The flag: politics either way

datePosted on 09:34, December 15th, 2009 by Lew

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that every single one of those Māori I’ve heard speaking out against the tino rangatiratanga flag has a tribal axe to grind. Shane Jones, Kingi Taurua, Pita Paraone, Winston Peters — they’re all from the iwi of that group of rangatira who established the United Tribes of New Zealand confederation under Busby in 1835, in the Tai Tokerau. They, naturally enough, want the United Tribes flag flown instead of the one which represents the aspirations of wider Māori. The root of this claim is the belief among those groups that theirs was the ‘state of origin’, as it were — the first actual state in these lands. That’s a complex and disputed claim but regardless, the belief abides, and this sense of primacy is no small part of the reason that so many of this country’s Māori statesmen and women, great thinkers and inspirational leaders, come from the tail of Te Ika a Maui.

They say there’s an ulterior motive in the flying of the tino rangatiratanga flag on the part of the māori party, who have adopted it as their own, and I accept they have a case. They also have a case to argue that the United Tribes flag should be flown — especially at Waitangi Marae (Te Tii), where the choice belongs solely to mana whenua. But let’s not pretend there’s no ulterior political motive on their part: they have every reason to decry the flag as ‘separatist’ and ‘divisive’ in order to fly their own. Not only that, but the motive is no more unanimous among Ngāpuhi than among other Māori — the tino rangatiratanga flag is supported (obviously) by Hone Harawira, and was designed by Hiraina Marsden, the daughter of the Rev. Māori Marsden, one of the most important philosophical figures of that iwi, and a mentor to Shane Jones and many others. So the political motives in play are much more complex than they appear.

As for Winston Peters’ objection that the tino rangatiratanga flag is ‘political’ — was there ever a more ridiculous assertion? The whole purpose of such a flag is to symbolise and propagandise political identity, to provide it focus and expression. The United Tribes flag is no less political than the tino rangatiratanga flag — and so it becomes a matter of picking which symbolism is more appropriate.

On the one hand we have a long historical pedigree, and a flag which represents the early unity of the NZ proto-state and the formal beginnings of collaboration between tangata whenua and tau iwi, but which actually represents only a small subset of the Māori population and whose political cause (to establish a client state sympathetic to the English in their manouvres against the French) was superceded by the Treaty of Waitangi only a few years after its establishment.

On the other, we have a relatively new flag, one whose symbolism and history is exclusively Māori, rather than being part of a wider game between colonial powers; a modern flag representing modern, rather than historical aspirations but which has, to an extent, been hijacked by the radical movement.

For me, it comes down to the process enacted by the government: wisely, instead of deciding by fiat, John Key instructed Māori to decide, and decide they did, with more than 80% of the 1200 submissions in favour of the tino rangatiratanga flag. This is not to side with majoritarianism, but to say that choosing another flag would have been manifest politicking. Better from Key’s perspective to devolve the decision and allow an age-old struggle to re-emerge: he looks statesmanlike, and both his erstwhile political friends and his enemies get bogged down in internecine fighting. I had hoped it wouldn’t happen; and it might yet prove minor. But the issue won’t go away — nor should it.

L

34 Responses to “The flag: politics either way”

  1. Hugh on December 15th, 2009 at 10:11

    Don’t you feel that the idea that pre-European Maori political communities are undeserving of the term ‘state’ is a rather colonialist, patronising position? It’s interesting that in the narrative you’ve presented, that the first entity to deserve even proto-state status is also the first one to be set up with British advice. In other words, the more colonialist it is, the more of a state it is?

  2. Lew on December 15th, 2009 at 10:23

    Hugh, not really. The ‘state’ as I’m discussing it is largely a Western invention and in general the criteria which define it don’t really apply to the social, political and territorial structures of precolonial Māori.

