Te Putatara
a newsletter for the kumara vine

Issue No 4/00 - 15th April 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.


click here

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

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!



musings (the treaty, Ko Huiarau hoax, Indonesia)
radical doubt, questioning the unquestioned
teaching critical thinking, rangatiratanga in action
ko huiarau cult, misuse of consciousness raising
te whare miere, house of honeyed deceit
old minds with new programmes: schooling
new minds with vision: a call for a schooling revolution
James Ngatoa, alias te ariki taiopuru ko huiarau
book review: "Rabuka of Fiji" by John Sharpham

letters to the editor
what's new in the website
you can have your say too


on this and that


thinking about the Treaty of Waitangi

I've been working on a paper which I'll publish in the website soon. It takes another look at the Treaty, and at rangatiratanga. Tino rangatiratanga, as used in the Treaty, has been interpreted as "full chieftainship". It is also often interpreted as a form of "sovereignty", or "self-determination".

I think that in the Treaty it was more likely understood as "power", and that the Treaty itself was a power sharing agreement. The concept of power was well known to the many rangatira and hapu that signed the Treaty. Power sharing, and concepts of power balance, were well known to the hapu, from long before colonisation.

There is no doubt in my mind also that the British well understood Treaties as instruments of power.

At the signing of the Treaty the balance of power was well and truly on the side of Maori, but this rapidly shifted as more and more Europeans arrived. As Maori lost power the Treaty became more important to Maori, and less important to Pakeha. The more the balance of power shifted to the Pakeha, the more important the Treaty, until it became for Maori, a document of moral force rather than a simple power sharing agreement.


sources of power

Power rests with those who have the numbers, and the wealth, and the military advantage. For a long time in Aotearoa, Maori have possessed none of those levers of power.

The only bargaining device we have left is moral suasion, and this is what we have been using to claw back the illusion of power ever since we lost the real bargaining powers of numbers, wealth, and military advantage. We still have not managed to build a significant power base, except for what governments have given us, in the form that they decide. When you look at it, we don't have much, and we won't, unless and until we manage to build the numbers and the wealth. Going first for military advantage doesn't seem to be an option for me.

We strut and posture and claim that we rightfully should have 50% or even 100% of the power, guaranteed by the Treaty. We use the Treaty to wring minute concessions from governments. But it is all just posturing. You don't get power without building power; and power is about numbers and wealth. I think we should get real. I think we should focus on real power, however long it takes.


the mutation of a Treaty

The Treaty has mutated, over 160 years, from a simple instrument of power-sharing, to a nullity, to the founding document of the nation.

Until the 1970s we Maori, for all our posturing, were politically compliant, and the Treaty remained essentially a nullity. The wave of protest movements starting in the 1970s, continuing into the 1980s, began to change all that. The civil war of 1981 (commonly known as the Springbok Tour) frightened politicians and awakened them to the possibilities of civil unrest unless they appeared to make some concessions to Maori.

In 1975 the Treaty was recognised by a Labour government in a form they thought controllable. Maori took advantage of the opening and managed to gradually open the door, wider and wider. After the civil war, the next Labour government inadvertently left more openings.

Having realised their "mistake" they moved to appropriate Treaty rhetoric. Geoffrey Palmer and Alex Frame wrote the "Treaty Principles" through which they sought to re-interpret the Treaty. Someone came up with the theory of "Partnership" which further re-defined the Treaty. So much so, that today I hear Maori talking about Treaty principles, and claiming that the Treaty is a partnership document. I'll bet the rangatira who signed the Treaty never willingly intended to adopt a partner in the control of their people and their resources.

This re-definition was all happening through the Labour Party.

The late Colonel James Waerata Brown MC was at the time the Maori vice president of the National Party, and he and others decided to push the National Party down the Treaty line. At a national conference in the South Island he moved a remit to the effect that the National Party recognised the Treaty as the founding document of the nation.

It was vehemently opposed by one thoroughly racist South Islander. His racism was so vitriolic that the rest of the National Party delegates, shamed by his outburst, voted for the remit. There was one vote against. That's how the Treaty became the "founding document of the nation". Even the Labour Party now subscribes to that National Party innovation.

With respect to my late mate Jim Brown, when you look at it, it never was the founding document of the nation for Maori. We already had our hapu, or nation tribes, and Maori never intended to found any other nation. It was the British who intended to found a nation. In claiming it to be the founding document of the nation, governments now use it to legitimise what was definitely not intended in the Maori understanding of the Treaty. Why then do many Maori now subscribe to the "founding document" rhetoric.

In subscribing to Treaty Analysis, and in citing the Treaty as the basis for policies designed to "close the gaps", what are the real intentions of the Labour Party. Which mutated version of the Treaty do they subscribe to? I don't think it's got anything to do with the real Treaty. I think it's all to do with keeping Maori compliant, and keeping the Maori vote safely in the Labour camp.

And that means buying our vote with closing the gaps programmes.


thinking the unthinkable

If Maori were, say, 85% of the population of Aotearoa New Zealand, and if Maori controlled most of the levers of political and economic power, how would we view the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi?

