a newsletter for the kumara vine
|Issue No 7/00 - 15th July 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
All news tips welcome. Email email@example.com
"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://www.putatara.net . 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.
Ki te whaiao, ki te ao-marama,
let the trumpet sound,
To signal your emergence
Into the dawn light,
The broad light of day.
Bits 'n' pieces
TU mai magazine
Maori domain names
New Zealand Maori Internet Society
Maori Discussion Forum
Te Whare Miere
Big Hat, No Portfolio
The new Maori Affairs minister
Who's Who in the government, and who matters
Tamihere in the wars again
A kaumatua for the parliament
Our own coup d'etat in Aotearoa New Zealand
More dangerous water, poodlefaking and sheepshagging
Indigenous freemasons in Aotearoa and Fiji
A Pacific Republic
Closing the gaps - education
bits 'n' pieces
As most of you will know I've spent a few weeks re-building my websites. You can get a good overview by going to my personal site at http://maaori.com/rhimona .
The writing has taken a bit of a backseat while this massive re-build has been going on. However I have written the feature story this month for TU mai magazine, on the Fiji coup and what lies behind it.
I'm using some US registered domain names for my new websites - http://maaori.com , http://maorinews.com and http://maori2000.com .
When Kamera Raharaha and I first started building Maori websites a few years ago we were too late to register all the <maori> domain names, as Pakeha people had already started to register them for their own commercial use. We did manage to get a few. However there are a number of 'aa' <maaori> domain names available in both NZ and the USA. Maori people should get in quick and register them before the Pakeha catches on.
I think it's important that Maori get those domain names if we are to continue to establish an authentic world-wide Maori presence on the Net.
That's one of the reasons a few of us founded the New Zealand Maori Internet Society a few years ago. NZMIS has recently been given a new lease of life by some keen and committed members, and is presently working towards incorporation. One of its aims is to get some more appropriate Maori domain names for Maori to use, such as <wananga.nz>, <maori.nz>, <kura.nz> or <hapu.nz>. We think that allocation of these would more appropriately be managed by NZMIS, instead of the Internet Society of New Zealand (ISOCNZ). Our chairperson is also negotiating for NZMIS to become the controller of the <iwi.nz> domain name, which is presently allocated by Te Puni Kokiri on behalf of ISOCNZ.
The New Zealand Maori Internet Society has a new website, temporarily located at http://www.geocities.com/nzmis . We urge people to go there and join. We need a wide base of support and contribution if we are to make sure that Maori are properly represented in the management of the internet in Aotearoa New Zealand. We need to take control of our presence now, instead of waiting to catch up in a 100 years time. Membership is free, and obtained by joining the email subscription list.
The chairperson of the komiti charged with incorporating the society and getting an executive committee elected is Karaitiana Taiuru.
One of the komiti members is Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara who has an impressive website at http://www.culture.co.nz . He runs an active Maori Discussion Forum across a number of discussion groups at http://www.culture.co.nz/forum/index.htm .
te whare miere,
house of honeyed deceit
parliament, parliament, what a sadsack ol' outfit you are
Big Hat, No Portfolio
I'm not going to be hypocrtical about Dover's demise. Te Putatara readers will know that I didn't think Dover had much potential as Minister of Maori Affairs, particularly in tandem with the Browntable has-been CEO of Te Puni Kokiri, Professor Ngatata Love. So I'm not going to lament his downfall.
The other thing about commenting on the whole affair is that it's dangerous water. Despite the silence of most Maori about it, there are some strong feelings on both sides of the debate. Most Maori women I've spoken to think that Dover has got his just desserts, and that an affair with a young woman only one or two years over the age of consent is definitely not on for men in their forties. Many Maori men however are not so quick to condemn, and some hold that there is nothing wrong with such liaisons between consenting adults. There's not only a gender gap in this debate, there's also an age gap, with behaviours that might have gone unnoticed thirty years ago, now being condemned. So I'm not venturing into that debate either.
Truth is, I'm disinterested. From my perspective it's a matter for the Police and / or the morals-police. I am, however, interested in the politics of it.
Helen Clark's overriding concern in government seems to be to stay in government, not just for three years, but for six or more. Everything she does appears to have the stamp of that imperative on it. That's why she got rid of Dover, when she did. He became an embarrassment. Forget her propaganda about his no longer being a credible Minister of Maori Affairs because of the sexual revelations. He never was a credible Minister of Maori Affairs.