    I’m very sympathetic to your overall point — that the whole discussion of precolonial politics is Eurocentric and somewhat colonising. The fact that the term ‘Māori’ as employed to refer to the whole population of Aotearoa (or any subset) was a European invention because referring to them as ‘Ngāpuhi’ or ‘Ngāti Hau’ or ‘Ngā Rauru’ was too confusing is a symptom of this, to which we both also fall prey. But the solution isn’t to ascribe Western state-status to political communities which don’t really fit that bill — and never could due to their circumstances and background culture. That’s just as patronising. The postcolonial thing to do would be to talk about those political communities in real terms of how they were, developing and adopting definitions on the basis of the historical and political record. That’s a pretty big job, and one I’m not really qualified for. Especially on a Tuesday morning in the last work-week before Christmas.

    L

  3. Tom Semmens on December 15th, 2009 at 10:24

    Ah! So it’s identity politics is OK, as long as it is a an identity Lew agrees with? And there is the reducto ad absurdum of identity politics right there.

  4. Lew on December 15th, 2009 at 10:32

    Tom, I’m not sure where you might have gotten the delusion I’m ever not ok with identity politics. And if you expect any actual substantive response to your comment you’ll have to elaborate, because I’m not sure what it is you’re trying to express, other than general scorn.

    L

  5. Chris on December 15th, 2009 at 10:41

    I like this post Lew.

    You still see some nuts driving around with the United Tribes flag flying – but 99.5% of people have no idea what it means; or that the United Tribes of NZ ever existed.

    I’m pretty sure it does fly at Waitangi right? My wife asked what country’s flag it was when we saw it there!

  6. Lew on December 15th, 2009 at 11:31

    Chris, I wouldn’t call them ‘nuts’ — it’s not as if it’s the equivalent of flying the confederate flag wiould be in the American South, or the hammer & sickle would be in Russia. It does still fly at Waitangi, and well it should — it’s a legitimate and important aspect of their history and heritage, regardless of whether the general population knows about it.

    The question in the context of this post is whether it represents for all Māori what it does for those of the Tai Tokerau. I don’t think it does, submitters on the decision don’t think it does, and that makes it unsuitable as a symbol outside that rohe.

    L

  7. Hugh on December 15th, 2009 at 13:40

    Lew, if by the ‘state’ you mean a particularly western conception of how to render public governance, then may I suggest you use some other word? Because that’s not what ‘state’ means, and when you use it that way you risk being accused of, well, exactly what I accused you of.

  8. Lew on December 15th, 2009 at 13:50

    Hugh, I don’t mean a ‘particularly Western’ state, but a generally sovereign political entity, with an established system of governance, territorially defined, internationally recognised, and so on. There’s a whole lot of IR and PoliSigh theory as to what constitutes a state in this sense; I’d have thought you might be familiar with it.

    There are (many) non-Western states which qualify as such, but those which existed in Aotearoa prior to colonisation were not among them. As I said; this isn’t to discount or belittle those polities so much as to reserve the term so that it retains its meaning.

    L

  9. Neil on December 15th, 2009 at 13:55

    nicely summerised Lew. and great to see the tension between Māori vs Iwi raised.

    inevitably there will some who feel they’ve lost out when it comes to choosing symbols to represent “Māori” – which is a process that can’t be avoided.

    In New Caledonia Kanaks faced the difficult task of deciding which from the many hundred indigenous languages would become thee 6 official indigeous languages.

    One can imagine how sensitive an issue that would have been and how threatened the tribes whose languages lost out would have felt. But they managed. But it took leadership.

  10. Hugh on December 15th, 2009 at 18:39

    Yes Lew, I am familiar with that body of theory, but it’s not leading me to agree with you.

    The pre-colonial entities meet every single one of the major qualifiers for statehood with the arguable exception of international recognition, but that’s rather anachronistic in the context of the 18th century, even before one takes the geographical isolation of New Zealand. I honestly can’t see why you would not call the various Maori polities as states – they certainly had deep, profound connections to their territory, a very well established and resilient system of governance (which we are still seeing today in the efforts of the Maori Party).

