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A Response to Chris

datePosted on 22:37, May 12th, 2011 by Lew

Chris Trotter has written a response to the previous discussions regarding the Treaty, titled Talking Past Each Other (a crisp description of the comments threads on both prior posts). I would usually respond there, but Blogger comments are presently down and I have time now, so here it is. It’s a bit more than a comment, at any rate.

I think Chris’ post is intended as a critique of my political and historical naïveté (a common theme), and a perception that I’m treating the history of Aotearoa as a ‘morality play’, to borrow Scott Hamilton’s phrase. In spite of that I find in it quite a lot to agree with. In particular, the characterisation of the agendas of the parties to the Treaty, which captures well the diversity, lack of cross-cultural and long-term perspective, and motive chaos within each camp; and the final affirmation that, whatever the history, the future of Māori and Pākehā must be together. The final paragraph, especially; I cannot agree more strongly.

I also have some problems with the piece; in particular the argument that violating the Treaty was necessary to the establishment of a functional colony and that, ultimately, it was for the best that the Crown did breach the Treaty because we ended up with this lovely country. I don’t agree, and to my mind this sort of let-bygones-be-bygones, it-all-turned-out-for-the-best thinking is a very convenient position to take when it’s not your land which was taken. But our differences on this point are well documented and I don’t intend to relitigate this disagreement here (or in comments; honestly, there’s enough of it on the other two thread!s)

Nevertheless, I do also think the piece mischaracterises my position. There are two main aspects to this. First, Chris says it is naïve to view the Treaty as a contract — and I agree, if it is to be viewed only as a contract. My framing of the two preceding posts in these terms was deliberately simplistic, as I noted to Hugh in comments to the first. But it was deliberate inasmuch as there exists such a paucity of understanding of the actual historical context of the Treaty as it actually occurred, and of its significance as a founding or mediating document, that a simple and clearly Pākehā frame of reference is needed to explicate it. It was not just a contract, but the Treaty was among its other roles, a contract laying out the grants and consideration of an agreement to colonise undertaken between the Crown and local rangatira. Viewing it as a contract, I think, forms a useful minimum basis for understanding, and in particular for the establishment of expectations of what should and could have occurred following its signing.

Of course, history isn’t so simple as that, and this gives rise to the second point: Chris (and others, particularly the commenters on the posts) seem to have interpreted my call for the Treaty to be honoured in the most literal terms — that, if my argument is true, Pākehā have a responsibility to return every square foot of raupatu land; pay reparation for every man killed in the Land Wars; and that Pākehā in 2011 must beat their breasts and prostrate themselves before the descendants of those fortunate enough to survive with whakapapa intact. I mean nothing of the sort. What I mean is that, even if it were for the best, even if breaches were necessary, there exists a moral responsibility to recognise these breaches. I disagree that admission of breaches is “accurrate but trivial”, as Chris puts it; if the agreement was made in good faith (as, having been authorised by the Queen, we have a right to assume it was) then the breaches matter, and give rise to an obligation on the part of the party in breach. Where my point has been lost, I think, is that this obligation extends to making reparation for the breaches to the mutual, minimal satisfaction of both parties. Māori, as I have kept pointing out, have not been unreasonable in this regard, invariably accepting reparations of a tiny fraction of the value of the initial breach, or of no economic value whatsoever — settling for symbolic gestures, apologies and recognition. The obligation, I argue, is to negotiate in similarly good faith. Inevitably, neither party will be entirely happy, but that’s not a realistic object — the object may be to reach a state of ‘minimal satisfaction’, a solution which, although merely tolerable to both parties, does enough to prevent further disputes.

And the end goal of this is the same as what Chris hopes for — a future together. By demonstrating good faith and making just reparation, we make progress toward solving two significant problems: one is the cultural and material circumstances in which Māori find themselves, largely as a consequence of successive governments’ lack of adherence to the Treaty. The other is the status of Pākehā society, which by acting in such poor faith has too long denied its own kaupapa; successive leaders, including the odious Prendergast, denying the existence and authority of a Treaty signed in the name of their own sovereign; and even having eventually recognised it, doing so only in a mean and grudging fashion. These circumstances — both the material circumstances and the lack of good faith by Pākehā — give rise to the ‘attitude’ problems among Māori referred to extensively in the prior comments by Andrew W and Phil Sage, which they argue creates a cycle of dysfunction. The same circumstances give rise to the Pākehā guilt to which Chris refers, and of which he has accused me in the past of being victim.

