Friday, March 15, 2013
Mike Butler: White privilege vs Maori privilege
On to the vexed subject of white privilege versus Maori privilege. There is a chapter detailing “white privilege” in the treatyist bible “Healing our history – the challenge of the treaty of Waitangi”, mostly written by Robert Consedine. He is the Consedine who conducts Project Waitangi workshops around the country. These workshops use psychodrama, an action method often used as a psychotherapy, in which clients use spontaneous dramatization, role playing and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight, in this case, into how wicked and racist the white coloniser has been. This column summarises Consedine’s “white privilege” arguments and uses Consedine’s sub-heads to see whether there is Maori privilege.
A. White privilege
What is white privilege? Consedine follows a definition by a researcher named Peggy McIntosh who identified 46 “white privileges” as “an invisible package of unearned assets” . . . “which I can count on cashing in every day but about which I was meant to remain oblivious”. He did not say what those 46 privileges were. I’m sure many would want to know so they could be a bit more enthusiastic about cashing them in, if they in fact exist.
The Crown became the biggest land shark by buying cheap and selling dear, pocketing the profit, Consedine wrote. “The entire infrastructure of New Zealand was initially paid for by Maori, as their land was alienated and sold to settlers by the Crown for staggering profits.
Native Land Court
The Native Land Court became a vehicle for land dispossession, especially the requirement for hapu to name 10 owners for blocks of land of less than 5000 acres.
Government policies: Privilege the outcome
Consedine says Government policies resulted in white privilege because a parliament of land-owning English males set up an Anglo-centric system of criminal justice, land courts, education and health that marginalized Maori despite the guarantees of the treaty
The old age pension was paid at a lower rate (around 70 percent) to Maori from 1898 to 1945. After the Social Security Act 1938, other social welfare benefits were paid at a lower rate until the late 1940s, sparking complaints.
Tax In his White Privilege chapter, Consedine does not discuss tax.
World War I and II
After World War I, some of the non-Maori soldiers who returned went into a ballot for land for re-settlement but the returned Maori soldiers did not. A total of 100,444 New Zealand troops and nurses served overseas in the 1914-1918 war, while 2688 Maori served.
The wealth owned by Maori was transferred to the settlers. The 1907 Suppression of Tohunga Act required Maori to abandon their culture. Maori were targeted disproportionately for public works schemes. Maori were expected to learn the Pakeha way of life. Transactions posited as land sales by one race were contracts for long-term social relationships for the other.
Us and them
Maori was regarded as “the other”, while Maori culture was inferior. When Maori begin to threaten the privileges of the dominant culture, then we will experience the deep ugly underbelly of racism that exists in New Zealand. This appeared in the outcry against the Labour government’s “Closing the Gaps” policy in 2000.
Town and environmental planning
The Town Planning Act 1926 made no reference to “rangatiratanga”, Maori people, or treaty promises. It took until 1977 for a revision of the act to acknowledge the uniqueness of the relationship between Maori and their environment.”.
Colonists expected to supplant and displace all native life – plants, animals and people. When Pakeha discovered conservation around 1900 it was at the expense of Maori traditional use. It took protests from the 1960s to make the government act to preserve the ecosystems that give this country its unique character.
The Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 was the latest pakeha land grab (of the wet strip on the beach between the high tide and low tide, as well as the seabed out 12 nautical miles from the shore).
Consedine says the right for Maori to exercise full authority – tino rangatiratanga – as guaranteed in the treaty has always been marginalized leading to a tyranny of the non-Maori majority.
That all sounds terribly racist and unfair until you look at the treaty, which was drafted in English and translated into Maori. The phrase “tino rangatiratanga” was used to translate “ownership”. Consedine ignores the English and relies on the translation of the Maori text done by Sir Hugh Kawharu, in which the word “possession”, which became “tino rangatiratanga” in the Maori text, was translated back into “unqualified exercise of the chieftainship”.
The restriction of Maori into four Maori seats up to 1996 shows that in New Zealand, democracy was designed to exclude Maori from political power. In 1867, 50,000 Maori were given four seats, meaning 12,500 constituents for each Maori MP. The non-Maori population of 250,000 had 72 seats meaning 3472 constituents per MP.
Consedine quotes the results of the 2002 election in which two Maori were elected in general seats, seven were elected to the Maori seats, and 11 got into parliament from the party lists – a 16.6 percent representation while Maori made up 14.7 percent of the population. He also notes the vote at Turangawaewae in May 1993 supporting the continuance of the Maori seats.
Consedine cites to 2001 local government election result in which of the 1083 councillors elected, 52 were Maori, giving a representation of 4.8 percent.
