The Naked Contempt of John Ansell

John Ansell is angry that someone who is Māori got discharged without conviction for a drink driving offense. That’s a privilege only afforded to Pākehā, after all. Cameron Slater, aka “Whale Oil” is willing to stand up for the rights of the victims of rape, but only after we further victimise them and make them prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they aren’t frauds.

Both Ansell and Slater are conspiracy theorists, and there’s nothing wrong with that (obligatory reminder that I wrote a PhD and a book defending belief in conspiracy theories and the right of conspiracy theorists to express their concerns). However, Slater and Ansell are vapid conspiracy theorists, engaging more in political rhetoric than evidence-based thinking, playing to their mostly right to far right audiences. They are the kind of people who give conspiracy theorising a bad name (and make my job harder, not that this is relevant; I just wanted a chance to gripe).

John Ansell’s anti-Māori views, particularly around an apparent conspiracy by the Crown to enrich Māori at the expense of Pākehā have been discussed on this blog in some depth here.

What’s interesting, then, about Ansell’s latest tirade is just how naked his contempt for Māori is becoming. He has gone from trying — and failing — to look moderate and only targeting his so-called “griever” Māori to just being openly anti any attitude associated with being Māori and being pro any attitudes associated with being Pākehā (not his preferred term). This makes his latest blogpost almost amusing: getting off a drink driving conviction (indeed, most offences) is surely one of the most Pākehā thing ever?

Ansell’s contempt for Te Ao Māori shines through in his writing, For example this:

Until some brave civilised Maori speaks out and turns his or her people against the glorification of primitivism and the anti-social behaviour embodied in the haka and the powhiri, the culture of violence and dishonesty will not change.

and this:

Although I’m being satirical here, how can such angry rituals as hakas and powhiris not be fuelling Maori youth violence?

Not just contempt, but a two-faced use of “satirical” to boot. Either that, or he doesn’t understand what it means. That being said, this line is particularly funny because of Ansell’s wanton ability to ignore stats in favour of his own prejudices:

Only problem with that, Nanaia, is that some people in New Zealand are treated more fairly and more equally than others.

Ansell is the kind of person who only likes statistics when they suit his purpose. So, while he’ll claim, contra the stats, that Māori are very privileged, he’ll also happily accept stats about crime which give him purpose to say:

But of course, there’s another possibility: that Maori commit most of the serious crimes, and not so many of the non-serious ones.

For someone who claims Māori are stuck with “primitive” worldviews, that’s a remarkably essentialist, primitive view to hold. Then again, he holds a lot of primitive and essentialist views, like this “no one can escape their ancestry” claim that Paki could be genuinely remorseful because:

Considering he comes from a rebel tribe that breached the Treaty and illegally took up arms against the Crown in the 1860s, excuse me if I doubt Tuku Morgan’s assurance — let alone Paki’s lawyer’s – that he is “genuinely remorseful”.

Ansell’s conspiracy theory here is devastatingly simple: rather than it being the case that Paki was discharged without conviction because the three other accused, who had already been dealt with by the courts, had been discharged without conviction (thus upholding one of the key principles of Ansell’s beloved colonial judicial system, equal treatment under the law for the same offence, it is, rather the case that:

Paki’s three accomplices were let off precisely because they were mates of the king’s son. Why else would a gang of thieves be treated so leniently?

Of course, to make this claim Ansell’s basically has to ignore the very real possibility that had this been a bunch of Pākehā teenagers, it probably would never have gone to court. We can argue all day as to whether that would be just, given the low arrest and conviction rate for Pākehā generally (compared to the same offences committed by Māori), but that’s not a discussion Ansell’s is likely to want to have, given that it would undermine the very arguments his claims of conspiracy are based upon, the mythical notion that Māori are somehow privileged.

Now, let it not be said that I am downplaying the seriousness of a drunk driving conviction. Frankly, I think that is a serious crime and, as a society, we should be consistent in our condemnation of such activities. However, given that Māori are significantly over-represented in the crime stats for this kind of behaviour (really quite significantly so when you look at relative population sizes) and we know that Pākehā often get away with such behaviour with just a warning from the police, if there is any claim of conspiracy we should be suspporting here, it’s one about how, as a society, we are ignoring the institutional racism that is clearly evidenced by both the police and the courts. To make Paki out as some kind of abhorent monster and yet ignore the real issue is immoral. Indeed, if there is any lesson to be taken from Ansell’s tirade, it’s that you have to be Tainui royalty before you’ll get accorded the many privileges Pākehā benefit from the judicial system.

Next time: Cameron Slater


HH says:

I had never really considered the skewing of the crime statistics in relation to being “warned” versus being prosecuted until now. An interesting point to ponder. Love that your blog often takes an issue I think I am comfortable with my point of view on and gives it a good old poke with a the logic stick. Thanks for sharing.

John Ansell says:

Matthew, nice try, but anyone who reads my post with both eyes open will see that your criticism is, as always, flagrantly one-eyed and deliberately misleading.

Your attitude to conspiracies is laughingly simple: left-wing ones approved of by you are fine, but right-wing ones described by the likes of me must be ridiculed and rejected.

I think most right (as in balanced)-minded observers would regard such bias as itself ridiculous.

The correct approach, in my view, is to analyse any so-called conspiracy on the facts, not to demonise it simply because it is thought to be a conspiracy – or, more to the point, a conspiracy not sanctioned by Matthew Dentith.

Yes, I have contempt for that aspect of Maori culture that glorifies violence, as well as for the prevailing tendency of the New Zealand state to indulge primitivism and promote it over the virtues of civilisation.

That, please note, is a far cry from having contempt for other aspects of Maori culture, or for Maori people.

All societies were once primitive and barbaric, but why we need to celebrate it is beyond me.

And not just me, but the 80% of New Zealanders who, in 12 polls that I listed on my post but you failed to mention, have consistently rejected all forms of racial favouritism in what is supposed to be a democracy.

The opportunity cost of glorifying primitivism in our education system is immense. While our children could be learning “the best that has been written and thought” from the days of Greece and Rome down the centuries to the present day, they are force-fed false New Zealand history and forced to engage in the cannibal war dances of “the noble savage” by teachers who cannot graduate from teachers’ colleges unless they agree to be trained parrots of the politically correct neo-Marxist elite.

That is barbaric.

Yes there is certainly a conspiracy to indoctrinate our children with racist claptrap. That is all too clear. But that will be the subject of another post.

The post you refer to seeks to highlight much more than the Maori prince’s drink-driving, as you well know, and as open-minded readers will quickly see.

Upon reading it, they will likely wonder why you would want to misrepresent my point and pretend that my chief concern was Maori drink-driving.

It was not. But by pretending that it was, you were able to employ the age-old lefty trick of equivalence, and try to skew the discussion to the respective treatment of Maori v Pakeha drink-drivers. This sort of diversion fools no one.

Open-minded readers will be amazed that you tried to hoodwink them into believing that drink-driving was Paki’s only crime.

Why, they will wonder, did you leave out the rest of his catalogue of criminality and thuggishness – the two burglaries, the theft, the racist Facebook comments, the foul-mouthed video rant – all evidence that he should not remain in contention for the throne?

Why, like Annette Sykes, did you leave out the very salient fact that, unlike his accomplices, Paki committed the burglaries and theft while he was on bail for drink-driving?

Why did you truncate my question about whether Paki’s mates might have been let off because they were mates of the prince, to make it look as though I was stating that theory as a fact?

Then, of course, there was the other main target of my post: the weak-kneed (and white) Judge Philippa Cunningham. Why did you not mention that I was just as angry about her?

You deviously pretend that I am now angry with all things Maori. There is no evidence for that and it is not true.

Just yesterday I had an excellent conversation in my local cafe with a Maori special needs teacher, who wholeheartedly agreed with my opposition to racial preference. And he was even angrier about the so-called “leaders” who claim to represent him than I was.

He could see that my beef was not with all Maori, or all aspects of Maori culture – only those people and those aspects which seek to lock Maori into the distant past.

I don’t think that’s unreasonable, and neither did he. (And neither does the owner of that cafe, who is also Maori.)

Finally Matthew, I must pull you up on the tiresome tendency, common among radical Maori and appeaser Pakeha, to say that there cannot be Maori privilege because Maori are at the bottom of every bad social statistic.

As I hope your open-minded reader will have spotted, that is what we call a logical fallacy.

I expect no better from uneducated loudmouths like Hone Harawira or Willie Jackson. But such ignorance does not befit a learned academic.

The fallacy, of course, is that it is quite possible to provide a group of people with special privileges, and still not cause them to improve their position.

That lack of improvement is a strong argument for the suspension of the privileges.

In this case, despite billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money having gone to Maori in Treaty settlements and numerous special payments, the bad stats have not improved one iota.

That does not mean there were no privileges and payments. It means that there are reasons for Maori underperformance that money cannot fix.

John, your words speak for themselves, like this comment on huge post I am critiquing:

1. Maori were the most violent race on Earth before the British had even got here. Between 1805 and 1840, about one-third of them were wiped out by other tribes in over 1000 battles. Hardly an idyllic environment in which to grow vegetables and raise children.

