Nats not Maori enough?

March 1, 2018

The leader and deputy leader of the National Party are Maori.

So is Labour’s deputy, the leader and deputy of New Zealand First, and one of the two contenders for the co-leader of the Green Party.

That ought to be something to celebrate.

It is except that several commentators don’t think National’s Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett are Maori enough.

 . . Bridges’ generational change then is about as solid as his claims to his Maori heritage and that of his deputy, neither of whom have made much of it in their rise up through the ranks; not altogether surprising considering their new leader is just three sixteenths Maori and Bennett’s grandmother was half-Maori. . . 

Funny how it’s only an issue when it’s the National Party.

That aside, the  furore illustrates one of the problems with identity politics – they divide rather than unite.

There is no single way to be a Maori, any other race or ethnicity, gender or any of the other groups people may or may not identify with.

There will be a lot of urban Maori whose experiences are similar to those of the National leadership duo, does that make them any less Maori?

Of course not.

Let’s celebrate that we’re in a country where race, gender and any of the other factors which separate and are used to discriminate against people in other countries simply don’t matter without nit-picking over what does or doesn’t constitute this or that identity.

December 18 in history

December 18, 2009

On December 18:

1271  Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan” (元 yuán), officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China.


  • 1620 – The Mayflower landed in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts with 102 Pilgrims on board.
  • MayflowerHarbor.jpgMayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882)

    1642  Abel Tasman and his men had the first known European encounter with Maori.

    First contact between Maori and Europeans

    1707 Charles Wesley, English Methodist hymnist, was born.

    1777 The United States celebrated its first Thanksgiving, marking the recent victory by the Americans over General John Burgoyne in the Battle of Saratoga in October.


    1778 Joseph Grimaldi, English clown, was born.

    1849 Henrietta Edwards, Canadian women’s rights activist, was born.

    1863 Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, was born.

    1878 Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, was born.

    1888Richard Wetherill and his brother in-law discovered the ancient Indian ruins of Mesa Verde.


    Cliff Palace

    1890  Edwin Armstrong, American inventor (FM radio) was born.

    1898  Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat set the new land speed record going 39.245 mph (63.159 km/h), in a Jeantaud electric car. This is the first recognized land speed record.

    1900 The Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook Narrow-gauge (2 ft 6 in or 762 mm) Railway (now the Puffing Billy Railway) in Victoria, Australia opened.

     The Monbulk Creek Trestle Bridge.

    1905 – Irving Kahn, American financial analyst and investor, was born.

    1908  Celia Johnson, English actress, was born.

    1910 – Eric Tindill, New Zealand cricketer and rugby player, was born.

    1912 The Piltdown Man, later discovered to be a hoax, was found in the Piltdown Gravel Pit, by Charles Dawson.


    1913 Willy Brandt, Chancellor of Germany, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born.

    1916  Betty Grable, American actress, was born.

    1935  Jacques Pépin, French chef, was born.

    Jacques Pépin 2006.JPG

    1938 Chas Chandler, English musician (The Animals), was born.

    1943  Keith Richards, English guitarist (The Rolling Stones), was born.


    1946  Steve Biko, South African anti-apartheid activist, was born.


    1946 – Steven Spielberg, American film director, was born.


    1963 Brad Pitt, American actor, was born.

    A Caucasian male in his mid-40s with brown hair. He is wearing a black suit and white shirt with a black bow-tie.

    1966 Saturn‘s moon Epimetheus is discovered by Richard L. Walker.

    The planet Saturn

    1969  Home Secretary James Callaghan‘s motion to make permanent the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, which had temporarily suspended capital punishment in England, Wales and Scotland for murder (but not for all crimes) for a period of five years, was carried by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

    1973 Soyuz 13, crewed by cosmonauts Valentin Lebedev and Pyotr Klimuk, was launched from Baikonur in the Soviet Union.

    1987  Larry Wall released the first version of the Perl programming language.

    1997  HTML 4.0 was published by the World Wide Web Consortium.

    1999 NASA launched into orbit the Terra platform carrying five Earth Observation instruments, including ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS and MOPITT.

    TERRA am1.jpg

    Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

    Forget the trophies, solve the problems

    August 26, 2009

    Maori parliamentary seats were established in 1867. That was the result of more than a decade of pressure for political representation from Maori who were granted the same rights and protections as other New Zealanders under the Treaty of Waitangi.

