The Maori Party Sellout State Housing

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 10.58.20 pm.png  Materoa Kanuta decorates the wall of her state house with photographic memories from the 50 years she and her family have lived there.


A total of 1/3 of all Maori live in state homes. These homes for decades have provided Maori with a place to bring up their children  and care for their elders. These state homes have ensured that generations have been able to thrive because they have shelter. I grew up in a state house at 66 Idlewild Avenue, Mangere. Before the disastrous impact of Rodger Douglas’s & Ruth Richardson’s economic fundamentalism, Mangere was a close knit and vibrant suburb of Auckland. We lived, worked and played together, our homes were always open to each other, we shared the best and worst of times, we cared for each other, we were a community.

The Tamaki Housing Group warned us years ago that the policy of transferring houses to community housing providers was set to fail, because the private market has never been able to provide healthy and affordable housing for low-income families.

A clear example of this is what’s happening in Auckland’s eastern suburbs. This is not community revitalisation but state-led gentrification and privatisation where the government provides valuable land to private developers.

Over the preceding years the National government have simply turned off the tap of public investment in public housing through a combination of cuts and controls, with state support increasingly diverted into private home ownership and the private rental sector.The privatisation of housing has played a particularly key role in neoliberalism, wresting the supply of shelter – a basic human need and right – out of the public welfare system and firmly back into the precarious, commodified world of competitive markets, property speculation and self-provision.

The Maori Party’s recent support of the sell off of state housing is privatisation by stealth.They conflate management by an elite minority of Maori with Tino Rangatiratanga. The Maori Party once again are used as a Trojan horse for privatisation.

Morgan Godfery notes that “It is worth touching on iwi authorities as market models with an indigenous flavour. In the push for development iwi have embraced the neo liberal model. They also want to play a part in the privatisation agenda of the current government (e.g. private prisons, PPP etc…). It appears to me that iwi authorities have rationalised such goals by adopting the ‘trickle down’ philosophy. They seem to reason that Maori participation in the neo liberal experiment will result in indirect ‘trickle down’ benefits for ordinary Maori despite the trickle down theory been rather discredited.”

Newly enriched Iwi leaders are on a shopping spree for state assets and state contracts for services and they are being used by National to promote privatisation across the entire economy. It’s clear that since the Maori Party privileges the Maori Iwi elite over the needs of majority of the Maori, working class Maori who will be disadvantaged.

To secure the Maori Party’s support for a piece of legislation,  the government increasingly does deals with the Maori Party and Iwi leaders to provide political cover for right-wing politicians driving community destroying policies. This was clearly evidenced when the bill went to vote the Maori Party weren’t even in the debating chamber and had given their proxy votes to the National Party.

Politicians have figured it’s harder to attack the dismantling of social assets and the sale of state assets when Maori ( albeit an elite minority) are the beneficiaries.

Paula Bennett stands in the house defending a bill that will give her and Bill English, the deputy prime minister, absolute unfettered powers to do any deal they like with whomever they like on any terms and conditions in relation to the privatisation of state housing and this is what the Māori Party and Marama Fox are trying to spin and dress up as Tino Rangatiratanga.

That is not Tino Rangatiratanga . Supporting an unprecedented transfer of power into two Minister’s hands, who can then privatise state assets – is not tino rangatiratanga. The Maori party has become brown wash for a very nasty neoliberal agenda from the National government.

Crown created entities are NOT Iwi ; they are not representative of the vast majority of Maori . Maori who have been discarded by the neoliberal agenda have never benefited by the Maori Party repackaging of their flimsy and symbolic gains from the national government as “Tino Rangatiratanga”.

We now see the Marama Fox parroting the National Governments anti state and anti welfare rhetoric in relation to state housing, ”I come with some frustration at those who want to deride the name of the Maori Party because we dare to have an independent voice,” she said. “This is not a vote for a wholesale sell-off of the housing stock. For us, this is a vote of rangitiratanga.”

“Iwi had asked the Maori Party to back the bill so they could get into the social housing market, she said. “Housing New Zealand has done an appalling job of looking after our people, and [iwi] believe they can do it better.” she says.

This is a return to the ACT-style thinking of the ’80s and ’90s. It essentially says ‘government bad, market good’. It says it’s not only OK but good for private companies to profit from housing the country’s most vulnerable, even though logic suggests that it will push up costs. It is red meat for the right and goes down the ideological path Key has been so eager to distance himself from as a ‘post-politics’ politician.

We were clearly warned about this agenda by the kuia and the communities in Glen Innes that fought hard to retain their homes in their community . We have the examples of the complete failure of the privatisation of state/social housing in England and Scotland as a malign exercise in privatisation by stealth, designed to cheat the poor out of decent housing.

