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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Canada v. NZ

Canada could be a model for our bilingualism, I have been thinking recently, as they have a genuine commitment to it. Having two languages sitting equally side by side on documents, notices etc. seems a natural, non-threatening, normal reality to an English-speaker (such as myself)... but on persusing the official government sites the aesthetic sensibilities gave way to more concrete and banal matters: Canada seems to be in a bit of a state. Maybe that's just what the Federal position is? Or maybe it's worse if the Provinces are included?

Canada has aboooot 30 million souls and a C$189b (NZ$230b)federal budget - a whopping 19% of which goes on interest payments on their C$500b (NZ$610b) debt! Ouch. NZ has NZ$35b govt. debt and it takes only 5% of our budget last time I looked.) So, their federal debt on a population basis, is twice ours. Something that Cullen can be smug over next time he meets any delegation from Canada.

The other interesting thing, one of many (eg. Quebec amongst other things it insists on doing independently is it collects federal income tax by it's own tax dept!), but the one that stood out to me was the treatment of the natives compared to us, especially in view of the specious 'Maori are privileged' blah blah blah carping one so often encounters.

The important thing is the Canadian recognition of what we would variously call mana whenua and rangatiratanga ie, jurisdiction and territoriality. The US has always had a fully formed understanding and application of self-rule by Indian tribes which fits in well with the US republican tradition of a fairly radical (by our standards) de-centralised, intensively democratic, autonomous status of communities. Canada has moved in the same direction. NZ of course continues the colonial integration model of suppression and central control. The US after destroying traditional Indian authority in a land grab/ethnic clensing still had the principle of recognising their rights of self-determination and jurisdiction, customary law etc. despite their confiscations and Treaty violations. Colonial/immigrant paranoid control-freak reactionaries in this country can't even permit Maori to have that dignity such is their avarice and cultural insecurity.

The Labour government's tokenistic, Pakeha-ised, notion of allowing local councils to establish Maori wards could be seen as a half-arsed step towards self-government; but it is exactly the opposite. It is designed to fail, designed to keep Pakeha at Maori throats and Maori at each others. By lumping all Maori, regardless of their status in an area, as one exclusive group upon Pakeha (govt. determined) boundaries it undermines any real Maori sense of self-determination and rohe. It's an old theory: smash "tribalism," (bonds of kinship, group property, customary practices etc.) and you create brown Pakeha willing to assist in the wholesale despoilation of the land. By giving Maori with no land, historical or family interests in an area the same rights as Tangata Whenua it is another weapon against "tribalism." It is a Pakeha solution to a Pakeha "problem" (the problem of finding themselves generic mascots) with a trail of opportunistic Maori willing to go along with it for their own self-interest and the ignorant. It was never going to work - and nor should it.

In the context of the above rights of self-government, putting dollar figures is secondary, but Canada spends C$9b of it's federal budget for "Aboriginal and First Nations Peoples" as they are defined. That's 5% of the total budget (for 2% of the population). Now this doesn't mean anything by itself. It could be they lump all services to these people together rather than through mainstream services, it could be patronising and ineffective, controlled by corrupt local officials, controlled and sapped in the capital by non-Aboriginal bureaucrats and so forth. It could be that the position of natives in Canada is so bad that they need more, or that there is an irrelevant segregation of funding, or it could be that the Provinces give less or more proportionately than the federal govt. I find it interesting only because of the situation here.

Keeping in mind the Crown's firm figure of $1b as the total, final, maximum quantum for all "historic" Treaty of Waitangi land settlements (it must be up around half that by now), we have Canada's annual federal budget of equivalent NZ$1.5b. TPK/Vote: Maori Affairs is $170m last year. That's quite a gap even if it may be comparing apples with oranges.

That's the problem with the Crown consistently offering 1-2% compensation every two or three generations or so. It isn't fucking acceptable! That's why the "problem" isn't going away and is not "historic" but live. Can't the Crown pretend they're white and pay 100% and not have any more problems? - sort of why there isn't large class action Pakeha greviences - they get sorted out properly and speedily. Even with huge budget surpluses they have not offered anything more. If they had a $5,000b surplus they would still be insisting Maori deserve 1 or 2% while someone who is white, or foreigners are entitled to 100% plus costs, interest etc. Isn't that right? The presumption is that that is how white people want it - the trade off being bitching at each other forever and the govt. or the party who wants to be the govt. being able to use the race card to win elections by scaremongering.

