“Racism” and Cultural Identity
by Reuben P. Chapple
New Zealanders who care about their country are tired of being hectored about “racism” by indigenous pretenders like Lizzie Marvelly (Water Debate Needs Our Iwi On Board – NZ Herald item). Hectored for simply believing that our government should govern for all New Zealanders, rather than being a fount of special privilege for a favoured few.
Racism is often conflated by the ignorant with simple prejudice, which it is not. Principled opposition to unearned racial privilege is not racism. Nor is it typically evidence of prejudice. Racism occurs where a group of prejudiced individuals get together to create a system affording them separate, different, or superior rights to everyone else on the basis of group membership.
The elephant in the room is that even if the Treaty of Waitangi provides for racial privilege (it does not), the “Maori” of today are not the Maori of 1840, but New Zealanders of mixed European-Maori descent who have chosen to identify monoculturally as Maori, elevating one set of ancestors and trampling down another. Yet traditional Maori culture says that one is to honour all ancestors equally.
The reality is that we have a Maori race in name only, with racial mixing giving the lie to the existence of a unique race called Maori. Imported bloodlines have diluted the original Maori race to such an extent that it now exists only as a cultural concept. Denying one’s mixed ancestry and adopting a monocultural identity doesn’t make it go away.
For many decades, there has been no discrete or separate Maori ethnic group. All so-called Maori alive today have European ancestry. Indeed, it would be virtually impossible to find a “Maori” who doesn’t possess more of the blood of the colonisers than that of the colonised.
To illustrate this point, prior to the passage of the Electoral Amendment Act 1975, the legal definition of “Maori” for electoral purposes was “a person of the Maori race of New Zealand or a half-caste descendent thereof.” After panicked complaints from its Maori MPs that soon nobody would be eligible for the Maori Roll, the then-Labour Government changed this to read “or any descendent of such a person.”
Under current electoral law, New Zealanders with Maori ancestry can determine once every electoral cycle if they wish to be on the Maori Roll or the General Roll. We thus have a legal definition of “Maori” that defies definition in the Courts, since it is entirely based on an individual’s periodic decision to identify as “Maori.”
Writing in 1972, historian Joan Metge offers a compelling explanation as to why a subset of New Zealanders today might continue see themselves as “Maori.” She states: “New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha, tend to identify others as ‘Maori’ if they ‘look Maori,’ that is if they have brown skin and Polynesian features. Those whose Maori ancestry is not so evident in their appearance are left to make their own choice.”
Since the Maori phenotype tends to predominate in a person’s appearance, Many New Zealanders who are considerably less than half-Maori will be identified by others as Maori whether they like it or not. This psychic wound is often compensated for by aggressively embracing a collectivist Maori identity and seeking utu upon the majority culture these people feel shut out of.
As Frantz Fanon, one of the many disreputable Communists enshrined as intellectual icons by the academic Left, reminds us: “The native is an oppressed person whose constant dream is to become the persecutor.”
The psychological roots of Treatyism may well amount to little more than the hurt child looking for someone to punish. The rest of us should not be obliged to validate someone else’s adjustment issues. Nor should public policy support the notion that anyone who is less than half-Maori be regarded as “Maori.” And nor should it dignify their cultural pretensions, particularly with other people’s money.
Lizzie Marvelly claims on her Facebook page to be “Ngati Whakaue.” If she wasn’t so noisy about this ancestral connection, nothing in her appearance would suggest she was part-Maori. This young woman might better be described as a Pakeha with a dash of Maori blood. The standard response when such an inconvenient truth is held up is: “Maori will decide who is ‘Maori.’ ”
In a free society, individuals are at liberty to enter into groups or combinations for any lawful purpose. Indeed, many choose to do so. There are rugby clubs, bowling clubs, bridge clubs, film clubs, swingers’ clubs, various religious congregations, and any number of other organisations catering to the sporting, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual needs of members.
The right of an individual of mixed European-Maori descent to identify with Maori culture and affiliate to a Maori kin group is not in dispute here. But since this is a personal choice and thus a private matter, Maori groups rightly have the same status as any other community group founded upon principles of voluntary association, such as a rugby club or a bowling club.
And the same moral right as the members of a rugby club or bowling club to demand large sums of money and political patronage from their fellow New Zealanders.