Sunday, October 02, 2022

Stoush between collectivist and individualist Māori

A stoush between collectivist and individualist Māori is long overdue. It has simmered for a long time but this week boiled over when Kelvin Davis exposed his thinking for all and sundry to examine. He confirmed that a Māori world with its own set of values exists, and that anyone with even a smidgen of Māori heritage should get themselves into it. It wasn't a kindly suggestion. It was a command. The cost of not complying? Derision and ostracism. It's reminiscent of the treatment handed out to those who don't want to be part of the Gloriavale commune.

The tribe is a communistic unit. The tribe takes precedence. It owns you. Its culture is all-encompassing. It provides strength in numbers, security and identity. But it is also stultifying and limiting depending on which lens it is viewed through. Ultimately, inevitably, whether at the micro or macro level, the question must be answered. Is your allegiance to the tribe, or is it to yourself and your chosen group of family and friends.

If the two overlap, all well and good.

But in New Zealand (and Australia), for tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of Māori, they don't. Mixed partnerships are more common than those with the same ethnicity. And each of these partnerships - many producing children - will face issues of concurrent cultures.

Increasingly, through media and public services, through health, justice and education, the Māori culture is being prioritised. To the point of being romanticized and lionized. Long-standing rules about the state being secular are broken to accommodate Māori spiritualism. Te reo - or knowledge of te ao - is de facto compulsory inasmuch as, if you don't have it there are now careers that are barred to you. The Māori 'team' propelling this are on a roll. They are in ascendancy. They have gathered non-Māori into their tribe with astonishing success and seeming ease, though reflecting on the creeping compulsion maybe 'ease' is the wrong word. As far back as the nineties you wouldn't progress through a public service job interview if unable to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the Treaty.

Prior to this compulsory cultural renaissance people managed their own conflicts. Where they had a foot in both camps - the tribe and the alternative - they made their own decisions. Some stayed, some divided their time, some rejected. In the middle of last century sociologists observed Pakeha men who married Māori women tended to move into the tribe; Māori men who married non-Māori moved into the non-tribal society. Tension would have existed always but so did the freedom to choose.

What kind of society wants to remove that freedom? One in which the collective trumps the individual.

Forget all the hoo-ha about culture, values and Māori mysticism. Colonisation, oppression and racism. They are only trinkets to tempt followers of fashion.

What is happening is a clash between philosophies. Politics is the practical expression of philosophy.

So it isn't surprising that the strong-arming to get with the Māori worldview programme is coming from the left (the Labour Māori caucus, Green and Māori Party MPs). And those resisting are coming from the right (National and ACT). What played out in parliament this week, and is still reverberating with non-politicians now entering the fray, is the age-old stoush between collectivism and individualism. It's New Zealand's cold war.

If we are going to be forced to take a side, and mounting evidence points to this eventuality no matter your ethnicity, think of the conflict in these terms.

Do you want to own your own life?


Mobfiz said...

Well, may I be the first? Thank you for a clear and realistic article. Heroes are coming forward expressing the truth amid a barrage of bullying and 'cancelling'. Please continue, please encourage other heroes, such as Dr Elizabeth Rata, Don Brash and others who are forming a counter-culture. The counter-culture will prevail, even though expressing the truth through social media is our only weapon. Please see 'Fake News and the NZ Herald'.

Unknown said...

I think your title is wrong and could have been much better for you, drawing in many more readers.


It's such a good article, and I loved it (and hated it, if you know what I mean) but I think the title let you down.

It needed to be a lot more impacting and dramatic.

As it is, it's way to boring. Sorry. And it doesn't do justice to what you actually wrote which was brilliant.

Unknown said...

Actually, "The disaster of Maorification" would have been a good title.

I have my own web site at and will be posting your excellent piece on there.

pdm said...

Lindsay I think every bit as dangerous as Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson are the 100% white people (no Maori blood whatsoever) who are taking on the role of Maori activists. They have fully subscribed to the re write of the Treaty of Waitangi, taken it on themselves to learn Te Reo to the extent the can speak and write it and hold themselves up as advocates for all things Maori.

mrspdm and I have a good friend who is one of those people. She would be the first person round to help if we were in any sort of trouble but she will not accept any other point of view no matter how much evidence reinforces it and would argue endlessly to make her point.

The fact that she is the mainstay of the Green Party in Hastings may be a factor in her thinking but she and I have some epic battles on Facebook which usually end in a stalemate.

Mark Wahlberg said...

Lindsay, having risen above the cultural stereotype, my Wahine has at times been derisively called a "Spud" by some from within her tribal associates. "Brown on the outside, white in the middle."

I suspect its jealousy of someone who did something with their life.

Rick said...

Collectivism vs. Individualism alright. Just in the guise/theatre/lego_playset/canvas of 'Maori.' This 'Aotearoa' phase makes a nice change from going through the same thing in the Feminist or Environmentalise theatre.

At base it's gene/meme wars. There's no real politics or philosopher per se. It's just the age old r vs K reproductive strategy stuff playing out.

It's true that the r-selected is the mainstream right now. They seek to make the country supportive to their kind of people and toxic to the K kinds of people. The balance always shifts back again though. It's only a matter of how much damage and how many mountains and streets and institutions are re-named or destroyed in the meanwhile!

The Slippery Slope said...

It is about power, those who have and wish to keep it - at any cost.
The reinstatement of Maori children into whanau placements is a case in point.
Collateral damage is sought after, yet more proof pakeha are creating Maori downfall.
It's catch 22.

Excellent article Lindsay.

Anonymous said...

Based on that evidence, the Tribunal's view is that the agreement reached at Waitangi, Mangungu, and Waimate in February 1840 is to be found in what the signatory rangatira were prepared to agree to, based on the proposals that William Hobson and his agents made to them by reading Te Tiriti, and explaining the proposed agreement, and on the assurances that the rangatira sought and received.

The Tribunal's essential conclusion is that

in February 1840 the rangatira who signed te Tiriti did not cede their sovereignty. That is, they did not cede their authority to make and enforce law over their people or their territories. Rather, they agreed to share power and authority with the Governor. They agreed to a relationship: one in which they and Hobson were to be equal - equal while having different roles and different spheres of influence. In essence, rangatira retained their authority over their hapu and territories, while Hobson was given authority to control Pākehā.