Te Putatara
a newsletter for the kumara vine

Issue No 1/00 - 17th January 2000 ISSN 0114-2097

"...you can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing?"

- Kahlil Gibran

"Te Putatara" is a webzine by Te Aute Publications, P.O.Box 408, Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand. Edited by Ross Nepia Himona. "Te Putatara" is published on the World Wide Web at http://maorinews.com/putatara

At that URL all the back issues of "Te Putatara" have been indexed and are searchable.

Copyright: Ross Nepia Himona. Feel free to print, copy and re-transmit but please acknowledge source.


Putatara! Putatara!
Ki te whaiao, ki te ao-marama,
Tihei mauriora!

E nga iwi o te motu, e nga hau e wha
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

And let the trumpet sound,
"Putatara! Putatara!"
To signal your emergence
Into the dawn light,
The broad light of day.

I sneeze, there is life!

To the people of the land, of the four winds
Greetings, greetings, I greet you all.




millenium musings
new website
the Maori Affairs portfolio
speech from the throne, the Labour Party programme
the Maori Don Quixote - another tilt at gap analysis
Hildegard of Bingen
frogs and toads - how do we change the world?
book review - "My Ishmael, a sequel" by Daniel Quinn
the kahuna syndrome - recolonisation
indigenous peoples' Seattle declaration
a conference: 'Flaxroots Technology - Claiming the Internet for Community'
what's new in the website
you can have your say too
don't forget to subscribe


millenium musings

E hoa ma, glad to see you're all still here, didn't get devoured by the great y2k millenium bugger in the sky, you and the whole universe didn't disappear into y2k hell.

At the end of the last millenium, seven or eight hundred years before the Europeans found their way into the South Pacific, many of them thought the world was coming to an end, only G-d was going to do it. A thousand years later they scared up the whole world again, only their angry G-d was replaced by some renegade computer code.

You should remember that at the next millenium.

I was impressed by the massive global party, courtesy of the world wide TV coverage.

I spent a small part of the night at the computer. At a minute after midnight I sent an email around the world telling them that we'd survived, that we were still here, and was there anyone else out there just in case I was dreaming I was still alive. Got hard case replies from all round the world.

Then someone sent my email to a reporter on the New York Times, who was working on a y2k story; Amy Harmon. Over the next 17 hours or so, as she waited for New York to come into the 21st century, I sent her copies of the emails I got from all over the world, and we had a sort of a global email conference, marked by emails of mock relief as various people passed into the 21st century. We marvelled that I was 'speaking' to them from the 21st century while they were still in the 20th. On Sunday 2nd January I featured in the article she wrote.

A few days later I got a call from a New Zealand Herald reporter in Auckland, who interviewed me about the New York Times article, and I featured in Granny Herald. He'd come across the New York Times article while he was trolling the Internet for inspiration.

Now, the purpose of the story is not to convince you that I've become a global media celebrity.

But it brought home to me, as the millenium turned, the potential of the technology for presenting ourselves to the world. The only unique quality possessed by this country of ours is us, the Maori people, and our culture. And we ought to use the technology to aggressively promote ourselves to the world, so that when the world thinks of New Zealand they think of Maori, and of Aotearoa, and of nothing much else.

We could easily out-perform the New Zealand Tourism Board despite the millions they spend on promotion. Just by being us. That's the enormous political potential of the technology. We ought to go there.


The first Christian service in Aotearoa was preached by Samuel Marsden on Christmas Day 1814, or so I was taught by the Hahi Mihinare (Church of England).

185 years later there we were at Hikurangi and at Turanga-nui-A-Kiwa, and everywhere else, helping the Pakeha celebrate their 2000 year old festival, while our 10,000 year old festivals are uncelebrated. A lot has happened in 185 years.

Seemed to me to be an ironic yet oddly appropriate way to mark the end of the Christian millenium in the Pakeha way, after 1000 years of Maori occupation and 200-odd years of the Pakeha. It said something about what's happened to us.


Shortly after New Year I was reminded of what we have become. How much the Pakeha defines us, who we are, and even who our leaders are.

I was reminded that one way to become a Maori leader and to get a knighthood from the Pakeha is to live long enough, and humbug enough Paheka, just like the newest Maori knight, Sir Humbug John Turei.

Big paddle, no waka.