Would we hold it to be a sacred covenant for all time, as we do now? Would we hold it to be sacrosanct as we do now? Would we claim it to be the cornerstone of all constitutional and political relationships between Maori and non-Maori, as we do now?

Or would we perhaps tend to ignore it, and just get on with being the dominant culture, and the dominant power. Don't you think? Don't you think we might even be tempted to declare it a nullity? Be honest.

And if that were true under those circumstances, is there a real underlying intrinsic meaning within the Treaty of Waitangi, valid under all circumstances, including the present?

Or is it perhaps a document with a movable status and meaning and validity, depending on our need for it as leverage at the time, and depending on the political and moral suasion and leverage we are able to generate from it, in our times of need, without having any of the real levers of power?


more unthinkable thinking

Last month I raised a number of themes including:

Later in the newsletter I review the authorised biography of Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka. It contains many lessons for us about the future, particularly in the way the indigenous Fijian vote became factionalised in the last elections, and allowed the strongly united Indian vote in the Labour Party to dominate the elections, even though indigenous Fijians comprise almost the same percentage of the population as the Fijian Indians.

The indigenous Fijians split into too many factions, based on class, region, religion, tribe, and political ideology.

Do you think we might go the same way, under similar circumstances, unless we manage to achieve some form of kotahitanga in the meantme? And might that kotahitanga not require us to sublimate tribal thinking and tribal loyalties to the greater good, including the good of our other Polynesian partners?

If we are to generate any real power, don't we need to move on from where we are?


exposing the Ko Huiarau hoax
the role of Dr David Simmons

Since I started to expose the Ko Huiarau hoax in February, literally dozens of people have sent me information about their activities. For these people the fact that Ko Huiarau is at long last being held up to public scrutiny, and the prospect that Ko Huiarau's influence in their hapu will at last be reduced, is ample motivation

But what has puzzled me for years was why would the seemingly respected academic, David Simmons, be involved in Ko Huiarau, and what was his role in the manufacture of their bogus story.

A formal submission made in 1989 by Ko Huiarau to the Maori Affairs select committee, investigating the fisheries settlement, is increasingly being cited as a reference in academic papers. I have received confirmation that David Simmons appeared before the select committee on that day, and presented or helped to present the submission. That says that he has been involved in the hoax for at least 12 years. On that occasion he also produced for the select committee the supposed "mandated copy" of the Treaty of Waitangi, which they claim has affixed to it the three seals of Queen Victoria, William Hobson, and the supposed Taiopuru of the time, Tairea Waikato.

The supposed copy that Simmons produced was on skin they claim to be dogskin, and was written in an elaborate antique script. My informant, who actually inspected the article, said that he thought it looked quite recent.

In the late 1980s Simmons also co-authored with James Ngatoa (alias the fabulous Ko Te Riria V Te Ariki Taiopuru Ko Huiarau) a book called Maori Tattoo. That book was riddled with false claims, and much of the previously "secret" information provided by Simmons' informant, James Ngatoa, was clearly a figment of his imagination, designed to support his claims to kingly status. A later edition of the book by a different publisher has the more obvious false information removed.

In 1976, in a what was to become a major scholarly work, "The Great New Zealand Myth", Simmons built upon earlier work by himself and Bruce Biggs, to expose some of the origin myths and waka myths created by previous Pakeha scholars and commentators. So Simmons is well aware of the long-lasting effects these myths have on subsequent scholarship.

Why then is he so imtimately involved in the Ko Huiarau hoax?

Is he deliberately perpetrating a gigantic hoax on future generations of scholars of Maori history, to prove a point perhaps about the gullibility of the academic community?

Or is he himself the gullible victim of a hoax concocted over twenty years ago by James Ngatoa?

Whatever the answer, what really disappoints me is that for well over a decade he has been helping to peddle the Ko Huiarau hoax, lending to it his academic credibility, and the credibility of the institutions where he has studied and worked; the Auckland Museum and the Auckland University. Yet the academic community, particularly in Auckland, has not raised a peep in public to condemn one of their own.

Professor Ranginui Walker has been the only one to declare Ko Huiarau a hoax.

Why is that so? Is it perhaps the old boys club at work, protecting one of their own? Whatever the reason for their silence, it reflects squarely on their own academic integrity.


Indonesia - awakening giant

I was at dinner the other night, and was asked about the political situation in Indonesia, based on my fairly long association with the country. Very little of what is presently happening in Indonesia is reported by the media, yet what happens there has the potential to closely affect our own position in the world, and our future in this region.

In the current Defence debate over F16s and frigates and peacekeeping, the long term political and economic stability of Indonesia doesn't get a mention, except as the current bogeyman of Southeast Asia, because of the East Timor happenings. Yet the stability of Indonesia is vital to our own stability.