  11. Neil on December 15th, 2009 at 19:28

    I honestly can’t see why you would not call the various Maori polities as states – they certainly had deep, profound connections to their territory, a very well established and resilient system of governance (which we are still seeing today in the efforts of the Maori Party).

    constructs all the way down, as Lew might say.

    I think one could do as you suggest but it becomes a question of “why?”.

    Prior to European arrival the tribes were seperate entities in much the same way as the tribes of pre-unification Italy and Germany were separate entities.

    In Europe The State superceded The Tribe for good and bad reason (I consider familes to be a mixed blessing), although there was resurgence of blood connection from time to time.

    But in terms of present day NZ I think that “Maori” and “iwi” both have important roles to play in peaceful decolonisation.

  12. Ag on December 15th, 2009 at 19:33

    The pre-colonial entities meet every single one of the major qualifiers for statehood with the arguable exception of international recognition, but that’s rather anachronistic in the context of the 18th century, even before one takes the geographical isolation of New Zealand. I honestly can’t see why you would not call the various Maori polities as states – they certainly had deep, profound connections to their territory, a very well established and resilient system of governance (which we are still seeing today in the efforts of the Maori Party).

    Then it’s just a semantic debate. What matters are the real differences between traditional Maori forms of social organization and those in the western tradition. The thought world of classical Maori culture was so radically different from ours, and so was their political world (if that term is even applicable).

    I don’t see anything wrong with the tino rangatiratanga flag. However, I’d be inclined to say that any attempts to connect it with traditional Maori forms of “statehood” is pointless. Contemporary Maori are as far removed from them as contemporary Europeans are.

    Contemporary Maori politics should be seen for what it is. An attempt to advance the political interests of an ethnic minority and not some continuation of ancient traditions in any meaningful sense. As I said before, contemporary Maori politics is to traditional Maori politics as California Buddhism is to genuine Buddhism.

  13. Lew on December 15th, 2009 at 20:29

    Hugh, I did seem to recall you were a politico of some sort.

    The more I think about it the more I reckon there’s a good argument to be made to this effect, notwithstanding Ag and Neil’s objections. If you want to do the research and argue the case you’re welcome to a guest post if you want one. If not, I’ll add it to my (hopelessly long) list.

    The pre-colonial entities meet every single one of the major qualifiers for statehood with the arguable exception of international recognition

    Not at all, I think the international recognition test is the easiest of all since, in order to make this argument, you need to rely on an iwi (or confederation) unit of statehood — in which case ‘ ‘international recognition’ of sovereignty could be granted by one iwi to another (which it obviously and manifestly was in many actual cases). The more difficult customary tests for me are around population permanence, defined territory and independent mandate to exercise the sort of action required for sovereignty.

    An iwi’s connection to the land was (is) profound, but not strict and absolute. While there were some hard borders, mostly these were defined by contextual, cultural terms — such that people were able to cross such-and-such river but not take kai from it, and so on. Moreover, rohe were internally fractured and more generally made up of hapū-level units rather than those which accrued across a wider group, and restrictions could apply to other members of the ‘state’ even on land which was nominally held in common (as opposed to papakainga or pā). Rangatira and Ariki weren’t an equivalent of a head of state in that they could exercise complete dominion, and much of their authority was held in a sort of intergenerational, inter-tribal trust. But whether these sorts of things are sufficient to qualify or disqualify such for the status of statehood will rest on the particulars. As I said, it’s a big job. This is also not a field of my expertise, and I’m happy to be corrected on it.

    One thing which occurs to me is that the Americas (being much more heavily theorised than Oceania) might show some answers — particularly the North American First Nations, but also those in Central and South America. Pablo, do you have a take on this question?

    Neil,

    But in terms of present day NZ I think that “Maori” and “iwi” both have important roles to play in peaceful decolonisation.

    I absolutely agree. It might have been made up by a colonialist, but there is a sort of customary unity which has emerged in the ‘Māori’ designation.

