Sunday, February 06, 2005

Two kinds of people

There are two kinds of people in New Zealand. Those who divide New Zealand into two kinds of people, and those who don't. Don Brash, with his "one rule for all", is one of those who doesn't. Helen Clark and her Labour government are an example of those who do.

There are right ways and wrong ways of dividing New Zealand into two kinds of people. The Herald gets it wrong today. The paper says, "Life [has] improved for Maori, with a narrowing of the gap between Maori and people of European descent in areas such as income and employment opportunities." This implies that Māori, and people of European descent, are two different groups. But most Māori are people of European descent, too.

Just as you are Māori if you have Māori ancestry, so, too, are you European if you have European ancestry. Take the case of Terry Ryan, for example. Got to be some European ancestry in there, with a name like Terry Ryan, to be sure, to be sure. And Māori blood everywhere, but ne'er a drop of Ngāi Tahu?

The Herald also talks of "the partnership between Maori and Pakeha". This is wrong, because you can be both Māori and Pakeha, but you can't have a partnership with yourself. A Pakeha is "a New Zealander of European descent; a non-Maori New Zealander," according to this dictionary. That can't be right, since most Māori are New Zealanders of European descent but not non-Māori, obviously. Pakeha are "New Zealanders of predominantly European descent," says Wikipedia. Still, lots of Māori are Pakeha, under that definition, because many Māori are of predominantly European descent.

While we're here, let's lay to rest Trevor Mallard's silly claim that he is an indigenous Pakeha because he comes from Wainuiomata. Indigenous means originating where it is found. The Mallards certainly didn't originate in Wainuiomata. Just a handful of generations back, you would have found them over in Europe. By the same token, of course, Māori aren't indigenous to New Zealand, either. They came here from East Polynesia a few hundred years earlier. Kiwi and kakariki are indigenous to New Zealand, but the only indigenous humans live in Africa.

Let's face it, we're a completely mixed up bunch of people. So much so, that if you're going to divvy up New Zealanders on ethnic grounds, you must do it on the basis of lack of ancestry, e.g. Māori and non-Māori, or Pakeha and non-Pakeha. But why on earth would you want to do that? Whakapapa (genealogy) is especially important in Māori culture, but genealogical considerations should have no place in government policy. For a government to treat people differently on the basis of their ethnic ancestry, or lack thereof, is immoral and ridiculous. We're New Zealanders and we're all related to each other.

3 Comments:

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Life [has] improved for Maori, with a narrowing of the gap between Maori and people of European descent in areas such as income and employment opportunities." This implies that Māori, and people of European descent, are two different groups.

Lol - I missed that clanger from The Herald. How stupid do they think people are? Writing like that shows how far beneath the bar some journalists have fallen.

Ruth Freudian Slippers

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger Rich said...

People are entitled to identify with whatever group they want. The term Pakeha has always been used to mean a New Zealander of predominantly European descent who does not have (or assert) Maori ancestry.

You can choose to use it to mean whatever you want - if you wish it to refer to any New Zealander with European descent, then fair enough, but you aren't using the conventional sense of the word.

 
At 2:26 AM, Blogger Zenskar said...

Who the hell wants to live in a country of "one people"? That's not a liberal democracy. It may be the wet dream of those who see everyone from the perspective as an individual economic unit, but it doesn't build a strong, pluralistic society. I heard all this "one people" horse shit from Muldoon back in the 1970s. Thought NZ had matured a bit since then.

 

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