Then the media annointed one Peter Love, from Te Ati Awa, with the grand mantle of leadership, when he made his media call for waka crews to wear lifejackets. This is the same Peter Love who welcomed the Pakeha farmers from Taranaki when they arrived in Wellington on their tractors to protest the Maori Reserved Lands Act. The same one who rode on one of the tractors, while his own iwi opposed them. The same Peter Love who told the new US ambassador that she was a female warrior, and that we didn't have any woman warriors in Te Ao Maori. True, he did. And the media say he's one of our leaders.

Big wheel, no tractor.

Then I heard another leader, and an intellectual giant, from Ngapuhi, Kingi Taurua, on national radio. What a farce. And it's continuing as I write this (17 January).

Big mouth, no brain.

And that other leader and fellow intellectual giant was at it as well, spreading his wisdom all round the media; Dover Samuel.

Big hat, no cattle

These are the people who have defined us in the media since the turn of the millenium.

E hika ma, we gotta do something about this politician and media appointed leadership lark. Before this millenium gets much older.


Some of you will recognise that over the new year I've been listening to Randy Newman's latest CD, "Bad Love", and the "Big Hat, No Cattle" track.

Another track on the CD is "The Great Nations of Europe" in which he tells the story of how the Europeans murdered, stole land, and spread killer diseases in the New World. The last bit goes:

"From where you and I are standing
At the end of the century
Europes have sprung up everywhere as even I can see
But there is still on the horizon as a possibility
Some bug from out of Africa might come for you and me
Destroying everything in its path
From sea to shining sea
Like the great nations of Europe
In the sixteenth century"

That Randy Newman's sense of humour is as warped as mine is. I never thought of AIDS like that before.

Happy New Year.



new website


Te Karere Ipurangi, Maori News Online and links to quality world news. Visit this website daily to keep in touch.




the Maori Affairs portfolio


E hoa ma, we've got more Maori Affair minister than you can poke at with the tokotoko. I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing you know. It looks like the old 'unite and rule' strategy, with the potential to become the old 'divide and rule' strategy.

And I'll leave you to decide how many old minds and how many new minds we've got in there.


Minister of Maori Affairs Dover Samuels Associate Minister Fisheries
Associate Minister Tourism
Assoc Minister of Maori Affairs Sandra Lee Minister of Conservation
Minister of Local Government
Assoc Minister of Maori Affairs
(Social Development)
Tariana Turia Associate Minister Corrections
Associate Minister Health
Associate Minister Housing
Assoc Minister Social Services & Employment
Assoc Minister of Maori Affairs
(Economic Development)
Parekura Horomia Associate Minister Education
Assoc Minister Social Services & Employment
Minister in Charge of Treaty of
Waitangi Negotiations
Margaret Wilson Attorney-General
Minister of Labour
Associate Minister Justice
Associate Minister State Services
Maori Affairs Select Committee John Tamihere
Joe Hawke
Willie Jackson
Doug Kidd
Nanaia Mahuta
Wayne Mapp
Mahara Okeroa
Richard Prebble
Mita Ririnui
Georgina Te Heuheu


So what was the strategy behind this selection? Your guess is as good as mine, but I'll tell you my guess.

Given the Maori people a reward for returning to Labour, but not enough to encourage them to exercise their balance of power.

Surrounded the senior Labour man Dover Samuels with a few brains to make sure he doesn't stuff up, and just enough associate portfolios to make his list look good [but he'll need a change of CEO in Te Puni Kokiri if he's really going to stay out of trouble].

Surrounded the Alliance's Sandra Lee with Labour ministers to make sure she doesn't get to use the Maori Affairs portfolio to pursue her many personal agendas, and the odd personal vendetta. Given her a couple of portfolios (Conservation and Local Govt) where she can't do too much damage.

Surrounded Tariana Turia with some heavy duty associate portfolios to keep her very very busy, and to keep her mouth shut. Maori Health will be her biggest job.

Surrounded Parekura Horomia with himself. Just enough to keep him busy and out of trouble; not enough to tax him.

[His real strength is in the many political relationships he's built over the years. Good man to lobby for your cause. Watch him re-invent the Community Employment Group, possibly within Te Puni Kokiri].

Surrounded them all. Now Margaret Wilson is interesting. This is the real power in the group. She's in charge of Treaty negotiations, but, as Attorney-General, she's also in charge of the racist Crown Law Office which ritually opposes every claim before the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal. Be interesting to see how she balances being on both sides of the debate.

But as a close personal friend of Helen Clarke, a friend of the Maori, and with some powerful portfolios, she's probably in the best position to influence the course of matters Maori. They would do well to surround her.