But I say again: this isn’t about guilt; none of us Pākehā held the sabre in hand or pulled the trigger. Many of us, myself included, have no ancestors who were here at the time of the Treaty’s signing and its most egregious breaches (mine were still in Skye, Kerry, Eindhoven and Brabant labouring under their own troubles at the time). But as Chris says, we have — and our society has — grown and prospered at the expense of the country’s original inhabitants, and we share in the responsibility to make that right. It’s not about dwelling in the past — it’s about moving into the future, which we cannot only do once the misgivings of the past have been settled. Although Pākehā have tried to do so, it should be clear now that we cannot force Māori to forget — and nor should we. But we can work together — as much as possible without self-flagellation or haughty defensiveness — toward squaring the ledger, purging the bad blood and cleaning the slate so that we can go forward, unencumbered, into a future as iwi tahi tātou.


29 Responses to “A Response to Chris”

  1. Phil Sage on May 13th, 2011 at 00:22

    Now we may be getting somewhere. I do not think anybody, including Dr Brash, is not in basic agreement that compensation for historic injustice should be negotiated to the satisfaction of both parties. That is not what Andrew W or myself have argued with you about although we may not have made it clear enough early enough that was not in contention.

    There are legitimate concerns that the treaty process is in danger of losing its objective and becoming a self sustaining process in its own right. Sustained by people who have made a good living arguing about injustice and wish to continue that industry for their own personal benefit at the expense of our country concluding the process and going forward unencumbered.

    The flip side of that is that the process itself has offered the opportunity for Maori to express leadership and create role models for themselves. As long as we are cognisant of that possibility and both sides proceed in good faith the treaty settlement process becoming a gravy train is not really an issue. There are plenty of other inefficiencies to attack as greater priorities but it is not racist to agitate for things to be settled.

    There remain fundamental issues to address.
    Will the conclusion of the treaty settlement process address Maori underperformance? Where we disagree is the attempt to frame underperformance purely as a result of the loss of economic base. You dont like anecdata but it is revealing that even someone like Prendergast toiled as a miner in Australia in the hope of earning his fortune before becoming Chief Justice in New Zealand. That does not strike me as someone coming directly from a life of aristocratic privilege to lord it over the colonials.

    If I see myself and my ancestors as being equal to Maori in every way I fail to understand why Europeans broke bush into economically productive farms whilst Maori land remained undeveloped. The value of bush in supporting a hunter gatherer community is minimal in comparison to farmland. That subconscious comparison is a reason why so many New Zealanders view the grievance industry as a gravy train and simply do not understand why Maori have not succeeded on the same basis as settlers. I find the attitude that ALL underperformance must be attributed to loss of an economic base as being somewhat patronising towards Maori in providing excuses for failure rather than confronting people with reality.

    You make the statement “But as Chris says, we have — and our society has — grown and prospered at the expense of the country’s original inhabitants, and we share in the responsibility to make that right.”

    By any objective standard this is simply not true. Pre European life for Maori was short and brutal. European settlers have raised the human development of the first settlers immeasurably. The progress New Zealand has made is not at the expense of Maori. Describing the progress in those terms is divisive. Recognition of the injustices AND the benefits of European culture to the earlier inhabitants of New Zealand is the only reasonable way to view our progress but too often it is only the grievance that is focused on. I am in no doubt that Maori chiefs agreed to the treaty on the basis of a strong and rational belief that their people would be better off as equal citizens of this society than pursuing a separatist path.

    Maori had a martial culture with an influence that carries through to this day, both in the excellence of Maori rugby and soldiery and the willingness to opt into the gang culture as well as the domestic impact. Those attributes are not purely Maori and you are no doubt uncomfortable with the generalisation.

    You do people no favours by offering external excuses for their failures that place no responsibility on the culture itself to address its own shortcomings.

    The real question to address are how do you value the positive aspects of Maori culture as part of one people. To my mind you do that by not labelling those who disagree with your politics as being racists or rednecks or malign motives. Equally we can be more clear that there is no argument with the desirability of full and final settlement of historic injustice.

  2. Phil Sage on May 13th, 2011 at 00:22

    spam check alert

  3. […] and the recent historical analysis of Te Tiriti o Waitangi undertaken by Chris Trotter and Lew at Kiwipolitico, I want to delve a bit deeper into this concept of One World/One People and its importance to the […]

  4. Phil Sage on May 13th, 2011 at 04:33

    Off topic but a fascinating article on human choices.

    It leads me to ask the question. Is mana more important for Maori than succeeding according to European standards?

  5. Lew on May 13th, 2011 at 09:15

    Sorry about the spamtrap; it seems a little overzealous. I wish we could whitelist bona fide commenters.