2. Female infanticide (usually by mothers squeezing their skulls) was endemic, as was cannibalism – again, hardly the mark of a healthy society.

3. It was Maori who breached the Treaty by taking up arms against the Queen. Apirana Ngata acknowledged this. To start the clock at the confiscations is as dishonest as Hamas trying to win sympathy today by blaming the Israelis for attacking Gaza.

(Mind you, this doesn’t stop the media according them that sympathy, much as NZ media and academia bend over backwards to present Maori as victims.)

In short, Maori are disproportionately violent now because they were disproportionately violent then.

Your general claim that any sensible person will understand the true intent of your words is very apt.

John Ansell says:

Matthew, I cannot but deduce from this comment that you are condemning me for having the temerity to tell the truth.

You are, it seems, saying that we must not upset the state-sponsored pro-primitive pretending campaign by introducing such destabilising elements as facts.

Well, pardon me.

If by “truth” John you mean “politically-motivated conjectures asserted as if they were gospel”, then, yes, that is what I am saying about you. You are very good at the rhetoric of appearing informed and informative but not all that good at basing your views upon the evidence. You seem much happier starting with a conclusion and then working backwards.

John Ansell says:

And yet you haven’t offered a single piece of evidence to counter mine.

That is something you’re very good at, Matthew.

Our entire state history and social studies curriculum is “politically-motivated conjectures asserted as if they were gospel”, so a bit of balance, please.

John, I have responded to you on your blog in the past, quite patiently pointing out the fallacies in your reasoning and cogently arguing against your often wildly inaccurate interpretations of the evidence. All I got in return from you were character attacks. So you’ll excuse me as I laugh off your “holier than thou” schtick (especially since you are very fond of engaging in the tactics you claim are typical of, and you despise in, Left-ish thinking.

John Ansell says:

You’re doing it again, Matthew. Never mind about what you say you did in the past. Never mind about judging yourself ‘cogent’.

What your readers (if you have any) will want to see, I believe, is you engaging with my information with your own information.

It’s called a debate.

You launched into me and my fact-filled blog post with sarcasm (“That’s a privilege only afforded to Pākehā, after all.”), insults (“Slater and Ansell are vapid conspiracy theorists, engaging more in political rhetoric than evidence-based thinking” – ironic, that one, given my welter of evidence and your unwillingness to address it or provide any of your own), unsupported assumptions (“…getting off a drink driving conviction … is surely one of the most Pākehā thing ever), and unsubstantiated put-downs (“Ansell’s wanton ability to ignore stats in favour of his own prejudices” – stats which you neither quote me on nor counter).

On that last point – your dismissal of the notion of Maori privilege on the grounds that Maori are languishing in the social league tables – I explained the logical fallacy of your argument, and you simply chose to ignore my explanation.

I can certainly understand why you would not wish to get up off the canvas in that round, but rather than throw in the towel, you respond in the manner of all lefty debaters when they’re KO’d and accuse me of also having engaged in fallacious behaviour which you predictably fail to specify.

I’m enjoying this. Are you?

Clearly I’m not addressing my comments to you as much as to any open-minded types who may at some stage stray into this remote outpost of the internet.

Feel free to keep slagging me off and respond to my responses with the calibre of comment we’ve come to expect of today’s crop of academics.

It all helps to make my point.

John, you haven’t actually contributed an argument. You can say you have to your heart’s content but that doesn’t make it true. Your claim that Māori are privileged is entirely predicated on you making assumptions, assumptions that when challenged by me and other interlocutors you just sidle away from by claiming that we refuse to argue with you. My arguments against your various positions are catalogued in quite some depth both here (links above) and on your blog. Just because you are happy to ignore them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. As I say, you’re good at rhetoric, and maybe politically that’s good enough these days. However, if you really think you’ve explained the “logical fallacy” of my argument about Māori privilege I’m afraid to say you’re flying in the face of reason.

John Ansell says:

In what way?

(And please, please don’t say, “I already told you with breathtaking cogency some time in 2011, and am much too busy gathering evil right-wing conspiracy theories to be bothered repeating myself now.” Be bothered, Matthew, be bothered! Your reader is expecting you to put up a fight. It shouldn’t take long for a fit young coger like yourself.)

John, if you’re just going to run round in circles and only pretend to debate, I’d prefer you do that running over at your own blog, rather than waste all of our time on this one.

John Ansell says:

If I am running round in circles, Matthew, it is not for my lack of desire to debate, it is because I keep chasing you to answer my simple questions, and you keep running away.

I ask it again: Why do you think I’m flying in the face of reason by explaining the logical fallacy of your argument?

If you object to my explanation, what precisely about it do you say is mistaken, and why?

I don’t see what more I can do to fulfil my side of the bargain.

If you will not give me an answer, I will certainly go back to my blog and leave you alone.

But I will do so having proven to myself and those watching that you are willing only to insult, not to debate.

Over to you.

I’m assuming you think the following was an argument:

Finally Matthew, I must pull you up on the tiresome tendency, common among radical Maori and appeaser Pakeha, to say that there cannot be Maori privilege because Maori are at the bottom of every bad social statistic.
As I hope your open-minded reader will have spotted, that is what we call a logical fallacy.

Calling something a “fallacy” does not make it so. You’ll have to do a lot more work to show that the reasoning is either invalid or the premises unsound. However, claiming that the “open-minded reader” will spot it is a fallacy, however, since it’s a form of circular reasoning (“Open minded readers will know this is a fallacy because fallacies are only spotted by open minded reasoners”: you’ve defined your assertion as being an argument rather than actually argued for anything. As I say, you’re good at rhetoric but rhetoric is just the art of appearing informed rather than necessarily showing you are informative).

Perhaps if you thought carefully about what privilege entails (it is, after all, a technical term) and how, for Māori, being consistently on the bottom of the socio-economic rungs of the ladder plays into a lack of privilege in society in Aotearoa (New Zealand) you might spot that claiming Māori are privileged goes against the evidence. You might also spot that what you take to be an exception (Paki getting discharged without conviction) doesn’t disprove the rule, given that talk of privilege is talk about characteristics of a population, rather than of particular individuals. These are all matters myself and other interlocutors have pressed upon you in the past.

John Ansell says:

Matthew, I’ll make it simple:
FACT (ON WHICH WE BOTH AGREE): Maori, taken as a group, are at the bottom of every social performance statistic.
YOUR ASSUMPTION: Because Maori are at the bottom of these bad stats, they cannot therefore be receiving special privileges.
DEFINITION OF PRIVILEGES (OXFORD ONLINE DICTIONARY): “Special rights, advantages, or immunities granted or available only to a particular person or group.”
YOUR ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR OF YOUR ASSUMPTION: If Maori were receiving special privileges (rights, advantages or immunities), Maori performance would lift.
1. The privileges (rights, advantages or immunities) may not be filtering down from the leaders who receive them to the underperformers who need them.
EXAMPLE TO SUPPORT MY FIRST ARGUMENT: Say the New Zealand government delivers one million dollars worth of food to the Sudanese government to help feed those dying of starvation. That would qualify under the definition of privilege as a special advantage (granted out of compassion to alleviate a desperate disadvantage brought about by climate or war).
And say, despite our generosity, the Sudanese people continue to starve at the same rate as before.
Does that mean the Sudanese people were not receiving our food? No. Not if that food was being redirected by the Sudanese government to the elite rather than to the people who were starving.
MY SECOND ARGUMENT THAT YOUR ASSUMPTION IS FALLACIOUS: The privileges may be filtering down to the people for whom it is intended, but may not be being used in a way that improves their position.
Suppose a special advantage in the form of a fishing quota was granted to a tribe. Suppose the tribe claimed that this special right will provide jobs for its members. But suppose that is not what happens at all. Suppose the local unemployed men do not want to work on fishing boats, but prefer to stay on the dole. And suppose the tribe hires cheap Asian crews who do want to work, and that the tribe’s unemployment rate remains static. (You may even recognise this ‘hypothetic’ scenario.)
MY THIRD ARGUMENT THAT YOUR ASSUMPTION IS FALLACIOUS: It may be that the granting of special rights, advantages and immunities is not the way to lift Maori performance at all. It may be, for example, that measures which treat Maori as equals rather than incompetent inferiors, may work better.
MY FOURTH ARGUMENT THAT YOUR ASSUMPTION IS FALLACIOUS: The evidence of the hundreds of special rights and advantages granted to Maori, from Treaty settlements to Maori seats to the many compulsory local body requirements to bribe the tribe every time a new development is planned. I once listed some of these on a scroll for Maori TV, and there were so many examples the writing was too small to be read without extreme magnification. I trust even you will not deny that such rights and advantages exist now that I have reminded you.
Matthew, I know from past experience that the provision of exhaustive proofs, such as I have taken the trouble to provide here, will not deter you in the slightest from continuing to assert, with the ludicrously overconfident swagger of Monty Python’s armless, legless, fatally blood-gushing Black Knight, the superiority of your uniquely Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu perversion of logic.
Unlike the Black Knight, I doubt whether, in the face of your latest comprehensive evisceration, you will have the grace to acknowledge that you have suffered so much as a flesh wound.
You will most likely try to screw the scrum to a discussion of the rights and wrongs of New Zealand’s aid contribution to Africa or perhaps some irrelevant aspect of the Sealord settlement – anything, in short, that will divert your reader from the subject, ie your fallacious logic.
You will almost certainly claim, in time-honoured Marxist fashion, in a vain attempt to establish equivalence, that I am guilty of the same flagrant illogicality with which I charge you.
But sadly, you will not be able to support your assertion with any evidence that holds water.
And this inevitable, stubborn refusal to see sense I will cite as further proof of why New Zealand social science degrees are rated as being of the poorest quality in the OECD.
Unless you can offer any rational rebuttal to the above, I will leave you to lick your wounds in peace.
I hope you will think twice before attacking me again, but I doubt it.