    Ag,

    I’d be inclined to say that any attempts to connect it with traditional Maori forms of “statehood” is pointless. Contemporary Maori are as far removed from them as contemporary Europeans are.

    You’ve said this before, and I don’t think it holds. Adult Māori today are only half a dozen generations from the stone age, if you want to discuss it in such terms. There are those living today who learnt their reo and their tikanga at the knee of those who had learnt it from those who were alive when the settlers arrived. That’s a lot closer than you might think. Your ‘California Buddhism’ argument is a bit closer, but even that should show how your initial example is bogus.

    Cheers all,
    L

  14. SPC on December 15th, 2009 at 21:21

    I would have thought there was insufficient organised unity, for there to be a developed sovereignty prior to 1835.

    That would leave a recognised territory in which there was an indigenous people.

    In that sense it was only in organising to relate to an outside sovereignty that there was a form of sovereignty being developed in 1835. But this was partial and incomplete as to including all iwi.

    Of course those iwi that were involved in 1835 note that time as the beginning of the development of a Maori sovereignty and thus hold to the continuing relevance of “their” flag of this time. Thus a reluctance to recognise another “Maori” flag.

  15. Pablo on December 15th, 2009 at 22:29

    Coming from the US where state flags fly alongside the national emblem (and assorted military banners and pre-independence standards), I see no problem in putting the United Tribes flag up along with tino rangatiratanga flag. In fact, the more the merrier. It demonstrates that political identities are not easily “boxed” into one all-encompassing political whole, but instead are multilayered and interconnected. The best example I can think of are Texans, their loyalities and their flags: Texans first, sons and daughters of the Confederacy second, and “Americans” third. Yet they are still loyal and devoted servants of the US constitution. Thus, while you “don’t mess with Texas,” on parochial grounds, you can still count on Texans fronting up on issues of national import (like foreign war).

    I see no reason why NZ cannot see a similarly layered identification: whanau first, iwi second, Aotearoa third, the Crown fourth, representing social and political ties from the local to the national. And, as the NZ history of war has shown, Maori will serve the Crown when called upon. So there is no contradiction between these identifications unless we allow them to be so.

    That is why the issue of flags and their symbolism is ultimately inconsequential for anyone other than hard core racists and colonialists (who are not always the same).

  16. SPC on December 15th, 2009 at 23:09

    The issue is somewhere between the second (iwi) and the third (Aotearoa).

    Maori have consistently maintained a position based on their relationship to the Crown – but is this one from 1835 (United Tribes) or 1840 (Treaty with the Crown)?

    The only symbolic remnant of the United Tribes history/legacy of 1835 is a flag.

    For the PM to ask the majority to impose a flag choice on the United Tribes minority is a bit disengenuous. The proper recourse, once the majority has been detemined, is to allow iwi of the United Tribes to fly their flag along with the other ones.

  17. Ag on December 16th, 2009 at 05:13

    You’ve said this before, and I don’t think it holds. Adult Māori today are only half a dozen generations from the stone age, if you want to discuss it in such terms. There are those living today who learnt their reo and their tikanga at the knee of those who had learnt it from those who were alive when the settlers arrived. That’s a lot closer than you might think. Your ‘California Buddhism’ argument is a bit closer, but even that should show how your initial example is bogus.

    Temporally, they are not far from the stone age. In terms of thinking, they are very far removed from it. I accept that there are various moral beliefs and customs that have persisted, but I cannot see how it is reasonable to see it as the same culture unless you stretch the term “same” past all reason.

    Pre-contact Maori adhered to a view of the universe in which our modern distinctions do not make sense. For example, we think that there is the way the world is, and there are various moral beliefs we have about it. For pre-contact Maori such a distinction would have been senseless. Even to talk of their culture as “organizing” or “cutting up” the world in a different way would have made no sense to them. They are further from us than Homer’s Greeks (who are really weird if you read Homer).

