prison).

    Theres's a new French flim out called Indigène worth seeing.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    Hmmm, is Manakura making such a literal claim?

    That is something I will neither confirm nor deny, but I will say that there are complex levels of metaphors operating in every aspect of te ao Maori (the Maori world). Even a single word can have such a dense array of meanings that are highly dependent on context - any language has this quality but the reo Maori seems particularly metaphor rich.

    Furthermore many 'spiritual' concepts and practices of Maori, and other indigenous peoples almost always have a solid grounding in pragmatism, and often a scientific knowledge. I always say that Maori, at their best, are the most pragmatic people in the world - you don't get from South East Asia to Aotearoa on stone technology if your beliefs aren't practical.

    In fact, in many ways 'spiritual' knowledges or concepts and more practical knowedges are inseperable. For example there are apsects of polynesian navigation techniques which are clearly scientifically proven to work - reading wave patterns, using stars to plot course - but others, which are integral to the whole navigation method, are well beyond the abilities of scientiist to 'prove' - the way navigator often work with their eyes closed, navigating by feeling into 'unknown' waters, some will even navigate while facing in the opposite direction to where the waka was heading. It will be a while before sciences catches up with those sorts of abilities.

    quote>Here's the rub. If someone wants to believe in Tane or Krishna or Jesus Christ, that's just fine. But they can't then use that belief to justify political claims, like who belongs in this country.</quote>

    Happily I don't think anyone here is attempting this, least of all me. I would suggest that a sense of connection, whatever form it may take, should play a role in who does belong (in that loose social sense), but never in who does not belong. Fortunately this will never be empirically measurable, so it will never be used to deport or bar people.

    I'm quite happy to run with the idea that Maori have a particular type of connection with this land, but actually, so do I. It's just different from the Maori connection, but no less morally valid.

    Exactly! I don't really care what the nature of someones connection is, as long as they are not being lazy and trying to poach someone else sense of identity and belonging and their type of connection to the whenua compels them to protect it, and treat it in a sustainable manner.

    Although we could bring up the GE debate and look at how whakapapa was possibly used to make an anti-GE moral claim superior to pro-GE moral claims. That would be a one hell of a can of huhu grubs to open.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    What an interesting thread

    But back to basics

    I put New Zealander in the box and I have been writting it in/on the official forms for some years
    I also live in Waimate where the practise is most common
    I would like to add that I have lead a campaign to do this but that would be untrue
    What else can I put on the forms, I am not a Maori (although the few local Moari are mostly cousins or family conections)
    I can hardly put European as the male line of the family left there in the 1570s
    Interestingly there is a family myth that we arrived before Nga Tahu which I might add the waitaha cousins find amusing
    The Waihao is my river and Aoraki is my mountain, we know the stories of the land and its rythems
    I am not indigenous, maybe my sons are
    What else but New Zealander can I put on the form
    Persuade me!!

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 576 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    I'm curious to know, if you aren't impressed with positivism and scientific proof

    Its not that science or positivism doesn't impress me, often it does, such as right now: I am posting this from the top of an Auckland mountain surrounded by bush with not a telephone jack in sight! - I just don't regard it as a master discourse, as many seem to. There are many things that science is unable to do or explain - it has a long way to go before it catches up alot of even basic indigenous concepts (see above).

    But science has its place, an important one, especially in tribal and indigenous communites, and it always has. Leanie Pihama, in critique of 'Once Were Warriors' said this: "Once were poets, once were philosophers, oncer were scientists..." (thats me paraphrasing heavily).

    I just think the way scientific discourse is structured needs to be altered so that it harnessed more for the needs of specific communties. There is far too much science and technology that facilitates the ruthless exploitation and degradation of people and places.

    Is that the new Mel "but some of my best mates are Jewish" Gibson's new film?

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Deborah (not the Coddington one this time) said:

    I'm quite happy to run with the idea that Maori have a particular type of connection with this land, but actually, so do I. It's just different from the Maori connection, but no less morally valid.