As I’ve told you in the past, John, I’m not a social scientist (nor am I a Marxist, as I’ve told you multiple times: I’m a communitarian). I’m a philosopher (and New Zealand philosophy PhDs are well-regarded internationally). However, I know enough about the social sciences to point out that the flaw in your reasoning is that you continue to use definitions from the dictionary rather than from the social science theories you are (purportedly) critiquing. Sometimes you are even forced to rely an citing old or particular versions of a dictionary, given that the newer ones don’t provide you with the kinds of definitions you want: your insistence that “taonga” must be defined solely with respect to an older and quainter dictionary, rather than to a more modern one which bases its common use definition on a larger corpus of text shows that you don’t understand how dictionary definitions are created and maintained. In this particular case, that of talk of privilege, you insist on using a vulgar or common use definition of “privilege” that doesn’t match it’s technical use in the literature on the theory of privilege (the theory your interlocutors are referring to). A lot of people have pointed this out to you, but you continue to refuse to listen. This says a lot.

So, once again: when people talk about Māori lacking privilege they are talking how the structure of our society privileges Pākehā in such a away that Pākehā don’t see the structural inequality (such that they believe in a theory of equality of opportunity and don’t realise that the structural problems in society deny Māori equality of outcomes). This is why we talk about how Pākehā have privilege and Māori do not. It is not the claim, as you insinuate, that we think of Māori as incompetent or inferior. Rather, it is the acknowledgement that society is structured in such a way that routinely disadvantages Māori in a structural (and, thus, mostly invisible) way.

That is the notion of privilege that is being talked about here, John. This has been pointed out to you on numerous occasions.

Now, your dictionary definition somewhat perverts that theory by making it look like the affirmative action we, as a society, have decided to take is giving Māori some special advantage rather than addressing said structural inequalities (evidenced by the statistical data you mentioned). By reframing that as somehow privileging Māori is really very weird. Your dictionary definition has the perverse outcome of claiming that the actions we take to level the playing field are somehow examples of special treatment: special treatment that, if you followed through with the logic of that thought, means Māori are merely get the same outcomes as Pākehā. Not, as you try to make out, better outcomes. If it’s a problem to your mind that Māori should get the same outcomes as Pākehā, and thus see the removal of said structural privilege for Pākehā, then I can’t help, nor agree at all with, you.

Now, you’re likely to reply by claiming I’m not debating your examples and just playing word games. To a certain extent I am, but only because you are flying in the face of what people are talking about when discussing privilege. If you’re going to debate with people you have to be clear what it is you are debating. That means getting clear about terminology. It’s clear that you use definitions which suit your purposes. However, they aren’t actually the definitions being used in the analyses you seek to argue against. It would behoove you to actually engage with those arguments, rather than try to create from whole cloth a new theory of privilege.

John Ansell says:

I see. So my failing is to use words in a way that most people use them. Not the way academics use them. That goes to the heart of my contempt for academia. You guys speak your own language to suit yourselves. In so doing you show contempt for those who fund you, and for whom you purport to work.
You regard the Oxford English dictionary as vulgar. You criticise me for citing the Cambridge University dictionary current at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. I say this is the fairest way of proving what the chiefs who signed the Treaty meant by ‘taonga’ (especially since the word was defined for that dictionary by Chief Hongi Hika). You say a fairer way to assess what was in those chiefs’ minds is to take the modern, very different meaning from 170 years after the event.
Have fun in your echo chamber, Matthew.

No, John, your failing is to recognise that in certain conversations terms are used in different, more technical ways. If you want to criticise a theory you have to point out the flaws in the theory, not in a mischaracterisation of the theory (which is what you do by using definitions which are not part of the theory you are criticising).

As for your complaint that I prefer more recent dictionaries… Well, that shows a misunderstanding of how dictionaries work. The problem with the CUP dictionary you rely upon is that it had a smaller corpus of texts to refer to when establishing the definitions. Thus its definitions skew towards what the lexicographers thought terms likely meant (and there was a certain set of untested assumptions at work, as well). We now have access to a larger corpus of written materials to refer to when establishing the definition – much of it material contemporaneous to the signing of Te Tiriti – which shows that the term “taonga” has a much wider, richer meaning than that which you ascribe to it (and was ascribed to it by Pākehā at the time: nothing about that definition you cite means that was what Māori took it to mean. It just tells you that was what the lexicographers thought it meant).

So, basically, insisting on using an old dictionary when newer dictionaries are available shows a distinct lack of appreciating the wonderful nuances of language, and the difficult task lexicographers have in establishing definitions.

John Ansell says:

You say: “nothing about that definition you cite means that was what Māori took it to mean. It just tells you that was what the lexicographers thought it meant).”
Matthew, I just told you ‘property procured by the spear’ was what chief Hongi Hika thought ‘taonga’ meant. That is my evidence.
What is yours?
And if they did think it meant
‘treasure’, what is your evidence that it meant ‘everything we take a shine to’, as it undoubtedly means to today’s rapacious Treatifarians, and not just valuable items like ‘the white man’s steel tools (ie nails)’.
I have no wish to “criticise a theory”, at least not in some obscure academic way.
I simply wish to criticise your use of phrases used by you in your critique of me, such as “he’ll claim, contra the stats, that Māori are very privileged”, “the mythical notion that Māori are somehow privileged” and “you have to be Tainui royalty before you’ll get accorded the many privileges Pākehā benefit from the judicial system”.
I think most readers would assume you were using the normal meaning of the word ‘privileges’ (special rights and advantages), and that you would realise that I certainly was.
If you were using some academic-only variant beloved of conspiracy theory theorisers, then you’re free to do so.
But there’s no reason why I, or the reader, should have guessed that you were not speaking English.
Since you don’t want to engage on my lowly, everyday level, I don’t think there’s much point our continuing to bang our heads against each other’s brick walls. Mind you, if you ever want to have a chat on your Thursday radio programme, I’d be a starter! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to produce a radio show of my own – about… words :-).

Given that you’ve decided to give up on this exchange, you’re obviously leaving me to have the last word, John. Very kind of you. So…

You seem to expect very little of readers, thinking that they can only cope with terms being used as dictionaries define them. Yet most avid fans of dictionaries know that dictionaries merely describe common usage and are often behind the times when it comes to how terms are being used here and now (which is one of the reasons why the OED is ditching editions of their dictionary: the time between the compiling of a new dictionary and publication is longer than language change as currently measured). Indeed, most readers know that in certain conversations terms get used in more technical ways. No one chides climate scientists for talking about climate in the physical sense and ignoring the social definition of climate (such as in use when we talk about a “climate of transparency” or a “climate of fear”). When physicists talk about gravity people don’t get annoyed that they aren’t using it in the sense of “serious” (as in “the gravity of a situation), because they know that whilst the terms are related, in certain conversations we use the technical definition and in other situations we use the informal sense. This is known as code-switching, and most readers happily code-switch all the time without getting headaches.

Now, even if you want to work with your chosen dictionary definition of “privilege”, it doesn’t seem to give you your desired conclusion, some claim that Māori are somehow better off in Aotearoa (New Zealand) than Pākehā. After all, the stats are clear. At best, your argument seems to either entail the claim that “We could do better and help Māori out with further affirmative action, so that they can achieve equality of outcome after years of being denied equality even of opportunity” or “We need to start again from scratch because these affirmative actions are not working: what different affirmative actions would give us our desired end, equality for Māori and Pākehā?” Because it’s not clear even under your definition that Māori are in any real sense better off that Pākehā.

Let’s also examine the massive conspiracy you are forced to buy into if you think that the current dictionary definition is, say, the result of social engineering, part of a plan to give Māori special rights above and beyond Pākehā (a conspiracy theory you are forced to buy into, given your claims about the false history people are taught about Māori, the Land Wars, et cetera in our schooling system). This is a conspiracy which encompasses members of the academy both here and overseas, given that academics who are not New Zealand citizens, get no funding from our government and live in different jurisdictions write on Te Tiriti, the pre-history of Aotearoa (New Zealand), social issues in colonial Aotearoa (New Zealand), the effects of colonialisation in Aotearoa (New Zealand) (often drawing upon similar examples elsewhere), the change in health and lifestyle of Māori post European contact, and so forth. If we are being taught some false history, then the designers of this false history are immensely powerful conspirators, able to get lexicographers to change definitions (since Te Reo Māori is similar to other languages in the Pacific these conspirators have had to make sure these changes are mapped on to, for example, Cook Island Reo – 80% cognate with Te Reo Māori to ensure that terms like “taonga” and its cognates match across related language families), produce consistent historical narratives from academics working in universities all around the world, and so on. Given the magnitude of the conspiracy you seem to be required to believe in, don’t you think a more parsimonious theory, one which goes “Actually, we know more about that time period now because of a greater access to the then-contemporary sources, plus the demise of certain colonial attitudes which devalued Māori contributions to the analysis of their own history and culture”?

