Response to Brian Edwards concerning Hekia Parata

I dont believe that the question Rachel Smalley asked of Hekia Parata: “How Maori are you”? was in anyway appropriate. I have a huge amount of respect for Brian Edwards and have read his blog which justifies Rachel’s question on the basis that was relevant to “Parata’s childhood and upbringing in a Maori family and Maori community”; that it produced a revealing and relevant response; that she handled it well and hasn’t complained.

The last three justifications are meaningless. It makes no difference to the appropriateness of the question whether she answered well or not, whether she complained or not. As to whether it was relevant to Parata’s childhood, that issue was canvassed earlier in the interview and could have been discussed more without forcing Hekia to justify her identity.

Thats what I have a problem with: Hekia was required by the question to justify her identity. The criteria Hekia then applied to herself is the criteria Maori have been forced to use to justify ourselves for decades: blood (whakapapa), language and whanau. It is a question based on New Zealand’s assimilationist history, when the degree of a persons “Maoriness” led to more or less entitlement, when being judged as having abandoned our cultural practices and language, we were therefore more like Pakeha and so more acceptable.

It is a grotesque irony that these days Maori are asked that question so that their right to speak on Maori issues can be judged, mostly by Pakeha, as legitimate or not.

So I have some questions for Brian.

When has a Pakeha politician ever been asked such a question? Would speaking English be a criteria for Pakehaness? Would having whakapapa disqualify them?

Am I more or less Maori if I don’t speak the Reo; if Im unclear about my whakapapa; if i have been adopted and know little of my whanau?

And finally, by what criteria do you judge my “Maoriness”? Just for future reference.

45 thoughts on “Response to Brian Edwards concerning Hekia Parata

  1. I don’t see the problem with the question. My Grandson is 1/32nd Maori and (apparently) able to claim special rights, priviledges and scholarships as a result. Personally I don’t think that makes him Maori, just a decendant of one, and in my view he shouldn’t be entitled to anything more or less than my other grandchildren.

    I don’t mind being asked how Welsh I am when I’m in Wales, or how Irish I am when I’m in Liverpool. The point of the question, I would assume, would be to ascertain what my interest in the topic was, a bit like saying “I’m a shareholder in British Petroleum” when speaking on the off-shore drilling topic.

  2. Sorry Dave Stringer,

    Before you can qualify to answer this question you must explain how pakeha you are.

    Josh

  3. I think that not only is it an inappropriate question at any level but its also quite boring! Its all shades of brown to people for whom the question should be “How Pakeha are you?”

  4. Of course there are going to be good performers on Television – whether they are Maori or Pakeha makes no difference to the emphasis placed on the visual constructs for television – presentation, clarity, sharp ability to turn questions around etc. In this case though the interviewer was clearly running with an Uncle Tom line and this is dangerous for a number of reasons. 1. It appears racist whether the intent is that or not. 2. They may well be a wonderful person in their sphere. (I saw the trials of Romanian politicians who might have been wonderful grandfathers and who committed terrible breaches of human rights). In regards to Edwards’s admiration for Parata’s performance it is the stuff of media training and entertainers like Parata have the money to pay for it. But where is the heart and soul. Where is the tear in the eye, where is the foot muddied by sewerage filth and the hand stained by a permanent marker, where is the empathy for those who suffer because of her policy to privatise education. Her perfume might be Chanel but the glint in her eye is steel.

  5. The blood quantum theory has been used for generations by colonising peoples to help exclude indigenous peoples and eventually render them politically extinct. It should have no place in contemporary Aotearoa where every person descended from tangata whenua is completely Māori – just as they can identify with whatever other ethnic, linguistic or religious group they choose to belong to. Of course not every Māori identifies as such, and that is their prerogative, but I’d say that is largely due to both the influence of the blood quantum theory and the tangible impact of colonisation and subsequent loss of Māori culture, Te Reo and tikanga in general. And as someone famous recently said, let’s also not confuse whakapapa Māori with kaupapa Māori – just because someone is Māori, it doesn’t mean they know or do what is best for Māori.

  6. I didn’t see the interview, and in general I think television’s worth the paper it’s printed on.

    I think that the question is a logical mistake: it’s like the ‘are you male enough to do our job?’ questions that are now illegal.

    The underlying question is either:
    – how qualified are you to do X?
    or
    – how eligible are you for us to marginalise you?

    One of these needs more detail, and the other one would at least make the asker’s position plain.

    [Technical quibble: it would be nice to have links back to the original content that's being referenced.]

  7. I like to think I’d be able to calmly and unconcernedly answer any question put to me: Were your parents married? Is your family free of criminals? Are you O.K. about being a redhead? Are you fully pakeha? Is it true your great-grandfather had an alcohol problem? Didn’t you have an aunt who married a Maori? (Yes, I’m proud to say!)…..

    If you have some sense of your own worth, the only possible ‘excuse’ for feeling aggrieved is perhaps if you know or sense that the questioner has an ulterior motive in asking the question. Even so, then so be it – that’s the questioner’s problem; and it’s symptomatic of the braindead (sorry, thoughtless) way in which many still separate the races, faiths, genders, ages, species etc. as though we are not all from the same Source. We are all connected, worthy of respect and consideration, in spite of, at times, mistakes etc. Wanting to feel ‘superior’ to bolster own self-esteem is a problem. Treat a delinquent like a gentleman and see the good that comes out of it! Correction, yes; guidance, yes; restitution, yes; but not ignorant, vindictive punishment..) (off-topic, sorry!)
    But for heavens sake, we need to work together in this world the way it is, and every race has its excellent, very good, and poorer aspects. Some of the more judgmental races, faiths etc. have been part of the causes of the problems others are having to contend with!

  8. Never mind all that; let’s just try to remember that the singular of criteria is criterion.

  9. It was a particularly dumb question, given Smalley had already described Parata as Maori.

    It would be interesting to know why Smalley asked the question – the only thing I can imagine is that she has a very odd idea about what makes a person Maori. I’ve run across this with some liberal Pakeha who can talk about Maori in an oddly abstract way, ignoring all the Maori in the room, as if people only count as Maori if they live in Porirua, the Urewera or Turangi.