    At that time there were three special seats for Otago and Westland gold miners and one for an Auckland Pensioners’ Settlement. Those seats went when the need for them ended, Maori seats continued, not for their benefit but from discrimination.

    All Maori men aged 21 or more were granted the right to vote 12 years earlier than European men who, until 1879, had to own or lease property of a certain value before they could vote.

    However, one of the reasons for establishing separate seats was a fear that Maori would swamp the Pakeha vote in some areas and their size meant second class representation from the start.

    This was not the only discriminatory aspect of Maori franchise. Secret ballots had been introduced for general electorate in 1870 but Maori were required to vote by show of hands. This continued until 1910 when voting by show of hands was no longer compulsory however, it was not until 1937 that the requirement for secret ballot became law in Maori electorates.

    From 1919 until 1951 Maori had to vote on a different day from the general election. They were not permitted to stand in European electorates until 1967, and they were then only able to register to vote in them if they identified themselves as “half-castes”.

    The Royal Commission on MMP recommended that Maori seats be discontinued when the new voting system was introduced. That was disregarded and the number of seats has grown as more people choose to go on the Maori roll.

     There hasn’t been a corresponding improvement in statistics for Maori people. In too many social and economic measures they are still over represented in the negative ones and under represented in the positive ones

    That isn’t because they are Maori. It’s because they are poorly educated, in poor health and have lower incomes.

    If the Maori Party put their energy into addressing the root causes of those problems instead of worrying about trophies like Maori seats on a council, their people and our country would all be better for it.

    Do Maori vote for non-Maori?

    August 24, 2009

    I’m listening to a discussion on Afternoon’s panel and have just been told that only about 1% of Auckland local body representatives have been Maori; that means the system doesn’t work and that Maori aren’t properly represented.

    But does it?

    That presupposes that none of the people Maori vote for win seats – regardless of whether or not they’re Maori and/or that Maori people vote only for Maori candidates.

    I’d be very surprised if that was the case, but regardless of who votes for whom, once people are elected they’re bound to represent every one of their constituents.

    August 1 in history

    August 1, 2009

    On August 1:

    1291 the Swiss Confederation was formed.


    1880 1800 the Act of Union was passed uniting the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.

    1987 Maori became an official language in New Zealand.

    July 1 in history

    July 1, 2009

    On July 1:

    1906 Estee Lauder was born.

    1908 SOS was adpoted as the international distress signal. In Morse Code it’s . . . – – –  . . . 

    1942 the first battle of El Alamein  started.

    1988 The New Zealand government agreed to return Bastion Point  to Maori.

    Starting at the wrong end of education

    June 19, 2009

    Pita Sharples has tempered the comments he made yesterday about Maori having open entry to university by saying that would only be if they meet certain standards.

    This afternoon Dr Sharples clarified that he did not expect unqualified Maori to be immediately accepted into courses.

    “It’s just providing entry for people to attend a student learning centre where they can reach the standard to do a degree.”

    Universities already run pre-admission courses and Dr Sharples is still focussing on the wrong end of the education system.

    The problem is not that too few Maori are going to university it is that too few have the required literacy and numeracy skills to gain admission and succeed.

    Solving that starts by ensuring pre-schoolers have the skills to get the most out of school from the start – just simple things like being able to count to at least 10, recognising and being able to name colours, knowing how to hold a crayon or pencil, how to hold a book, that the pictures related to the story and that reading is fun.

    Once they’re at school, children who are struggling need to be identified early and given extra help. Families and whanau may need assistance too so they are capable of giving children the home support which is an important part of succeeding at school.

    It’s not easy to do but it would be far more effective than trying to get more people into university if they don’t have the ability and will to succeed there.

    Kiwiblog shows the problem isn’t too few Maori entering university but a disproportionate number who fail to complete their courses.

    University isn’t the right  place for everyone and, as Macdoctor points out, you don’t have to be tertiary educated to succeed:

    . . . whereas a good, basic education is essential, it is simply not true that a tertiary education is necessary for one to be successful. . . But the majority of business owners appear to have relatively low levels of education. One can only conclude that, while tertiary education will help in the job market, you do not need it to be a success. What you need is the motivation to be successful.

    Giving Maori an easier route to university would set up more for failure once they were there and also reflect badly on those who got there on their merits.

    Giving everyone better than basic literacy and numeracy skills would provide them with the choice of a tertiary education or taking another route to success.

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