John Robinson says:

I have met John Ansell and discussed many issues, reasonably, even across a wide political divide as he is to the right and I am a socialist. It is silly to colour a discussion about the foundations of our society with slights about “vapid conspiracy theorists, engaging more in political rhetoric” and the like, which only takes attention away from the main points. John is not anti-Maori, and like myself is asking that we all be equal before the law, equal in legal and political rights. This is the very opposite of racism. The claim to be a Maori king flies against such a desire for equality, asking that we respect inherited privilege, which as a republican, I will not do. We inherit a monarchy, and it is not all that bad for the time being while the elected parliament remains in charge. But it is constitutionally absurd to call someone else a competing king. As to the meaning of taonga, this debate is not taking place in a academic setting, and when reference is made to the Treaty, what matters is the definition at that time. The meaning around 1840 is made clear in dictionaries of the time, and remained when Sir Apirana Ngata was writing – very clearly – about the Treaty in 1923. It is silly to apply some recent rewrite, with a claim that ““taonga” has a much wider, richer meaning” than ” was ascribed to it by Pākehā at the time”. It is the meaning at that time that matters when making reference to the Treaty. And the meaning of “property taken at the point of a spear” was not ascribed by non-Maori; we all know of Hongi Hika’s visit to England around 1820 and his role in building a Maori-English dictionary.

John Robinson, it is quite possible to espouse laudable goals (like “asking that we all be equal before the law, equal in legal and political rights”) but when the argument for that equality ignores the institutional and structural problems which lead to one group (in this case Māori) not being able to achieve equal outcomes in our society, then we have a problem. Given that you are a socialist, then surely you understand under views like Marxism (I’m not a Marxist myself: I’m a communitarian) and other bases of socialist thinking, that power differences in society can lead to unequal outcomes even if it seems like everyone has equal opportunities.

As to your problem with modern dictionary definitions of “taonga”, I’ll just add this to what I’ve already said ad nauseam in reply to John Ansell: if you take the CUP definition you and Ansell are fond of and use it as the definition in other recorded Te Reo Māori works of the same time as Te Tiriti you’ll find that the definition “property taken at the point of a spear” doesn’t actually fit its use then. Thus it looks like it was a bad definition then, given that it doesn’t the then contemporary usage.

G. Graham says:

Maori are not responsible for today’s Maorification, it is Governments. Only Governments can change laws.

Our problem lies in that all racial laws are Treaty based and the Treaty had nothing to do with NZ.

The Treaty was a pact between the Queen, New South Wales and Maoris in which Chiefs agreed to cede their individual territories in exchange for British citizenship, no more, no less.

When Lieu, Governor Hobson, of New South Wales, witnessed the last signature to the Treaty the boundaries of NSW were extended to cover all of the Islands of NZ, in the same manner as Tasmania, and there we would have remained but for Queen Victoria’s Royal Charter of 16-11-1840, our true founding document and first constitution (available from Archives NZ, Wellington)

The Queen’s Charter split us from NSW, allowed Hobson’s transfer and promotion to be our Governor, gave us our first constitution, Government, English law only, Courts to administer English law and eventually our own flag. New Zealand was born.

The above proves the Treaty had nothing to do with setting up NZ as an independent British colony or influencing constitutional matters or law within our beautiful country, it made us Australians.

The above information means Governments will need to revisit all current laws which have created our present apartheid state.

Isn’t it strange, so many NZers. rallied against apartheid in South Africa but to the soil beneath their feet they lie on their backs with their paws in the air.

That’s a really quite, to use John Ansell’s terminology, radical interpretation of the history of the nationstate known as “New Zealand”, G. Graham. One thing I can say in response to it is that you’re buying into the notion that Te Tiriti was solely about making Māori into British citizens and them, thus, giving up their sovereignty. That, of course, is not the standard interpretation of Te Tiriti and thus even if your story about us once being part of Australia were true, the Royal Charter of 16-11-1840 would not wipe out the rights of our indigenous people.

Also, the analogy with apartheid in South Africa is both poorly chosen and insulting because of its inaccuracy.

Helen says:

I’m not sure if it is worth putting in my tuppence worth as you sound as though your mind is made up and you aren’t interested in the true facts. I have read much of what John Ansell has written and he has researched widely. I’m totally supportive of him as a very fair minded person and absolutely agree with what he has been saying. Separatism is alive and very well in this country to the point where we could be called an apartheid state. Special treatment/privilege based on race is apartheid. All John Ansell and many of us want is racial equality under the law and for us all to be treated the same. Special treatment should be based on need, not race.

It is not helpful to label something you don’t agree with as a conspiracy theory and is happening all too often. I put it in the same category as calling someone who wants racial equality, as a racist. It could not be further from the truth.

Helen, have you bothered to read the posts about Ansell and Treatygate, or indeed any posts on this site? My research specialty is conspiracy theories and I don’t call views conspiracy theories without good reason (nor do I necessarily think conspiracy theories are bad).

As for wanting equality: great! At the moment Māori, as the stats indicate, do not get equality without affirmative action. Are you against Māori getting such equal outcomes as Pākehā routinely get in our society?

G. Graham says:

Maori not allowed equality at the moment is rather puzzling, Due to Governments, not Maori, thousands of white NZers were ruthlessly thrown out of employment and replaced by Maoris when the “Restructuring of the Workforce Act” was introduced. Maoris come first also in education, health, sport and are the only ones officially recognised as “The People of the Land”.

Mathew, would you mind quoting the “Act” in which you believe Maori come second? If you could do this I would oppose it.

G. Graham, the stats show that Māori do in no way come first in education or health. I’m not sure why you would think otherwise.

G. Graham says:

Hi Mathew,
Don’t try to blind me with stats, answer my question please.

Quote an Act of Parliament that is detrimental to Maoris?

G. Graham, my point is and always has been about structural inequalities. But if you want an act, how about Takutai Moana, which denies Iwi the ability to reclaim their traditional fisheries?

G. Graham says:

I asked Mathew Dentith if he could state an Act of Parliament that gave Maoris lesser rights than others and he replied, “if you want an act, how about Takutai Moana, which denies Iwi the ability to reclaim their traditional fisheries”?

Where have you been Mathew? Maoris have been granted Treaty fishing rights that do not exist in the treaty plus $175 million by the apartheid Waitangi Tribunal! They are also the only fishers that are allowed to employ cheap overseas boats and labour to catch and process “their” fish and all profits are tax free.

So now I need to ask you, “What other New Zealanders have the same or better fishing advantages than Maoris”?

Really, G. Graham. So the fact that Māori are denied the ability to claim their ancestral fisheries (through a test of law which is too stringent: they have to prove continual occupation even in situations where land has been confiscated) doesn’t disadvantage Māori? The fact you are mixing in the Sealord deal, which has nothing to do with the passing of Takutai Moana, is distorting the history (and the related injustices) quite severely.

John Ansell says:

Matthew said: “At the moment Māori, as the stats indicate, do not get equality without affirmative action.”
Matthew, the stats indicate that Maori do not get equality WITH affirmative action either. That’s the problem with your theory. Throwing good money after bad was never going to work, is not working, and is not likely to work in the future. Can you point to any improvement in those stats as a result of all the billions donated? If not, why do you think we should donate more?

Actually, John, health stats for Māori are improving, as is educational success (see the Pasifica Success programme in South Auckland for startling results). Affirmative action works.

Anyway, you said you would stop banging your head against this brick wall. Are you not a man of your word?

G. Graham says:

Just a reminder Mathew.

Maori education statistics are improving due to 2 factors, the system is dumbed down to suit and Maoris have a lower pass rate.

There is no mention of this in the Queen’s Royal Charter.

Māori have a lower pass rate? Really. Given that I work in the realm of education I can tell you this isn’t true. It’s also not true that the system is “dumbed down” (I’m assuming you mean to suit Māori: you seem to have a very low opinion of Māori since that comment makes it out that you think they are, on average, stupider than Pākehā). It’s certainly different from the system in your day (and, indeed, mine) but it’s different because we now know a lot more about how education works and what effective learning looks like (much of it based on neurophysiology). Māori, Pākehā and Tau Iwi educational improvements are not due to the system being dumbed down but, rather, better designed to fit the way in which students learn.

Trouble says:

What on earth is the Restructuring of the Workforce Act, and which parallel universe does it exist in? I know standards aren’t high on the Treatygate side of the fence but you actually can’t make stuff up out of thin air.

John Ansell says:

I’ve not heard of the Restructuring of the Workforce Act either.

Trouble says:

Also. Real apartheid featured forced relocation of communities, denial of the vote to the majority of the population, and bans on interracial marriage, not to mention the strict police state that enforced those rules. Anyone who claims we have that in New Zealand marks themselves out as ignorant of South African history.

