Dr Michael Bassett

Dr Michael Bassett

< Columns

Jacinda Force Feeds us Te Ao Maori



Are you, like me, getting sick and tired of being told that everything about our culture is inferior to Maori, and that we should learn to live with a constant diet of Te Reo? Turn on Radio New Zealand in the morning and Susie Fergusson, Guyon Espiner and even Corin Dann do the news introductions in Maori. Try Midday Report and you get Mani Dunlop showering us with untranslated Maori phrases. "Aotearoa", we keep being told, wrongly, is "the original name for New Zealand" when it wasn't. As an historian who spent a decade on the Waitangi Tribunal, I abhor such crass ignorance. As Michael King pointed out, our country had no name in 1840 except a Dutch version of the words "New Zealand" that had been bestowed internationally on our islands by Abel Tasman when he returned to Europe after his visit in 1642. At the time the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 both signatories occasionally referred to "islands" or used "Nu Tirani". It was Sir George Grey, much derided by today's more belligerent Maori crusaders, who first popularized the word Aotearoa in the 1850s. The Main Stream Media (MSM), however, now use it all the time, telling us it was the first name for our lands: the New Zealand Herald, TV ONE, TV3, Radio New Zealand, Stuff, you name it: belligerent ignorance keeps being forced upon us at Jacinda Ardern's behest and partly funded by the Public Interest Journalism Fund.

Let's reflect for a moment. During the 2020 election campaign no one from the Labour Party told us that if Jacinda was re-elected we would be flooded with Maori names, place names, new departmental names eg "The Ministry for Women Manatu Wahine", a bulls-wool version of the Treaty they call "Te Tiriti", assertions that Matauranga Maori is superior to western science, that lots of advertisements on TV would henceforth be in Maori, and that MSM journalists who could speak a little Maori would have their pay accelerated and their work-loads reduced. Nobody told us that henceforth European culture would be down-graded, false historical narratives would be taught to our children and called "history", or that more and more hours of the school day would be given over to Te Reo and the peddling of demonstrable falsehoods about aspects of cultural relations. Or that no one in the Ministry of Education would lift a finger to ensure that children were told the facts, rather than codswallop. It is ridiculous to pretend that a language can be taught by sprinkling individual words into sentences in another language. At that level I could claim fluency in French!

Let me be clear. All my life I have argued for Maori to have a fair shake. I marched in the streets in 1960 against an all-white All Black team going to South Africa. Same in 1981 when the South Africans chose to send an all-white team to New Zealand. When as Minister of Internal Affairs I chaired the 1990 Commission it funded many initiatives such as building a dozen new waka to give Maori pride of place at Waitangi in the Queen's presence on 6 February. As Minister of Local Government I supported local councils consulting Maori when issues important to them arose. I'm the first to acknowledge that Maori haven't always been treated fairly. But I abhor the ignorance demonstrated daily by Jacinda Ardern's government, her acolytes, ministers like Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson, and their bureaucracies in the name of "equity". In between all his other commitments, what efforts has Education Minister Hipkins, or his CEO Iona Holsted, made to ensure that our school children are taught factually accurate information about Maori and Pakeha history? I'd award them a fail mark on what I've seen of the school curriculum. Same for what the Minister of Broadcasting - yes, Willie Jackson - prescribes for RNZ and TV. If those ministers and bureaucrats had to pay fines for the inaccuracies appearing on things under their control they'd be bankrupt.

If only Jacinda, her cabinet and her caucus had been better educated, or read more, they might be embarrassed by what is being done in the name of promoting Maori. Why didn't they tell us at election time what they intended doing? Why the sudden surge of misleading pro-Maori propaganda the moment the election writs were returned? Is it now the sliding poll support for the Labour government that has led them to step up their preoccupation with Three Waters and a costly re-structuring of the health services in the name of greater control by Maori before they lose office?

The worst aspect of all this is that the government's relentless pro-Maori push is seriously damaging race relations in New Zealand. The 83 percent of our population who aren't Maori - people like Chinese and Indians who have come here to work hard and to get ahead, not to mention the many generations of Europeans - have to watch rewards going to people on the basis of ethnicity rather than work ethic. Hard-working, talented Kiwi without a drop of Maori blood - and that's all that most self-designated Maori possess - are passed over for promotion and a place in the sun under this government. The hermit kingdom they call "Aotearoa", with its tightly controlled borders, has become a social laboratory aimed at facilitating a takeover of authority by a small racial minority backed up by a false narrative.