Blanket Man is Maori, and wears his blanket much how Maori did when Europeans first arrived here to settle.....The outcome of our arrival and colonisation has not been a happy one for Maori overall, and I hate to be starting another year with Blanket Man in his usual place. He symbolises much that's wrong with how we live together, his wilful, slow suicide an indictment of our lack of understanding.
That is rather sweeping.
Should the "overall" situation of Maori be compared to their pre-colonisation one or to that of present NZ European? On the first count there is no comparison. Life expectancy, health, housing, access to technology, etc is vastly improved. On the second count, today probably a majority of Maori have the same standard of living as a larger majority of NZ European.
And then we can go down the other avenue of conjecturing over what the outcomes might have been for Maori if a different race had colonised NZ. But really this whole colonisation thing, which is factual and undeniable, has, at some stage, to be put to bed.
I'm not prepared to call those people feral, or condemn them, without having a realistic solution for the problems that lie behind their destructive choices. Where are the jobs for them? Where are the schools designed to cater to their learning needs? Why do we continue to fail them in an education system which half of all Maori boys leave without any achievement recorded? Why don't we consider that as outrageous as serious crime? And why are Maori still so unhealthy?
Now we are firmly in the realms of paternalism and determinism. What is it? We stuffed-up for Maori and we have to un-stuff-up? The labour market and education system are to blame, not personal choices and actions or lack thereof? I am certain that in the early part of the 1900s the prescribed problem was Maori lack of access to Pakeha health and education services. Now it is the services themselves?
It's not as if we haven't been down a 'corrective' pathway with Maori immersion schools and umpteen funding initiatives aimed at improving Maori health. Fully restoring Maori property rights is yet to occur. I hope it does.
But it is a dangerous thing to describe the situation of Maori in NZ today as "overall" worse than previously. It plays to the culture of victimhood and resentment that has been perpetuating social problems for too long already.