The many peoples of Indonesia are quite closely related to Maori and other Polynesians, culturally and linguistically. Our shared language family covers the area bounded by Taiwan (indigenous Taiwanese, not the Chinese), to Hawai'i, Rapanui/Easter Island, Aotearoa, and across to Madagascar. This is the region of our peoples, and includes all of Polynesia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Despite the eurocentric systems that are installed here, clinging to the British Crown, to the Privy Council, and to the culturally inappropriate Westminster system of parliament and judiciary and government, Aotearoa New Zealand is most definitely an Asian Pacific nation, and we Maori are an Asian Pacific people. We are at home in South East Asia and in the Pacific, and the Indonesian peoples are our people. Pakeha try to ignore the facts about that, as they cling to their British institutions and tikanga and mindset.

With approximately 210 million people, the fourth largest population in the world, covering an area of 1.92 million square km, Indonesia has the potential to be a world power, and certainly the most powerful nation in our region. It is located just north of the Australian continent, within spitting distance almost.

No wonder Australia is concerned about our defence capacity. We need to be concerned, not just for peace in Indonesia, but about what might happen if Indonesia destabilises, and if other powers decide to step in and seize parts of the archipelago for themselves.

Yet the media ignores them, and politicians seem content to ignore them as well, when they aren't slagging them off for being a colonial power in East Timor and elsewhere.

What is happening in Indonesia?

Since Indonesia took its independence from the Dutch in 1945, it has been a republic combining many different peoples and cultures and languages. The major governing institution in all that time has been the military. The Dutch did not build any civil governing infrastructure in their time, and in 1945 the only institution with the organisation and people and system to provide any sort of governance was the military.

The Indonesian military fought the Dutch, won independence, and then built Indonesia to where it is today. It has always been a nation building institution, close to the centre of power. It is too easy and too simplistic to condemn the whole of the military establishment for the excesses of a few power hungry generals, notably Suharto's son-in-law, who was responsible for the killing in East Timor. It is too easy to pass judgement on the military because it holds great political power, without understanding the nature of Indonesian society.

In many ways Indonesia has also developed into a Javanese empire, the Javanese being the largest ethnic group, and who have, since 1945, colonised all the other islands and provinces, including East Timor and West Papua, or Irian Jaya. This has caused much ill feeling, and the pent-up resentment is now being expressed throughout the archipelago.

In the early 1960s the then President Sukarno tried the dangerous strategy of playing off the different forces in Indonesian society against each other in order to maintain his own position. They were the military, the communists and the Muslims. After much bloodshed, the strategy led to the 1965/66 coup d'etat by General Suharto who assumed the presidency and held it until last year.

He held onto power with the backing of the military, and ethnic Chinese business interests who controlled most of Indonesia's economy.

Now we have President K H Abdurrahman Wahid, leader of the National Awakening Party (PKB), and until recently head of Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation of 37 million members, Nahdlatul Ulama. This is a powerful man. He is commonly known in Indonesia as Gus Dur.

In many ways Gus Dur is trying to emulate Sukarno in the early 1960s by trying to balance the competing interests of the military, Muslims and the economically important Chinese. At the same time he is trying to hold the lid on outbreaks of secessionism in many provinces, and on Muslim extremists who have declared jihad against Christians in the provinces. All of this had previously been kept in check by Suharto's military backed regime, albeit an increasingly corrupt regime.

Then there is the serious state of the economy. The value of the Rupiah has fallen from Rp1700 to the US dollar, to its value now at about Rp7000 to the dollar. Most if not all of Indonesia's banks are technically bankrupt. A large number of her major businesses are trading but technically insolvent.

Gus Dur is making moves to lessen Indonesia's dependence on the USA, and seems to be making overtures to China and Russia. He is also following in Malaysia's footsteps in trying to reduce the influence of the IMF and other western inspired organisations that control the global economy. Indonesia needs World Bank loans to survive, but the World Bank is moving to cut back on the amount it loans to Indonesia each year.

All of this means that Indonesia at the moment is a powder keg. There is a danger that it will implode, with provinces such as Aceh, West Papua, Maluku and Riau seeking self government. The breaking away of East Timor has kindled the same fires in other provinces, and although we should applaud East Timor's independence, we should be concerned that it does not light a bonfire throughout Indonesia's other provinces. If they are to move to a different system of governance based on a federal model, of even if other provinces are destined to gain their independence, we should be concerned that it be a peaceful, evolutionary process.

Other dangers are present. Although Gus Dur has dismissed many generals, including all Christian generals, and replaced them with more compliant ones, there remains the danger of an army coup d'etat, and much bloodshed. There is the ever present danger of an extremist Muslim jihad against the Christian minority, and in any conflict in Indonesia it is always the Chinese who get massacred as well. Whatever happens, if there is bloodshed and widespread unrest, the military remains the only institution capable of maintaining stability and order. Indonesia is faced with insurmountable problems. Its leadership is caught between a rock and a hard place.

New Zealand, a country of 3.8 million cannot hope to understand the problems of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious country of 210 million, spread throughout an archipelago covering 1.92 million square km; yet you can be sure that we New Zealanders will set up a cacophony of condemnation, whatever happens in Indonesia in the future.

Pakeha New Zealanders look at Indonesians as just another bunch of Asians. But for Maori, these are our people, and we should be concerned and informed about what happens in Indonesia. Pakeha New Zealanders are quick to judge and stereotype others without understanding their histories and cultures. We know that well, from our post-contact history.