At some point Pakeha are going to ask themselves the logical question about the Holy Myths (of the type ranted in Brash's Orewa I speech) of:-
1. "We can't let the Maoris get high expectations," and
2. "We can only attempt to try to offer some symbolically, token gift in lieu of redress".

1 really is "We Pakeha can't afford..." And not just that a bigot doesn't want 1 cent going to someone that isn't white, but that his massacring, looting, raping, ethnic clensing, land-grabbing ancestors are being besmerched or that that sort of person is who the immigrant appreciates. And even further, that by being nice in any way, by showing in real terms any measure of sympathy or understanding will lead to a revolutionary Maori radical uprising or coup d'├ętat!

2 really is the mechanism of implementing 1. It acknowledges the wrong but only on condition that it in effect stays wrong. Many "liberal" people who may think of themselves as pro-Maori may fall into this category. Whereas 1 could be painted as a bigot, 2. could be merely patronising. On the anti-confiscation Hikoi I recall vividly over-hearing a middle class, Pakeha, female lawyer saying "Well even if it isn't their's it's how they feel about it." Part of me wanted to slap the little bitch of course, but that would have been rather out of keeping with the spirit of the event. How they feel about it! That was her level of understanding - no analysis of the actual legal issues or historical issues - no, it's just a "feeling" - how utterly patronising. And it is that sort of patronising "feeling" in that class of people that leads them to think that an equally patronising solution is possible: You feel your land was stolen and you feel half your family was wiped out, here's a tiki I made out of recycled plastic to make you feel better and an apology from the nice man from the government will make you feel better too - that's enough isn't it?

The logic probably has to be stated clearly since we are still in Rhodesia mode and it still hasn't dawned on everyone yet that people should be treated equally.

If those Maori expectations are only as high as Pakeha expectations, and Pakeha expectations deserve to be met, and Pakeha acknowledge and uphold the principle of racial equality of justice and fairness and that this should not just be attempted or be symbolic but should be real and meanigful and concrete to be durable and honourable and mutually respected, then it follows that Maori should be treated equally, and equally = 100%; not 0.1% or 1% or 2% but 100%. Pakeha would not, and should not expect less than 100%, and should expect Maori support to achieve 100%. It's all very simple, but it is not we have in this country today.

I don't know the answer to "how much" is 100% either. But I believe any settlement should be a more comprehensive package than just a monetary allocation and could even be the way toward a republic.


At 22/11/05 2:25 am, Blogger Joe said...

i think you're deluded, i don't even know where to start...
1. the language is inflammatory and derogatory. You many not be happy with the situation but this just means you're ignored as well
2. i wouldn't dare quote the US as a model for anything to do with governance or human rights. the best that can be said is that they don't do anything overseas they haven't inflicted on their own population first.
3. the continuing use of terms Pakeha and Maori disguises the real issue. what do you want? recognition that maori-NZers are on the bottom of just about any statistic you care to name and you're pissed off and want something done about it? or that anyone with >1/128th 'white person' blood in their system should 'go home' and leave *my* country (soon to be updated to >1/256)? go on, be honest, what is it?
4. maybe maori will figure out what maori need to do over time, i would hazard that's the only long term solution. i would suggest that reaffirming an historic right to resources is a good start (access to revenue rather than court derived payments) and that focusing on the future in addition to the past would be a better bet. go easy though, i don't think you can continue doing this ad infinitum (new technology does not confer new rights endlessly into the future).

Insulting the rest of your countries citizens is hardly productive (and i would extend the same comment to Dr Brash), start coming up with some good ideas or you really are doomed.

At 22/11/05 2:32 pm, Blogger t selwyn said...

Joe: You are Mr Delusional 2005, congratulations.

1. If you consider that this post's "language is inflammatory and derogatory" there is far better examples on this blog than that. To make sense of the situation and put things in context it is often necessary to present the facts in a type of rhetoric that is considered, by those unfamiliar with the ideas, to be uncomfortable for them.

2. I too had thought of this point as some sort of dilemma - how can anything about the US possibly be worth immitating or considering seriously given their history and current unilateral, aggressive, lawless behaviour - well that was all pure prejudice on my part and I have had to see past that. The US finds it hard to treat others in the reverential way they treat themselves - I'm saying we look at the latter and not the former. If you read the post again I'm saying the US confiscated Indian land but they left them with reserves on which they have "sovereign" rights and autonomy - that's why they have Casinos etc because the Indian tribes have direct status with the federal government - all measures respecting autonomy that NZ does not have. We have had the confiscation but nothing else. But this is keeping with the US system of devolved democracy at every level - we can learn a lot from that system. They have far more accountability than we do - police being sued, referenda, elected officials, transperancy etc. we are quite a way behind the US on these things.