“We must recommit our time, energy, and resources to this mission, deconstructing the class interests behind government policy, following and exposing their societal effects, highlighting the perspectives of people feeling the sharp end of neoliberalisation processes, and working collaboratively with campaigns and social movements to resist injustice and formulate alternatives” (Neoliberal housing policy – time for a critical re-appraisal)

Our People are suffering and struggling, while a few have benefited from limited gains. The majority of our people are still the disenfranchised and disinherited, the discarded of the neo-liberal agenda. We are in the midst of a housing crisis, there is a huge increase in homeless whanau  living in cars, garages and overcrowding the homes of friends and family.

Maori at the bottom of the heap are getting bashed. The social conditions for Maori have worsened under John Key .The Maori Party’s version of Tino rangatiratanga is all about empowering a small corporate elite, and treating the rest of us as a sacrifice zone for the worst excesses of neoliberalism.

The Maori Party’s continued support of the National government has directly lead to the social conditions of our people are going backwards. This is a fact. Their support of the privatisation of State Housing is unforgivable and is a serious political misjudgment, one in which they will pay for in electoral oblivion next year.

Sina Brown-Davis

Te Roroa, Te Uriohau, Fale Ula, Vava’u


Colonial naming reproduces Historical Trauma

Today I read a post that the Novotel in Taranaki has been named the Novotel New Plymouth Hobson with the restaurant called ‘The Governor’. I was immediately sickened by the lack of any sensitivity or thought for the impact of such naming on our people.

Naming is important. Name carry memories, names carry meaning, names carry history. The hotel sits on Hobson street and the owners of the Novotel have chosen to not only reproduce that in their naming of the hotel but to add more insult to our people through the naming of their restaurant.

This follows from the New Plymouth District council decision to name new streets in Waitara after a developers family and denying hapū the ability to name the streets.’s-name-for-new-subdivision-trumps-hapu’s

The impact of the decision was strongly voiced by Howie Tamati, and supported by the Mayor Andrew Judd, to the Taranaki Daily News:

But Councillor Howie Tamati said not using the names put forward by the hapu would be a big mistake.
He said a number of the roads in Waitara, such as McLean St and Craycroft St, were named after soldiers and officers involved in the confiscation of Maori land over 100 years ago.
“The names of the streets in Waitara are a constant source of pain and of grievance of what happened when the lands of Waitara were confiscated,” he said.
Tamati said it was important in terms of history to get it right.
“Waitara’s been stood upon by the boot of the crown, and we’ve just been through a process that heals those wounds.
“For the Waitara community board and Waitara district councillors to then go and change that and actually dominate that I think is really, really disappointing. You should know better.”
Mayor Andrew Judd agreed with Tamati.
“You may sit here and think ‘what’s in the name of a road?’ Clearly it means a hang of a lot,” he said.
“This isn’t just family names, this is historic names for pa sites for goodness sake.”
Using the Maori names would send “a strong message back there that we are addressing some of these wrongs”, he said.

Being raised in Waitara, every day we were surrounded by streets named after the colonial militia and colonial governors who instigated and led the invasion of our lands. We were raised on the Pekapeka block. Everyday street signs remind us of those who forcibly removed our ancestors from our lands, those who invaded and occupied our lands, those who killed and imprisoned our people, who placed our men in chains and imprisoned them in Otago, who led the militia that raped our tupuna wahine.

What the owners of the Novotel New Plymouth Hobson, and the New Plymouth District Council fail to understand is the depth of the insult and offense being perpetrated through the continued privileging of colonial names over and above those of hapū.

For many of our people the history of Waitara can still be felt in the land and air. The historical trauma of that history has been carried by generations of whānau, hapū and iwi of Taranaki. The pain and struggle of a colonial past, of war and raupatu can be felt. The consequences of the colonial invasion of Taranaki is borne daily by many. Colonisation has not only meant the alienation of our lands, people, language and culture but the processes of colonisation have meant an active disruption of our landscapes, our whānau, hapū and iwi structures, our-selves. Much of the knowledge of these acts have been kept out of the hands of the majority of people in this country. The violence of colonisation has been largely invisibilised. One way of doing that is the renaming of the land to render its history invisible.