Unlike the Pakeha, we should be compassionate observers, slow to judge, and quick to sympathise with the people, if not with their leaders.

To participate with a group that monitors what's happening, join:




radical doubt & rangatiratanga
questioning the unquestioned


Since the early 1970s I have been profoundly influenced by a number of writers who have taught me the value of a "readiness and capacity for critical questioning of all assumptions and institutions which have become idols under the name of shared beliefs, common sense, logic, tradition, and what is supposed to be "natural". I shall mention a few of them.

Bertrand Russell taught me the value of scepticism, of not accepting commonly accepted ideas and beliefs as ultimate truth, for they almost never are. I think he taught me not to accept many of his own ideas as well!

Eric Fromm said that "radical doubt is a process; a process of liberation from idolatrous thinking; a widening of awareness of imaginative, creative vision of our possibilities and options."

I have found that that process is indeed a process of liberation and creativity; a liberation of the mind and spirit from the prisons that we and others create around them; comfortable prisons of ideas, concepts and beliefs. I have found that the questioning process is often uncomfortable, for few people enjoy having their cherished beliefs exposed to the process of radical doubt.

Last month I wrote that taking charge of your own health is an important aspect of claiming your rangatiratanga. But the beginning point of rangatiratanga is to take charge of your own mind. To begin to take charge of your own mind you must begin to question what is in it, and how it got there. That can be a scary process, but it is also a liberating process.

Ivan Illich is a deeply stimulating and courageous thinker who showed me that some of the core beliefs of society, and most of society's institutions, can be questioned and shown to be harmful to the very society from which they grew.

That we come to accept these beliefs and institutions as gospel, says more about the way we think, than it does about the quality of the beliefs and institutions. For we tend to think as a hive of bees thinks, collectively, and once a collective belief takes hold it becomes ingrained in our minds until long after its usefulness or truthfulness has passed. We become hostage to a mindset, or paradigm, and nothing short of a near-death experience will move our minds on. Most people never ever move on.

According to Antonio Gramsci this phenomena is used by the ruling class or the ruling elites. "The capitalist class normally relies less on coercion, on domination by direct use of force and intimidation, and puts greater emphasis on winning the consent [i.e. cooperation] of the governed. The ruling class seeks to establish a moral and ideological leadership, or hegemony, over society as a whole by instilling its values within the general population."

In Aotearoa New Zealand the political and economic elites do not discriminate, and seek to establish this hegemony over Maori and non-Maori alike. We need therefore to be aware, that as well as having our own Maori campaign to wage, we need also to be part of the larger campaign against that hegemony, and we need to question all the assumptions of the society we live in, instead of narrowly focusing on the indicators of disparities or gaps between Maori and non-Maori - on our own situation.

Writing in the 1990s Daniel Quinn has set about exposing those cultural assumptions as well, and tracing their sources and development over the last 10,000 years. I have incorporated some of Quinn's ideas into the columns of "Te Putatara", and reviewed some of his books, during the last few months.

Ivan Illich radically questioned the ruling institutions such as the Church, schooling, work, the medicalisation of health, and energy usage, and he pointed out the inconsistencies in our beliefs around these issues. Nothing has changed of course, and the institutions remain as they were, but his research and analysis are as valid today as they were during his main publishing years in the 1970s.

Why should we focus on, and continually question, the institutions of civil society? In Gramsci's view, "the ruling class in the West does not simply dominate society by means of the state - the political bureaucracy, police, army, and courts. Instead, he suggests, western capitalism is characterized by a diverse civil society - consisting of schools, political parties, mass media, churches, and other organizations - through which the ruling class can extend its influence over the mass of the population. Most of the time, he argues, institutions of civil society play a more important role than does the state in securing its rule.

I draw upon Illich's work in my questioning of some of the institutions we Maori accept as givens in society, such as "schooling" and "health".

Later in this newsletter I will draw on the work of David Hood, a former CEO of the NZ Qualifications Authority, who critically questions the institution of the secondary school in New Zealand.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s another radical questioner, the late Bruce Jesson, was almost a lone voice in the intelligensia in New Zealand, in his public questioning of the Washington Consensus, an economic madness foist upon New Zealand since 1984 in the guise of Rogernonmics and Ruthenasia. In his last book "Only Their Purpose is Mad" (1999), he wrote, "New Zealand was a hollow society, a society without texture, a society without centres of resistance, as 1984 and its aftermath have demonstrated".

We are indeed "a society without resistance". And even though we Maori continue to struggle and protest against the ongoing effects of the colonial period, and even though we resist the more obvious attempts by governments to continue that colonisation, we are still very vulnerable, and show very little resistance, to ideas and concepts that will not serve us well, over a sustainable period. Some of those ideas and concepts originate from within ourselves.

I believe that we must develop within Te Ao Maori a core process of radical doubt, where the unquestioned is questioned, and where the ideas, concepts and beliefs upon which we will build our new society, are subjected to deep critical analysis. I think we have been let down in this regard by the Maori Studies departments in the universities, where with only a few exceptions, they seem to have focused more upon political rhetoric and political action, than upon the scholarship of ideas.