    Actually, Phil, I don’t think we are making progress. You persist with your Victorian essentialist notions of the white man’s cultural superiority compared to the ‘warrior culture’ of Māori; and the perverse notiojn that the Crown did Māori a favour by putting their civilisation very substantially to the sword. You concede the facts of Treaty breaches, which is good, but you persist in denial of the material and cultural impacts (framing these as an excuse is simply obscene). You’re also labouring under delusions — Prendergast was not some salt-of-the-earth common man, he was the son of a London QC; and Māori didn’t just leave all their land in its natural state, in fact as early as the 1820s they were producing grain for export to Australia and elsewhere, far in advance of any ‘white man’s progress’ and indeed to supply a colony in which white man’s progress had failed to produce sufficient food. To name just two examples of many factual inaccuracies in your account which downplay the ‘advancement’ of Māori and trump up the Pākehā side. If it’s not ouitright dishonesty, it’s a woeful state of ignorance which closely approximates dishonesty. Sadly, it is far from uncommon.

    These views are incompatible with genuine progress as equals, because fundamentally the holder of them looks down upon Māori from the high ground of positivist ethnocentrism. This — partially, because the other stuff about trying to didge responsibility and picking the easy path is true also — is why I impute ‘malign motives’ to Brash, and others who think like him: in the 21st Century, genuine good faith cannot be hitched to such nags as those ideas.

    Yes, we are all better off now than anyone was in 1840 — but that’s true of nearly every substantive population centre in the world, with the possible exception of totalitarian backwaters such as the DPRK. This progress isn’t exactly an outlier; not some miracle gift of the white man which instantly absolves him of all his wrongdoing. It is a consideration among other considerations.


  6. Andrew W on May 13th, 2011 at 11:29

    Lew, reading through all this I see you think you’re justified in assuming that me and Phil are racist because of the arguments we’ve advanced. Yet I think I can just as fairly make the same charge against you. I see it as current attitudes that are holding the current generation of poorer Maori back, you argue that it’s the injustices suffered by previous generations. I find your reasoning strange, as I’ve said, I don’t think poverty transfers from generation to generation in other New Zealand populations to the same degree that it does amongst the poorer Maori, so I’m left wondering if your unspoken reason for believing this assumption reasonable is that you have a patronising attitude towards Maori, and that perhaps you don’t think they have the same natural intellectual potential as Pakeha, that they’re poor because their not naturally as bright as Pakeha.

    I’d normally not easily accuse someone of such racism, certainly not as easily as you do. But the answer to a simple question question (yeah, I know, been there) could remove my concerns: Why do you think it is that the tested IQ of Maori is much lower that Pakeha?

  7. Trouble on May 13th, 2011 at 13:51

    Andrew, you’d stand better against allegations of racism if you provided any data to support your assertions. To begin with, it’s not good enough just to state that Maori have unjustified, negative attitudes about discrimination that hold them back. You’ve neither established that those attitudes exist at disproportionate levels to pakeha, or that those attitudes are unjustified. According to the Human Rights Commission, 61% of people believe that Maori are somewhat or greatly discriminated against. I don’t have to think hard to remember examples of anti-Maori racism amongst pakeha in my lifetime. In my parents’ lifetime it was still legal to advertise accommodation as “Europeans preferred” and ban Maori from either pubs or movie theatres, I forget which, in Pukekohe.

    I’d like to see your citation on IQ levels, too. A quick google doesn’t come up with much – the second result was a site that used the N word. It’s a very loaded subject. The remainder of the first page remarked on Maori IQ testing as relatively high compared with other disadvantaged (and historically mistreated) groups, and improving throughout the 80s and 90s. There are huge questions and debates over the source of this disparity worldwide.

  8. Andrew W on May 13th, 2011 at 14:45

    Andrew, you’d stand better against allegations of racism if you provided any data to support your assertions.

    So would others.

    To begin with, it’s not good enough just to state that Maori have unjustified, negative attitudes about discrimination that hold them back. You’ve neither established that those attitudes exist at disproportionate levels to pakeha, or that those attitudes are unjustified.

    It’s a theory to explain statistical differences between the races, another theory is that these statistical differences are due the differences in wealth that have existed for generations. The latter theory doesn’t explain the persistence of poverty and other negative statistical data.

    According to the Human Rights Commission, 61% of people believe that Maori are somewhat or greatly discriminated against.

    That statistic raises many question and answers none, like; Why do these people have this belief that Maori are somewhat or greatly discriminated against?
    Do those taking part in the survey actually observe this discrimination? Do they themselves practice this discrimination? What is racial and demographic breakdown of the respondents?

    I don’t have to think hard to remember examples of anti-Maori racism amongst pakeha in my lifetime.

    So you rubbish my anecdotal evidence, but think yours is OK?

    I’d like to see your citation on IQ levels, too. A quick google doesn’t come up with much – the second result was a site that used the N word.

    There are qiute a few surveys of tests done around the world, including of Maori, are you going to argue that Maori do as well, or nearly as well as Pakeha in tests?