    An interesting thing about the interview though, was that I heard another Maori politician – Hone Harawira – talking about education a while back and he spent 95% of his speech lecturing Maori parents on doing more for their kids, making sacrifices for their kids’ education and being involved in their education. For somebody who claims to have joined the National party because she believes in getting the state out of people’s lives, Parata seems remarkably unpassionate about such things.

  10. “The question in context was entirely valid. Hekia Parata was clearly utterly unfazed by it and answered properly”

    What do you mean by ‘properly’? You mean she replied that her ‘Maoriness’ was valid as she grew up in a relatively poor rural community and spoke Te Reo? Supposing she had come from a realtively well-off Maori family in Auckland or Australia? Would this have then have made her identity invalid? Are Maori spokespeople going to be rejected if they don’t have a background that conforms to 1950s stereotypes?

  11. “many Maori want special treatment simply by virtue of being Maori”

    ‘Special treatment’ meaning ‘being treated equally, not having your culture ignored and denigrated, not letting people steal your land and get away with it’.

    Don’t Pakeha also want these things? Or would we be happy to have the government steal our land and try and destroy our language etc. and simply shrug our shoulders and say “Oh whatever, we’ll just fit in with whatever the government reckons is a good idea”.

    We’d be a pretty sad bunch of people if we did.

  12. “My Grandson is 1/32nd Maori and (apparently) able to claim special rights, priviledges and scholarships as a result. Personally I don’t think that makes him Maori, just a decendant of one, and in my view he shouldn’t be entitled to anything more or less than my other grandchildren.”

    So if your grandfather was extremely wealthy – you’d say “I don’t want any of the wealth and privileges that have come from my ancestry – I don’t want anything that other people don’t have”. Yeah right.

  13. Volunteers at the Citizens Advice Bureaux are expected to list the sex, ethnicity, age and locality of each person who seeks help. I find the ethnicity question a puzzle. We are able to choose from European NZ, or New Zealander, Maori, Chinese, Tongan, English, N American S American and so on endlessly. I am expected to question each client and find it insulting. Of course the reason is for council funding we are required to show an overall picture of our clients.
    I have lived in NZ 60 years and have a NZ passport. However someone recently pointed out to me that because I was born in England I am English.
    This is crazy. I have taught blue eyed blonde haired Maori children, because at one time teachers were required to list all Maori on the school roll. I think the whole question is disgusting. We are all born in the same manner, we live and die as human beings. What does it matter where we originated and who our ancestors were, the main point is to be good honest citizens and do our best for our nation.

  14. ” It is a question based on New Zealand’s assimilationist history, when the degree of a persons “Maoriness” led to more or less entitlement”

    The system we have today still apportions entitlements according to what sort of Maori you are.

    Tuhoe Maori get different entitlements to what Ngai Tahu or Tainui get. And of course non Maori get different entitlements to what any kind of Maori qualifies for.

    I’m surprised that you don’t want Maori to have unique and special identities and entitlements. But in a way I’m pleased – I would rather we started treating everyone the same regardless of their skin colour or Maoriness.

  15. sam,

    So if your grandfather was extremely wealthy – you’d say “I don’t want any of the wealth and privileges that have come from my ancestry – I don’t want anything that other people don’t have”. Yeah right

    I’m not Dave Stringer but that is not an analogous question. However, if asked I would like to think that my position would be just that; I wouldn’t want privileges based purely on my ancestry. That seems immoral to me.

  16. Tony – I agree. I’m just astonished at how many people object to Maori inheriting wealth from their ancestors, but have no problem with anyone else doing so.

  17. “It should have no place in contemporary Aotearoa where every person descended from tangata whenua is completely Māori”

    Not true. To say that all of these people are “completely Maori” is to deliberately denigrate the other components of their genetic history.

    In trying to redress the wrongs done to Maori you should not try to create a new racist divide by pretending that other races somehow don’t count.

  18. Sorry, I missed that requirement.

    I claim 97.5% Pakiha-ism, the rest is apparently derived from an african witch-doctor, though I’m not sure if my uncle was joking about that or not.

    On the basis that there are only two races though, I am 0% Maori and 100% Pakiha.

  19. I am glad to hear that Dave is 100% Pakeha because I was taught

    It is a wise man who knows his own father.

    And if Dave were to go back centuries he might get a surprise, some of the Roman conquerors were not
    Pakeha.

  20. Sam, that would be his
    great, great, great grandmother actually.

    And what does her (or even his for that matter) wealth have to do with accepting things the government and/or his/her family have decided to provide people of a specific ethicity?

  21. Yorkstyle

    You puzzle me, simply because I AM ONLY 100% Pakeha if the basis is only Maori and Pakeha. If there were Maori involved in the Roman Empire, I think it might be a surprise to both them and the Romans/Italians.

    As a stringer-of-bows, I can trace my heritage back to the doomsday book with no problem, prior to that records were a bit hit and miss, so while I may be partly some species of European Royalty I am not aware of it. But hey, I won’t give up hope for a century or two!

    :-)

  22. Kia Ora Metiria,

    I agree with points you raise in your article, and reply to Dr Brian Edwards made above. The Media live in Aotearoa, and are shaped by the politics and history of this country- suggesting as Edwards does that his criteria for an interview are somehow universal, beyond history, and politics is debatable- even for someone of the high personal integrity of Brian Edwards. But suggesting Smalley’s question can best be understood, and framed by Edward’s universal journalistic criteria ignores other non journalistic contexts Smalley’s question fits more easily into.
    It is clear to me that Smalley’s question to Parata is very much shaped by the racial and cultural politics and history of colonisation in this land- asking a Maaori person ‘how Maaori they are’ on a nationally televised programme presupposes it is acceptable in a land shaped by colonialism, for non-Maaori to ask such questions to Maaori. Smalley is an public intellectual in her role as an interviewer asking questions of politicians for the ordinary kiwi tv audience- she is not simply a corporate TV3 journalist, asking ‘the tough questions’. She is playing a role to help educate ordinary kiwis. I think that Smalley is a talented person, who has the courage to ask dificult questions at times.