Consedine says nothing.
B. Maori privilege
What is Maori privilege? In fact, the New Zealand government has fostered a myriad of privileges for those who claim Maori ancestry. Such race-based privilege is not restricted to claims under the Treaty of Waitangi Act. It extends to special funding for those claiming Maori ancestry and huge tax advantages for tribal trusts. Administration of this government largess is so loose that a criminal gang was able to access funding from the race-based whanau ora programme to finance a drugs operation. Anyone who dares criticise this privilege is called racist and reminded of all the poverty, bad housing, educational disadvantage, and general under-performance that are attributed to Maori.
Chiefs sold the land. They did not lose the land or have the land stolen from them. New Zealand has 26.8-million hectares of land. A total of 1.2-million hectares were confiscated during the 1860s wars (much of which was returned at the time). As at September 2009, there was approximately 1.47 million hectares of Maori land (including customary land). Therefore, successive governments bought 24.13-million hectares.
The fact is that undeveloped land, for instance in Auckland, had little value at the time the government began buying it mostly because tribes found it too dangerous to live there because they would be attacked by other tribes. Chiefs knew that a settler presence would render the area safe. Once settlers began to build houses, put in roads, set up shops, banks, a port etc, all at their own expense, and as demand for land in that area grew, the value of land increased thus making it possible for land to be re-sold at a higher price.
Consedine’s claim that “The entire infrastructure of New Zealand was initially paid for by Maori, as their land was alienated and sold to settlers by the Crown for staggering profits” is either an ignorant assertion or a lie. What actually happened was that chiefs agreed on a price and sold and were happy with the result at the time. As settlers introduced their capital and developed the land, the land increased in value, enabling the government to on-sell at a profit. On-selling by the government brought some revenue to the government at that time. After that, the only return to the government was via taxation as the colony grew.
Native Land Court
The Native Lands Act 1862, according to its preamble, “provided for the ascertainment of the ownership of native lands and for granting certificates of title thereto”. The Act brought the Native Land Court into being which were to be presided over by Europeans. The governor was enabled to make settlements and reserves for Maori and declare them inalienable.
The act was passed after two years after the row over the Waitara block the sparked the first Taranaki War, and after 22 years of squabbles over conflicting ownership claims by Maori to land. Despite the numerous complaints about what was wrong with the Native Land Court, it lives on as the Maori Land Court, and many Maori land owners throughout the country were able to sell their land and do well out of it. A number of tribes set up land-ownership trusts that survive and continue to pay dividends.
There was no complaint about the Native Land Court in the nine grievances that chiefs took to Queen Victoria in 1882. Moriori complained after the Native Land Court, in 1870, awarded land to Maori invaders based on the 1835 conquest. The current round of complaints about the Native Land Court appeared after 1985, when the government allowed claims back to 1840, so everything was up for grabs.
One fact that is never included in laments about land sales is that the land would never be sufficient for the needs of family groups, a reality that non-Maori farming families had to deal with. Because tribal groups either lacked the resources or will to develop the land, and as the family multiplied over time, individual shares fragmented, and continued to fragment, into increasingly uneconomic units.
Government policies: Privilege the outcome
Since Consedine’s book was published in 2001, a significant number of Maori privileges have appeared. The parliament that set up an Anglo-centric system of criminal justice, land courts, education and health, also set up the mixed-member-proportional voting system that enabled the Maori Party, of which Consedine was a candidate in 2005, to enter a confidence-and-supply agreement with the National Party to get their separatist initiatives into law. How fair or democractic is it for a party which attracted only 2.39 percent of the party vote in 2008 to impose its race-based policies on the other 97.61 percent of the population.
Separate treatment along racial lines is costly. Race-based funding in 2011 alone cost $1.324-billion. Those who do not like to hear about the high annual cost of race-based funding point to the $1.7-billion taxpayer bailout of South Canterbury Finance in 2010. But here's the thing. Race-based funding costs almost that amount every year.
Consedine wrote that welfare was paid to Maori at a lower rate until 1945. Since then, welfare has been paid at the same rate. He did not say that Maori continue to draw disproportionately more welfare. Te Puni Kokiri advised the in-coming Minister of Maori Affairs, in December 2011, that welfare payments to Maori exceeded tax paid by Maori.