In the last few issues of "Te Putatara", in my own small way, I have chosen to question our beliefs around some of the icons of Maori development; gaps analysis, Treaty analysis, the concept of "iwi", and development programmes. I have been questioning also the myth of the "unwritten constitution", and the concept of a "sovereign parliament". The questioning will continue.

Perhaps in a future issue I will also move on to question the concept of "development". And perhaps that would mean a questioning of the whole rationale for a Ministry of Maori Social and Economic Development, a.k.a. Te Puni Kokiri.



teaching critical thinking
rangatiratanga in action


Many people in the movement, in the struggle for rangatiratanga, are involved in the process of consciousness raising, or the de-colonisation of the minds of our people. It is indeed a struggle for the hearts and minds and souls of our own people.

Unfortunately, for some in the movement this means doing to Maori minds what the Pakeha tries to do to them - indoctrination and brainwashing. And we end up at hui after hui with the people regurgitating the mindless rhetoric that has been planted in their minds, by our own. And they apply that rhetoric to situations that are totally inappropriate, for it is all that they know. Treaty rhetoric is an outstanding example.

The key is to move beyond consciousness raising to what Paulo Freire called conscientization. It is not just to provide them with the information to show how they have been misled and coerced by the establishment, but to teach them, to lead them, to show them, how to think for themselves, critically and coherently.

And the only way to do that, I think, is to begin on one's own mind, and to demonstrate one's own willingness to critically examine what is in there.


ko huiarau cult
a misuse of consciousness raising

Ko Huiarau operate at the extremes of consciousness raising, indoctrinating and brainwashing their members with a totally invented history, and with totally unrealistic promises and expectations, in order to control and manipulate them for the personal gain of the leaders of the movement.

They deliberately imprison the minds of their followers, all the while promising them their freedom from the Pakeha prisons of the mind. One prison for another.

Another definition of cult leaders: "Messianic preachers peddling guarantees to a better life".



te whare miere,
house of honeyed deceit
parliament, parliament, what a sadsack ol' outfit you are


Prebble, Tamihere and Waipareira

As you'll all know the big issue in the House has been the mean, nasty and vicious personal and political attack on John Tamihere and the Waipareira Trust by Richard Prebble and ACT.

There is widespread belief that this is a racially motivated attack, and there could well be some of that.

And the whole thing says as much or more about Prebble, as it does about Tamihere.

However, all the information being used by ACT has come from disaffected Maori, including former Waipareira board members, and this attack is really an attack on Maori by Maori, using ACT and Parliament to settle some old scores. Think long and hard on that before you put your raruraru into the Pakeha domain.


The Bear Pit (with apologies to the bears)

I saw John Tamihere at the Wellington airport a few weeks ago on his way home to Tamaki Makaurau for the weekend. He said he was glad to be getting out of Wellington for the weekend.

My comment was that it was his choice to come to Wellington.

Parliament is a nasty place, the nastiest place in the land, barring none, where personal attacks are commonplace, and politicians will often use the cover of parliamentary privilege to destroy their opponents, and to gain any political advantage. Childish bickering and infantile behaviour are common. It's an adversarial system that aims to destroy opponents' political and personal credibility. And if you don't agree with the Party, you'll be bullied until you do. That's their tikanga. That's what you sign up for when you become an MP.

If you have anything in your past, real or imagined, that can be used against you - it will be. If you have enemies out there, they will try to get you. If you put your head up, someone will try to knock it off.

If you want to be an MP, that's what you choose to join.


Bad tactics

John Tamihere has shown that he's not really up to it, losing his cool in the House and falling into the traps set by Prebble. And using the same tactics to smear Denis Hansen, Naida Glavish and Hyram Parata under the cover of parliamentary privilege was bad tactics. He climbed down into the gutter to join battle, and whether he's guilty or not guilty, win or lose, he lost the war, right at that moment.

He has since apologised.


What goes around, comes around

Put aside the questionable political motivations and the nasty personal attacks that always lie beneath this sort of behaviour in the Parliament, and consider the irony.

From 1986 there were three government funded Maori "authorities" in Auckland - Manakau Urban Maori Authority (MUMA), Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust and Tamaki Maori Development Authority (TMDA).

In 1989 the Department of Maori Affairs mounted an attack on TMDA as a result of allegations of misuse of funds. Some of these allegations were made by disaffected members of the TMDA board. The allegations were made in the media through Adam Gifford, and were taken up by Tamati Reedy, Neville Baker and Bert Mackie of Maori Affairs, and by the racist Crown Law Office. The Department of Maori Affairs strategy was contrived by their financial advisers, Deloittes.

John Tamihere was the Auckland Director of the Department of Maori Affairs, and he enthusiastically joined in the attack on TMDA, and appeared in the media lamenting the lack of accountability at TMDA.

Maori Affairs tried to force TMDA to replace its CEO, Bert McLean, and when they refused to do so, all government funding was cut off from TMDA. They struggled on for over a year, but given the adverse publicity generated by Gifford, Baker and Tamihere, they found that all their credit lines at the banks were withdrawn. It was also a time when the banks were panicking in the aftermath of the 1987 sharemarket crash. TMDA were eventually forced into receivership.