    But Smalley’s question to Parata is offensive, especially when it is a being asked by a non-Maaori reporter who I presume has no in-depth knowledge of Maaori language, tikanga or culture. Asking someone ‘how Maaori they are’ assumes this is an acceptable question to ask, it also assumes the reporter knows the answer to that question, from a Maaori cultural perspective. The question also assumes that redneck audience members watching the interview also have an idea of ‘how Maaori, Maaori people are’ and will line Parata up according to how she answers the question. Smalley’s question pressupposes that there is an underlying antagonism between Maaori and Pakeha communities and interests- where people are ranked according to how they line up on both sides of the postcolonial divide, Pakeha on one side, Maaori on the other. Brian’ Edward’s analysis of Smalley’s question, and the context for the questions she asks simply does not wash in this instance. I think Rachel Smalley is a good journalist. But she does not simply ask her questions as a reporter upholding universal journalistic practices in her work. She is also a kiwi of Pakeha blood asking questions to a Maaori woman in a context of a long history of colonisation in Aotearoa. Her question comes out of popular ideas about race, culture, politics, and notions about who Maaori are in regards to blood purity, ideas that sections of the community in Aotearoa still uphold.
    If Smalley wanted to talk about the distance between Parata’s policies, and the wellbeing of ordinary working class Maaori in the community, she should have addressed these questions directly.

    I am extremely critical of the policies Parata has pushed while working for the National government. I think the educational policies she has chosen to promulgate do nothing for many Maaori in lower socio economic situations in Aotearoa. Parata’s policies do little for PI, or any other working class community in Aotearoa as well. But even saying this, Parata has her dignity and mana as a Maaori woman- and that shouldn’t be trampled on, by people like Rachel Smalley.

    Mainstream media arrogates itself the right to hold politicians and others to account. Why shouldn’t the media be held to account when they get things wrong? Rachel Smalley is a talented journalist, who has made a mistake, she can learn from this then move forward. But it won’t wash to say the question, ‘How Maaori are you? asked by a Pakeha woman journalist in public to a Maaori woman on a nationally televised audience upholds non-political, non-historical, and non-cultural universal journalistic principles in Aotearoa. Smalley is too gifted and intelligent a person not to know what she is doing. Best, Tony Fala

  23. Kia Ora Tony Fala, your comment as follows:

    “But it won’t wash to say the question, ‘How Maaori are you? asked by a Pakeha woman journalist in public to a Maaori woman”

    is extremely offensive and racist.

    Please don’t call Rachel Smalley “pakeha”. That word is as offensive to fair-skinned people as “nigger” is to African Americans. And please don’t imply that she is somehow too low on the social scale to be able to ask Maori women questions in public.

    It is part of our culture that our women are our equals. Equal to men, and equal to every other race.

  24. Kia Ora GreenGeek,

    Thank you for your korero. I assume your comments are spoken with integrity, so I will reply to them in the same spirit in order to clarify my position, and built better understanding between us here. It is cool if you disagree with my korero, GreenGeek- but understand exactly what I am saying and not saying first.

    You are defining the word ‘Pakeha’ as a term of racial abuse, GreenGeek. In my understanding, the term does not denigrate European New Zealanders, it is a Maaori term for European manuhiri, or visitors to this land. I do not use the terms ‘Pakeha’ and ‘Maaori’ as weapons to stir up antagonism between Europeans or Maaori. I use the terms to define the relationships between two Tiriti partners, one Pakeha, the other Maaori- a relationship that could bring communities together if injustices against Maaori are dealt with in an honourable way. I hope these comments provide some initial background to the post I sent above.

    Amongst Pacific people, we call Europeans Palagi- the term is not used to racially abuse those of European heritage in Aotearoa, or the Pacific. I don’t accept your argument the term ‘Pakeha’ is an inherently racist term- look at the history of the term, and where it came from. Every people has the right to define other peoples utilising their own terms and concepts- Maaori have the right to use terms like Pakeha to define the visitors to this land in their own frameworks. That is not racism, it is called self determination.

    Neither do I accept your comment that the term Pakeha carries the contempt, or sheer antagonism the word ‘nigger’ does historically for the African- American community- I say this on the basis of having seen the term Pakeha in action in Aotearoa, and on the basis of having studied African American, and Black Atlantic histories and cultures in depth, in solidarity with African-American people all my life. There may be individuals that utilise the term Pakeha as a term of denigration. But I know Maaori, PI, Asians and Europeans who use the term with respect. People have a right to define other peoples according to their own concepts and language, GreenGeek.

    You have said that I have implied Smalley is too low on the social scale to ask questions to Maaori women, GreenGeek. Your logic suggests that I am saying (1) Smalley lacks the social status to interview Maaori women, and (2) The question asked by Smalley is a fair one, an honourable and non-offensive question- spoken by someone who is in a weaker position than the person she is interviewing. I have not said Smalley lacks the status to interview Maaori women anywhere in my post above, nor have I implied this. Such a line of reasoning would lacks integrity, because I would be saying Parata should not have to speak truth to Smalley, because Smalley has less social status than Parata- I have neither stated or implied this anywhere in my post above.

    I have not said anywhere in my previous post that my disagreement with Smalley’s question lies in the fact Smalley lacks the social status or privilege to ask Maaori women questions. If I supported this position, I would be saying that truth is less important than social status-I have not implied, or stated this anywhere in my post above. I think Rachel Smalley is a good journalist who asks tough questions, points I raised in my comments above. She is a corporate journalist employed by a large television station. She is also someone with considerable social standing as a Pakeha living in position of considerable political, historical, and social privilege in comparison to the position of the Pakeha’s Treaty partner- the Maaori people. This is not a racist statement, it is historical fact, even if there are working class Pakeha communities and middle class Maaori ones co-existing together.

    As a result, Smalley has considerable social status as both a Pakeha and a corporate journalist. The question Smalley asked Parata concerning ‘How Maaori are you?’ is offensive because (1) the TV3 interviewer stands in a position of power as a Pakeha and as a corporate media reporter to all Maaori, whether that individual Maaori be an Minister of Parliament or not, and more importantly (2) the question Smalley asked Parata is antagonistic, and adds to divisions between people- in the context of the history of colonisation in Aotearoa, where Maaori have had to account for their ‘Maaoriness’ in terms defined by their Treaty partner. I have addressed reasons why I think Smalley’s question is offensive in my previous post, GreenGeek. I have also been very clear to state my disagreements with Parata’s National Party policies.