    It’s a very loaded subject…There are huge questions and debates over the source of this disparity worldwide.

    Absolutely, remember I’m working on the assumption that nurture rather than nature is the main difference between Pakeha and Maori success, I’m interested in how Lew sees the nurture/nature issue and if he has an unspoken belief that nature is the main factor.

  9. Adze on May 13th, 2011 at 15:05

    This has been a fascinating discussion (including the other two threads), despite the occasional drive-by ad hominem.

    Everyone seems to be in agreement that restitution is due for past injustices, even if the mechanism for determining the schedule for this remains controversial for some. But It seems to me that there is really one fundamental disagreement: the extent that historical injustices continue to play in contemporary negative statistics.

    Personally I think both Andrew and Lew have made valid points on this score. I don’t see them as mutually exclusive in that dysfunctional behaviours can have more than one cause. I suspect Lew’s emphasis on group causes is underpinned by a ethical framework that invests significant moral agency at the group level, whereas Andrew places moral agency mostly at the individual level.

  10. Trouble on May 13th, 2011 at 15:27

    It’s a theory

    It’s a hypothesis, and it makes empirical claims that ought to be backed by evidence, not just fit better with one’s prejudices. Having data that raises questions is better than having answers without data.

    <So you rubbish my anecdotal evidence, but think yours is OK?

    Anecdotal evidence can disprove a thesis (ie, all swans are white, but I saw a black one) but not prove one (I saw a white swan, therefore all swans are white). Was it you who claimed that Maori hadn’t been discriminated against in 50 years, or someone else?

    I’m not going to make any claims about IQ tests without a study in front of me. You raised the argument, go ahead and back yourself up.

    I think it’s completely clear that Lew’s arguing that one form of nurture (a legacy of dispossession) contributes to Maori disadvantage, while you’re arguing that another (negative attitudes, the source of which is a martial culture) applies. Arguing culture not circumstances is closer to the nature argument, IMHO, and ultimately implies it would take the obliteration of culture to solve inequality. Cultural imperialist is the kinder word than racist for that position.

    Me, I think factors like urbanisation and a forced shift from tikanga Maori to English law also play a role, and I can cite people who know what they’re talking about in support of this position, rather than what on Wikipedia is euphemistically called “original research”.

  11. ak on May 13th, 2011 at 16:14

    Bravo Lew and Chris. Quite possibly the best posts both of you have ever written, on quite possibly the most important subject ever for this lovely wee country.

    Truth shines like a beacon from the convergence of two such powerful streams (and incidentally Lew, I think your minor quibbles with Chris’s post result from a mis-read – certainly I see no assertion that violation of the treaty was “necessary”, nor that you call for literal “honouring) – your shared denouement and optimsm particularly pleasing.

    What’s even more pleasing is that recent events indicate that your efforts here (and the comments) are a microcosm: salubrious attitudinal evolution swelling in the mainstream; slowly but surely engulfing the shallow, pitifully weak, blame-the-victim/inherent-genetic-inferiority, eddies and bogs.

    Prediction: the next poll will validate this theory. Orewa One’s poison affected one-in-five of us in 2004: this time round one-in-fifty at the most. ACT >3% in the next Morgan.

  12. Andrew W on May 13th, 2011 at 16:37

    Thanks Trouble, that link was a fascinating read. Significantly it didn’t once mention the Treaty of Waitangi, it did talk a lot about Maori alienation and defeatism, it covered the existence of discrimination into the late 1950’s, and the widespread nature of the dysfunction in Maori households.
    It seems to me the link makes no argument for the treaty being a solution, but argues that there’s a dearth in research in this area and that what we need is more direct ways to combat that defeatism.

    Was it you who claimed that Maori hadn’t been discriminated against in 50 years, or someone else?

    I think I said something along the lines that I didn’t think the discrimination was at a level that could account for the persistence of poverty over the last 50 years.

    Anecdotal evidence can disprove a thesis (ie, all swans are white, but I saw a black one) but not prove one (I saw a white swan, therefore all swans are white).

    You state you’ve seen blatant discrimination in your life time, so that proves it’s existed in your lifetime. Yep.

    I can tell you that I’ve experienced a blatant accusation of being racist (by a Maori, not Lew) in the last 2 months and that there was no basis for that accusation other than that I’m Pakeha. So I content that this animosity towards Pakeha, because it’s the dominant culture, exists today.

    while you’re arguing that another (negative attitudes, the source of which is a martial culture) applies. Arguing culture not circumstances is closer to the nature argument, IMHO, and ultimately implies it would take the obliteration of culture to solve inequality. Cultural imperialist is the kinder word than racist for that position.