Both the Police Fraud Squad and the Audit Office had exonerated TMDA from all charges against them, but this did not stop Maori Affairs and the Crown Law Office from forcing TMDA out of business. The legal action continued for years and eventually reached the High Court, where TMDA was finally exonerated.

As we all know, John Tamihere went on from Maori Affairs to a job at a law office, and went from there to become CEO of Waipareira, where he modelled many of his programmes on those that used to run at TMDA. Now he's under attack.

What goes around, comes around.


Lessons from TMDA and Waipareira

What will probably happen as a result of these many investigations into Waipareira will be that someone will draw up a set of new accountablility and transparency rules for Maori and other providers that contract with Government to provide services. After all, this Goverment is committed to building capacity within communities, and they've just committed $100 million to the West Coast.

What needs to be drawn up is a set of safeguards for community providers that enter into contracts with Government, including an independent authority, perhaps an ombudsman, that investigates any allegations against community providers, and any complaints by providers against Government. It should also have the power to protect providers from political and bureaucratic interference in their legitimate affairs, and to order compensation and damages when they suffer from such interference.

The whole area of contractual arrangements between communities and Government has long been fraught with danger for community providers, especially Maori providers. Successive governments, politicians and bureaucrats have shown a marked tendency to disregard the legal rights of communities, their organisations and their citizens in the whole area of contractual law.


Parliamentary Privilege

Is is time for Parliamentary Privilege to be abolished.

Parliamentarians claim that they need to be able to speak freely in the House in order to properly debate the affairs of the nation. Yet whenever it is invoked, it is almost always used to defame citizens without fear of reprisal, or to launch unsubstantiated innuendo and attacks on other parliamentarians. The way they have used this privilege has been an outrage, a gross abuse of privilege, an abuse of position, and it ought to be stopped.

There is absolutely nothing democratic about parliamentary privilege, and there is no reason at all for the belief that parliamentarians should hold themselves above the laws they impose on all other citizens.

And their record shows, even if there is a reason for parliamentary privilege, that New Zealand politicians have not earned, and do not deserve the privilege.

Parliamentarians ought to be liable, under the laws of defamation, for everything they say inside the House, as well as outside it. And if they are made liable, we might as a nation become just a little more civilised, for the behaviour they role model in the House is uncivilised by any standard.


More irony

Do you remember about three years ago, when the Labour Party and Trevor Mallard mounted a similarly mean, nasty and vicious personal attack in the House on Tukuroirangi Morgan? Do you remember that Mallard didn't prove a single thing against Morgan, except perhaps that he overpaid himself, indicating an over-inflated sense of his own worth? And that Tuku spent far too much on his underwear, indicating that he might be a bit of an idiot at times.

That mean, nasty and vicious personal attack said as much or more about Mallard as it did about Morgan.

And by my estimate, about 100% of parliamentarians eventually develop an over-inflated sense of their own worth; and about 50% could be classified as idiots.



old minds with new programmes


Questioned in Parliament, the Minister for Education, Trevor Mallard, revealed that the Government would unveil an adult literacy strategy later this year.

He said that about half the adult population, and 77 percent of unemployed people, have literacy levels below the minimum needed to cope with everyday life and work. This is a true indictment on the education system, which fails to produce a literate society, despite having that as its main aim. Or does it.


For decades educators have fought a bitter battle over the best way to teach reading, whether by the phonics or whole-language methods. Both sides of this debate are wrong. For decades researchers have known that it is not the teaching method that is the most important factor in successful literacy programmes. The most important consideration is that the method of teaching should be matched to the needs and preferences of the learner.

SPELD teachers have known and successfully employed this philosophy for decades, yet they and their methods have been banned from most schools. SPELD teachers know that individual learners employ a variety of learning strategies to understand and absorb new skills and knowledge. I have seen children with reading difficulties under the standard schooling system, who respond only to kinesthetic stimulation, and who have learnt to read through the use of sandpaper cutout letters, and sandtable writing boxes. These children learned best through touch. Schools do not cater at all for these children. Nor do they cater for children who learn best through the phonics method.

Citizens of this country are condemned to lives of under-achievement in a literate society because they never learn to read properly. Maori are over-represented in that group. The greater proportion of prison inmates are not able to read and write properly, and research has shown that illiteracy is a major factor in societal dropout, and subsequent criminal offending.

The blame for this parlous state of affairs can only be laid on the schools of the nation, and on the blinkered educators who insist that there is only one way to teach reading. Self-centred educators who focus on the needs of teachers instead of the needs of learners.

This single example of the teaching of reading provides ample evidence that educators are stuck in a mindset that doesn't provide for the needs of society, yet they refuse to acknowledge that they are all wrong.


In 1971 in Deschooling Society Ivan Illich defined school as "the age-specific, teacher-related process requiring full-time attendance at an obligatory curriculum".