    Smalley’s question ‘how Maaori are you?’ is not a search for truth at all, it is a question that seeks to maintain antagonisms between Pakeha and Maaori, GreenGeek. I don’t mind if you disagree with my perspective, that’s your business GreenGeek- as long as you characterise my arguments honestly, and disagree with them honestly.

    Your final comments regarding equality between men and women in your culture, and equality between different races is a noble aspiration- people like Nelson Mandela in South Africa have attempted to live these ideals- the issue of women’s equality was a key issue for the ANC in the early 1990s. But Rachel Smalley’s question to Hekia Parata concerning ‘How Maaori are you?’ does little to promote equality or gender equity between Maaori and Pakeha women, a question uttered in an Aotearoa context of colonistion and ongoing inequity between the Tiriti partners. Equality doesn’t emerge out of such antagonism.

    I hope this clarifies my arguments for you, GreenGeek. I speak these word with respect, even if I disagree fundamentally with all your arguments. Sincerely, Tony Fala

  25. Kia Ora Tony Fala,

    Thank you for your thorough response. I apologise in advance for the length of my post, but this is necessary in an effort to do justice to your comments:

    “You are defining the word ‘Pakeha’ as a term of racial abuse, GreenGeek. In my understanding, the term does not denigrate European New Zealanders, it is a Maaori term for European manuhiri, or visitors to this land.”
    – This is one of the reasons that the term Pakeha is offensive. We are not visitors. We are citizens of a commonwealth country. To consider us visitors is to denigrate the treaty and the history.

    “ two Tiriti partners, one Pakeha, the other Maaori- a relationship that could bring communities together if injustices against Maaori are dealt with in an honourable way”
    – It is extremely important to bring the two communities together REGARDLESS of whether or not the injustices are dealt with in an honourable way. Please do not forget that the fair-skinned members of our communities ARE NOT the ones who created those historic injustices. We are innocent, and do NOT deserve to be considered partners in crime. Treat us with respect whether or not the injustices are properly addressed – we are not guilty!

    “I don’t accept your argument the term ‘Pakeha’ is an inherently racist term”
    – It is definitely a racist term, used to pigeonhole and denigrate modern day fair-skinned people by linking them with the crimes of international settlers and colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is a racist and offensive term in the eyes of many New Zealanders.

    “Every people has the right to define other peoples utilising their own terms and concepts”
    – If this were true it would still be considered acceptable for people to use the term “nigger” but of course that is not the case. (and it needs to be stated here that nigger is simply a dialectic form of “negra” which was the creole work for black – it was initially a descriptive word rather than an insult)

    “Maaori have the right to use terms like Pakeha to define the visitors to this land in their own frameworks. That is not racism, it is called self determination.”
    – I accept this point. Every culture has the right to form and use words however it wants. I consider this “free speech” as one of the important cornerstones of a civilised society. However, along with this right to use one’s own choice of words we must also have an understanding and acceptance that one persons words can, and do, cause offense to others. We must champion the right to cause offense, and we must acknowledge the responsibility for the person offended to handle that offense in a peaceful way.

    “Neither do I accept your comment that the term Pakeha carries the contempt, or sheer antagonism the word ‘nigger’ does historically for the African- American community”
    – Trust me – when Hone Harawira uses the word “Pakeha” the contempt is clearly audible. If you grant African Americans the right to express their antagonism to the word “nigger” then I expect you to accept my disgust with the “Pakeha” label. I have nothing to do with the actions of those first colonial visitors.

    “People have a right to define other peoples according to their own concepts and language, GreenGeek.”
    – Including the words “nigger” and “boonga”? I doubt it.

    “I think Rachel Smalley is a good journalist … She is also someone with considerable social standing as a Pakeha living in position of considerable political, historical, and social privilege in comparison to the position of the Pakeha’s Treaty partner- the Maaori people.”
    – Perhaps you have not seen Carol Hirschfeld, Tamati Coffey and a long line of other “ethnic” presenters on TV. No doubt they have equal social privelege. Check out Shortland Street – I think most of the doctors portrayed there have Maori ancestry. There is nothing about Rachel Smalley that elevates her beyond many others of different races.

    “This is not a racist statement, it is historical fact, even if there are working class Pakeha communities and middle class Maaori ones co-existing together.”
    – Well, it seems pretty racist to me.

    “The question Smalley asked Parata concerning ‘How Maaori are you?’ is offensive because (1) the TV3 interviewer stands in a position of power as a Pakeha and as a corporate media reporter to all Maaori, whether that individual Maaori be an Minister of Parliament or not”
    – This sounds as if you find it offensive for anyone other than Maori to ask Maori a question. That just seems so racist to me. Questioning the actions and motivations of politicians is a vital part of having a healthy democracy.

    “Smalley’s question ‘how Maaori are you?’ is not a search for truth at all, it is a question that seeks to maintain antagonisms between Pakeha and Maaori”
    – I don’t see it that way. I think she was trying to give Parata an opportunity to reveal exactly how much concern and empathy she really has for Maori.

    “GreenGeek. I don’t mind if you disagree with my perspective, that’s your business GreenGeek- as long as you characterise my arguments honestly, and disagree with them honestly”
    – I do disagree with them honestly. However I thank you for offering a clear example of the antagonism that fair-skinned people experience daily. I feel you are willing to accord certain freedoms of speech to other cultures but not to my own – and I feel that you unfairly target Rachel Smalley due to her skin colour. I doubt it would have raised an eyebrow if Willie Jackson or John Tamihere had asked Parata the same question.

  26. I am Pakeha, and proud to acknowledge my identity comes from Te Reo Maori and means ” of a different breath” according some scholars, and and I support Metiria! In a colonised country the colonised get pushed to prove their identity and rights and we pretend it just an interesting question on a level playing field. It is not,its usually an attempt to undermine the credibility of the subject, “i.e. Not a real Maori”.
    The performance of the Minister of Education is a different matter.