    As I attribute Maori poverty largely to defeatism and a feeling of alienation towards the dominant Pakeha society, and haven’t mentioned “martial culture” you owe me an apology.

  13. Trouble on May 13th, 2011 at 16:50

    OK, negative attitudes the source of which are unexplained but aren’t the result of real discrimination. Someone else must have played the martial culture card.

    I can tell you that I’ve experienced a blatant accusation of being racist (by a Maori)

    Dude, I think that’s bingo.

    Let me put this in simple terms. I steal a guy’s car, and he later ends up homeless. I have an obligation to return the guy’s car or at least what it was worth. The fact that he ended up homeless does lend a sense of urgency to the task of returning the car, but ultimately it’s by the by. When the judge (or whoever) says the car needs to be returned, it’s ungenerous in the extreme to ask whether returning the guy’s car will fix his situation, whether he could drive it, whether I still have to give it back given I’ve put in a new stereo, whether he’ll thank me for it, and whether it’s polite of him to stand on the street corner shouting about stolen cars. It still needs to be returned, and all the rest of it is fudging that position.

  14. Andrew W on May 13th, 2011 at 16:59

    I get sick of mindless analogies.

    How about you steal a guys farm and 150 years later his great great great grandkids are struggling to make ends meet, do your great great great grandkids have an obligation to pay his great great great grandkids the value of the farm, which incidentally, they don’t own and when they’re also struggling to make ends?

    One mindless analogy deserves another.

  15. Andrew W on May 13th, 2011 at 17:04

    Perhaps you should read Adze’s comment, especially the second paragraph.

  16. Lew on May 13th, 2011 at 17:38

    I’ve been on deadline today, and can’t do complete justice to the comments made today because I’m about to hit the road for the weekend. But I do want to make a couple of quick points.

    1. Andrew W’s suggestion that I think ‘nature’ is responsible for the plight of Māori is beneath contempt; in fact, it seems closer to his own views about the ‘superiority’ of one over another (and certainly closer to Phil’s). I think there’s a lot of fuzzy logic in there about what exactly is ‘cultural’ and what is ‘racial’, but I’m not going to plum those depths.

    2. Linked to the first point. It’s been a while since I looked closely at IQ, but my recollection is that IQ tests are culturally biased in non-trivial ways. So it’s back to the fact that the test you apply will to a large extent determine the results you get. More to the point, many of the same factors which drive social dysfunction (economic and cultural marginalisation, for instance) also impact on IQ. IQ is enormously problematic, and is the sort of thing which should be handled with care by experts aware of its limitations, not by autodidacts trying to drive an ideological agenda. So I’m not touching that with a barge pole, either.

    3. And this is the main one. How oblivious do you have to be to question whether Māori are substantively discriminated against? Seriously? None so blind, etc.

    4. Edit to add: Andrew’s suggestion that I have a ‘patronising attitude towards Maori’ is especially laughable. My whole argument regarding the response is predicated on Māori knowing what’s best for Māori, and throughout I generally accept their assessment of both the causes of and solution to their problems. I want to devolve both the resources and the responsibility for solving the problems to Māori in accordance with the principle of tino rangatiratanga. This in marked contrast to Andrew and Phil, who think they know better — and that whitey generally knows better — and wish for Pākeha to remain the gatekeepers of Māori aspiration despite the demonstrated fact that they neither understand the problem nor have a compelling motive to fix it. Which of those two positions is more patronising?

    Have a great weekend, all.


  17. Andrew W on May 13th, 2011 at 19:04


    closer to his own views about the ‘superiority’ of one over another

    And once again Lew slings mud in the hopes that it’ll stick.

    2. Glad to hear you might not be racist.
    While cultural differences are supposedly not an adequate explanation for the differences in test results across ethnicities, the existence and magnitude of the Flynn effect means that differences in nurture appear adequate to account for differences across cultures and race. As an example, I find it a telling point that the rate of unscaled increase in IQ’s over this century means that, though Black Americans score an average of 20 points lower than whites on modern tests, the unscaled average scores of blacks on some IQ tests in 1995 were the same as the unscaled scores of whites in 1945, which means that if the environmental factors affecting whites in 1945 have an equivalent effect on test results as environmental factors affecting blacks in 1995, there would be no need to invoke a genetic component to explain the differences in modern test results.

    The tentative conclusion I draw from this is that a defeatist attitude not only affects poorer Maori’s ability to climb out of the poverty trap, but that the dysfunctionality and defeatism of these households is crippling to the measured cognition of people growing up in them.

    3. We know that even when comparing poorer Maori households only with Pakeha households with the same incomes, the Maori households are getting worse results across criminal, education, and health statistics. If this can all be attributed to genuine discrimination, rather than perceived discrimination, that genuine discrimination must be impacting on children even at the youngest age.