3. "What do you want?" - An acknowledgement that things aren't right now because of a refusal to come to terms with our history that has led us to this point and that we can figure out a better way to be a country if we solve these issues. Going on about fractions of blood is one of those awful Pakeha ideas - that sort of talk is inflammatory and one of the hysterical type reactions to any mention of something that threatens a Pakeha-type view of our history - I have observed. Interesting that I present a method for co-existence that has worked in other countries and may be part of a final settlement and the reaction is some mad ravings about wanting to get white people out of the country! Is this a normal Pakeha reaction? And if it really is... then this explains why we are in this state to start with. How can someone negotiate or deal in good faith when they hold those extremist views?

4. I agree with your point and add that Maori are only seeking as much as they can by legal means and sometimes that might not be what they even actually want. Can you blame people who have had their table stolen for some of the crumbs that come off it.

Good ideas come from a process of honest appraisal of the situation. I will map out a way forward in some detail once that process is closer.

I don't think I'm deluded for bring to people's attention that Canada's federal budget for natives (@2% pop.) is equivalent in NZ terms (on a population basis) to $1,500m whereas our Maori Affairs budget (@14% pop.) is only $170m.

Much of the angst between Maori and Pakeha is the issue of redress, ie. facing up to the past - that is up to the government. Canada's government (and those figures above do not include all the Provincial efforts) seems to be far in advance of our own. At a time when our budget surpluses are running so high it is a massive failure not to use this to create a better future by settling properly. But they think Pakeha won't allow the government to value Maori at more than 1-2% of themselves.

At 22/11/05 7:55 pm, Blogger stef said...


They are still speaking the language of the colonial powers which are widely spoken throughout the world. If the Canadians adopted their first-nation languages as offical languages that they made everyone learn you may have a point.

At 22/11/05 11:12 pm, Blogger Joe said...

t. selwyn,
we'll have to agree to disagree on point 1. I don't think using inflammatory language is ever justified if you wish to actively communicate with anyone outside of your immediate peer group (based on the tone of your detailed reply, i apologise for starting my previous comment with the phrase delusional, but i kind of like winning a contest - any contest - so i'll keep the title of Mr Delusional 2005, does it come with a badge ;-) ).
2. my understanding of native americans is incredibly sketchy but as i recall, the 'reservations' were hardly an idyllic setting, more like wastelands that nobody else wanted (until perhaps later when resources were needed). However, i take your point that these have evolved over time to allow a high degree of autonomy and a source of revenue that they are able to use in a manner they see fit, i would propose that having independent means is the first step toward finding your place in the world. i would still excercise extreme caution in quoting the US as a model for anything, i am not sure it adds weight to your argument.
3. 'what do you want' was a question thrown out to see if this blog was an opinion piece that espouses the idea of a utopia if only all those white people left. this is not an option, NZ is my home as much as it is yours and from the nature of your reply, i don't think that is your view either.
my comment about blood proportions is that i think it is a stupid way to measure anything (personal-history wise, very important but thats not the same thing), yet it is so often quoted in the media as though it means something. i would have thought a focus on supporting your cultural heritage, being a fluent speaker of maori etc would be a far more succinct way of defining 'maori' than who your great-great grandmother was. if bloodlines are so important then we are always going to have labels of 'us' and 'them' and that is no place to start regardless of where you wish to end up.
i think this brush is too broad. I don't mind scholorships, for instance, going to people that have learnt maori and actively practice maori culture and are going to re-invest their learning back into their community as an inspiration for kids, thats a wonderful way to spend your energies - just throwing some money at people who can claim some arbitrary fraction of lineage does not show respect to anyone.
4. thanks. there is no way i'm gonna play devils advocate for the british empire in the 19th century, they ruled an empire in the same way every other country has through history - by force, intimidation and violence.
5. I could actually be persuaded that 1-2% of your budget (1.5 /100 billion) is a reasonable figure for protecting a unique culture, i'm not going to argue with you there. however, michael cullen forgot to ring me at the last budget...

your reply was well reasoned and well written, thanks, i'm gonna throw this one on my regular bloglines - who knows, maybe we'll start by arguing and end up talking? Believe it or not, i'm not anti- or pro- anything, but i do think that the MSM has not covered this issue well at all. i've grown up during the treaty settlements etc and i am still not sure what the end destination is, is redressing the past going to be a permanent feature of NZ's future? (and don't think that means one of those stupid 'its all over by 2010 statements, it should take as long as it takes so long as we recognise when it's finished).