In a catalogue for an exhibition, at the Govett Brewster Art Gallery, titled ‘The Nervous System’ I wrote the following reflection:

I was born and raised in Taranaki.
I have lived under the korowai of the Maunga and have experienced the awe of seeing Taranaki stand firmly on the landscape, defining the geography in a way that we who live under his shadow nay never achieve.
I have lived alongside the awa and the Moana. Known them in their strength and beauty. Known them in their provision of kai, before they were poisoned.
I have lived on land that was taken from my people and watched as my parents struggled to ‘pay the rent’ on land that was rightfully ours.
I was schooled alongside Owae Whaitara, the marae that stands above the township. We walked through and around that space every day and were never schooled within its bounds. It was an ‘out of bounds’ area.
I learnt of a history of this land that told us of Cook and Tasman and Browne. And I knew these names because they named the streets upon which I walked. They named my world.
I was told we were all the same. New Zealanders/National identity/Kiwi/Egalitarian/National identity/One New Zealand/One identity.
But I knew that to be Maori wasn’ t the same. And I see now why we were never to know who we were. Identity had to be controlled. So the system could be maintained. As without the system the “Nation” would be fragmented.
And we would be left with a Nervous System.

Historical trauma is reproduced in many ways in our current context. The naming of hotels and streets after colonial forces and denying our people the right to name our lands is one of those processes. Historical trauma is defined by Professor Karina Walters as follows:
When I am talking about historical trauma I am talking about massive cataclysmic events that target a collective. I am not talking about single event discriminatory experiences that’s between one or two people but a whole group of people or community that is targeted. In our communities we talk about how this trauma is transmitted over generations so I may not have experienced the Trail of Tears, my great grandparents did so therefore what aspects of that trauma do I still carry in my history to this day…. One of the things that’s really hard to distinguish around historical trauma research is how we think about historical trauma as a factor. Some people talk about historical trauma as an ideological factor, as a causal factor, so we look at thinks like historically traumatic events causing poor health outcomes. Other folks talk about historical trauma itself as an actual outcome in terms of things like historical trauma response or a Native specific ways of manifesting what I call colonial trauma response and I will talk a bit more about that, historical trauma can also be conceptualized as a mechanism or a pathway by which trauma is transmitted. (Walters 2010)

In Taranaki, whānau, hapū and iwi have continued to experience the devastating effects of those, and ongoing, acts of colonial violence. As the Waitangi Tribunal report states ‘If peace is more than the absence of war’, Taranaki has never been at peace.

Having more streets and more hotels being named in ways that reinforce the colonial invasion of Taranaki adds yet another layer of pain and trauma, that will mean that for yet another generation Taranaki will not know peace.

Dr Leonie Pihama (Te Atiawa, Ngāti Māhanga, Ngā Māhanga a Tairi)

Poi, Mau Rākau and the Impact of Colonial Thinking

There has been much debate, uproar about, and defense of, the recently released rules for the 2016 Kura Tuarua kapa haka nationals. The Committee has made a significant change to the rules in announcing that there will be a change in marking the aggregate section of the kapa haka competition. It is noted, in the new 2016 rules, under the Judged Disciplines:
51. Aggregate Section: Only the marks of the following items will be counted in the Aggregate Section for Co-ed Groups:
• Te Reo Māori
• Whakaeke
• Waiata/koroua/Mōteatea
• Waiata-a-ringa
• Poi
• Haka
• Whakawātea

Aggregate Section : Only the marks of the following items will be counted in the Aggregate Section for Single Sex Female Groups:
• Te Reo Māori
• Whakaeke
• Waiata/koroua/Mōteatea
• Waiata-a-ringa
• Poi
• Haka Wahine
• Whakawātea

Aggregate Section : Only the marks of the following items will be counted in the Aggregate Section for Single Sex Male Groups:
• Te Reo Māori
• Whakaeke
• Waiata/koroua/Mōteatea
• Waiata-a-ringa
• Mau Rākau
• Haka
• Whakawātea

The underlying assumptions for the marking rules are clearly premised upon a notion that ‘poi is for girls and mau rākau is for boys’. Sadly, I thought we had fought and won this internalised colonial thinking battle some 30 years ago.

I recall close friends who attended Auckland Girls Grammar talking about the early struggle to have the haka component of their brackets recognised and marked. It was a struggle and it was one worth having as it led to a greater understanding of both mana wahine and mana tane. What we are seeing now with rules that reposition poi and mau rākau as gendered areas of performance is a re-emergence of colonial gender ideas that have no place within Te Ao Māori, let alone within the kapa haka performances of our secondary schools.

There seems to be a range of justifications (some would call excuses) for the re-embedding of such colonial thinking into secondary school kapa haka. Some reports indicate a belief that it will encourage single sex schools to collaborate more in terms of kapa haka. This is interesting in that it denies that some whanau choose single sex schooling pathways for their children for exactly that reason – they are single sex schools. There are many and diverse reasons for that. So to hear some advocate that a way of dealing with the rules is to collaborate, which means to bring schools together to compete, then places that decision outside of those whose actual decision it is to make. What is just as concerning, in fact, is that these rules have emerged after the schools have already been selected for the nationals. So even if they wanted to combine to get around this rule they can’t. Equally, it needs to be highlighted that a number of single sex schools have in the past combined, and some currently continue to do that. The choice to do so should be with those whānau, and not be influenced by imposed gendered restrictions.