    So our school teachers discriminate, and our medical practitioners discriminate, that’s what Lew HAS to be claiming, this subtle discrimination must be happening in every classroom, and you know, he’s right, I must be oblivious because I didn’t notice it when I was at school.

    Naughty teachers.

  18. Andrew W on May 13th, 2011 at 19:08

    Sigh, stuck in the filter again.

  19. Phil Sage on May 13th, 2011 at 22:08

    So I am now a positivist ethnocentrist Lew. A better label than racist but equally wrong. There is certainly nothing wrong with making your judgements based on evidence. But as the fiscal bubbles show us so much of human behaviour is not based on pure logic.

    Start with the clear statement that I do not deny there has been and are racist attitudes and behaviour in New Zealand. I must also make it clear that the ONLY way you can get to a society that is genuinely egalitarian is to ensure that new privileges are not embedded for some sector of society as that will simply breed its own sense of injustice. To be specific you must give losers like Kyle Chapman no reason to have a sense of grievance. We must also challenge the likes of that poor little lamb Hone Harawira when he alleges people protesting against his statements are racist rednecks.

    Andrew illustrates some interesting points. My recollection of international IQ studies was that they concluded that Asians were, on average more intelligent than White Europeans. How inconvenient for the white supremacists but given that civilisation has existed for longer in China it fits neatly with the current evidence that we are more intelligent than our parents. We are also taller as a result of better nutrition. Does believing that make me ageist. I must be using the same logic by which Lew labels me racist. Human development and culture is a broadly linear path. European civilisation went backwards in the middle ages. China stood still over the last 500 years and allowed Europe to catch up and overtake it. The Indus valley did not build on its early advantages.

    Andrew and I have been probing to see just what is the basis of your value system.

    Unless you reject the whole educational method of starting with small blocks or pieces of knowledge and slowly and steadily adding to them then I have to question the basis for your beliefs.

    Try the following thought experiment. Put one identical twin in a darkened room, feed it but do not educate it and compare it with the second twin that is taught to read, given books and encouragement. At the end of 10 years bring the first child out of the room and put it on the same path. Five years later test the IQ of both children now that they can both read. Is it racist to suggest that the second twin is much more likely to have more knowledge and a higher IQ. IQ tests are based on taught patterns.

    Having a higher IQ does not make one twin “better” than another. There are plenty of evil highly intelligent people. But the additional learning makes the child with greater learning more likely to succeed in a society that values learning.

    That is the basis on which Andrew and I assert that the rejection of aspiration is what causes so much damage. If learning does not start early that is appropriate for success in the society which values that learning then a child will fall behind.

    I do not know where you get the idea that either Andrew or myself wish to act as gatekeepers. You say “I want to devolve both the resources and the responsibility for solving the problems to Māori in accordance with the principle of tino rangatiratanga.”

    As it happens I don’t believe it is simply a matter of saying that Maori should look to resolve the issue themselves. I simply don’t view it as being a racial issue. All children should be provided with equal opportunity. If that means picking up a greater proportion of currently underperforming Maori children than are present in the wider population then so be it. I fail to see why a Maori child who has grown up in an aspirational home should get some preference to University entry over the rare self motivated child of drug addicts. I call that preference racist.

    Should Maori look to resolve issues using their own resources. Certainly. Should Maori have an expectation of special treatment simply by virtue of being Maori? Certainly not.

    Carry on the thought experiment above and accept that the twin who started off behind is far more likely to reject what is considered normal societal conditions and either drop out or certainly achieve less “success” than their twin. What is going to happen to the children of those twins?

    It is a reasonable assertion that on average the twin with greater learning will build on their advantage and provide their children with greater opportunity through providing greater knowledge. If the latter twin became a drug addict I fail to see why our society should give greater preference to the child of another on the basis they had brown skin.

    I struggle to see why it is apparently racist to put human development in a context like this.

    The reason I asked the question about the value of mana above was to identify whether Lew thinks that the European ethnocentrist view of “success” is different from the Maori ethnocentrist view of “success”.

    The question was indirectly answered with the statement “Māori didn’t just leave all their land in its natural state, in fact as early as the 1820s they were producing grain for export to Australia and elsewhere, far in advance of any ‘white man’s progress’ “

    I take that to mean that we define success without ethnocentrism. By that definition human development must be the equal basis. Greater health, wealth and productive capability.

    Following from that it seems that you are asserting that Maori were fine in the early stages of European arrival but later injustice is solely responsible for their current state of relative disadvantage. I think your various statements are focused on gaining substantial compensation for Maori for historic injustice and then leaving them to their own devices.