  27. As a recent settler in these lands, some of the discussion surrounding the place of Māori here is confusing to me. As I understand it, hardly any (if any) Māori can trace both parent lines directly back to the first Māori settlers. If this is true, I wonder why those who consider themselves Māori don’t consider themselves as being one of the other races mixed in their blood. As many Māori appear to live lives fairly close to the dominant culture, it’s confusing to me why there is still the notion of two “peoples”. After all, many settlers from other regions still retain some of their original culture but aren’t treated as a separate people. I also recognise that some ancestors of some Māori have had wrongs done to them but wouldn’t that be true of the ancestors of most people, if one goes far enough back (it would certainly be true of mine)? Should we all be pressing for reparations for all the ill done to our ancestors?

    It’s also hard to think of those with ancestry going back only 800 years or so as “indigenous”. Several thousand years, maybe, but several hundred? Where are the indigenous Britains, I wonder.

    I apologise in advance if any of this offends or if I appear to be stupid. If I do, it is borne out of ignorance and a wish to understand the place of Māori and other “peoples” in this group of islands.

  28. To paraphrase Catherine Delahunty,

    I’m part of the Tauiwi, and proud to acknowledge my identity. We come from lands far and near to establish a New Zealand without reference to Maori colonisation victim-hood nor to Pakeha angst ridden guilt.

    We simply do not care about the treaty and work around the petty ramifications that Maori and Pakeha seem to burdened themselves with.

    No chips of victimhood or guilt on our shoulders.

    We are also the largest growth population demographic so that the future of New Zealand as a democratic republic, based on equality and opportunity,is assured.

    We are the new impassive generation to whom the past is but a reference and the future is the potential.

  29. Kia Ora GreenGeek,

    Many thanks for your reply. I thought carefully about whether I should reply one further time to your last post, GreenGeek. I decided to write this final post because the issues at stake are important. But I will write no more entries on this particular issue after this post- because other people should be able to participate in this debate, and I have said enough. Time for me to be humble, and say no more. If you want to reply to this post GreenGeek thats your business. But this is my last post here.

    I have always understood the term Pakeha came from a term Maaori first used when they met Europeans for the first time. It was a term that associated the new visitors with the fairies of the hills- fairies that had pale skin. Obviously the term has travelled through time and space since then- but I have never seen the term Pakeha as a racist one.

    Maaori are Tangata Whenua in this land, all other people are manuhiri. People in this land often think this designates second class citizenship to Pakeha or other non-Maaori New Zealanders. The converse is true- Tangata Whenua have obligations to protect, and care for their visitors. Maaori are also kaitiaki, and guardians of the land and oceans. The fact Pakeha are manuhiri, (as Pacific, Asian and immigrants are in this land) does not entail that Pakeha have no rights, dignity, or status in this land- Te Tiriti is about two peoples coming together. Pakeha can have status as manuhiri, Tiriti partners, and rights of citizenship with the Britsh commonwealth if they so choose, GreenGeek. I say this as someone with Tangata Pasifika, and Pakeha ancestry.

    I am of the opinion that there can be no full communal healing between Maaori and Pakeha without past injustices being recognised. Look at what South Africa tried to do with the truth and reconciliation committees. There are many Pakeha and Maaori that are committed to redressing injustices done to Maaori. I disagree with your definition of responsibility- i.e. I wasn’t there when Maaori land got ripped off, so I am not responsible. Pakeha signed the covenant of Te Tiriti- that means taking on board responsibility for the many injustices committed against Maaori since the signing of that document. Maaori have the right to speak honestly and say ‘this is how we were colonised, this is what was lost, and these were the consequences of all our land loss’. When Pakeha stand up and take on board responsibility for putting wrongs right- everyone can move forward. Of course Maaori will speak of their fury at what has been done to them- just the same way Scots will speak of their fury at what happenned during the Highland clearances at the hands of the English nobility.Don’t personalise those comments GreenGeek, take such comments as an opportunity to build bridges between yrself and Maaori communities.

    Look again at the history of the term Pakeha, Greengeek. The term was not one created as a term of contempt. I sense that one reason you do not like the term is because you do not feel accountable for what other Pakeha did to Maaori in earlier centuries. You associate the term Pakeha with thieves and murderers. But Pakeha today live in a society founded by Te Tiriti. Pakeha living in this land today continue to benefit off all the Tiriti breaches and land confiscations. The past, is the present, is the future- as Maaori and Hawaiian indigenous historians have stated. You are part of the main, as John Donne once sd- part of the Pakeha community.

    You haven’t shown that the word Pakeha emerges historically out of context of contempt, or hatred Maaori held for Europeans. Where is your evidence to support that? Hone Harawira is a man of high character- Hone has, and continues to work closely with Pakeha people at political and communal grassroots levels in Aotearoa. But Hone will stand up for his people when they are attacked, as befits a warrior leader of his people. Hone doesn’t have a racist bone in his body- go and korero with him, Greengeek, he is the type of fulla that has an open door to speak with any kiwi.

    You have misread my comments regarding the rights of people to define others utilising their own language, concepts, and ideas. I don’t support any people using concepts, language or ideas that downpress another people. But I disagree strongly with you that this is what the term Pakeha is, i.e. a term of hatred that imprisons ordinary European kiwis within a history of theft and murder in the 19th century. I found your comments on the African-American community interesting. In your first reply to me you suggested that the term Pakeha was as bad as the word ‘nigger’ to African Americans. But in your second reply to me, you said that the term ‘nigger’ was originally a descriptive term, and bore no antagonistic connotations. The n word emerges out of more than 400 years of antagonism for African- Americans GreenGeek- it is a term associated with the middle passage, new world plantation slavery, the abolition of slavery, Jim Crow,the struggles of black people in the Civil Rights Movement and beyond to today- and it was a term imposed on Africans by the people that enslaved them in the United States. Like Malcolm X once said, in the context of the first Africans to land on the shore of the United States: ‘We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us’. Where is the history of slavery and antagonism behind the term Pakeha, Greengeek?

    Yep, there are other brown faces on TV, and some of these are in positions of considerable power. But if a Pakeha journalist was to ask them ‘how Maaori are you?’ these people would have to provide a justification of their whakapapa, their tikanga, their marae, their committment to Maaori communities. In a context of colonisation in this land, such a question is highly offensive. Rachel Smalley is a Pakeha, corporate journalist asking her questions to Hekia Parata in a context where Maaori have continously had to prove their ‘Maaoriness’. Just because a few brown people make it in the system does not mean the inequities between Maaori and Pakeha as two Tiriti partners do not exist.

