Hooton on Maori

Matthew Hooton responds to Hone Harawira’s attack on Paul Holmes:

Notably, the criticism of Mr Holmes was more for his tone than his message.

The exception was veteran hothead Hone Harawira who took to his keyboard to bash out a response nearly as vitriolic as Mr Holmes’ original but hilariously revealing that Mr Holmes had a point.

Mr Holmes, Mr Harawira said, was “mean and nasty”; “offensive and uncaring.”

Many Maori hadn’t really wanted to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, worrying that the British couldn’t be trusted and “just wanted to steal our land.”

The treaty opponents also wanted to stop “untrustworthy pakeha traders from pushing gut-rot alcohol into Maori communities” and make “dirty, stinking, pakeha whalers, sailors, thieves and brigands wash more than three times a year.”

The early Europeans also mistreated Maori children, “telling them to shut up, hitting them.”

Mr Harawira acknowledged that pre-European New Zealand “wasn’t exactly a bunch of roses,” but Maori had “strong and vibrant societies … until you guys introduced the gun, the Bible and the pox, and wreaked havoc and devastation like we’d never seen before.”

Despite all this, Mr Harawira tells us, Maori signed the treaty anyway.

It was all downhill for Maori since then according to the rent a mob.

Nothing improved.“In terms of health, welfare, education, employment, housing and justice,” he wrote, “Maori statistics are still worse than everyone else in the country. There’s not a lot to make Maori want to smile and clap.”

Mr Harawira is to be commended for clarifying the message of the Waitangi rent-a-mob.

Thanks to him, we now understand that the influence of Europeans on New Zealand has been almost entirely negative. It is their fault Maori are unhealthy, fail at school, don’t have jobs or houses and get sent to jail.

It’s only because of pakeha that Maori kids get ignored and beaten up.

Yep It’s all our fault. The effects of colonisation were truly horrible:

It is true that European colonisation was deeply traumatic when it occurred on every continent in the second half of the second millennium.People were killed directly or because of exotic diseases.Land was stolen. Everyone experienced profound culture shock.

But it’s also true that the process led to a hitherto unimaginable improvement in living standards everywhere in the world as people traded, learned from one another and exchanged technologies and ideas.

All New Zealanders, Maori and pakeha, whether rich or poor by contemporary standards, enjoy a material standard of living far superior to the vast majority of people living in the world today and certainly in the top fraction of a percent of all the people who have ever lived.

Even as New Zealand slips from first world to second, future generations of New Zealanders will enjoy material comforts superior to anything imaginable today.

It is possible – and, if Mr Harwira’s ideas pollute another few generations, even probable – that Maori will continue, on average, to enjoy a lower standard of living than other New Zealanders.

The fading impact of colonisation will be one factor but far more important will be the loser attitudes that people like Mr Harawira spread among their young.

Yes, we are constantly told about those ideas and attitudes and how they will solve all ills:

Ideas like holding up one social structure that evolved in a stone-age environment in two islands in the South Pacific as a model for the future.

Ideas like the primacy of whakapapa, which says that the value of an individual is driven by who their ancestors were – a concept some contemporary Maori leaders are coming to regard as fitting better in feudal England than in a vibrant South Pacific nation in the 21st century.

Ideas like diluting the responsibility for child-rearing among a wider group than holding parents to be primarily responsible for the welfare of their children.

Ideas like poorly-defined tribal ownership of property.

Ideas like saying an individual’s health, housing or education status is determined by what Governor Hobson did in 1840, and what promises may have subsequently been broken.

Individual Maori, of course, may live anyway they want.

But people who focus on events over the last 200 years rather than the next 20 years, who prefer feudalism and collectivism to individualism and meritocracy, and enjoy protesting more than working, have to accept they will tend to be poorer, sicker and dumber than everyone else.

I suspect Matthew Hooton is lucky this was published in the NBR and not somewhere with a great deal more readership.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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