    From a libertarian perspective that is certainly an easy answer. From the perspective of someone who believes strongly in New Zealanders being one people that smacks strongly of endorsing a separatist agenda.

    And that is where we must disagree. That path simply perpetuates a sense of grievance and injustice on both sides.

  20. SPC on May 13th, 2011 at 22:40

    Just we don’t love it or hate it, when values based principles come up against identity politics (and that involves both proponents on either side of that divide) .

    Yet even ignoring the Treaty, there is still the international concept norm “principle” of justice for the indigenous people in conflict with one law for all. So guess on whose side history comes down on … I suppose it might depend on whether one law for all is a local or international idea …

  21. Andrew W on May 14th, 2011 at 07:32

    Trouble said: “Dude, I think that’s bingo.”

    You want to clarify what you mean by that? Is it: “If two people accuse you of something, it must be true” because if that’s so, wow, what does it say about you?

  22. Trouble on May 14th, 2011 at 11:03

    It’s a game you can play when you’re having a debate when the other side makes predicatable points. If I had a dollar for the number of race relations debates I’ve been involved in where a person of European descent announced that they’d been accused of racism, racism, I tell you, for no good reason by a member of a minority group, I’d have a lot more dollars than I do now.

  23. Andrew W on May 14th, 2011 at 11:42

    Well you sort of illustrate my point, some Maori see racism when it’s not there and not surprisingly, when Pakeha get accused of being racist when they weren’t they get offended.

    The incident had nothing to do with race relations, not wishing to spend too much time rehashing it:
    A horse was sold on TradeMe, the buyers felt the horse didn’t meet their expectations, in Emails the vendor (my wife) pointed out that the fault it had (it was head shy) had been explicitly mentioned in the ad, the buyers had no other problems with the horse, the vendor felt she had represented the horse fairly and the buyers were expecting something other than was advertised (it was also advertised as being suitable for an experienced rider, but it turned out that it was being purchased for a self confessed inexperienced rider) The purchaser returned the horse, I ascertained the above when talking to them (wife wasn’t here) not wanting to take the horse back on my wifes behalf was proof in the eyes of one of the people present (not the actual purchaser, maybe they were only there to try to bully on their friends behalf), that I was racist.

  24. Lew on May 15th, 2011 at 21:47

    Phil, as far as the first quarter of your comment goes, you needn’t bother arguing with me: argue with the people who study culture (its evolution, devolution and so on). I bid you good luck. But the facts of the field are that the arguments you’re making, even if your motivations are noble, aren’t that far removed from cultural phrenology. Suffice to say that it’s a bit more complicated than that.

    The second quarter: your thought experiment that the second twin would have a lower IQ, is true, but only in the most banal sense. Omitting the point that a low IQ would be the least of the kid’s problems; the fact that he hasn’t been brought up in the culture which administers the IQ tests means he will struggle at it. This is exactly the point regarding IQ testing and other such positivist measures of personal or intellectual value: they are only as good as those who construct them.

    Relating this back to the situation of Māori (whom I assume are the ‘dark kids’ in your rather distasteful analogy); you suppose that Māori would be able to access all the same cultural advantages as Pākehā, if only they’d shed the chips on their shoulders. Again, subject matter experts in the field (sociologists and social psychologists in this case, as well as some anthropologists) will tell you: it’s a bit more complicated than that. Cultural systems simply are not neutral. The barriers to entry to that society which administers the IQ tests (and other such cultural systems) are high. You blame Māori for failing to scale those barriers, ignoring the role of those who have erected and maintain them.

    The reason I say you wish to gatekeep Māori aspiration is simply this: you disagree with the vast majority of Māori on the matter of what should be done about their situation. Pākehā have always disagreed with Māori on this point. The systems thus far implemented (by Pākehā) have served Pākehā much more than they have served Māori, which is why, after 170 years, we’re still arguing this topic. It’s like the Labour partisans who say “Labour knows what’s best for Māori”. Well, bollocks to all of that. I say: let Māori try. Let them fail if need be. Oversight, certainly. Ongoing discourse and input from wider socitey. No blank cheques. But let’s not permit people who are so far disconnected from the problems they seek to solve continue to veto those with a more direct interest in solving them. You misread me as far as ‘leaving them to their own devices’ goes, and egregiously so, since I’ve never argued any sort of abandonment of Māori, and in fact it runs entirely counter to my entire position that we need to go ahead together.

    Last thing, you’ve done a bit of a bait-and-switch on your definition of a culture’s ‘success’ there, Phil — one moment it was guns, next it was something much more broad. Well player, but I’m letting it through to the keeper. It’s a bigger discussion than here, and poorly-framed, to boot.


  25. Lew on May 15th, 2011 at 21:47

    This is likely to be my last substantive comment on this thread. I’m on deadline all this week and am frankly sick of going around in circles.