    Theirs appears to have been a complete and holistic mythic system (and an extraordinarily complex one by some accounts). Contact and integration into western culture necessarily destroyed that whole. What we are left with is parts that no longer have the same significance that they once did, because they no longer are related to the same whole and to the parts of that whole. Nobody can think in quite the way that ancient Maori did. It is impossible. We can talk about it descriptively, but that is not the same as living it in the first person.

    Once the holistic nature of ancient Maori belief is acknowledged, the rest of what I said follows. I don’t think the replacement was necessarily a good thing. It’s just a fact. Nor does it follow that Maori have no right to keep the ways they prefer. They just can’t claim the authenticity that some of them would wish to claim. It’s really a religious claim, much like the claims of Jews regarding historical continuity of their religion (or even Christians).

    Like I said before. Many claims of political identity don’t pass the smell test.

  18. Chris Trotter on December 16th, 2009 at 08:04

    Imagine a modern warship – a US aircraft carrier, let us say – hoving-to off the coast of Normandy in 1100AD. Imagine the US Marines coming ashore armed with their M16s. Imagine F16 fighter-jets lifting off the flight-deck.

    Now try to imagine the impact that would have had on the Norman feudal establishment and the Catholic Church.

    Any exercise of the historical imagination along these lines quickly opens up the discussion about the impact of European civilisation on the scattered communities of indigenous “New Zealanders” (as they were called) in 1769 and the years that followed.

    Whatever you elect to call the social organisation of pre-contact Maori, its material deficiency vis-a-vis the social organisation and technological sophistication of the intruders was self-evident from the moment the latter arrived, and Maori society literally tore itself to pieces in a bloody struggle to acquire the new tools of war, agriculture, manufacture and transportation that the Europeans possessed.

    Best estimates put the fatalities arising from the so-called “Musket Wars” at 20,000 – 30,000 out of a maximum pre-contact population of 100,000 to 150,000. That’s a death-rate on a par with the Soviet Union’s during World War II.

    By the late-1830s Maori had fought themselves to a point of physical and cultural exhaustion. The conversion to Christianity, and the surrender of sovereignty to the British Crown – which offered to cast its “protection” over the battered and dislocated tribes – were completely rational acts of self-preservation.

    The wars of the 1860s and 70s (much less costly in terms of human life than the Musket Wars) were essentially a pre-emptive strike by the new settler state to prevent the Maori (especially in the Waikato) from establishing a modern agricultural economy of sufficient strength to underpin an independent polity – namely the Kingitanga.

    The New Zealand flag stands for the colonists’ victory in that struggle and for the unitary state that it made possible.

    The Tino Rangatiratanga flag represents the project of a large number of modern Maori to recapture the possibility of independence inherent in the nascent Kingitanga state of the late 1850s. To suggest otherwise is to display an unwillingness to take the advocates of Maori sovereignty at their word.

    No matter what Pita Sharples and John Key may say, the Maori Party’s success in winning official recognition for the Tino Rangatiratanga flag represents both a genuine and disturbing symbolic victory for the sovereigntist cause.

    Pablo may point to the flying of multiple flags in the US, but the truth is that, apart from a few Confederate fantasists, all Americans understand that the flags of their states, and the flags of the military, are essentially constitutional derivatives of Old Glory – the flag of the American nation. That’s the flag Americans wear on their lapels. That’s the flag they hang over their front porches. That’s the flag they affix to the rear windows of their pick-up trucks. And woe betide anyone who disrespects it.

    The symbols of New Zealand nationhood may strike some liberal intellectuals as quaint and infinitely maleable adjuncts to their own, much more ambitious social engineering goals. But let me sound this warning.

    Beyond the hallowed halls of academe there are hundreds of thousands of New Zealand citizens who take their nation’s symbols very seriously indeed. There are men still living who saw their friends and comrades die defending that “piece of cloth” we call the New Zealand ensign – knowing that it stood for their homeland, and everything that had made them what they were: New Zealanders.

    Call them racists and/or colonialists if you like Pablo, they’re used to it.