    Actually, in light of your previous comments regarding "stolen land" and an unequal distribution of resources I think Pakeha and other non-Maori connections to the land might be less morally valid. They might feel just as strong and be very important but they do not have the the same moral claim.

    This is one of the reasons I am rethinking my personal stance on the foreshore legislation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Manakura said:

    Its not that science or positivism doesn't impress me, often it does, such as right now: I am posting this from the top of an Auckland mountain surrounded by bush with not a telephone jack in sight!

    You might be confusing science and technology here, 'though the crossover point is very grey.


    Manakura said:

    I just think the way scientific discourse is structured needs to be altered so that it harnessed more for the needs of specific communties. There is far too much science and technology that facilitates the ruthless exploitation and degradation of people and places.

    Especially technology. But this might be a political problem, rather than a problem with science. It's quite important not to blame science per se for the outrageous uses to which technology is put.


    Don Christie said:

    Actually, in light of your previous comments regarding "stolen land" and an unequal distribution of resources I think Pakeha and other non-Maori connections to the land might be less morally valid.

    Yes... interesting point. However I think I would want to spend some more time thinking about the extent to which individuals are culpable for systemic problems today, and for historical problems (of course, the word 'problem' is a wimpy word to use in this context). I think my connection to this land is individual and familial, but I have neither raped, billaged, burned nor stolen anything myself. On the other hand, I live on land that was at least 'sold' or possibly 'confiscated' or maybe outright stolen - I don't know its legal history.

    Getting back to the discussion of 'indigenous' - I think that I would want to say that Pakeha culture is indigenous, but I think that it would be wrong to describe myself as indigenous. I suspect, 'thought I don't know, and it would be interesting to hear what other people think, that the word 'indigenous' when applied to people, has changed meaning, and it now implies an element of being a member of what in the USA would be called a First Nation. This could explain why it is appropriate to use the word 'indigenous' with respect to both Maori and Pakeha culture, and correct to apply it to Maori people, but incorrect to apply it to Pakeha people.

    Anyway, what are all you people doing posting on a Saturday night? Don't you have anything better to do?

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    it has a long way to go before it catches up alot of even basic indigenous concepts (see above).

    No. We have a long way to go before certain basic indigenous concepts can be shown to have a scientific basis or not.

    If you are content to accept ancestral knowledge as correct without investigation, why bother with science? But if you want the validation that science brings, you have to accept that some part of what your ancestors taught is not factual.

    ...but others, which are integral to the whole navigation method, are well beyond the abilities of scientiist to 'prove' - the way navigator often work with their eyes closed, navigating by feeling into 'unknown' waters, some will even navigate while facing in the opposite direction to where the waka was heading. .

    I doubt that. Such techniques are quite susceptible to scientific investigation. You should be easily able to compare the navigational accuracy of several craft departing from the same point whose pilots use different techniques.

    But anyway, it's quite likely, for example, that a crafty old coot (or tohunga) who knows which direction to go in from observation of currents, birds, stars, cloud etc, would get some valuable shut-eye and relief from nervous nellies who think we're lost and going to die, by closing his eyes and turning his back. And he'd gain valuable respect, and wanna-bes who tried the same stunt really would die at sea, lending credence to his mystical powers. That's a far more likely explanation than a supernatural inbuilt sense of direction.

    Anyway, what are all you people doing posting on a Saturday night? Don't you have anything better to do?

    Er, no. At least, not up until just now, when I got a better offer :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Cool thread.

    I put "New Zealander" and would like to think that I'm some distance from the right wing. Especially since I have voted for the Greens in the last two elections.

    I put a fair amount of thought into it in the period leading up to the census and for the life of me I couldn't think why I should put "European" ahead of "New Zealander" (I'm talking about my thinking on the matter, not anybody elses opinion as they don't know me, apart from my mum, who knows me quite well).

    To me the solution seems obvious but I haven't sat down and thought through the pros and cons for hours so could be persuaded to change my mind.