Helen says:

Matthew, with respect, I do find your statement rather incredible. There are many many very successful people of Maori descent in this country who have achieved by their own efforts, having had the same chances as the rest of us. For as long as I can remember and long before that, there have been special initiatives for people of Maori of descent, not available to the rest of us. The aim was to bring them out of their stone age culture into the modern world – but that was long long ago. They have had ample opportunity to avail themselves of all the assistance they could possibly want. Their (the ones in the negative statistics) main problem is that too many do not have any aspirations, a good work ethic or have taken every opportunity to be well educated so as to be responsible for themselves and rise above all the negativity. All too often their parents are at fault for not ensuring they know this and actually achieve by taking all the opportunities available – and there are many such opportunities.

This also applies to the non-Maori in the negative statistics too but sadly they do not have the same huge amount of dollars invested in their wellbeing as do part-Maori. How many dollars need to be invested and for how long, before we stop treating part-Maori as second-class citizens. If I was one of them I would feel insulted that it was deemed I needed special treatment, but no, they do not. They hold their hands out and take, but make no effort to turn their lives around.

I stress that I’m not referring to the many of Maori descent who are decent hard working citizens getting by on their efforts like the rest of us, and proving that they are no different to anybody else and can do it.

Helen, the thing which makes your claims here very weird and not based at all on the evidence isn’t the essentialist talk which makes out that you believe Māori are somehow lazy and inferior for not making the most of the so-called special advantages you think they have. No, it’s your claim that lower socio-economic Pākehā have it just as bad as Māori. The stats disagree: even compared to the poorest Pākehā, Māori have it worse, being more likely to be arrested for crimes Pākehā will just get a warning for, et cetera.

John Ansell says:

By “that claim”, I meant the one about Pakeha being less likely to be arrested for violent crime.
And yes, I most certainly am a man of my word. If I gave you my word I would not continue commenting, I would not. Did I? No. Don’t be petty and dishonest. I’m interested that others seem to be challenging you as well, and I agree with most of them.

Of course you do, John: they are members of your echo chamber. You can go play with your like-minded friends and frequent commentators you’ve brought with you over at your own blog.

John Ansell says:

Matthew, how do you expect people to take you seriously when you say things like “Health stats for Māori are improving, as is educational success (see the Pasifica Success programme in South Auckland for startling results)”?
You may not know how to spell Pasifika, but it beggars belief that a man who calls himself a doctor would not know that Pasifika does not include Maori.
The difference between Pacific people and Maori is most notable when it comes to crime. Maori make up 15% of the population yet commit around 50% of the crime, while Pacific people are about 9% of the population and commit roughly the same percentage of crime (11%). Maori presumably receive vastly more “affirmative action” than Pasifika, and yet when I ask what results have emanated from it, you cannot name any – citing improvements for Pasifika instead.
I wonder why Maori are so much more involved in crime than their Pacific cousins, and I can only imagine it has something to do with the hangover from a violent past, the corrosive influence of intergenerational welfarism, and the powerful influence on the Samoans, Tongans, etc. of religion.

John, if you bothered to check up on the Pasifica Success programme (run by Dr. Bobbie Hunter) you’d see it includes both Māori and Pasifica (either spelling is acceptable) among its student cohort. Maybe do a little research before going off on one of your self-righteous rants?

Trouble says:

I wonder if Ansell’s mates have thought through what the inevitable social costs of trying to enforce their worldview would be. Even if you could get elected on it, and Brash really proved you can’t, quite, the uproar and protest that would result would be ten times worse than the occasional courtroom battles that rile them up so much. And on the other side of the ledger, unequal health and education outcomes cost us more to endure than to fix.

Aye. But affirmative action (to achieve some measure of equal outcome) is an anathema to them (apparently). Better that everyone technically be equal under a law which leads to one part of society regularly obtaining success than recognise both the bicultural nature of our country and the injustices wrought upon tangata whenua to create the modern nation state.

John Ansell says:

Why the obsession with equal performance, Matthew? Maori vaulted ahead 3000 years with colonisation, but to expect them to have completely caught up after only 170 years is unrealistic. Similarly, the people in the Chinese countryside remain behind the city folk, but are closing the gap. And indeed because of continual poor management New Zealand lags behind Switzerland and 20 other countries in economic performance. Does that mean the United Nations should favour us with an affirmative action programme? Or should we take responsibility for our own underperformance?

Because, John, the underperformance is the result of unwanted colonisation. I know you think that was somehow a great favour to Māori but given that it saw their land taken away, their culture largely wrecked, their language almost die out (all the result of laws passed by your beloved colonial government), it doesn’t seem it was all that great for Māori. Oh, you can falsely claim that the Māori were a Stone Age people who jumped ahead 3000 years upon contact, but that requires devaluing and distorting the pre-history of this place.

G. Graham says:

Mathew wrote to John Ansell, “Because, John, the underperformance is the result of unwanted colonisation”.

Mathew would you please explain why Maoris chose and begged the British to look after and protect them for a decade prior to the Treaty, 13 Chiefs from the north even puting this in writing to the British King as far back as Nov. 1831?

G. Graham, as most historical accounts note, most of the correspondence with the British by Māori at that time was centred on asking the Crown to come and bring order to its citizens, not about ceding sovereignty to the British.

Helen says:

Matthew, you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. After all the many many years of special help, treatment and funding, if someone of Maori descent hasn’t already taken advantage of all that is and has been offered then there is no hope for him/her. That great Maori statesman, Sir Apirana Ngata said all those years ago that ‘welfare will be the downfall of my people’. He knew exactly what would happen – they wouldn’t try but would just soak up all the money thrown at them and cry for more.

However, many people of Maori descent have proved they are no different to the rest of us humans and have taken advantage of all that is out there on offer to everyone, and made decent self-sufficient lives for themselves. Education is out there for everyone and all that is needed to go with it is aspiration and good old hard work. The ones who aren’t succeeding are the ones who are doing what Sir Apirana feared – they are sitting back with their hands held out saying it’s everyone’s fault except theirs.

Billions have been poured into Maori initiatives over many decades and to still have large negative statistics, just goes to prove that it just doesn’t work with the ones who aren’t achieving. However, this is a human trait and doesn’t just apply to those of Maori descent. There will always be people in the negative statistics but as the ‘Maori’ side is higher, I’m wondering if we are to blame in that we have lead some of them to believe that because they have some Maori blood, they need special help and it’s now ingrained in them that they can’t do it alone.

As for fisheries, where in the Treaty is fisheries mentioned? I’m talking about the only Treaty that matters and that is the Treaty in the Maori language. They don’t have any specific fisheries.

Helen, that is a confusing response. You are saying that Māori should take advantage of affirmative action (and we should look down on those who do not) yet you also advocate getting rid of said affirmative actions. Which one is it? Or are you trying to play both sides at the same time?

Also, you do realise that access to good education is limited by your socio-economic status, so the claim “education is out there for everyone” whilst trivially true does not reflect the access many don’t have to decent education.

Helen says:

Matthew, I really have to admit that I find your thought processes totally astounding. Has it not occurred to you that people of Maori descent wouldn’t even be here now if they hadn’t come under British rule? Quite a number of Chiefs could see the writing on the wall and lobbied extensively for Britain to take them over. They weren’t one people – they were a mixture of many tribes from different places and they were fighting, conquering and eating each other as well as practising female infanticide from early 1800 until about 1845. Thousands had already been killed and they would have become extinct if it hadn’t been stopped but at least some Maori Chiefs recognised this. They were a Stone Age culture and have gained enormously under British rule as many will tell you.

There were a lot of Maori people where I lived and went to school and one of my sisters even married a half-caste. He even owned his own business before retiring from a very successful life. We all had the same opportunities, except those of Maori descent had more, not less. The extra financial help was of great assistance to my sister and her husband but we didn’t get it and had to work that much harder. I don’t resent it – we just accepted it.

I really feel much of our true history is unknown to you.

Helen, Māori were in no danger of going extinct pre-contact with the Europeans. That kind of pseudo history might be very popular over at John Ansell’s blog but it has no traction here.

G. Graham says:

Mathew wrote, “Helen, Māori were in no danger of going extinct pre-contact with the Europeans. That kind of pseudo history might be very popular over at John Ansell’s blog but it has no traction here”.

I do not believe you have never heard of the cannibalistic slaughter of the “Maori Musket Wars” Mathew, the sole reason Maoris begged & chose Britain for a decade to look after and protect them. It was the main reason 540 chiefs signed the Treaty, survival through the kindness of the British accepting responsibility for them.

G.Grahm, your ahistorical interpretations of Māori history really aren’t welcome here.

John Ansell says:

I’m not psychic Matthew. I googled “Pasifika Success Programme South Auckland”, as you suggested, and this is what came up:
There was no mention of Maori in the Pasifika section, though there was a separate Maori section.
There was no mention of Dr Bobbie Hunter that I could see, but now that you have made me aware of her, I found this:
Again, nothing about Maori, only Pasifika. If there are other sites that show Maori grouped under Pasifika, by all means point me to them – and to evidence that the Maori educational statistics have improved.