Ministry of Social Development fact sheets for June 2012 revealed that of the 50,000 working-age people receiving an unemployment benefit, 36.5 percent or 18,250 were Maori and 9.3 percent were Pacifika. Of the 59,000 working-age people receiving a sickness benefit, 28 percent, or 16,520, were Maori, and 7 percent were Pacifika. Of the 84,000 working-age people receiving an invalid’s benefit, 22.4 percent, or 18,816, were Maori and 5.1 percent were Pacifika. And of the 112,000 working-age people receiving a domestic purposes benefit, 42.7 percent, or 47,824, were Maori, and 10.2 percent were Pacifika. A total of 673,000 Maori made up 15 percent of the population in 2006. In 2012, 101,410, or 27 percent, of an estimated 380,000 working-age Maori (18–64 years) were receiving a benefit.
Consedine did not refer to the devolution of welfare delivery to Maori authorities, which was well under way when he wrote “Healing our history”, but to be fair, the new funding trough created by the Maori Party initiative named “Whanau Ora” appeared after his book was published.
Consedine does not say anything about the privilege available to tribal trusts, in that they pay little tax. The Income Tax Act was amended so as to include iwi, so as charities, tribal trusts pay no tax. Ngai Tahu is registered as the Ngai Tahu Charitable Trust, a tax-exempt body, as is Tainui Group Holdings.Responding in 2011 to a Waikato Times report headlined “Super-rich tribes pay no tax”, a Tainui Group Holdings spokesman said they did pay GST, and argued that its tax-exempt status also meant the tribe could not claim depreciation or the interest costs of its borrowing.
When the Crown settles with a tribe, the settlement must go to a post settlement governance entity, which cannot be tax-exempt, which is usually a Maori authority, which is a company or trust, which pays tax at 17.5 percent. A Maori authority may give or settle money to a charity, which in this case is an tribal trust registered as a charity. The iwi charity that may claim a refund of the 17.5 percent paid in tax, meaning the settlement recipient in effect pays no tax on the settlement. In this way a tax credit is available for a Maori authority but not to an ordinary company, which pays 28 percent in tax.
The 17.5 percent that Maori authorities pay in tax is the second-lowest tax rate.
World War I and II
Not much further to say about the wars other than the facts that Waikato-Tainui did not wish to fight in the wars because they were still sulking after fighting the government in 1863 and losing. Ratana members wore Japanese rising sun emblems and had a stockpile of guns and ammo seized during the Second World War. New Zealand was at war with Japan at that time.
It is difficult to argue that Maori culture remains suppressed. If anything, the use of Maori culture has swung to the other extreme, with Maori songs, dances, chants, and orations in Maori at every school prizegiving, university graduation, and at every official event down to the opening of a broom closet. Radio NZ has a few words in Maori during its Morning Report show. The national anthem is sung in English and Maori with the Maori verse neither translating nor fitting the English verse. There are cultural safety groups dotted through the civil service. If someone wants to be a teacher or a nurse, they must pass a Treaty of Waitangi exam.
The Tohunga Suppression Act 1907 that Consedine claimed was intended to suppress Maori culture, was in fact intended to stop people using traditional Maori healing practices which had a supernatural or spiritual element, in the hope that the sick Maori person would go to a regular doctor and have the best chance of recovery. Nine convictions were made under the act.
Us and them
Consedine mentioned the uproar over “Closing the gaps” in 2000 and claimed that it showed “the deep ugly underbelly of racism that exists in New Zealand”. In his book, Consedine made much of the time he got himself jailed for protesting against the Springbok rugby tour in 1981. While in jail, he “was staggered that so many of the stories (of Maori in jail) reflected disconnection from family, unemployment, abuse, violence, low self-esteem, and personal and institutional racism”. The curious thing is that he saw all these problems and then just focussed on racism.
Now here’s the thing, in 2000, at the time of the “Closing the gaps” brouhaha, a paper titled “Maori Socio-Economic Disparity” by Department of Labour senior analyst Simon Chapple marshals evidence that shows, among other things, that disadvantage is more closely tied to age, marital status, education, skills, and geographic location, than it is to ethnicity. Chapple’s conclusions point toward a gap-closing policy that would target pockets of disadvantage defined geographically and perhaps by sub-cultural features, rather than by targeting services to Maori as Maori
Town and environmental planning
Now we have the Resource Management Act 1991 that requires everyone to take into account the nebulous principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. This has created consultation with tribalists and consents for cash. A taniwha stood in the way of a motorway, and another menaced from beneath the city of Auckland, again controllable by cash. Gullible planners have swallowed these superstitious claims, creating another special Maori privilege, that is, the privilege of being able to spirit up an invisible intimidator to get some visible money.
If the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 was the last land grab by the wicked white colonizer, the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011, which opens up the wet bit on the beach and the seabed out to 12 nautical miles to customary marine title ownership claims by tribal groups, could be called the white-guilt giveaway. The number of claims lodged is not publicly available because they may be negotiated in secret with the minister. There were 12 claims registered under the 2004 act and there are believed to be a further 15 claims for customary marine title. Bit by bit beaches and fishing grounds will be lost to public access. Non-Maori have been excluded. Such is the Maori privilege to the coastal area.