    It has been somewhat edifying, though perhaps not for the reasons I had expected.

    Andrew, this just looks like more of your customary anecdata. Anyone can cherry-pick a couple of examples to support their case — I’ve been called a race-traitor; does that make me repressed? — and nobody is arguing there is absolutely no oversensitivity to racism among Māori. The point isn’t even that white folk are all racist all the time. On the basis of your story it seems clear you weren’t. But it’s not just intentional racism: there’s a whole lot of more subtle, systemic racism as well, and the wider point is that people in positions of privilege don’t always see discrimination.

    An example is the guy who was beaten for speaking Māori at school, as a kid; since that was his native language, he stopped going to school to avoid the beatings, and consequently failed to learn to read or write English, do maths, and much else. That’s not an empty, academic example; that more or less describes the situation of reasonable numbers of actual people. Many of whom are dead now because their lack of educational and social achievement hampered their employment options and entrenched them in poverty, with all the very well-documented health and life-expectancy impacts that brings. And you know what? Those people have families who were effected by their dysfunction as well. And so it goes. This is a combination of purposive racism via an explicit Treaty breach — selectively punishing the speakers of reo Māori — compounded by a much deeper and broader systemic, societal racism: a whole social infrastructure which meets that guy and goes “another dumb illiterate hori” or, later in his life, “another dumb illiterate obese alcoholic hori who beats his wife and kids” without consideration for why he might be that way, beyond “warrior culture” or “grievance mentality defeatist chip on his shoulder”. Not to defend the indefensible, but normally the indefensible doesn’t just spring up organically out of nowhere.

    Given the way you guys carry on as if you understand the topic I shouldn’t have to explain this to you, but there, I just did: one of the common characteristics of privilege is blindness to privilege.


  26. Andrew W on May 16th, 2011 at 00:01

    there’s a whole lot of more subtle, systemic racism as well,

    That’s what those claiming racism is widespread and impacts Maori success today always say, I’ll point to the Jane Elliot documentary I mentioned way back, can you define that subtle racism by Pakeha that’s today widespread? Because those Black British people who claimed it existed there were really, really struggling to give modern examples.

    An example is the guy who was beaten for speaking Māori at school, as a kid; since that was his native language, he stopped going to school to avoid the beatings, and consequently failed to learn to read or write English, do maths, and much else. That’s not an empty, academic example; that more or less describes the situation of reasonable numbers of actual people.

    When? Which generations experienced this? The current young generation, their parents, or their grand parents? I’m 48, my entire school career was in a provincial town (Tokoroa) at average demographic schools in that town in which half the kids were Maori or PI, I NEVER saw examples of what you describe, though I have no doubt it occurred with previous generations (that was actually mentioned by teachers and condemned in the classroom) so when I ask why, even when comparing poorer Maori households only with Pakeha households with the same incomes, do the Maori households get worse results across criminal, education, and health statistics, and then when I’m told by Maori that in their own households when they were growing up that expressions of racism against Pakeha society were common, I see a possible explanation, alienation and defeatism being passed from one generation to the next by parents and grand parents that did suffer real racism, why should I deny the evidence?

    Surely it would be surprising if Maori that were subjected to racial discrimination did not have animosity towards the society that did it to them, and surely it shouldn’t be surprising if some of that animosity and bitterness gets relayed from one generation to the next, especially in the households in the lowest demographics?

    All hard to prove because no authoritative studies have been done on it and it all goes on in the home, but if you read Troubles link a few posts above, I think that link actually supports what I’m saying, unless of course you believe Maori are different to other people and don’t bring up their children based on their own experiences?

    But people just don’t want to acknowledge it, because it can be too easily labeled as blaming the victims, and it suits no ones politics, but if I’m right it’s something that should be addressed for the sake of young Maori people.

    OK, said that all already so I’m done.

  27. Phil Sage on May 16th, 2011 at 07:53

    Lew – You have a nice line in smug subtle insults and the attribution of straw men. I certainly have no desire to be a gatekeeper. It has certainly been an illuminating discussion.
    For someone supposedly so open minded you have been very quick to label and judge rather than seek common ground.

  28. Lew on May 16th, 2011 at 12:57

    Andrew, whether you’re oblivious to it or not, the policy was implemented for a good half-century or so, and its impacts are a well-documented matter of the public record. It’s just one example among literally hundreds I could pull out, but once again: I’m not your Year 11 social studies teacher. Go and read a book or something.


  29. Andrew W on May 16th, 2011 at 13:29

    Lew, when I asked: “When? Which generations experienced this? The current young generation, their parents, or their grand parents?” the question was rhetorical.

    But once again, nice way to avoid addressing the points I was making.

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