Given the darling of the white media a little reward, a little encouragement, and a platform for his media grandstanding. John Tamihere gets to chair the Maori Affairs select committee. But he's well and truly surrounded; for the time being.



speech from the Throne
the Labour Party programme


I listened to the Governor General's speech from the throne. That's when he laid out the new government's intentions. The Maori policy was all about closing gaps, and new programmes. Read the whole speech.

Ka aroha.



the Maori don Quixote
another tilt at gap analysis


"In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man"

- E.F.Schumacher, "Small is Beautiful", 1973.


Many people have difficulty with my contention that we will do absolutely nothing for the Maori people by continuing to focus on the gaps, or disparities, between Maori and non-Maori.

Indeed, the latest December 1999 issue of "Kokiri Paetae", published by Te Puni Kokiri, strangely (for a supposedly apolitical government agency) celebrates the election of a Labour government. Then it goes on to highlight the Labour Party (and TPK) policy belief that "closing the gaps between Maori and other New Zealanders is a fundamental goal .."

I have to say, that with that focus, I don't think a Labour government will make any appreciable difference to those gaps; any more than the Nats did.

For those academics, politicians, public servants and technocrats who have built a complete developmental worldview around the concept of closing gaps, my contention is indeed a difficult one to grasp. Careers and reputations have been, and are being built around gap analysis.

And out in the iwi, there is a vested interest being built around gap analysis as well. Unfortunately it's largely an interest in the control of scarce programme resources.

But consider this - if the society we so much want to join is so intent on ravishing nature, and so intent on mutilating man, and so intent on exterminating all forms of life on this planet, isn't it little more than lunacy for us to want to join them? Aren't we once again conspiring in our own assimilation into a lunatic culture?

You see, the fundamental myth that gap or disparity analysis buys into is this - that society is good, or good enough, and that society provides adequately for all of its citizens except Maori. Therefore we need to join it.

The truth, pointed out by Schumacher in 1973, is that modern society is not good, that society is intent on ravishing nature and mutilating man. And when you look closer at today's society, you find that society is not providing adequately for all of its citizens, and that wealth is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. It is not a fair, a decent, or even a sane society.

Am I really just tilting at windmills? Or do we need to change it, instead of just joining it?



Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179)

(mystic, musician, poet, dramatist, physicist, doctor, prophet, painter, leader, lover of earth and all creation)


"The air belches out
the filthy uncleanliness of the peoples.

There pours forth an unnatural,
a loathsome darkness,
that withers the green,
and wizens the fruit
that was to serve as food for the people.

Sometimes this layer of air
is full,
full of a fog that is the source
of many destructive and barren creatures,
that destroy and damage the earth,
rendering it incapable
of sustaining humanity."


"God desires
that all the world
be pure in his sight.

The earth should not be injured.
The earth should not be destroyed."

- Hildegard of Bingen



frogs and toads
how do we change the world?


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

- Margaret Mead


It's too hard isn't it? It's much easier to design programs to close gaps, and to advocate for resources for your programs, even though history tells us that programs don't work.

[As I write this, I have in front of me the 84 conclusions of the 1960 Hunn Report. The fundamental situation doesn't seem to have changed much at all in 39 years].

It's too hard, and so we don't stand up and challenge the insanity of it all.

It's like the story of the frog, in a pot on a stove, being brought to the boil so slowly that he doesn't forsee his own impending death. So we focus on getting into the water, and blissfully ignore that fact that the water is in the pot, and that the pot is on the stove.

Many of us, like the frog, don't even know about the pot, or the stove. Well, many of us truly don't know, but some of us do know, but wilfully ignore what we know. Because it's too hard.

And we keep quiet about what we know. Not only because it's too hard, but also because we'll be seen to rock the pot, and be labelled as crazy or radical frogs. And some of us are afraid not only to speak it, but even to think it.

And some say that because no-one else is saying it, it can't be right, and must be wrong. Besides, who would listen to us anyway - they're all toads out there.

Too hard, is what we're really saying.

But change requires only that one person thinks it and says it, and then another, and then another, and another, and another.

Change never happens when we think it's too hard.



book review
"My Ishmael, A Sequel" by Daniel Quinn
1997, Bantam Books, New York.


Ishmael acquires a new student to learn about the cultural heritage of the Takers, the 10,000 year old, but very young culture that now pervades the world.

Ishmael, the teacher, identifies two rules of thumb by which the people of that culture can be identified.

Firstly, ".. the food is all owned, if it's all under lock and key"

Ishmael contends that the real innovation of the so-called agricultural revolution wasn't the growing of food, it was locking it up.