    You say Smalley has a right in a democracy to ask questions, GreenGeek. Well, you have provided one context to place Smalley’s question within. Put her simultaneously within the historical and colonial context as well- she is speaking not simply as a reporter asking ‘tough questions’- she is speaking as a Pakeha corporate journalist to a Maaori Minister of Parliament on national TV asking Parata to explain her identity- in a context of continuing inequity between the Tiriti partners.

    I don’t mind if you don’t wish to acknowledge this historical context, GreenGeek. But it is there as a historical context in this instance. The question Smalley asked Parata is highly offensive, when looked at in the historical context I have named. You seem to express little concern for how rude and offensive this question is. You say Smalley was simply trying to ask a question to see how much empathy Parata had for ordinary Maaori. Why didn’t Smalley ask Parata,’Your parties policies have not been well received by many working class Maaori, yet you continue to support the national government’s unpopular social and economic policies. How much empathy do you have for ordinary blue collar Maaori?’ Your interpretation of Smalley’s question presupposes Smalley asked the question with the very best intentions in mind. But Smalley could have posed the question about empathy a very different way than she did. Smalley is an experienced, intelligent and gifted interviewer- the question suggests her intentions were far from honourable, if looked at from within the context I have provided.

    Willie Jackson can make statements about Maaori because he is Maaori. If you are not Maaori in this land, it is important to be careful what you do say to Maaori people, given the history of colonisation in this land. Reporters can and should ask tough courageous questions to those in power. I support this 100%. Just don’t try to say that asking racist questions aren’t really racist at all, its just good journalism- not in a land where te Tiriti has not been honoured, and Maaori are still at the bottom of the pile.

    I am aware you feel victimised as a European GreenGeek, that is made clear in your posts. I don’t disrespect your personal situation at all. But it is appropriate to challenge all the points you raise. Tony Fala.

  30. I am often asked what my ethnicity is on official forms? Am I European? Well most of my Northern hemisphere ancestors lived and died in Great Britain, a collection of nations that has strenuously avoided being Continental Europe for a long long time, wanting to remain ‘Britsh’ whatever that may be. Then I am asked if I am a New Zealand Pakeha? I have no idea what they mean? So now with Irish, English, Scottish, Danish, Italian and New Zealand born Great great grand parents I tick the box that says Pacific Islander, because I was born on an island in the South Pacific ocean. Simple.

  31. (Frog – in case any details of this post are considered offensive or defamatory could you redact them in preference to deleting the whole post please? Many thanks)

    Kia Ora Tony,

    Again – my apologies for a long reply:

    I am glad that you have replied, and will be somewhat saddened if it is indeed your final response (although I respect if that is the case…). I think the peaceful future of Aotearoa NZ relies on good quality dialogue and I appreciate the time you have allocated to address my feelings.

    I would like to review your comments and add some further commentary of my own to express my point of view:

    “but I have never seen the term Pakeha as a racist one.”
    – I accept your point of view that you personally see no offense in the word “Pakeha”. It is also worth noting that most users of the word “nigger” do not see the word as racist (including my brown-skinned manager who refers to our brown-skinned warehouse staff as niggers). I on the other hand DO find “Pakeha” to be a racist term and will never tick that derogatory term on official forms.

    “Maaori are Tangata Whenua in this land, all other people are manuhiri”
    – My wife is a sixth generation New Zealander and took no part in colonising New Zealand. She does not consider herself to have any choice in her nationality – she is tangata Whenua and is seriously offended by the idea that she is considered a visitor – especially since she is a teacher and part of her responsibilities is to teach and encourage respect for the treaty.

    “People in this land often think this designates second class citizenship to Pakeha or other non-Maaori New Zealanders”
    – It is important to distinguish between the two groups you mention here – the concept of “visitorship” (manuhiri) definitely designates second class citizenship to those you call Pakeha. However, pale-skinned people born in NZ are not visitors and are not second class citizens. By contrast the other group you mentioned (other non-Maori New Zealanders) probably DO deserve the title of second class because they represent people who were not signatories to the treaty.

    “The converse is true- Tangata Whenua have obligations to protect, and care for their visitors”
    – I have been surprised at the extent to which some Maori have been able to fulfil such “obligations”. The hospitality of some Tangata Whenua is remarkable, undeserved, and beyond question.

    “Maaori are also kaitiaki, and guardians of the land and oceans”
    – They are also recent mammalian visitors to Aoteroa NZ and appear to have been personally responsible for greater species extinction than occurred since the coming of other races (my source for this – correct or not – is the information provided on the walls of the DOC facility on TiriTiri Matangi Island). I think it is a mistake to elevate Maori to the position of “kaitiaki”. That is an idealistic notion which fails to take into account that EVERY race contains examples of what is humanly good, and what is humanly evil.

    Good people of every race have a responsibility to work together to overcome the evil actions of others (regardless of the race of the offender).

    “The fact Pakeha are manuhiri, (as Pacific, Asian and immigrants are in this land) does not entail that Pakeha have no rights, dignity, or status in this land- Te Tiriti is about two peoples coming together. Pakeha can have status as manuhiri, Tiriti partners, and rights of citizenship with the Britsh commonwealth if they so choose, GreenGeek. I say this as someone with Tangata Pasifika, and Pakeha ancestry”
    – All people in this land have similar status – rapacious mammals in a land that managed without them for millions of years. We are all virtual newcomers – human beings with a responsibility to care for each other and our environment.

    “I am of the opinion that there can be no full communal healing between Maaori and Pakeha without past injustices being recognised”
    – This is understandable. However – it is extremely important that there is FULL healing between INDIVIDUALS – by which I mean that I AM FULLY INNOCENT, and I expect to be treated as such by all Maori (and others) I meet. Even if injustices are not resolved (and many can not be resolved…) I will not accept being held accountable for those injustices.

