Saturday, November 02, 2013

Tribalism: Blood is thicker than water

There's an interesting thread developing between sharihyder and Jigsaw on my post about the Memorandum of Understanding developed between Tainui and MSD.

I used to be in the Jigsaw camp and was totally opposed to tribalism. But my years of volunteering took me into Maori homes and  the philosophical difference between Pakeha and Maori (not withstanding there is plenty of overlap as well) became more obvious. It doesn't require clever language to describe the difference. Maori are bound to their immediate and extended whanau more strongly than Pakeha. There isn't necessarily a choice operating, though it would be ridiculous to describe the bonds as onerous. But there is obligation to the group over self. For Maori blood is thicker than water.

Pakeha have moved increasingly away from that proverb. We tend to choose our networks. Friendships can outweigh family ties, especially to the extended family. Our immediate family - parents siblings brothers and sisters - are hugely important but we still choose to what degree those ties shape our lives. We are the dominant individualist culture - Maori are the minority collectivist culture.

The intermingling of these cultures has not resulted in a diminishing of tribal feeling. Pakeha marriage and nuclear family living seemed to gain favour post war but now Maori marriage rates have dropped off. It recently dawned on me when reading Surviors of Nga Morehau that Maori adopted formal marriage to qualify for the family benefit. Once they didn't need to be officially married to get welfare the marriage rate plummeted

Which brings me to what IS the problem with tribalism. Pakeha made whanau and tribes weak through welfare. They reduced their strength, their capacity to nurture and provide for their own by reducing the need to work the land, the sea or to find other employment.

My philosophy prioritises individual freedom and responsibility and I doubt I could be assimilated into Maori culture. Such an unhappy prospect, probably shared by many readers, should give pause to those who would impose individualism on Maori.

And I also remind myself to live and let live. So have your tribalism but make it a strong institution that is self-sufficient, that prioritises a positive responsibility to each other - not an exploitative burden on each other.

It's not for me to tell Maori how to live. But neither should I be forced to pay for their preferences. That I have been has only weakened this long-standing Maori institution.


Brendan said...

Well spoken and insightful.

JC said...

I wonder if a fair degree of Maori offending is related to the isolation from whanau that often occurs with solo mums and young men sleeping around.

If often seems to me that the family only comes out of the woodwork after the crimes have been committed. In other words I'm not convinced that whanau and iwi are that important to many of these young people.


Viking said...

Maori who leave home and go oversea's become self sufficient. when they return they get drawn back into the vortex and eventually succumb to the lower standards.
Standards aren't raised by tribalism.

sharihyder said...

awww shucks, Lindsay. :)

Was I, but for a brief moment, a rush of wind beneath your wings?

LOL. hey, I recently discovered the meaning of 'troll'. Some guy on a forum on American politics accused me of 'trolling'. I asked my girls what it means, right , and I find out it wasn't what I thought. Troll to me lives under a bridge and has orange hair. LOL. LOL.LOL.

sharihyder said...

but seriously ...

Somewhere along the way, the virtue of Charity was impregnated by word 'welfare' (North) and word 'benefit' (South).

Savage's good intentions with safety net in his mind gets the unkind labelled phrase of "from cradle to grave."

I find it hard to imagine a farmer from Ireland who endured a sea voyage to the bottom of the world, and became the top man in politics, would ever had himself imagined what we have now.

All races find Welfarism seductive.

In this case, we have paid Tribes according to whatever they claimed.

Pending claims not yet addressed, Tribes have been allocated x dollars.

They have submitted they would like to look after their troubled young.

This is a good thing as long as the door named Taxpayer Money shuts for good.

Lock it, bolt it, throw away the key.

On one condition.

All children of all tribes are welcome in my home. And at Bev's.

There are many volunteers.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

"awww shucks, Lindsay. :)

Was I, but for a brief moment, a rush of wind beneath your wings?"

I like being patronised by Maori. Kind of evens the score:-)