The first page isn’t Bobbie’s work with the Ministry of Education. You will have to refine your googling.

John Ansell says:

Are you seriously suggesting Maori would be better off today if they had not been colonised?

If not for the British, New Zealand would be New Guinea.

You were once very fair to me by warning me about someone claiming to be me on Twitter. I appreciated that.

I would also appreciate it if you could publish my explanation of how I did in fact check out the programme you pointed me to to the best of my ability.

I accept your assurance that Pasifica is a valid alternative spelling for Pasifika, or at least numerous sites use it.

I will now return to my echo chamber (which at least echoes to the sounds of more than one voice).

So long – it’s been fun. Next time you want to slag me off, you can, of course, expect the same response.

John, look towards the example of Tonga, which has kept its sovereignty throughout its contact with the Europeans. So, yes, I think the Māori would have been fine without our ancestors invading their home and taking their land.

Also, I’m not sure why you think I haven’t published your other comment, given it’s up on the site.

G. Graham says:

Mathew wrote,

“look towards the example of Tonga, which has kept its sovereignty throughout its contact with the Europeans. So, yes, I think the Māori would have been fine without our ancestors invading their home and taking their land”.

There is no evidence Maoris were invaded or had their land stolen.

There is evidence Europeans paid Maori for land that had already been sold a number of times, most of these pre-Treaty sales done in NSW under English law totalled 2/3ds of New Zealand of which most constituted the largest Government confiscations in NZ’s post-Treaty history. The confiscated lands were returned to Maoris free and which they sold yet again.

So, G. Graham, the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal, backed up by the work of independent researchers does not count as evidence?

John Ansell says:

I did refine my googling – when you told me about her.

John Ansell says:

You are quite right. Without colonisation, New Zealand would not be New Guinea. It would be Tonga.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about that Pacific paradise:

“King Tupou VI, his family, powerful nobles and a growing non-royal elite caste live in much wealth, with the rest of the country living in relative poverty.”

Just like New Zealand iwi.

“GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
– Per capita $7,344.” [New Zealand’s is $30,493.]

So Tongans are one-quarter as rich as New Zealanders. That said, they do not seem to lack food…

“Ninety percent of the population are considered overweight using NIH interpretation of body mass index (BMI) data, with more than 60% of those obese. 70% of Tongan women aged 15–85 are obese. Tonga and nearby Nauru have the world’s highest overweight and obese populations.”

Then there are the ethical factors…
“Tonga was named the sixth most corrupt country in the world by Forbes magazine in 2008.” [New Zealand is regularly touted as the least corrupt.]
Again, shades of Maori tribal management.
“Tonga was ranked the 165th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.” [New Zealand was 14th safest.]
“Tonga’s economy is characterised by a large non-monetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country’s population who live abroad”.
So uncolonised Tonga is vastly less wealthy, vastly more corrupt and vastly less attractive to investors than New Zealand, and half of its people have left.
Nirvana Nuku’alofa.
Thank you for making my point.

And yet, John, they managed to survive into the 20th Century without eating each other to death or killing all their young and rendering themselves extinct. You have such double standards, claiming on one hand that the Māori would not be here today without the British and yet when presented with an example that shows that Polynesian peoples don’t naturally wipe themselves out without aid from European colonists you can’t help but cast aspersions on those people. Perhaps if you compared life for an average Tongan with life with an average Māori you might find that colonisation hasn’t really been that good for the tangata whenua of this place. You have to compare like with like: it sounds like you’re compared the average life of a Pākehā in Aotearoa (New Zealand) with that of a Tongan.

John Ansell says:

Matthew, if I can prove that Maori GDP per capita (adjusted for purchasing power parity) is greater than Tongan GDP per capita (PPP), would you concede that Maori in New Zealand are doing better than Tongans in Tonga?
Or would you then insist on some other measure?
I haven’t checked the figures, but I’d be very surprised if the Tongans are wealthier (or in any other material way better off) or they wouldn’t be fleeing their homeland in such numbers.

John, you said you were going home to your own blog. Do so. GDP is not a measure of whether the effects of colonisation has been good or bad. One does not measure the impact of having your lands stolen from you and your culture devalued simply by how many iPads you can now afford.

John Ansell says:

Thought so. Well what criteria would you use for measuring which people are doing better – air temperature?

Come John, just because I disagree with your metric, that doesn’t mean you’ve won. When it comes to measuring these things people tend to use theories you can’t stand, John: metrics from the social sciences which measure things like culture loss and the like. To you, airy fairy notions. To people who study these things, a much more valuable metric than GDP, which doesn’t tell you much of use when it comes to the nature of a society.

Now, John, I have asked nicely that you fulfil your claim you would go away, and now I’m asking you go back to your blog and stop desperately trying to find new points to argue on mine.

Helen says:

Matthew, what I was saying that there should not be special funding and initiatives especially for ‘Maori’. It should be available for everyone regardless of race. There will always be those who need extra assistance amongst all races. I don’t like the words ‘affirmative action’ as they reek of PC nonsense. Having said that, I know of many ‘Maori’ who have come from extremely poor households but have gained a basic education which is available for everyone and then worked hard to advance themselves in life.

I don’t mean to sound condescending but I think you lack knowledge on a lot of our history. Can I suggest, if you haven’t already done so, that you read Cannons Creek to Waitangi by Andy Oakley. He grew up with a huge ‘Maori’ population and once he realised that to get ahead he would have to work hard by his own efforts, he did so. It also has extensively research history of our country. This knowledge is now becoming widespread and if you aren’t up with the play, you could end up with egg on your face. Again I hasten to say that I’m not meaning to sound condescending. Two other excellent books are Twisting the Treaty by 6 very well researched authors and The Great Divide by Ian Wishart.

Helen, can I suggest not recommending nor reading revisionist histories like Wishart’s “The Great Divide” and “Twisting the Treaty”. I have read these books and they are politically motivated polemics which distort the history of this place in order to satisfy their own theories.

Helen says:

With respect, Matthew, I beg to differ. The books are full of verifiable references of information at the time. All you have to do is check and it will all be there for you to see. They most definitely are not revisionist history, but the true facts. There is absolutely nothing political about the books.

Now, if you look at the present you will most definitely see revisionist history, even down to having the incorrect English draft of our Treaty in legislation. It was dated a day earlier than the correct final draft of 4 February. However, the Maori Treaty is the only legal one. We even have some invented 5 Principles of the Treaty put into legislation in 1986 which are the basis upon which all the current fraudulent claims are being paid. Perhaps you should re-read the books, with an open mind this time. I find it difficult to believe that you have actually read them (properly!!) and come to the conclusion that they are revisionist.

Also Britain didn’t just take over this country. They were lobbied over time by quite a number of Chiefs who could see from the colonists a different much better way of life, without continual fighting and cannibalism and saw it as the only way to protect their own tribes and possessions. Britain was for some time very reluctant to get involved and more or less ended up doing so because of the numbers of their own citizens settling here. It’s all written down, Matthew.

However, many others are now reading the books and doing their own research and the country is slowly waking up as to what is going on and how they are being duped big time. I do worry what is ahead of us though and doubt it will be pretty.

Yes, well, when I see those books being cited approvingly by historians I will give up my belief in orthodox but obviously revisionist history.

Helen says:

You have dismissed two excellent books, Matthew, that have had extensive authentic research done, so will you please humour me and read Andy Oakley’s ‘Cannon Creek to Waitangi’. He grew up with ‘Maori’ people, wentg to school with them and had them as his best friends. His book is also extensively researched and I found it riveting reading, especially as it confirmed all I already knew and it came from someone who lived side by side with these people, as I also did to a slightly lesser extent.

As for the Waitangi Tribunal, you are making a big mistake holding them up as some unbiased authentic body. They have long outlived their usefulness, they approve absolutely everything that is put before them and there is no place for anyone to oppose them. What they decide, which is exactly what the particular Iwi wanted, is then considered by Chris Finlayson in his office – he doesn’t have to use the Courts – and again there is no allowance for anyone to appeal. Now, how corrupt is that? Finlayson, before entering Parliament, was Ngai Tahu’s lawyer, he couldn’t get elected for 3 elections and then came in via the list. He is not only a List MP (without a mandate from the people) and Minister for Treaty Settlements, but Attorney General so can approve whatever he wants. It’s an utter disgraceful corrupt state of affairs and there is absolutely no transparency.

Surely you can’t think this is okay.

Helen, I know how the Waitangi Tribunal works and whilst you might like to paint it as some corrupt entity engaging in a massive conspiracy to defraud white, middle-class New Zealand, it really isn’t. Perhaps if you actually looked into the Tribunal and is processes without the blinkers of the aforementioned books you might come to see that.

Helen says:

Matthew I reached my opinion of the Waitangi Tribunal long before I read any of the books I mentioned. They are basing their findings on the Principles of the Treaty which were invented and put into legislation in 1986. They have nothing whatsoever to do with the Treaty. Treaty settlements were finished long ago. Just take, for example, Ngai Tahu who have had their fifth full and final settlement. What does full and final really mean? They were very happy with each settlement at the time. Now they have received a massive top-up because another tribe exceeded a certain figure!! And you don’t think this is corrupt?? It has been said that the settlements will never be finished because the next generation will want one. These are people who in the main are of more other ancestry than Maori so part of them is claiming for supposed injustices caused by the other part. When the Treaty was signed 2/3rds of the country had already been sold. However the Government examined each and every sale and gave back some of the land without recompensing the people who had paid for it. In many cases land was bought and paid for several times over.