    But don’t be surprised at their anger – when they eventually decide (as they will) that the progressive unitary state constructed over 170 years by their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents – and the piece of cloth that, for better or worse, remains its symbol – are still worth fighting for.

  19. Neil on December 16th, 2009 at 08:09

    For the PM to ask the majority to impose a flag choice on the United Tribes minority is a bit disengenuous. The proper recourse, once the majority has been detemined, is to allow iwi of the United Tribes to fly their flag along with the other ones.

    I wouldn’t object to that and I don’t think that there’s any suggestion that it shouldn’t happen although practicalities might make it awkward.

    But Shane Jones is not offering any such reconciliation. He’s attempted to discredit the tino rangatiratanga flag and the process by which it was chosen – completely wihtout evidence.

    That may turn out to be just his own personal animosity or could be part of Labour’s strategy, it’s hard to tell.

  20. Hugh on December 16th, 2009 at 09:53

    Neil: Not that I want to get sidetracked from what’s already a sidetrack, but personally I would not describe the pre-unification German and Italian polities, such as the Archbishopric of Cologne or the Republic of Venice as ‘tribes’.

    Ag: I agree that the mental landscape of the pre-colonisation Maori was different to that of current Pakeha, but that’s beside the point – although theories about what the state is may have been produced by people grounded in that latter legacy, that doesn’t mean that the theory is inapplicable to those outside of it – it just needs to be applied with caution, but I think we all seem to be exercising appropriate caution, so we’re OK so far.

    Lew: Most of the literature I’ve read seems to indicate that the international recognition requirement requires that most other states in the international community recognise the given state, not just one or two others. This is why I say it’s anachronistic – pre-European contact New Zealand existed in an era when the international community didn’t really exist for reasons of physical isolation.

    I agree it would be a good guest post, but I’m not the one to make it – my knowledge of local history is pretty limited. I’m sure there are many here who would make a good stick of it, though. Volunteers?

  21. Pablo on December 16th, 2009 at 12:28

    Chris: Not only is you image of the US grossly over-simplified, but you also denigrate modern-day Maori who have served NZ in various capacities while retaining their loyalties to whanau and iwi. Are they not included in those you define as “defending the cloth?” As I noted earlier, a national emblem (or better said, nation-state emblem) can co-exist with sub-national or pre-colonial symbols as a tapestry of identification. To me that is not devisive, it is encompassing.

    Not sure why you added the cheap shot about academic insularity. It adds nothing to the argument and ignores the fact that many academics have in fact served and are engaged in the greater society in ways other than traditional intellectualism. Just as political identities may be multi-layered, believe it or not an academic (or any other professional) may have identifications and civic attachments outside of the ivory tower. But then again, you know this already and yet chose to level the gratuitous aspersion anyway. That suggests that your call for civility in these type of debate was a shallow one. And BTW–it is a bit precious for you of all people to charge others with being out of touch. An organic intellectual you are not.

  22. Chris Trotter on December 16th, 2009 at 13:18

    A trifle thin-skinned Pablo. My reference to the “halls of academe” was directed more at the participants in this thread who’ve been arguing abstruse definitions of the state – not at you. But, were I of a mind, I could just as easily accuse you of getting your retaliation in first by prejudging all those who might raise objections to your thesis as racists and/or colonialists. And finally, I don’t believe you know enough about me, or my background of political engagement, to judge whether I am, or am not, an “organic intellectual”. (Sounds like an academic whose just been planted by a good ol’ boy.) So, harden up soldier!

  23. Pablo on December 16th, 2009 at 13:36

    Chrs:
    Since you mentioned me directly, the comment came off as personal. Whatever. My broader point as to who would have serious objections to the display of multiple flags still stands (although your post on the subject at your own site was good, or at least far better than your comment here). As for you being an organic intellectual and me needing to harden up, surely you are joking.

