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PhD looks into the idea of Maori Privilege

PhD looks into the idea of Maori Privilege

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One hundred years of Mäori privilege is the focus of doctoral research by Massey Mäori historian .

His thesis covers the first 100 years of colonisation – from 1840-1940 – and examines what he calls the “idea of Mäori privilege”, where the idea came from, how it developed over time, and its influence on government policy.

Mr Meihana completed his master’s degree at Massey on the involvement of Ngäti Kuia in the seabed and foreshore issue and since 2008 has taught the undergraduate papers New Zealand Land Wars and Mäori Responses to Colonisation.

He was recently appointed lecturer of Mäori history in the School of Humanities, and plans to introduce new Mäori history papers once he completes his PhD early next year.

For now, he is writing the seventh and last chapter of his thesis, which questions underlying assumptions that support the idea of Mäori privilege. “The idea of Mäori privilege is entrenched in New Zealand culture, it’s believed that Mäori have been treated better than other indigenous people, and other New Zealanders. It’s a commonly held belief,” he says.

He adds his PhD does not claim Mäori were treated any better or any worse than other native peoples, rather, that the belief exists, and has palpable effects on Mäori communities.

Mr Meihana says his research would be the first to discuss the historical foundations of privilege, and identifies two types of privilege: “official” and “popular”. He explains official privilege stems from the Treaty of Waitangi, which afforded Mäori “rights and privileges of British subjects”, but led settlers to claim Mäori were unfairly favoured, which is what he calls popular privilege. The assertions that underpin popular privilege continue today.

From the 1800s the idea of privilege can be found in parliamentary speeches, official documents and texts and newspapers, and even today, on talkback radio and letters to the editor, Mr Meihana says.

He points to then National Party leader Don Brash’s Orewa speech in 2004, as a “classic exposé” of Mäori privilege”, which resonated with many New Zealanders and showed how deep-rooted the notion is.

The Blenheim-raised historian says his PhD will show the idea of privilege is highly constructed and not a matter of fact, and hopes to eventually publish his findings.


(10) Comments

  1. joe

    Mr Meihana, kaati te rukahu John Key dosn't honour the treaty, which Tuhoe didn't sign. Who sent you to Uni, you're the privilege one to learn this rubbish ? Is it a privilege to still wait for 200yrs get Te uruwera back, guns pointed at mokos, pakeke, & kaimahi, on there way to school & work ,'Ka mau te wehi"

        1. Koretake

          PhD Permanent head Damage All Maori know the pakeha are full of shit thats no thesis thats for real. Stick their PhD where the sun don't shine. Just being Maori is worth a thousand PhD's

  2. martini samson

    Discrimination across the board , along with harsher penalties , and being more prone to every sickness isnt privilege. Living in a country after you have dishonoured a treaty and not caring about a treaty that pakeha wrote up and not caring whilst continuing to dishonour it , even the crown selling assets it doesnt own , thats privilige. Calling us Terrorists on our native land , thats privilege , making a treaty based on the trade of fire arms then arresting Tame Iti for playing with them , thats privilege. You need a phd in the idea of Maori being ripped off by over educated paper pushes. Go have a look in the jails , see whos privileged , or go back to school and learn somthing that will actually help society , not just your fraction of it , aiggght! THATS OUR WATER-AND TUHOE NEVER SIGNED.

    1. native

      Ummmmm, you are of course right Martini, but I think you have missed the point of the research, or at least what I can ascertain from the article.

  3. Ralph WaiWai

    I look forward to reading this work. So many ridiculous myths about maori freebies or character were spread in my formative years. I was aware of the Maori stereotype from a very young age. Although the myths of Maori privilege are still subtlety being spread through politics and main stream media, I have noticed the digital age is bringing these notions into the spotlight for more public examination. Through examination Maori and rational people will find a solidarity that is in the interests of the good fight.

  4. Melissa Philllips

    Look forward to these teachings....I was born in 1971,the beginning of urban maori in the heart of south auckland namely Manurewa. I witnessed, felt it, lived it, breathed it....remember attending Manukau Tech in the late 90s and a huge debate that appeared when certain members of class predominantly pakeha started suggesting that all maori were priviledged because they were entitled to Maori Scholarships, caused a huge rift within the class for the whole duration of two years....cant wait too read some of Mr Meihana's findings.....tino rawe.

  5. Barry Johnstone.

    When I was at school in the 1950's, we were 'taught' everything about English history, and NO history about New Zealand! At long last, people like Mr Meihana are having a voice! IT'S TIME!

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