This sort of rort would never happen in any other country but New Zealand. We should have long ago left the past and moved on because we have intermingled and intermarried for nearly 2 centuries and are now a total blend of mixed people. We should all be one – New Zealanders, and I long for that time.

Well, Helen, all I can say is that with opinions like those I really can;t believe that you’ve done the due diligence in looking into the Waitangi Tribunal. Then again, you also hold to the weird Littlewood document thesis about how to interpret Te Tiriti and the like, so I’m not really surprised. As you said, the books you like on this matter are the ones that confirm what you already believe to be true. That suggests confirmation bias, a case of reading what you want to hear rather than what you ought to know.

Correspondence on this post is now closed, as all these discussions seem to be going in circles.

Derejk says:

Equality, Matthew, is about equal opportunity, NOT equal results. For example at the Olympics, the 100m race. All starters start exactly 100m behind the finish line. All starters hear the gun go off at the same time. All starters try to be first across the line. In your logic, the slowest runner should be given an advantage so he crosses the line at the same time as the fastest runner. That Matthew, is lunacy, and John Ansell is correct. Also going by your logic, why don’t the racist maori all blacks get a 20 point head start when they play a good team? It would be ridiculous on the sports field and is ridiculous (racist) as well in handouts.

One: I know people on the right think that equality of opportunity is somehow the only salient definition of equality, but if equal outcomes aren’t you’re endgame, you’re really only playing lip service to the notion of equality.

Two: Saying “racist maori all blacks” pretty much shows your character. Cher cher.

Derejk says:

A team selected on race that discriminates against all non-maori players ( who are not allowed to have a non-maori team). That is racist by every definition……except maybe yours. What was the difference between the racially selected maori all blacks and the racially selected springbox that tried to tour NZ in the 80’s but were spat at for being a ……wait for it…racially selected team? Any good maori players can and do get selected for the ABs, so why do maori have an extra opportunity to represent NZ than any other non-maori. being a racist against ANY skin colour is still racist! Cher cher

I’m glad to see that you can judge the entire merit of a redistributive justice system based upon the existence of one sports team. #sarcasm

John Ansell says:

I don’t have a problem with the Maori All Blacks. After all, the New Zealand Rugby Union is a private organisation.

My issue is when the government does it.

The interesting thing about the Maori All Blacks to me is that they regularly play full national teams and beat most of them (including the might of the British and Irish Lions in 2005).

And of course they do it from a position of equality – no one gives them a 10 point start because they’re “only Maori” or not an official test side.

I think it defeats the purpose of being human if we legislate equality of outcome. Equality of opportunity is what counts. The rest is up to the individual.

Maori rugby players, at least, have proved that they don’t need special privileges to succeed.

John, equality of opportunity only makes sense when when everyone is truly equal, which is what you on the hard right want to ignore as a factor.

Derejk says:

Matthew, have you ever lived in the real world ? Had a real job? I think you have had an extremely sheltered life. I have already explained about equality and just menioned the maori AB’s as an example. That point must have sailed right over your head.
BTW, I hate rugby and have not watched a game since being forced to in 1972. I just know that in NZ, we have a racially selected team that ‘represents’ NZ and that if I liked rugby and if I was good enough, I would not be able to play for because of the colour of my skin/bloodlines. I find that abhorrent.
You say “equality of opportunity only makes sense when when everyone is truly equal” . Just how out of touch with reality can one be? The maori living in Australia get no special race based handouts or treatment and do very well for themselves. So why do the maori in NZ need special race based treatment? Are the NZ maori inferior to the ones who live in Australia? Are their genes different? Or do they think the world owes them a handout and so lack incentive?

Helenm says:

You are absolutely right, Derejk. Matthew has absolutely no idea of the real world. Equal opportunity is what we must have – not making everyone equal. It is up to the individual to make what they want to of their lives by their own efforts but the opportunity must be there. There are many part-Maori in this country who are decent worthwhile citizens and get by the same as everyone else. I find it totally demeaning that by offering them special assistance and initiatives, we are implying they are not as good as the rest of us. Total rubbish. It is the ones who are being constantly ‘helped’ who aren’t getting on well because they are in grievance/you owe me mode. They are often too lazy to get out of their own way, keep on having children they can’t afford to rear and expect everyone else to pick up the tab. I really don’t know where you get your ideas from Matthew but they certainly don’t represent the real world.

Helen, think of it this way: at the moment we have a housing crisis in Auckland where it is becoming increasingly harder for anyone starting out to buy a house. Technically, there is equality of opportunity — after all, any one can potentially buy a house — but there is no equality of outcome because most people starting out will never have the capital to own a home. In the same respect, sure, Māori have equality of opportunity, but that’s meaningless in a situation (given a history of land confiscation, Māori culture being systematically suppressed, et cetera) where the deck is stacked in such a way the outcomes will likely be unequal.

I suspect you probably need to do a little more research. Whilst Māori and Pasifica players are indeed currently dominant in the All Blacks, there are Pākehā players and nothing in the rules stops Pākehā from being selected. I think you might be confusing two teams: the All Blacks and another team, the Māori All Blacks. The former team is the one that is said to “represent” (in the sense that Rugby is taken to be the national sport) New Zealand.

John Ansell says:

Since black basketballers in the US are, on average, much more successful than white basketballers, should there be an affirmative action programme for white basketballers?

(Or short basketballers, who are massively disadvantaged through no fault of their own?)

Since Maori and Polynesians contribute a higher percentage of All Blacks relative to their populations than Europeans, should the New Zealand Rugby Union institute an affirmative action programme for European rugby players?

(To say nothing of Chinese New Zealanders, who seem to be particularly disadvantaged, since, despite their high population numbers, not one of them has ever made so much as a provincial team. Surely a quota must be introduced for this situation to improve?)

The South African answer to that question, reversed to favour African players, is Yes, meaning a lot of white players who would have achieved their lifetime goal of making the Springboks on merit will now have no chance of playing for their country.

This is great news for the All Blacks, who will now be more likely to beat their old opponent because a decreed proportion of the South African team will be selected for reasons of racial tokenism, rather than playing ability.

Where do you stand on the South African tokenism, Matthew?

And do you believe the human species, and indeed any species, was designed to ensure that all of its members were “truly equal”? If so, how could the designer have got it so wrong?

John, rather than being so concerned for the poor status of white athletes, why not extend that concern to the consequences of colonialism. You might like playing the Oppression Olympics, but it’s just away to distract from the real issues, isn’t it?

John Ansell says:

Matthew said: “Whilst Māori and Pasifica players are indeed currently dominant in the All Blacks, there are Pākehā players and nothing in the rules stops Pākehā from being selected.”

While Europeans are currently dominant in [insert category], there are Maori achievers, and nothing in the law stops Maori from being successful.

Does it?

Which would be a delicious retort if you ignore why we’re having this conversation, which how do we deal the the disastrous effects of colonialism on New Zealand Māori?

John Ansell says:

Matthew, what does “truly equal” mean? Can you name two people, perhaps excluding identical twins, who are truly equal?

John Ansell says:

By ducking my question about South African tokenism, you have created the impression that, despite your belief in everyone being “truly equal”, you are really only concerned when Maori are the ones left unequal.

You have expressed no sympathy at all for the white players affected, nor did I expect that you would.

I don’t own any land. What land I did own was taken away from me by a judge in a matrimonial settlement.

But is collecting rent on (often inherited) land the only way to make a living? Of course not.

And is the removal of land from one’s great-great-grandfather a legitimate excuse for bashing one’s child or burgling someone else’s house?

Our laws make it possible for everyone in New Zealand to get an education and rise to whatever position they aspire to in life.

If anything, as Bishop Bennett conceded, the rules favour Maori.

But you cannot legislate for ethical choices. Each person must reap what he sows.

For someone who claims his crusade is not about racism but rather equal rights for all, you certainly are happy to use racist stereotypes to denigrate Māori. As I don’t like racist tripe, like your characterisation of Māori as child bashers or burglars, appearing on my blog your comments will now be moderated, as will everyone else’s.

As for the claim we can’t legislate for ethical choices: we do this all the time in the law.

John Ansell says:

Matthew said: “how do we deal the disastrous effects of colonialism on New Zealand Māori?”

You conveniently won’t accept any objective, factual measure of improvement in standard of living that I put up.

Therefore, could you supply some evidence of your own that proves, or even suggests, that Maori are in a worse position now than they were before 1840?

You do not accept GDP per capita comparisons with Tonga, the country we agree New Zealand would most resemble if left uncolonised. You cite other reasons, but most readers would see that the reason you dismiss these figures is because they make your claim look silly.

Would you accept a comparison of life expectancy between Maori and Tonga? (Yes, I’ve checked, Maori live longer, despite the more hostile environment here.)

I look forward to your factual evidence that colonisation has been a disaster for Maori.