Secondly, "they perceive themselves to be members of a race that is fundmentally flawed and inherently doomed to suffering and misery. Because they're fundamentally flawed they expect wisdom to be a rare commodity, difficult to acquire. Because they're inherently doomed, they're not surprised to be living in the midst of poverty, injustice, and crime, not surprised that their rulers are self-serving and corrupt, not surprised to be rendering the world uninhabitable for themselves. They may be indignant about these things, but they're not surprised by them, because this is how they expect things to be. This makes as much sense to them as having their food under lock and key."

He goes on to explain how this single culture lost the secret that is known to every other species on the planet, humanity wasn't born deficient, it was something that happened uniquely among the people of the Taker culture. It was not lost either by the tribal cultures.

He examines the concepts that were, and are, gradually being overthrown by the Taker culture, tribal concepts which pre-date the Taker culture by a hundred thousand years.

"This was the tremendous success of the tribal way, that its success didn't depend on people being better. It worked for people the way they are - unimproved, unenlightened, troublesome, disruptive, selfish, mean, cruel, greedy, and violent. And that triumph the Takers [post-tribal society] have never come close to matching. In fact, they never even made the attempt. Instead, they counted on being able to improve people, as if they were badly designed products. They counted on being able to punish them into being better, on being able to inspire them into being better, on being able to educate them into being better. And after ten thousand years of trying to improve people - without a trace of success - they wouldn't dream of turning their attention elsewhere."

Most of the book is a penetrating analysis of the subsequent effects of the Taker culture. It analyses the education system, economics, and other social issues against the premises of this culture, and comes up with many startling insights about its future on Earth.

"What you're experiencing is tantamount to cultural collapse. For ten thousand years you've believed that you have the one right way for people to live. But for the last three decades or so, that belief has become more and more untenable with every passing year. You may think it odd that this is so, but it's the men of your culture who are being hit the hardest by the failure of your cultural mythology. They have (and have always had) a much greater investment in the righteousness of your revolution. In coming years, as the signs of collapse become more and more unmistakeable, you'll see them withdraw ever more completely into the surrogate world of male success, the world of sports. And, much worse, you'll see them taking ever more violent revenge for their disappointment on the world around them - and particularly on the women around them."

The storyline in this novel is interesting, but serves only to pass on the teachings of Daniel Quinn. The teachings alone are well worth the visit to his wananga.



The Kahuna Syndrome

Long years ago the Hawai'ian indigenous religion was studied and interpreted and recorded by Max Freedom Long. Since then it has escaped, been re-interpreted and had all sorts of wierd and wonderful religious and spiritual ideas grafted onto it. In short it has been thoroughly colonised, and there are now thousands of non-Hawai'ian people who claim to be kahuna (tohunga).

The same is now starting to happen with Maori religion. I have noticed a tendency of some Maori people to re-interpretate Maori religious concepts, and in many cases some strange non-Maori, New Age concepts are being grafted on.

And the odd Maori website is appearing, touting this new version of Maori religion to the whole world as an aunthentic interpretation.

The Pakeha will surely follow; the re-colonisation of Maori religious concepts is not far away. In fact, it has already started with Barry Brailsford's "Song of Waitaha". The publication of this book has led Brailsford to set himself up as an expert, and more books have followed. He is now hosting visiting spiritual tours by overseas groups, taking them to Maori sacred places, explaining his re-interpretation of Maori religion. He has appeared on the World Wide Web as an expert.

In "Neo-colonialisation and the (mis)appropriation of indigenousness" Makere Harawira writes about Brailsford and his neo-colonialisation of her iwi.



Indigenous Peoples' Seattle Declaration

a declaration by the indigenous caucus at the WTO meeting in Seattle Nov / Dec 1999. Sign your name to the declaration.



a conference:
'flaxroots technology - claiming the internet for community'

to be held in Wellington on 17th & 18th April 2000. A conference which will discuss the why? and how? of harnessing the technology to the service of community building, community development and community empowerment. Join the Community Networking NZ email list to be kept informed.

See also Inrternational Association for Community Development for early notice of an international conference in Rotorua in 2001.




what's new in the website
"from Hawaiki to Hawaiki"

go to the what's new page

The major new addition to the website is an ongoing project to re-publish the teachings of a tohunga, Nepia Pohuhu of the Wairarapa. This is in Te Reo Maori only. A contribution to authenticity perhaps.

The first few pages of the manuscript are in the website, and will be added to over the coming months. It will also be a major whakapapa resource for the many Wairarapa hapu.



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