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Maori = Privileged citizens?

3 min read

Maori = Privileged citizens?

T.K Lewis
April 21, 2013

ACT+Party+Caucus+Meeting+eqkb-Gdr2OSmDon Brashs notorious 2004 Orewa speech opened up a colossal size can of worms in terms of public feelings towards M?ori. Besides bantering the Treaty and the then Labour government; Dr Brash proclaimed a so called truth that in time people would come to believe that M?ori are privileged:

We are one country with many peoples, not simply a society of Pakeha and Maori where the minority has a birth right to the upper hand

Fast-forward to 2013 and the political noise has obviously gotten louder since the Orewa speech. Earlier this year, NZ First suggested that all Kiwis should pretend to be M?ori in order to receive special privileges under NZ law; and recently former MP Bob Clarkson has condemned funding of $2.6 million for a small M?ori housing project in Tauranga.

Sowhat exactly does Maori privilege look like?

Does privilege look like 39% of children living in high deprivation standards? Around 270,000 Kiwi kids live beneath the poverty line, and just over half are Maori (59,651) and Pasifika (44,120). Does privilege look like 13.3% unemployment rate in the year to March 2012? Does privilege look like overrepresentation in crime, with 50% of all persons in prison being identified as Maori? Does privilege look like living 7.9 (female) and 8.6 (male) years less than other New Zealanders? If these features constitute the silhouette of privilege then I would hate to know what the lives of unprivileged Kiwis looks like.

Some people might say that these privileged statistics are just indicators of social welfare, socio-economic dynamics, or maybe even laziness? I guess Ill just be frank then shall I the 19th century colonial vestiges of New Zealands era of colonisation remain stubbornly stained in Kiwi society. The systematic disenfranchisement of peoples from their economic and cultural cornerstones (land and language) created the generational loop that characterizes a majority of Maori privilege today.

Others may tell me that Maori receive special privileges due to treaty settlements, but what some fail to comprehend is the difference between rights and privileges; and if you want an example of what Iwi and Hapu organizations do with their settlements, I challenge you to research what Ngati Whatua o Orakei actioned once Bastion point and Okahu bay were given back to them.

The point of the matter is this Maori are not privileged. Yes they have rights as do all New Zealanders; the only point of difference is indigeneity. Article 15 of the 2007 UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights, states that indigenous peoples: have a right to thedignity and diversity of their culture.

Believe it or not, but the Treaty is a key basis for New Zealands socio-economic future. Its ironic that Dr Brash indicated that the Treaty of Waitangi should not be used as the basis for giving greater civil, political or democratic rights to any particular ethnic group; yet it is clearly obvious that since 1840 the majority group has indeed benefited greater than M?ori.

Dont get me wrong, Im not trumpeting a pity party for Maori nor am I saying that people arent responsible for their choices; what Im saying is that:

1. It is false to assign Maori as privileged citizens;
2. The 19th century colonisation of NZ severely stunted the socio-economic growth of Maori communities;
3. The 20th century urbanisation after WW2 further dug the whole deeper, as well as the strong social norm of brown labour as the way to go for Maori and Pacific peoples;
4. The financial climate of the last 30 years has harshly impacted manufacturing and physical labour occupations.

So though treaty settlements have empowered a number of Iwi and Hapu organisations in the 21st century, it is evidently clear that Maori are not privileged.

1 thought on “Maori = Privileged citizens?

  1. The concept of Maori privilege has been used by Politicians since the 1800s How many Maori are living on Paritai Drive from Treaty settlements none but Finance company directors are living on Paritai drive that committed white collar crime. Bit rich coming from the former Reserve bank Governor trying to tell poor people they are privileged.

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