(No distractions now, just the facts.)

John, the problem here is that you ignore the historic grievances Māori have and go “Well, they’re doing okay-ish today, despite the lack of access to their land, their culture being systemically suppressed for generations, et cetera”. Not only does that wash over the injustices down to Māori since the arrival of the Pākehā, it also sounds uncommonly like you are saying “Well, we could have treated them worst, so they should be grateful!”

So, yes, I pour scorn on your “facts” because they just aren’t relevant to a discussion of historic and on-going injustices. Just because Māori could be worse off doesn’t wipe away what happened.

John Ansell says:

I censor people on my blog for being too rude. You censor people for being too truthful.

This is why the Right regard the Left as dishonest.

John, your “truths” are not universally agreed upon. You might think I’m censoring you because I hate the truth. I censor your assertions precisely because you try to present your conservative racism as banal and true.

John Ansell says:

Sorry about the erratic line breaks. Trying to make the best of it on a phone where the Comment box does not allow me to scroll.

John Ansell says:

The key word there is “arguably”.

You say that “our predecessors were not quite as virtuous as they made themselves out to be” as though it was some kind of fact. It is simply an opinion of someone trying to defend one-eyed historians, who for that reason are not historians at all.

The fact is the old historians were true historians, not political activists. They saw it as their job to report the facts, without fear or favour, not twist them to suit a political agenda.

There certainly is a problem with the discipline, as the OECD has noted. A history degree from a joke New Zealand university is not worth the paper it’s written on.

I think you’ll find that what you take to be a problem with the discipline is a worldwide one, John. I’m afraid your disparaging remarks about our local universities don’t actually have any merit in this discussion.

John Ansell says:

So you concede that Maori are doing “okay-ish”. (Better than they would have been doing had they not been colonised.)

That means colonisation cannot have had a “disastrous effect”. Point made.

(But will the logic-shy censor allow it to be seen? :-))

Your reading skills need a little brushing up on, John. My comment didn’t imply they are doing better post colonisation. It just implies that the lot of Māori could be worse (and it would be if ideas like yours had any real traction).

Derejk says:

There’s that age old excuse of culture……again! Matthew, do you think that if a maori baby was taken to Russia at birth and raised by Russian parents, at some stage, with no prompting, it would due to its genes, break out into a haka? No! Do the Scottish in NZ harp on ad nauseam about the highland fling? No. So why do maori harp on and on about some culture that prior to the european arrival was totally barbaric? Yawn. Always looking to blame anyone, anything, any decision, anything at all for failure…….except the face that stares back in the mirror. And if there is no incentive to succeed because everything will be “equalled out at the end”, then that attitude will like a cancer, ruin this country. Take responsibility and get over what allegedly ( often the real story has been suppressed by the grievers) happened a hundred+ years ago. Boo Hoo harden up.

Derejk says:

Matthew you have indeed resorted to censorship. You have a good chance of winning this arguement now!

John Ansell says:

Matthew said: “I think you’ll find that what you take to be a problem with the discipline is a worldwide one, John. I’m afraid your disparaging remarks about our local universities don’t actually have any merit in this discussion.”

I agree that lefties are polluting scholarship in many Western countries, and I can’t understand why right wing governments allow them to continue doing so. I would fire any academic who knowingly taught false history for political reasons.

I’m not surprised you’re afraid of my disparaging remarks about our universities, and that you would wish to suppress any discussion of the OECD’s finding that New Zealand social science degrees are the worst in the developed world.

My remarks are accurate. It’s your degrees that lack merit.

John, when someone says “I’m afraid that” like I just did that doesn’t mean they are literally afraid. It just means they disagree. I find the comments of a self-styled PR guru on the merits of academia somewhat risible.

Derejk says:

Hey Matthew, did you know that maori cannibalism only stopped when they signed the treaty and thus made it illegal. Not to mention slavery, murder, genocide etc. Wow, do you think maori today really miss that???!!!

Derejk says:

Matthew, Claudia Orange is a so-called Historian so what is her “original source” and excuse for getting it sooooooooo wrong when she said maori had been in NZ for thousands of years before the european arrived? All evidence says it was just about 400 years. The “shameful holocaust” in Taranaki where the europeans killed…..nobody, but maori tribes slaughtered each other. It seems facts are optional when griever maori historians make claims. But how could they get it so wrong when they are supposedly academic historians? I have recently heard that europeans kept maori slaves, and we all know that was never true, but hey, it fuels the grievance industrys sympathy.

Your grasp of what historians claim is a little shaky, isn’t it? Orange has never said Māori were here thousands of years ago. Also, Māori have been here much longer than 400 years: it is at least 700 to 800 years (we know this because of the wealth of archaeological evidence), possibly slightly longer (initial settlement sites would have been coastal and those sites have likely eroded away into the sea). As for your claim the Pākehā didn’t slaughter anyone in the Taranaki… Well, that’s contradicted by accounts by the Colonial Government of the day, so now you’re having to deny not just Māori history but also Pākehā history to boot. But hey, if that fuels your sense of grievance, why let the facts get in the way?

Derejk says:

Maybe you should read my reply again. 400 years before the european is what I said. That’s about 1250-1300. And Orange has said thousands of years before the european, or was it a thousand…either way. Wrong on both counts. In the “holocaust” (Parihaka???) that maori party leader spoke of, tell us then how many maori were killed by european. Then an estimate on the number of Taranaki and Waikato maori killed by each other. This should be good!

It amuses me that you have turned your getting muddled about the historical evidence into a line of attack. If you are so concerned to show that the orthodox accounts of the Land Wars and Parihaka are incorrect and the numbers fudged, then really it’s your job to present evidence in your favour. You don’t get to comment on my blog and then ask me to do your own work.

As for Orange: it’s obvious you don’t actually know what she said (thus your fudging of “thousands of years before the european, or was it a thousand”). Given that if we accept that the Moa Hunters and the pre-Māori Polynesian colonists were probably travelling between here and Rarotonga for a century or so before colonisation began in earnest, saying “Māori have been here for about a thousand years” is not actually beyond the bounds of reason.

John Ansell says:

Matthew, you laugh at my opinion of New Zealand academics, niftily avoiding acknowledging that my opinion is also that of the OECD.

The joke’s on you, Dame Claudia, Margaret Mutu and the rest of our social pseudo-scientists.

I decided to check out your oft-repeated claim that the OECD claims our social science degrees are sub-par (and why we should want to use the OECD ranking rather than, say, the UN one I have no idea) and it seems that, like a lot of what you say John, it’s all hot air. Trawling through the 2014 “Education at a Glance” publication from the OECD, your claims really seem to have no merit at all. The OECD largely uses PISA, which measures international students – hardly a useful measure, since the goals and aims of international students are typically different from local students – and the PISA measures look at a small subset of students generally. Also, the OECD is largely interested in education spend rather than education output; when our local tertiary institutions get pulled up by the OECD it’s usually because we don’t fund them as well as we should.

Also, the OECD is currently running a study as to how feasible it even is to rank the output of graduate study programmes – – so it’s clear that the OECD doesn’t put all that much stock in the supposed stats you constantly talk about.

In the end, though, what counts in academia is the contribution of academics to the general debate. In this respect people like Mutu, Orange and the like are well-respected historians both inside and outside Aotearoa. So, whilst you might not like their work, because they do not march to the sound of your drum, the kind of people who know about these things, fellow historians, do respect their output. Then again, you seem to have completely mistaken the whole OECD enterprise when it comes to the assessment of education in Aotearoa, so you might have to add the OECD to your enemy list.

Derejk says:

So are you saying star maori historian Claudia Orange did not say maori were in NZ thousands or a thousand years before the commonly known europeans (Tasman) … which would be about year 0400 to a year in the BC? Sounds to me that’s what you are saying so please confirm. I don’t have the exact quote , but once you confirm what you are saying, I will be happy to dig it out.

Given you keep changing what it is you think Orange has said about the arrival of the Māori, I think it’s best you go away and do your research and find that quote. Then we can talk about.

Derejk says:

Oh how smug you are. I have always said she said either “thousands” or “a thousand”. Is this an example of how facts are altered to suit your claims/grievances? Can you maybe give an example of where I “keep changing” what I said?
There is none so blind….
Leaving tomorrow to join a ship. I work in the real world. You should try it.

You realise that the difference between “a thousand” and “thousands” is huge, right? So, when you said:

And Orange has said thousands of years before the european, or was it a thousand…either way.

that’s you trying to have it both ways (and thus changing what you meant).

It’s also not clear whether you know when Orange is marking that period of time from: if her claim is that Māori have been here a thousand years, then that’s actually within the accepted realm of when we think the Polynesians first arrived here. So, yeah, you need to go find this quote of yours, rather than rely on me to respond to what sounds like a half-remembered, fuzzy thing you may or may not have read at some point. I like to deal with actual evidence, not vague memories.

John Ansell says:

Matthew, you’re right, I’m wrong about the OECD report. My oft-repeated assertion that the OECD slated NZ social science degrees was based on second-hand info that I should have checked.

Having now done so, the report is clearly about money, not teaching quality:

My apologies. I won’t be saying that again.