Forget her political attacks on Richard Prebble and the ACT Party, trying to lay the blame on them. That's nothing but political dissembling. In this case it pains me to agree with Prebble, but he had very little to do with Dover's demise. In fact Dover had already bared his soul and confessed everything to a journalist, long before Prebble sent his letter to Helen Clark. It was a story just waiting for the right time to break. And it was a story that was always going to play into Helen Clark's agenda to get rid of him, sooner or later.
In the Labour Party caucus they vote on who is to be in Cabinet, and the Prime Minister allocates portfolios. They gave her Dover, probably because he's been around the party for a long time and had a lot of friends in caucus. He is also aligned with the opposing faction in the Labour caucus, the one that used to be Prebble, Douglas, Moore, Goff, Cullen, Braybrook, Hawkins, and a few others.
I pointed out months ago that she immediately surrounded Dover with three associate ministers and a Minister for Treaty negotiations. That was a blatant display of her lack of regard for him. Then she formed the cabinet closing-the-gaps committee with herself as chairperson, and lo and behold, a few months later declared herself to be the defacto Minister of Maori Affairs. There's no way she had any confidence in him as a Cabinet minister, right from the start.
She took the first opportunity that came along to get rid of him. She was always going to do that, and this sexual pecadillo from 14 years ago played right into her hands.
Big hat, no portfolio. And she's got his scalp as well.
The new Maori Affairs minister
There's a bit of a gender gap developing around this debate as well. There are those who say Sandra Lee should get it, but she's not going to, because she's Alliance. There's those that think Tariana Turia should get it, but I don't think she will. She's not politically "safe" from the Labour Party perspective, too radical, too outspoken. She works a lot harder than the Maori male MPs..
I think Parekura Horomia will get it. Been around Wellington quite a long time, knows how the system works, and how to work the system. Works quietly and doesn't make a habit of upsetting people. But he does take them on, and does seem to have had some wins for Maori. Probably seen as politically safe. The consenus seems to be that he should work harder on getting his weight down, and presenting a healthier image to Maori. I had a little go at him the other day at a bunfight in parliament, for getting into the sausage rolls.
Who's Who in the government, or Who Matters
Speaking of factions, most of you will probably not know who really counts in this government. Who is it that holds the whip hand, and makes the real decisions before they go to Cabinet.
There's Helen Clark of course, and her two close friends Margaret Wilson and Judith Tizard. And there's Steve Maharey and Trevor Mallard. These are, you might have noticed, the ones who are inclined to live in their heads rather than their hearts, given to academic theory and not much in touch with practicality.
Then there's Heather Simpson. Heather who?
Heather is the long-time political advisor to Helen Clark, who like her friend and boss has a reputation for being a control freak. She is also the gatekeeper, and is enormously influential in the affairs of the nation while Helen Clark is PM. If anyone wants to get any new policy past Helen Clark, it's got to get past Heather. No, she's not an MP, she's just the hired political help.
Any Maori minister has got to be able to influence this group to get policy accepted and supported through Cabinet.
Except that it seems that Te Puni Kokiri's Ngatata Love has an open line to Helen Clark, and has been reported to be able to get her to call him back at very short notice. That's probably his long-time Labour Party membership at work. It can't be out of respect for his ability and intellectual rigour.
Tamihere in the wars again
Don't have much to comment about the latest attack on John Tamihere. Prebble gets the blame again, and although he may or may not be blameless in this instance, the real attack on Tamihere is coming mostly from Maori people in West Auckland. Again.
Don't be taken in by Helen Clark's prolonged attack on ACT accusing them of generating all the sleaze in Parliament. She's just using it to score some political points against ACT, and the truth of the matter is well hidden behind the rhetoric. She's done a good job on ACT though, and has convinced the country that ACT is solely responsible for the sleaze. Parliament is a sleazy place, and they all indulge in it, one way or another. Clark's snow job on ACT is another example of it.
ACT is the last party I would ever vote for, but I personally am not going to allow Clark to shape my political perceptions with her dissembling. Dissembling is an older, meaner and more accurate description of the behaviour that is now sanitised by political-speak, and called "spin".
We need to remember also that Clark has a personal stake in supporting and protecting John Tamihere. It was her personal intervention that made sure he got the Labour Party nomination for Hauraki. Her credibility is also on the line.