  24. Lew on December 16th, 2009 at 19:36

    Pablo,

    I see no reason why NZ cannot see a similarly layered identification: whanau first, iwi second, Aotearoa third, the Crown fourth, representing social and political ties from the local to the national. And, as the NZ history of war has shown, Maori will serve the Crown when called upon. So there is no contradiction between these identifications unless we allow them to be so.

    I think this is precisely the sort of identification we have; only what’s at stake here is the question of which (among competing) symbols to choose for a given context which is subnational. The positioning and signalling and such that we’re seeing is in that context; if the chips were down and the luxury of choice were not present, we would see Māori rally around the NZ flag as they have in previous times when the chips have been down. This is no more inconsistent with tino rangatiratanga than is Ngāpuhi’s claiming their own historical identity as distinct, but not detached, from that of other Māori.

    This is, I think, the thing Chris doesn’t accept — that the tino rangatiratanga movement is not a rebel alliance of shady subcultural guerillas, but a mainstream political movement. It has moved into parliament, business and the academy and demonstrated again and again its commitment to good-faith negotiation, gradual reconciliation on mutually acceptable terms. It’s made an orthodox progression from the margin to the centre, from Ngā Tamatoa through various abortive vehicles to the māori party, which may or may not yet prove as abortive as its forbears.

    Chris,

    The symbols of New Zealand nationhood may strike some liberal intellectuals as quaint and infinitely maleable adjuncts to their own, much more ambitious social engineering goals.

    You certainly won’t catch me discounting the importance of political symbols.

    My reference to the “halls of academe” was directed more at the participants in this thread who’ve been arguing abstruse definitions of the state – not at you.

    That makes even less sense than if it were directed against Pablo, given that the discussion about statehood didn’t even refer to flags. As Hugh says, it’s a sidetrack; but the point of a discussion thread is to discuss, even things which might to you seem trivial or aimless.

    Hugh,

    Lew: Most of the literature I’ve read seems to indicate that the international recognition requirement requires that most other states in the international community recognise the given state, not just one or two others.

    This is certainly true now, but with regard to previous times, I always understood the recognition test as regionally or geographically bounded; states in central Europe required no recognition from the Far East, for instance. So as long as those other ‘states’ with which a ‘state’ had regular dealings formally recognised status and mandate, then it would seem to hold. But anyway.

    L

  25. SPC on December 16th, 2009 at 21:07

    Lovely the metaphor of the superior union army (of Pakeha) ready to impose itself over any secession by an indigenous people (Maori) – do some people have an
    ancien regime view of the flag as symbol of an (imperial) army of the Crown that rules over them? Surely one hopes that in the 21st century, in an age of consent and equal participation and the rule of law, we can advance beyond that. Otherwise what did they fight for?

  26. Chris Trotter on December 16th, 2009 at 22:26

    “… in the 21st century, in an age of consent and equal participation and the rule of law …”

    Where SPC? Where? Show me the place on the map and I’ll pack my bags!

  27. SPC on December 16th, 2009 at 22:31

    Full of faith in the symbol (I hoped a little tongue in cheek) but now so soon retreating into cynicism … .

  28. Ag on December 17th, 2009 at 02:00

    This is, I think, the thing Chris doesn’t accept — that the tino rangatiratanga movement is not a rebel alliance of shady subcultural guerillas, but a mainstream political movement.

    And that’s the problem I have with it, Lew, and I think our deep disagreement over identity politics stems from it.

    The tino rangatiratanga movement is the political expression of a colonized people’s wish for increased self determination. It really isn’t that much different from Quebec separatism (excepting the geographical and linguistic differences). In other words, it is the movement of a minority who consider their interests ill-represented by the current state. Otherwise it is a thoroughly modern political movement of a people who have a thoroughly modern culture.

    But it is making these claims as if “Maori” in 1800 and “Maori” in 2000 refer to the same people. They do not. Traditional Maori culture is extinct and has been replaced by a modern culture that inherited fragments of the old. Zionists pull the same old trick all the time and it simply does not pass muster. It wouldn’t be so bad if this fiction weren’t being used by the leaders of this movement to resist accountability from everyone, including their own members.