At 23/11/05 1:48 am, Blogger t selwyn said...

Joe: At this rate you'll lose your title next year.

I still think that your set of assumptions ("an opinion piece that espouses the idea of a utopia if only all those white people left...") is interesting and wonder if this post alone led you to believe that.

As you say: "I am still not sure what the end destination is, is redressing the past going to be a permanent feature of NZ's future?" is a question that Maori ask as much as Pakeha. By under-paying in compensation and frustrating rights and continued confiscation the Crown is keeping us all locked into "grevience mode" - a handy political tool to be exploited at each election. If a final settlement that encapsulated everything Maori and Pakeha want for themselves and each other were agreed to then all of that deep, deep underlying victim/guilt tension and mistrust would disappear. The real bigots, the Pakeha extremists in whose name the Crown operates will have nothing to support their prejudices after the settlement and will finally be seen for who they are and seen for the minority they actually are.

It is a knot of rats tails. The Crown has made a lot of Pakeha land (both freehold and leasehold) at the expense of Maori and dependent on Maori acceptance that is not given. This is the basis for most of the Maori-Pakeha angst. And it is this angst that the creators of this plan, the settler/soldier/speculators intended - an occupation population that would see Maori as the enemy and would actively exclude them and a Maori population marginalised and gutted without the means or legality to assert the control they had when the Treay was being respected (the last Crown-authorised Iwi judicial officers "native assessors" where abolished in 1893). Maori under these overwhelming forces would have to act more Pakeha than a Pakeha in order to get anywhere - assimilation. Being barred from pubs etc. based on the colour of their skin and simultaneously having to behave like the person whose treating you like shit is going to have a psychologically damaging effect at some level - and that was how it was up until the 1970s. I think most Pakeha still think it was all "world's best race relations" etc. and that the trauma of colonialism ended immediately the martial law was lifted in the occupied zones. Of course it is effectively still in force and some confiscation laws are only one year old!

But the reality is we aren't having this discussion with a white/settler population of 98% like in Canada or the US or Australia. Maori didn't play the role that their masters had designated for them. In 1921 the Maori population was only 4% of the total and they were supposed to end up at 2%/hovering-on-extinction level where it would be safe for the Govt. to interact with them on a no-threat basis. So while Pakeha have forever being fixated with % of blood, Maori have been fixated on % of population.

NZ is no different to Northern Ireland, USA, Canada, Israel. Type "land confiscation" into Google and NZ and Israel come up. The Palestinians have nothing to loose by opposing the theft and occupation of their lands. A state of war here does not exist - not so much because of a series of interim-type agreements (eg. Treaty claims) but because Maori have assumed that:
1. Maori will lose a conventional armed struggle.
2. Maori have more to gain economically and socially through co-operating with their Pakeha neighbours, The Crown and their judicial system.
3. Respect from the other side is derived from being unfailingly courteous.
This cease-fire is an unsatisfactory status - and trying to bring forward the date for all "historic" settlements will ensure it is unjust and that the problem will continue. But this is just part of a cycle to buy-off Maori and prevent open conflict. The problem (apart from the obvious injustice) with the Crown treating Maori unfairly (eg. confiscation) is that the second point becomes moot and point three has never got anyone anywhere anyway. The Crown not doing anything or continuing the status quo is treating people unfairly too so some people will always question the "real benefits" argument.

I would also say at this point the role of immigration is pivotal - to occupying Maori land and to keep the land speculation process (whereby Pakeha derive much of their assets) afloat. New immigrants are told the Pakeha-ised version of history, socially initiated into anti-Maori racism and hey presto - another fly in the ointment...

These are of course only the negative arguments.

At 23/11/05 7:06 am, Blogger Joe said...

the 'white people out' meme bounces around constantly popping up in the MSM (i still remember a ken mair(?) interview on 60 mins from when i was a kid). I can't dialogue with anyone that thinks this is ever gonna happen, it's just easier to ask up front rather than try and divine it from your writings, having said that, having you reply in such detail has allowed me to assume that you aren't of that ilk and that i may actually learn something.
let me ask you - imagine you're an average NZ'er, you maybe catch the news every now and again but don't have the time for much more. what would you think the dominant theme is that would emerge from the media for this person. I would propose that for every kaikora successful business story or new maori PhD graduate, there'd be a dozen stories showing negative images taken out of context. i think this is called heuristic bias which basically means you assume that you have a reasonable amount of information to base your decision on but actually it is incredibly one sided. my question is, do you think maori would benefit by figuring out a way of promoting their own positive images (argh, if i'm not careful here i'm gonna start saying marketing crap like 'mind share' and 'branding'...) and thus trying to counter standard reporting (i assume you must in some way since you are blogging).