    “Pakeha signed the covenant of Te Tiriti- that means taking on board responsibility for the many injustices committed against Maaori since the signing of that document”
    – I did not sign the Treaty. I would not have signed it if I was there, and I do not support it as a “founding document” of our nation. Is it reasonable to hold a gun to someones head and say “sign this”???. I don’t think so. I always had respect for Tuhoe not signing the treaty, but recent events in their signing for a treaty settlement suggest that they have “ceeded to the Queen” in accordance with Article One. I feel completely separate from the Treaty process and I reject your implication that I am bound by the rapacious actions of mercenaries and capitalist pirates.

    .”Maaori have the right to speak honestly and say ‘this is how we were colonised, this is what was lost, and these were the consequences of all our land loss’. “
    – I agree whole heartedly.

    “When Pakeha stand up and take on board responsibility for putting wrongs right- everyone can move forward”
    – A lot of the problems and injustices within Aoteroa NZ come from the fact that we are importing the problems of other cultures – before we have completed the process of successfully resolving the “power-sharing” parameters of the two original Treaty signatories. Please don’t ask me to be responsible for sorting out this mess – the most I am capable of is scribbling down my thoughts on Frogblog.

    “Of course Maaori will speak of their fury at what has been done to them- just the same way Scots will speak of their fury at what happenned during the Highland clearances at the hands of the English nobility.Don’t personalise those comments GreenGeek,”
    – Agreed. Justifiable anger. Some English nobility acted disgracefully. Some did not. The same disgraceful behaviour is evident in many cultures. (Robert Mugabe, Idi Amin, Stalin, Australian colonisers etc etc). Some Maori ate each other. Again I make the point that good behaviour transcends racial boundaries (just as bad bahaviour does)

    “take such comments as an opportunity to build bridges between yrself and Maaori communities”
    – I try. (Not easy because I am both a racist and a culturalist).

    “you do not like the term because you do not feel accountable for what other Pakeha did to Maaori in earlier centuries”
    – True, I am not accountable in any way.

    ”You associate the term Pakeha with thieves and murderers.”
    – It has just been my experience that the word is associated with sterotypes and preconceptions. None of which apply to me.

    “But Pakeha today live in a society founded by Te Tiriti. Pakeha living in this land today continue to benefit off all the Tiriti breaches and land confiscations.”
    – In some ways this is a very offensive comment – you (along with many others like Willie Jackson) perpetuate the sterotype that people with fair skin are benefitting unfairly at the expense of brown-skinned people’s misfortune. It is sad that you do this as it makes it dangerous to walk the streets. The negative vibes I feel from young people (particularly Pasifika) are palpable. I think this type of comment generates an undercurrent of unjustified negativity within Pasifika youth.

    On the other hand, I firmly believe that much wealth in NZ is based on the foundation that confiscated land provides. I am strongly in favour of a move over the next century toward all land becoming leasehold – no private property rights whatsoever. And a complete removal of all houses on the Takapuna Beach waterfront – to be replaced by fishing boats owned by the masses (of every colour).

    “Hone Harawira is a man of high character- Hone has, and continues to work closely with Pakeha people at political and communal grassroots levels in Aotearoa. But Hone will stand up for his people when they are attacked, as befits a warrior leader of his people. Hone doesn’t have a racist bone in his body”
    – Wow – this is all somewhat debatable.

    “go and korero with him, Greengeek”
    – Love to.

    “In your first reply to me you suggested that the term Pakeha was as bad as the word ‘nigger’ to African Americans. But in your second reply to me, you said that the term ‘nigger’ was originally a descriptive term, and bore no antagonistic connotations. “
    – I think both terms began as innocent descriptive words, and then morphed into offensiveness over time. I don’t like to cause offense, and generally try to avoid it – however it is extremely important that we all be able to use words/dialogue of any kind and be free from the risk of adverse physical response or thuggery as a result.

    “Where is the history of slavery and antagonism behind the term Pakeha, Greengeek?”
    – I guess I can’t really expect you to understand my perspective on this but let me try to offer examples:
    1) My stepdaughter was disappointed to not be offered access to special “pre-exam” tutorials that were offered to Pasifika/Maori students at Auckland Uni.
    2) Rosmini College offered a “Big Brekkie” event to all their Maori/Pasifika students but the invitation was not extended to other races.
    3) Your comments above indicate that it is the specific responsibility of “Pakeha” (by which you mean people with my skin colour) to redress New Zealands problems.
    4) Many places in Auckland Medical School are unavailable to good quality students because they are reserved specifically for certain poorer quality students just because they are of specific races.
    5) Special university scholarships are available to students of Maori descent rather than being allocated according to financial need or academic merit.

    I could offer countless other examples of why the modern generation of pale-skinned youth feels a sense of “slavery and antagonism” living in modern NZ. In ways that you may not have experienced we are a racist society.

    “But if a Pakeha journalist was to ask them ‘how Maaori are you?’ these people would have to provide a justification of their whakapapa, their tikanga, their marae, their committment to Maaori communities”
    – I guess this is a cultural difference which I did not appreciate and I thank you for making me aware of it.

    “she is speaking as a Pakeha corporate journalist to a Maaori Minister of Parliament on national TV asking Parata to explain her identity- in a context of continuing inequity between the Tiriti partners. I don’t mind if you don’t wish to acknowledge this historical context, GreenGeek. But it is there as a historical context in this instance. The question Smalley asked Parata is highly offensive, when looked at in the historical context I have named.”
    – I accept your expression of offense. Hard for me to understand – but then that is a cultural difference I guess. (In my culture we try hard to cut down pompous people who try to wield power over us…)

    “You seem to express little concern for how rude and offensive this question is.”
    – It’s probably just that I didn’t grasp your perspective rather than not caring.

    “Smalley is an experienced, intelligent and gifted interviewer”
    – I think you are overstating her skills. I find her wooden and unimaginitive.

    “the question suggests her intentions were far from honourable, if looked at from within the context I have provided.”
    – OK. I do feel you have misjudged her though.

    “Willie Jackson can make statements about Maaori because he is Maaori.”
    – He also makes a lot of nasty comments concerning pale-skinned people too – and is personally responsible for fomenting aggression toward innocent people.

    “If you are not Maaori in this land, it is important to be careful what you do say to Maaori people”
    Hmmmm…there is an implied threat here. Sadly you are right. People like me have to tippy-toe around the truth far too much.

    “I am aware you feel victimised as a European GreenGeek”
    – This is true. I would rather be left to enjoy my life without being considered a coloniser and oppressor.