According to Illich, obligatory schooling assumes that children can be taught only in school, that learning is the result of teaching, and that the teacher is the best qualified person to fit the roles of custodian, preacher and therapist. He explores the hidden curriculum of schooling and finds it to be the indoctrination of society with the myths and rituals and institutionalised values of the dominant elite. He goes on of course to refute the whole concept of schooling, and to advocate the deschooling of society, and to propose alternatives.

Illich's analysis has much to say for Maori entrapped in an obligatory schooling system designed to impose the dominant culture. Even with the development of Maori medium schooling such as kura kaupapa and wharekura, we do not wholly escape from the intent of the dominant system, for the curriculum and rules and values are still imposed from without, and many of our teachers are trained in the other system anyway, and bring with them concepts of education and values from that system. Besides which, most of our children are caught in the dominant schooling system anyway, not in Maori medium schools, and probably always will be.


In 1998 in Our secondary schools don't work anymore David Hood showed why and how New Zealand schooling must change for the 21st century. Hood was the first CEO of the NZ Qualifications Authority, and prior to that a long-time teacher and principal at secondary schools. He produced a highly unpopular analysis of the secondary school and its failings. He also discusses most of the modern research about schooling, and points the way to a better future. I have heard from within the Ministry of Education that he is now mostly persona non grata in the educational establishment.

The whole range of his analysis is relevant to Maori, and he ought to be read by every Maori parent and educator. However I will focus on only one aspect in this article.

For Maori we need to understand that the process of schooling is designed as a filter to allow the "best", as defined by the system, to float to the top, and to join the ranks of the educated literate or clerical elite. This filter assumes that only one type of intelligence is relevant to the needs of society, and that all other intelligences and talents and abilities are of lesser value.

Consequently those who teach and those who hold the power positions in society, and those who decide what shall be held to be of value, and what shall taught and assessed, are those representatives of a narrow band of intelliegence who have been filtered and selected by the schooling system. So the inequities are perpetuated.

This is a strange belief as we enter into the 21st century where the fastest growing and largest sectors of the world economy are travel and tourism, and the creative industry.

The assessment, examination and testing system reinforces the dominant belief by deliberately failing up to 50% of all pupils, Maori and non-Maori alike. For Maori, this is probably closer to 60% or 70%. Hence the "gap". But the gap is there for Maori and non-Maori alike, and it is 100% deliberate.


You see, Illich was absolutely right about the hidden purposes of curriculum.

We are then told that we as a people are failing to achieve in education, and that we need to have strategies and programmes to close the gaps and to improve our performance.

No Maori education strategy that sits within the present system will succeed. Schooling improvement projects only fiddle around the edges. The under-achievement is deliberately designed into the system. Schooling is a gigantic con job.

Read the book (Hood David, 1998, Our secondary schools don't work anymore, Profile Books, Auckland)



new minds with vision
a call for a schooling revolution


I know that a lot of Maori teachers read "Te Putatara". I think that you have to decide whether you are old minds, slaves to the system that deliberately fails our people despite your best efforts, or whether you are new minds with vision.

I think that you need to read David Hood, and read him again and again and again, until you have internalised his message.

I think that you need to lead a schooling revolution, and to demand a learner-centred curriculum that values all the intelligences and skills and talents and strengths of our people. I think you need to demand a system that deliberately aims at and facilitates 100% achievement, based on all the strengths of all learners.

Too hard, I hear you say. Then consider this. It was you Maori teachers who forced the system to drop the scaling of Te Reo Maori examination results for School Certificate. Finish the job.



Te Taiopuru Ko Huiarau
James Ngatoa and mate whakapapa


The Ko Huiarau cult and scam is based on the claims of one James Ngatoa to be the Maori King, a hoax he has pursued for over twenty years. To validate his claim he has invented a complete history of Maori / Crown relations, and Maori / settler relations beginning in 1808, based very loosely on some real historical events. He has woven into this fabrication the thread of a non-existent Taiopuru, or Paramount Chief, or King.

He has also invented a whakapapa / family history in which the mantle of Taiopuru or King has been handed down to him.

His behaviour is symptomatic of a mental disease I usually refer to as mate whakapapa, or genealogical disease. It is quite common in people who aspire to be more than they really are, and who delude themselves about their hereditary chieftainship. Over the last fifteen years for instance, I have known two people who were absolutely convinced that they were the hereditary paramount chief of Ngati Kahungunu, based on the fact they they were descended from Tamatea-Ariki-Nui. Not many of them take things to this extent though, building a nationwide organisation based on lies and distortions in order to validate one's delusions to kingship.

The South Auckland man is a close associate and collaborator of former Auckland Museum ethnologist David Simmonds.

Ngatoa is behind the grandiose plans for a Maori Parliament. Calling himself Tairea Waikato Tauranga Wharehirihiri, and other magical titles, he formed Te Runanga ko Huiarau, promising to deal with Maori issues like health, housing, jobs and education. They are of course empty promises from an empty king who wears an imitation gold crown as part of his kingly regalia, as he sits upon his imitation pinewood throne.

We have recently received evidence from fellow prisoners that James Ngatoa is a convicted paedophile who has spent time inside. Apparently, even while he was in prison, he proclaimed his innocence, but was never believed. It seems he suffers from mental afflictions other than mate whakapapa.