    Two parts to "the question". The first part you tick the box or boxes which express your 'cultural identity' (in other words who you feel like or identify most strongly with) and in the second part you can tick the box or boxes which express your 'ethnic' group(s).

    I would then be able to say that I am a New Zealander of European descent (or Scottish, English and Welsh to be exact, and then going back further scandinavian, probably back through Germany and then .... Africa. Once you go black you never go back baby!).

    The reason for needing the stats (like somebody pointed out earlier) is not crystal clear and there needs to be more media coverage or statements by those using the stats as to what they want to know and why. The obvious is to find out who is doing well in NZ and who isn't, where different ethnic groups are living etc etc but if that is the case then why not go a whole step further and get a lot more detailed data rather than have somebody like me tick the "New Zealander" box and then sit round speculating about what ethnic group I might be.

    I think the census figures could be a great way to bring NZ together. Wouldn't it be fantastic to have 80% of the population saying that they are a "New Zealander" and then separately have ethnic breakdowns as to how that is made up. Time to take the next step and start pulling a few more fences down I think. They are starting to fall down every 5 years anyway so why not help them topple a bit faster?

    On another 'thing'. "Pakeha" means non-Maori so if you are Asian you are "pakeha". I know it has traditionally been a term for Europeans because they were basically the only group of people that Maori encountered for a long period but having asked Maori if it means "non Maori" and being told "yes" then that'll do me.

    I've been fortunate enough to be on three different Marae in the last 2 years and on each one I, like everybody else was asked to say my name, where I am from and something about myself. Like most of the other Pakeha there the place I said I was from was a place in New Zealand which was always greeted positively by the elders present. They didn't say "no, where in Europe are you from?, you can't be from Aotearoa".

    Anyways, back to te topic, if I'm expected to put "European" on a census form as my ethnic group then I expect Maori to put "Polynesian" on it or "Pacific Peoples". And I expect neither so until they change or add to the census questions and allow me to state my cultural identity and my ethnic past then I will not bother disrespecting myself by not stating who I really am. A New Zealander.

    aigghht?!

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,

    You should be easily able to compare the navigational accuracy of several craft departing from the same point whose pilots use different techniques.

    All that method would do is test the relative validity of various navigational techniques. I was thinking more about scientific explanantion of how said techniques actually work, which I think may be beyond todays science.

    I'm not really sure if what I was talkng about re:navigation techniques were supernatural abilities. I suggest a lot of this intuitively known to work, and their is likely a 'natural' explanation for it, science just hasn't quite got there yet.

    Stephen I think you are putting the cart before the horse somewhat. So much traditional indigenous knowledge is known to be effective (not all of course), practicing it acheives desired results time and time again. Sometimes practitioners don't know the how and why of it - I feel the same way about the internet - and then scientific investigation validates traditional knowledge within a western paradigm.

    Spend a half hour investigating some common pharmaceuticals and you'll see what I mean. And this is by no means limited to indigenous cultures - there are many things Westerners do that work but nobody has the faintest idea why just yet. Look back over history and you can see that story play out over and over.

    Furthemore factuality does not equal validity by any means. Or is it the other way round?

    Deborah, yes agreed: the grotesque applications are a political problem too, but there are also fundamental structural problems with the way posivitism views the world, knowledge and the position of humanity in it that exacerbates and gives rise to those political problems. That's to say nothing of the ethical limitations (or more correctly lack thereof) of the posivitist model.

    This is so far off topic I can't even remember what the original blog post was about. :-)

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    Manakura check out the navigation techniques of the eastern curlew here:
    http://www.abc.net.au/wing/ayowflash.htm

    Remember too that in the 15th century you could buy a ticket from Manila to Spain via Mexico ( and back again just like the Curlews).

    Bees to have amazing navigational ability too. But its the ability to make use of some knowledge to advance your society over and above some inate use that makes all the difference.
    If Maori navigational knowlege was able to be passed on then getting to Australia and back would seem to be a breeze. But this didnt happen, which suggests that it wasnt a true knowledge

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

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