The truth is rarely apparent around Parliament and politics, where perception is more important than substance. My British grandmother knew a thing or two fifty years ago, when she taught me never to believe anything I read or heard, and only half of what I saw with my own eyes. That advice is particularly appropriate in the age of the TV.
A kaumatua for the parliament
Early this month Te Putatara was at the parliament for the powhiri at which John Rangitihi Tahuparae was installed as the first kaumatua for the parliament. This was an historic moment, at which the present speaker Jonathon Hunt, and the previous speaker Doug Kidd, both spoke of their conviction that Parliament needs to acknowledge tikanga Maori.
At another level it was a small beginning, given that most Pakeha members of the House do not make any effort to understand tikanga Maori, and that only a few of the 120 MPs bothered to turn out for the tangata whenua.
What interested me though, was the relative importance of the event in relation to the other goings on in the House. To start with I did not see any political party leaders at the powhiri. Secondly, not all of the Maori MPs were there, but quite a few of them were.
The powhiri started at 9.00am and the Labour caucus started at 10.00am, so that's how important it was to the Labour Party. Even more interesting was which Labour Party Maori MPs stayed for the whole time, including the kai, and which of them went off to the caucus meeting as they were all supposed to do. In most cases Tikanga Paremata prevailed. They've got a way to go yet in that place.
Tariana Turia, Parekura Horomia and Mahara Okeroa stayed.
Our own coup d'etat
in Aotearoa New Zealand
"What I have described ..... is a civilization -- our civilization -- locked in the grip of an ideology -- corporatism. An ideology that denies and undermines the legitimacy of the individual as the citizen in a democracy."
John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization, Penguin, 1997.
While the government has been pontificating on the coup d'etat in Fiji, and promoting the cause of democracy, that same government has been quietly brought to its knees by the anti-democratic forces at work in this country. There are no hostages, except that the whole country has been held hostage. The government has surrendered without a fight, and without negotiation.
This quiet coup in which democracy has been denied for at least another three years has been conducted by the business elites. The "business confidence" propaganda carried by the media controlled by those business elites has been the visible weapon they have used to defeat this government. Behind the scenes they have conducted a guerilla war of muted threats and coercion to force the government to change almost any policy that will bring to an end the 16 year anti-democratic revolution that has taken power from the citizen and delivered it to the corporates, and their political allies.
Since the minority Labour / Alliance government came to power late last year it has spun the fable that it is the mandated government of the people, and that it is intent on closing gaps, promoting regional recovery, and building capacity. But it has all been political dissembling, cloaking reality in propaganda and rhetoric. What has actually happened is that they have given in to the business elites after six months of skirmishing, in the interests of holding on to the illusion of power. Power comes first, and democracy a poor last.
They have proclaimed themselves a policy driven government, and proclaimed their policy making prowess. When put to the test to prove their commitment to their own policy, they failed, and the policy became mere propaganda and rhetoric.
more dangerous water -
poodlefaking and sheepshagging
Alliance MP and former firefighter Grant Gillon really got up their noses in the parliament with his attempted joke about Tory male MPs and their predeliction for love affairs with sheep.
Bestiality they called it, these highly educated and highly insulted representatives, who then proceeded to waste two days' worth of taxpayer-funded time attacking him for a stupid joke gone wrong, and parading their righteousness for the nation to see and hear. I can't stand righteousness. I'd rather sit through two days of bad bestiality jokes than one day of political righteousness.
No, he wasn't talking about small dogs as well. I brought that up.
In the mid-1970s one of my commanders, a much-feared colonel, used to call the military bureaucracy in Wellington "poodlefakers". I must admit that when I first heard him use the term I thought he was being grossly insulting about the people in Wellington, and even insubordinate towards his senior officers. It conjured up all sorts of wierd images. However, as I shared his views about the bureaucracy (and still do), I was pleased to adopt the term "poodlefaker", and it passed into my vocabulary.
It was about six months later that I thought to look it up in the dictionary, and found that it actually meant "youth too much given to tea-parties and ladies society generally".
I wasn't being as insulting as I thought ! The term probably stems from the habit of aging high-born ladies and their ladies-in-waiting in the English aristocracy, keeping small dogs and young men around to pass the time, and to amuse themselves.