All hail James Ngatoa, self-proclaimed Ariki Te Tai-o-Tutae Ko Huiarau.



book review:
"Rabuka of Fiji, the authorised
biography of Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka"

by John Sharpham, Central Queensland University Press, Brisbane, 2000


I'm probably a bit biased about this book as I've known Sitiveni Rabuka and a few of the other players in it since the mid 1970s. E hoa ma, you can see that I'm a name dropper, ne.

In the late 1960s the then Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was quoted as saying that if the Indians ever gained political power in Fiji, then Suva would burn to the ground, and all the indigenous Fijians would lose would be the Indians' records of Fijian debt. At the time when I pointed this out to my military and political masters, they saw no significance in it. I was not surprised by the 1987 coup d'etat in Fiji. But they were.

In 1974 the then Captain Sitiveni Rabuka told me about his village and his tribe, and the traditional role of his tribe, and various other tribes, in the affairs of indigenous Fiji. His tribe were the warriors who did the bidding of the Chiefs, and he saw that his role as an army officer was to fulfil his traditional role. I was not surprised by who carried out the 1987 coup d'etat.

In 1998 I had a session with him in Suva, and I reminded Sitiveni of that earlier conversation, and asked indirectly if he had been asked by the Chiefs to mount the coup. He did not deny my proposition.

In this biography Sitiveni Rabuka publicly reveals for the first time that he had some support from the Fijian Great Council of Chiefs, and that he had the support of the then Prime Minister and High Chief, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Ratu Mara is now denying the allegation, and is suing Rabuka and the book's publishers for that revelation. Ratu Mara is now President of the Republic, and would certainly be embarrassed by the book.

As one would expect, most of the book is given over to the coup d'etat and subsequent events, including Colonel Rabuka's promotion to Brigadier then Major-General, and Army Commander; then to his role as Cabinet Minister, and then Prime Minister. After the coup he was made a life member of the Fijian Great Council of Chiefs, and after being voted out of government last year he was made Chairman of that Council of Chiefs. He has since resigned his seat in Parliament.

The Great Council of Chiefs appoints the President of the Republic of Fiji. There is much speculation about whether Sitiveni Rabuka will succeed Ratu Mara as the next President. Whether he does or not, he has now reached the pinnacle in the traditional indigenous Fijian hierarchy, a remarkable honour for a man born a commoner.

The book chronicles a remarkable journey by the commoner son of a village schoolmaster to army officer, Army Commander, Prime Minister, and then to Chairmanship of the Fijian Great Council of Chiefs. It was, of course, an unconventional journey by an unconventional person, who took the most illustrious part of that journey into his own hands in 1987.

I found the chapters leading up to the coup to be very interesting, and to set the scene well for the rest of the book. It chronicles his village years, then his years at boarding schools where his leadership aptitude and skills were developed by his experiences and mentors. His experiences and education in the army deepened his leadership ability and reputation, and gained him the respect of all his soldiers and many other indigenous Fijians. He was known as a commander who always looked after his soldiers. He was a loner from an early age, who nevertheless had the ability to relate well to people, and to build enduring relationships and networks. He also showed an early tendency to champion the ordinary people, and to be passionately committed to matters indigenously Fijian.

A theme that unveils itself in these leadup chapters is that his whole journey reveals his destiny from childhood to be a great Fijian leader.

From an early age he decided that he would be an army officer, he pursued that ambition until he achieved it, and he was passionately committed to his career. He was also passionate about his rugby.

This is a man of passion, and his weaknesses in that area are laid bare in the book. His many affairs are revealed, both before and after his marriage to Suluweti. This aspect of his character has attracted much attention in the media since the book was published.

The two coup d'etat in 1987 are interesting, as is the unfolding of his political career, most of it as Prime Minister. It shows that he had to learn a whole new set of skills in order to be a politician, but that his ingrained ability to relate to people stood him in good stead. If anything, the book seemed to hint that he wasn't personally nasty enough to be an outstanding politician.

Perhaps his greatest contribution was that with his former foe turned friend, Jai Ram Reddy (the Indian politician who was jailed by Rabuka), he presided over the adoption of the present constitution. The basis of this constitution was drafted by Sir Paul Reeves and his consitutional commission. However it was Rabuka and Reddy who combined their efforts, against much opposition and mistrust, to slowly but inevitably guide the constitution through various amendments until its eventual adoption. The constitution itself is not modelled on Westminster, but is desiogned specifically for Fiji. This constitutional process is a fascinating aspect of recent political affairs in Fiji not well reported in the media. Perhaps it is because of the lingering white hatred of Rabuka.

The book contains many lessons for Maori about politics and power in the coming fifty years or more, and should be read from that perspective. We can learn much from it, not necessarily about coup d'etat.



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

A few more revelations about Ko Huiarau, and some detailed analysis of their lies and fabrications. The file grows daily as people email more and more revelations about the hoax called Ko Huiarau.

A few poems, the first few in a series called Wayfinders.

go to the what's new page



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