At 23/11/05 10:55 am, Blogger t selwyn said...

Joe: The image issue and MSM is important as a means of confirming the prejudices we are brought up with through parents, family and school (although this has changed). But when little Johnnie gets back from school and tells mum and dad how they learned something Maori and the parents tell them how they don't like them, don't value them and think it's a waste of time then a lot of that is undone.

If you see the average anti-Maori letters to the editor you will see statements like "Maoris go on about Treaty stuff but if they cared about their bad statistics they would focus on that instead... I haven't heard any Maori say...they don't care about themselves..." - Maori can have a million conferences on health or education, set up a million clinics and schools and they will still be saying it because it is never reported on MSM: because it's boring. But that is not always racial bias - that comes in the manner in which anti-Maori or negative stories about Maori are reported. Which name do people recognise from education mis-spending due to the lax government rules: CHCH Polytech or Te Wananga O Aotearoa? If opposition politicians are anti-Maori and the government is trying to be more anti-Maori to "win" that contest then is it the MSM's fault for reporting on it?

I was irritated enough to start a clippings file of anti-Maori editorial, articles etc. until, very quickly, there was just too much stuff. Almost every day the NZ Herald would have at least one anti-Maori letter to the editor, almost always without any pro-Maori letters. Reporting showed less bias but was still pretty bad. Prejudice sells - it's easy, it's cheap, it needs no "reason" to be there to them because anything Maori and bad automatically is an issue that will having a ready-made readership. The same thing with the Maori counter-argument or side - that is simplified to suit what the MSM expect Maori might say or present them in a stereotypical fashion.

As to your suggestion of positive stories: that would help, and the Maori Party might be able to do that through an untainted, fresh, dignified Pita Sharples. That is how he is perceived and that will have some milage. I think a strong defence and attack is also necessary - a mocking and ridiculing of the bigots to marginalise them within the Pakeha mindset as being the sort of people they disassociate themselves from. A big mission indeed.

At 28/11/05 2:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Keeping in mind the Crown's firm figure of $1b as the total, final, maximum quantum for all "historic" Treaty of Waitangi land settlements (it must be up around half that by now)"

That policy's been abandoned since 1996. About $700 million I think has been spent since.

"I believe any settlement should be a more comprehensive package than just a monetary allocation"

Settlements are more than just money - there's the return of significant sites, management arrangements, relationships with government and a formal apology.

At 28/11/05 4:39 pm, Blogger t selwyn said...

"That policy's been abandoned since 1996" - Formally abandoned in name only. But in practise it has not. The amounts that the Office of Treaty Settlements offer is aligned with the "fiscal envelope". No change.

"Settlements are more than just money - there's the return of significant sites, management arrangements, relationships with government and a formal apology." - I should have been more clear. I meant real, substantial and meaningful packages as opposed to tokenistic bullshit, statements of co-operation and consultation and apologies that are backed by nothing and are dished out to immigrant groups as well (Chinese). Where is the territorial and jurisdictional recognition? These settlements have been constructed by and for the Crown on their terms. Negotiations with Maori claimants are framed as the Crown determines. If the Crown will only settle within arbitrary limits they have imposed then what value does it have? On what condition would you settle with a thief who puts you through a process of their making?

The problem with the escalation clauses on the cash amounts - which I think are included in all the Treaty related settlements - (and if they are not then it still stands) is that it puts the onus on the next set of claimants to continue the settlement process for every claimant that went before. It also puts the onus on the Crown to screw all the remaining claimants over to stop the total amount blowing out. The system is skewed and wobbly.

I see over the weekend that the Canadian government has announced ambitious targets for raising the living standards of native groups and is prepared to put their money where their mouth is. But you see the problem for the Crown's "Pakeha position" here: they cannot force Maori to settle for the pittance they offer if they had a decent, Canadian-type, large-scale monetary assistance package for Maori groups. Maori Treaty settlement money is usually spent on these items anyway, so if the Crown was providing those services (or at least their funding) then that is one less lever the Crown have against Maori in negotiations.


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