Tyranny of the Maori Party has replaced the tyranny of the majority, and the appearance of list MPs loyal only to the party, courtesy of MMP, has seriously curtailed representative democracy.
For instance, Maori Party co-leader as Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples silently slipped out of the country and signed New Zealand up to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on April 20, 2010. Sharples and Turia set in motion a process that led to the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011, already discussed. Sharples in conjunction with Finance Minister Bill English set up an ideologically and racially biased Constitutional Advisory Panel to push for a written constitution based on the Treaty of Waitangi.
Central government imposed a Maori statutory board on the Auckland Council in 2010, to be appointed by the Maori Affairs Department but paid for by Auckland ratepayers. Push for Separate Maori representation in local government.
Central government imposed a Maori statutory board on the Auckland Council in 2010, to be appointed by the Maori Affairs Department but paid for by Auckland ratepayers. That board submitted a $295-million wish list for the draft 10-year plan on December 1, 2011, to be told to go away and see where the board’s requests matched existing budgets.
The board went away and returned, on September 2, 2012, to release 49 cultural, social, economic and environmental goals that included compulsory teaching of Maori in all Auckland schools, a naming protocol in Maori, financial literacy programmes to promote Maori engagement in trade delegations, foreign direct investment, innovation and export.
A total 157,500 Maori lived in Tamaki Makaurau in 2012, mostly in Manurewa-Papakura, and 85.5 percent belong to non-Tamaki Makaurau iwi. The total population of Auckland was one million.
The Auckland experience prompted Human Rights Commissioner Joris De Bres to push local government towards setting up Maori seats. Of 78 councils nationwide, 49 told De Bres that they had already considered the Maori seats option but had not taken it any further, and three councils – the Nelson City Council, the Wairoa District Council, and the Waikato District Council –agreed to start the process of establishing Maori seats. Those three councils had ratepayer polls; ratepayers in those three councils voted against separate Maori representation.
Citizen A sells an acre in central Wellington and 100 acres in Wanganui in 1842 for enough to live on for six months. Citizen B does the same. One hundred and fifty years later, Citizen A takes his claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, is asked if he is Maori, says no, and is told to go away. Citizen B takes his claim to the tribunal, receives financial help to have his claim written up, and receives financial compensation. Why the difference in treatment? Citizen B has Maori ancestry. The existence of the Waitangi Tribunal is a privilege only for people of Maori ancestry; the tribunal was active and delivering compensation when Consedine wrote his book, and Consedine cannot recognise this as a privilege.
The Maori Representation Act 1867 provided for the election of four Maori MPs by Maori males (including half-castes) aged 21 and over. The Act was deemed necessary in the mid-19th century when the right to vote was based on individual ownership of a freehold estate to the value of £25. Disputed ownership of customary Maori land that had no title meant many Maori who wanted to vote could not provide the proof to meet the electoral requirement. Some Maori could supply this proof and some did vote. It is worthwhile to note that the 1867 Act gave Maori men a non-property right to vote 12 years before European males, which occurred in 1879 through the Qualification of Electors Act.
The 1867 Act established four Maori electorates as an interim measure for five years. Parliament had the view that the Maori Land Court established in 1865 would resolve title issues for Maori within that time. The 1867 Act was extended a further five years in 1872, and extended again in 1876, this time indefinitely. Maori males who met the property qualification were entitled to vote in both Maori and European constituencies. When, in 1893, universal suffrage extended voting rights to all New Zealanders, subject only to an age qualification, any practical reason for separate Maori seats had disappeared.
Consedine's claim that 50,000 Maori were given four seats in 1867, meaning 12,500 constituents for each Maori MP, is incorrect, because Maori males who met the property qualification were entitled to vote in both Maori and European constituencies, and after 1893, could continue to vote thus without any property qualification. This undermines Consedine’s claim that that in New Zealand, democracy was designed to exclude Maori from political power.
Other questions that Consedine does not mention
Consedine, probably a third-generation New Zealander of Irish Catholic ancestry (his forebear came to the West Coast in the 1860s) says nothing about the anachronistic separate Maori department named Te Puni Kokiri, that keeps preferential treatment of Maori rolling on irrespective of which political party is in power. Neither does he mention the separate Maori Council (what would happen if there was a separate white council?), separate Maori immersion schooling, the privatising state wealth into new tribal elites, and a race relations commissioner with a double standard on race relations.
at 8:40 PM