We have also seen comments that the committee undertook the process for the changes in line with their constitution. Where there are deep concerns in regards to the lack of meaningful engagement within the regions it appears clear that the committee voted for this change. Many of our people find the fact that those who are in a position to support kapa haka, and it’s place in supporting and inspiring our rangatahi ,have so taken an approach that both restricts specific forms of participation and denies the right of all of our people to utilise both poi and mau rākau.

The decision is a clear example of the internalisation and imposition of colonial thinking and practices. It is well known that both poi and mau rākau have been traditionally, and in contemporary contexts, used by both men and women. There have been, at times, issues in regards to how kapa haka competition rules have redefined the use of those taonga that have been gifted to us from our tupuna. Such redefinitions have often been grounded in misconceptions of who did what within traditional Māori society and in particular the roles and status of wahine and tane.

This is just one more example of the depth of which colonisation has pervaded our thinking and practices. In many ways it doesn’t matter who the committee members are as another group may have also made that decision. What is critical to the discussion is the power of colonial ideologies to influence how we make decisions about and within ourselves as Māori organisations.

The question needs to be asked about not only who made this decision and how it was made, but more critically we need to ask ourselves, how did this conversation ever make it to the table in the first place? How can a discussion that leads to the restriction of Māori boys doing poi and Māori girls doing mau rākau ever be raised in this time?

We need to ask how can that discussion be had in the light of the exceptionally powerful performances of many of our National groups where our wahine excel in mau rākau and our tane in poi. There are many many examples of that and yet there seems to be a huge chasm in regards to what happens on a Te Matatini stage (both regional and national) and what this committee is saying can happen on a secondary school kapa haka stage. And we need to ask why we would even want to do this? Who benefits from imposing such restrictions? and more importantly, who benefits from imposing restrictions that are based within colonial thinking?  It is most certain that collectively our people do not benefit from such actions.

Did the committee miss the great performance of Manutaki when both wahine and tane did the poi? Have the committee missed the power of wahine and tane together in wero as a part of Te Whare Tū Taua? Or the many kapa haka rōpu where our wahine have shown their strength with weaponry? Did the committee miss the power of the wāhine of Ngāti Waewae who laid the wero to the Waitangi Tribunal at Arahura marae?

Within our own whakapapa kōrero we know that neither poi nor mau rākau were gender specific. Early Pākehā arrivals to Aotearoa have also documented that poi was one of a range of Māori games to support physical development. Online the organisation Rangatahi tū Rangatahi provide an overview of a range of such games.

The Kura Tuarua Kapa Haka committee decision is effectively a move backwards at least 30 years in terms of many attempts to decolonise the dominance of western colonial thinking. The fact that it can even have been made raises a range of concerns in terms of how the roles and practices of our tupuna are reconstructed in ways that undermine movements for social justice in regards to gender relationships. Where some may see this issue as only one of kapa haka, it is without doubt much greater than that as it reflects a belief system and sets of assumptions that continue to create contexts of oppressive behaviours in that these beliefs are not about our tikanga, but are about colonial views that have become embedded within Māori society.

The broader issue is that of colonial hegemony. That is, the internalisation of colonial beliefs and practices to the point that we as Māori begin to see those ways of being as traditional and a part of who we are. Such internalisation has been instrumental in the disruption of traditional understandings about ourselves and each other as wahine and tane Māori. The issue of single sex boys schools not being marked for the poi is the flip side of earlier experiences of single sex girls schools such as Auckland Girls Grammar being denied marks for doing the haka. What that tells us is that the fundamental views of gender that colonisation imposed upon our world remain alive and well, and even more steadfast in that they are now enacted and implemented by ourselves upon our own people.

So what we are seeing in these new kapa haka rules is not new. It is a continuance of generations of colonial gendered thinking that dominates the western colonised context within which we find ourselves. To work against these types of impositions we need to challenge the fundamental beliefs that underpin them and seek to create pathways that are reflective of our tikanga and which provide healthy and sustainable ways for us to be with each other and to affirm the mana of both our wahine and our tane in ways that will ensure the wellbeing of all within Te Ao Māori.

The least that can be done is that this decision be reversed and that such gendered shortsightness not be enabled within any context, least of all in ways that deny opportunities and experiences of our tamariki and mokopuna.