    Thanks for reading my point of view.

  32. actually i thought the question was a backhand way of asking hekia parata if her values are maori – considering the policies she has implemented i would think not …

  33. “Trust me – when Hone Harawira uses the word “Pakeha” the contempt is clearly audible.”

    Hmmm… I think you are reading into his tone something you rather want, or expect, to hear. I heard Harawira address an audience that was 95% Pakeha a while back. He was perfectly respectful and seemed happy to be talking to us. Given the make-up of the audience was expected to be primarily Pakeha, I’d say that if he held Pakeha in contempt he simply wouldn’t have bothered turning up. I often hear Harawira accused of racism and ask for evidence of this. I never get it.

  34. BTW I’m Pakeha and I’ve never heard the term used in a derogatory way, I think you’ve been listening to too many zealots.

  35. “Trust me – when Hone Harawira uses the word “Pakeha” the contempt is clearly audible.”

    How so?? I hear him as sincere, a thinking, intelligent person, naturally concerned with the wellbeing of his race, and at the same time, respectful towards pakeha, towards interviewers – people in general.
    People have categorised Hone, without reason, without actually “seeing” him, I reckon. And once a styelised version of a person settles in the mind, that person would need to be perfect to extinguish the false image. Even then, most categorisers would not alter their view!!!
    (His early comment that he would prefer his daughter not to marry a person of another race, is the wish of many folk – who realise that there can be extra difficulties and challenges in that situation, ‘tho’ many manage it very well.) It was not a statement indicating dislike or ‘hatred’ of pakeha, for goodness sake!!!!! But some chose to take it that way. See the person for what they are – not your own interpretation!

  36. “See the person for what they are – not your own interpretation!”
    All of the decisions I make are based on my own interpretation. That’s what the responsibility of being an adult is all about.

    Hone and others like him seem to attach some sort of “guilt trip” to people they call Pakeha. I do not accept that guilt trip and I don’t wish to be associated with the group he calls Pakeha.

    And why exactly are people making an issue of Rachel Smalley being “Pakeha”??? If you wish to criticise her journalism – do so! Criticise the journalism not the skin colour. Maybe you could extend Rachel Smalley as much tolerance as you extend to Mr “Mofo” Harawira.

  37. “I saw nothing wrong with Rachel Smalley asking Hekia Parata how Maori she is!”

    Ok, fair enough then. I had unfairly pegged you as one of those who like to put people down by using the “Pakeha” label. My apologies :-)

  38. Apology accepted, Greengeek, thankyou. I hope my earlier post – June 9, 4.01p.m. put my view more clearly!! I think it’s healthy for anyone to ask questions – it helps us to understand each other better, and I see no reason for Hekia Parata to be offended by Rachel Smalley’s quite justifiable question, and Hekia apparently, quite rightly, wasn’t offended…..and on that count my impression of her has gone up by a small notch…better to pause, think harder, inquire a little, rather than jump to conclusions.

  39. “Hone and others like him seem to attach some sort of “guilt trip” to people they call Pakeha.”

    I don’t know about ‘others like him’ (Parliamentarians? Clean shaven men with short hair?), but I’ve never seen evidence that Harawira is out to guilt trip Pakeha. Actually he seems to consider Maori problems to have Maori solutions and isn’t usually much interested in Pakeha.

  40. Sam says “but I’ve never seen evidence that Harawira is out to guilt trip Pakeha.”

    Really? From Harawira’s wiki bio – “White motherf***ers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries”

    Or that he doesn’t want his kids to date Pakeha, but he ok with them dating other Pacific races

    “In an email exchange released to Radio New Zealand, Mr Harawira accused “white motherf***ers” of “puritanical bullshit” for expecting him to follow the rules.”
    (after being caught going to Paris when he was supposed to be on official parliamentary business in Belguim – after claiming he was sick)
    From
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3037942/PM-Harawiras-white-tirade-deeply-offensive/

  41. “Am I more or less Maori if I don’t speak the Reo; if Im unclear about my whakapapa; if i have been adopted and know little of my whanau?

    Metiria: these are very good questions that you have posed. I would like to know your answers to each of them. What would happen if you DID find out that you were 40% Maori (by whatever measure you choose to apply).

    Would the 60% non-Maori (“oppressor”) portion of your blood be happy to negotiate with the 40% (“victim”) portion of your blood and leave me out of the equation??

    (Sorry for the offense this might cause some people, but I’m sick of being thought of as 100% oppressor)

  42. photonz1 – I tend to agree. It’s a bit off willful denial to exclude Harawira’s public utterances as anything other than rabble rousing tinted with race politics.

    To give the guy credit though, he’s a crafty politician. He’s playing to the crowd so it’s hard to really know how deep-seated his beliefs vis-a-vis ‘Pakeha oppression’ really are. He also quickly turns off the radical speech when the audience changes, switching to semi-statesmanlike gravitas.

    Hone Harawira is to reactionary Maori what Don Brash was to reactionary Pakeha, when expediency suggests this approach is useful. They both understand the power of the dog-whistle.

  43. Photnz – The quotes you cite don’t in any way suggest Harawira is out to guilt trip Pakeha – they suggest he possibly doesn’t like a lot of Pakeha, or more certainly, that he doesn’t like the ones who engage in puritanical bullshit, rip off Maori and ‘rape’ the land. They also suggest he says some silly things, in silly ways, from time to time.

    If he was out to guilt trip Pakeha, expressing these views in an e-mail to a Maori isn’t really the way to go about it.

    Greengeek – your latest post is plain daft, so I can’t really respond to it. You seem obsessed with people’s racial make-up and I can only imagine you have been reading right-wing websites and think that what they like to pretend leftists think is true. Nobody sees Pakeha as 100% oppressors or Maori as victims. This is just a little straw man stunt the rightists try to pull to discredit the left. Please take some time to actually talk (in the flesh) to some Maori activists and you’ll find that the caricatures the right presents are just a pack of lies.

  44. Wow – Education Minister Hekia Parata has really hit her stride. Her recent interview on TV One Q+A was a very polished and assured performance, contrasting greatly with her earlier combative style some teachers described as arrogant, rude and dictatorial. It now looks like she’ll have a very successful political career.

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