    Identity politics always fails. It starts off appropriating the language of equality and solidarity, but eventually it is exposed as the personal vehicle of it’s elites. For example, feminism is now a joke, since it’s clear that it really means “equality for middle class women and bugger everyone else”.

    The Maori Party is starting to look like the pigs from “Animal Farm”. Why should anyone on the left accept their completely bogus ideology just because they aren’t white?

  29. Neil on December 17th, 2009 at 07:04

    I think that Chris’ fears are misplaced.

    The closest we have had recently is Tame Iti’s foolishess. Of the all the scenarios of seperatism then one of the few that could occur would be with Tuhoe. And apart from a substantial outpouring of criticisim of the police actions it all just faded away.

    Talking to the people that I know who know Tame there was a shift in opionion from support and denial that what he was up to to was potentially dangerous to partial support and an acknowledgement that he was very foolish.

    What we will see is devolution of some govt activities to iwi in areas such as helath, welfare and educaiton and a continuation of the Treaty settlement process.

    I think haveging a Maori flag makes seperatism less likely rather than more likely. It’s a symbol of identity and if people feel that identiy is recognised then ill feeling is less likely to fester.

    Having some one like Hone, who was a angry young seperatist, in alliance with the centre right and getting such a victory I think pushes the sort of tribal nationalism that simmers away from time to time in Tuhoe back of the agenda.

  30. Lew on December 18th, 2009 at 20:44

    Ag, you talk about culture as if, over a few generations, one must vanish and be wholly replaced with another.

    But when were the Māori? What you’re referring to as ‘traditional’ Māori culture was, in its day, radical and modern and often frowned upon by the kaumatua of the day. We know this because the oral history has been maintained — because it can be maintained to a substantial extent over the course of half a dozen generations, whereas maintaining it over millennia is a different matter.

    Identity politics always fails. It starts off appropriating the language of equality and solidarity, but eventually it is exposed as the personal vehicle of it’s elites. For example, feminism is now a joke, since it’s clear that it really means “equality for middle class women and bugger everyone else”.

    This is simply false. If you actually engage with feminist discourses, you’ll find they’re very active (extremely so) in agitating for the rights and wellbeing of women of all sorts, but middle-class white educated feminists who tend to drive the discourse along, in the same way that white, middle-class educated people drive the Marxist discourse, are frequently hampered by a lack of ethnic and cultural standing outside their own middle-class enclaves. This is where people like Anjum Rahman come in.

    L

  31. ak on December 19th, 2009 at 00:21

    …are frequently hampered by a lack of ethnic and cultural standing outside their own middle-class enclaves.

    Translation: “… are frequently too ****ing weak and hypocritical to put their money where their mouth is and get their fat lazy arses down to the local foodbank/refuge and/or community ministry as volunteers and do some actual ****ing work for people who are desperately in need rather than blather on on blogs.

    Watch Maori TV if you need to need to know the current state of the “culture” before giving your brother a hand – and if that sounds too “Marxist”, well tough titty. Seriously but, contact your nearest benefit advocacy group and give a bit of your time if you genuinely want to help those in the greatest need.

    NOTE: Vulgarities edited out as per comments policy. (Pablo)

  32. Lew on December 19th, 2009 at 07:55

    Pablo, I was just going to nuke the whole thing and ask for it to be rendered in more civil terms, but your solution is probably more just.

    ak, reflexively channelling the rhetoric of the KBR is highly unbecoming in one of your background and standing.

    L

  33. ak on December 19th, 2009 at 13:29

    (yeah sorry about that – tough day at the office and another of our exhausted 80-something vols bit the dust; no excuse for abuse, but I think people should realise that there’s a huge dad’s (and mum’s) army mopping up out there that could do with a hand, especially at this time of year (this year seems worse for some reason)- and nothing rounds out an education like real-life experience of the results of high-falutin theory)

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