Nevertheless, I grew to appreciate that the depth of feeling that the colonel was able to express with this poodlefaking label owed more to what it sounded like, than what it actually meant. It was a safe and non-insubordinate way of being insubordinate. I was much given to subtle insubordination in my army days.
And so to sheep.
I remember that in the 1950s when as a boy I first went to work in our whanau shearing gang, I was the butt of every shearing-shed joke there ever was. My father the Maori boss very kindly didn't warn me about any of this. I was the SheepO, the part-time presser, the pulley-hauley, the water-carrier, the tea-boy, and everything else that no-one else did. And I was the butt of all the tired old jokes that everyone else had heard a thousand times.
Both men and women laughed uproariously when my elder cousin accused me of being intimate with a sheep, when I spent too much time out in the pens goofing off, instead of keeping his catching pen full (of sheep). I didn't think it was funny at the time either, but they did, every time someone accused me of it. Thankfully they eventually tired of the joke.
I went to Australia in the early 1960s, and we NZers for a time became the butt of all the tired old Australian jokes about NZers. For instance, there was the hoop snake that catches its tail in its mouth and rolls down the hill to chase you. They called us K-one W-ones, and Shaky Islanders. But worst of all, they called us sheepshaggers; often.
It had something to do with the tens of millions of sheep in Aotearoa New Zealand. But it was also very ancient, and in those ancient times, it was a funny European joke about shepherds who spent weeks and months on end tending their flocks in remote pastures far from human company. No doubt the joke was based, in small part, on the actual experience of those sheeply communities.
But it was definitely a rural joke, from another time, when we were more down to earth, more open about the foibles of humankind, and less given to hiding the ignoble traits of our species from public view. I miss some of those coarse rural jokes from another time, when life was perhaps more honest, and definitely less complicated. Don't miss the old sheepshagging joke though. Not a bit.
No doubt it was a funny joke as well, in the down-to-earth firestations where Grant Gillon spent some time. But not so in Parliament.
Nevertheless, if Grant Gillon were to accuse the Tories of being poodlefakers, I would be inclined to agree.
in Aotearoa and Fiji
At the airport last week a friend said to me, "Did you know that there are 95 Maori freemasons in Wellington?"
Well I didn't, but I told him some of the ones I know about, and he told me some of the ones he's heard, including Ngatata Love. Aha, I thought to myself, that might help to explain how he's hung on to being CEO of Te Puni Kokiri for another two years; that and his senior membership of the Labour Party.
Like me, my mate knows about the freemasons and their involvement in stealing the land. Te Kiore Kai-whenua (Donald McLean), the government land agent and the greatest of the land thieves, was a prominent freemason, as were his land hungry cronies in farming, business and government. His masonic regalia is proudly displayed in the Waipukurau Masonic Lodge.
I wrote about the freemasons in Te Putatara in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and found myself on the outer (again) with a number of the Maori powerbrokers at the time. I accused them of exchanging the piupiu for a lambskin apron. Subsequently I found that the Freemasons had recruited a number of Maori of both my father's and my generation from within the union movement, through the National Party, among the Mormons, and not surprisingly, from among the old boys of my old Anglican school, Te Aute College.
One of my uncles was a mason, and he was always trying to convince my father to join. My father steadfastly refused, and I myself have inherited his attitude towards them.
When I heard on the news recently that the Masonic Lodge in Levuka, Fiji had been burned down by indigenous Fijians, I immediately thought of the Lodge in Waipukurau, for some strange and possibly felonious reason.
I was reminded also of some information that came my way a few weeks ago, about the influence of the freemasons in indigenous Fijian politics. It's become well-known that part of the reason for the unrest in Fiji is a power struggle between the chiefs of the various regions, and also between the traditional chiefly system and the aspirations of a younger generation of Fijians, impatient with the chiefly system.
I received information from a Fijian journalist, that as well as being an expert in the political manipulation of chiefs and regions, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara uses his influence as a Mason to pull political strings. This correspondent was concerned that this was happening with the appointment of an interim government by the military council. He named Tom Vuetilovoni and Laisenia Qarase as masons. Qarase was interim PM, and Vuetilovoni a cabinet minister in the interim government. He also named Tom Raju, one of the Indians who declined to be in the interim government, as a mason.
The coup makers have targeted the traditional indigenous Fijian political elite, and have steadfastly refused to accept their involvement in any future government. The freemasons, whose members include many of the Fijian, Indian and European political and business elites, seem to be a target as well.
A Pacific Republic
More and more, from the various islands and tribes of Melanesia, and to a certain extent in Micronesia and Polynesia, from West Papua right across the Pacific, we are seeing the negative results of trying to govern along the artificial political lines and boundaries imposed arbitrarily by the former colonial powers.
Most of the nation states of the Pacific are the result of this arbitrary unite and rule, divide and rule, colonial practice of creating nations where traditional boundaries and autonomies were totally ignored. In Aotearoa New Zealand they embarked on a strategy to completely subjugate, and eventually wipe out, the tribes. In most places the colonists also ensured that selected chiefs had a stake in the new order, and were able to reinforce their own prestige and wealth by going along with it. The old flattery and bribery strategy, well known to us in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Today in the Pacific we have a hodge podge of island nations, most of them too small and too poor to survive without financial aid from Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and the USA. Most of them are too impoverished to afford their own defence forces, or to provide them with advanced and expensive training, and are reliant on arrangements with larger countries for their defence, including the economic defence of their vast fisheries resources.
They are also prone to political and economic manipulation by the more economically developed nations. However, the Pacific Ocean is strategically important, and the island nations are likely to remain strategic pawns unless they devise another way of projecting their mana onto the world around them.
It seems to me that the way to defend to some extent against the manipulations of the economic powers is to unite against them as a single federalised nation of the Pacific, so that individual island nations are not picked off one by one, and so that Western and other governments are forced to deal with a united front. I think that Pacific peoples as a whole would enjoy greater autonomy in world affairs than at present. They would certainly be better able to defend against bullying and interference in their internal affairs by Australia and New Zealand.
A federal system could also allow for much greater political autonomy for those islands and tribes that are aggrieved by the present political arrangements, as in West Papua, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, etc.
It is not likely though, given the stake that the indigenous political elites have in keeping the present colonially imposed systems in place.
closing the gaps
the presentation of data
There has been some interest in my method of graphical display to show the existence of the true gaps in institutional performance in Aotearoa New Zealand.
I contend that by showing only the gaps or disparities between Maori and non-Maori performance or achievement, the problem becomes a Maori problem, and the real problems are masked.
The only Maori who really benefit from this inadequate analysis are those who make a living by conducting this incomplete research (mainly Te Puni Kokiri, but across a range of government agencies), and those providers who stand to benefit from funding directed towards programmes supposedly designed to close the gaps. The gaps are never actually closed, or even reduced, despite and because of the shoddy research, the propaganda and rhetoric that masquerade as closing-the-gaps analysis and policy.
In education for instance, the failure of the schooling system to discover and build upon the strengths, talents and abilities of all students is hidden behind a "Maori" and a "closing-the-gaps" problem. The reality is that the schooling system was deliberately designed to promote the interests and well-being of a particular type of person with certain linguistic and analytic intelligences, and to weed out all others, Maori and non-Maori. The curriculum, teaching methods, and the assessment and examination systems are designed to ensure exactly that - student failure, both Maori and non-Maori.
In a sense the schooling system is not failing anyone, for it is deliberately designed to ensure failure by about 40% of all students. It so happens that within that overall failure rate, Maori under-achievement is slightly greater than non-Maori.
The schooling system has, for over a hundred years, been so successful at filtering out those who do not fit the standard desired profile of the clerical and academic elites, that the system itself is almost totally populated by teachers, managers and administrators (in schools and in the government agencies) who themselves are absolutely incapable of recognising the needs of the other half of the population. They are the successes of a schooling system that filtered out all other persons with different but no less important intelligences, talents and abilities. That is the true failure of the system; it reflects the needs of only about half of the total population, whether Maori or non-Maori.
These images show the difference in the two approaches to presenting data on the gaps.
A standard display of
display of closing the gaps
data to show the true failure of
schooling in Aotearoa New Zealand
In the modern world the largest and fastest growing industries and activities are in tourism and travel, and in the creative industry.
In general, schooling systems are designed to reinforce the dominance of the linear-thinking clerical and academic elites, and are totally divorced from the reality that the creative intelligences are at least of equal importance in the real world, and in a great many cases, more financially rewarding.
I believe that the perceived problem of Maori under-achievement in this schooling system is only a minor problem compared to the active discrimination against all students who do not fit the system's narrowly defined and elitist profile of the ideal student.
Change that, and you will dramatically improve Maori performance, and non-Maori as well.