…. as there are no full-blooded Māoris in existence it indisputably follows that had it not been for migrants, mainly Brits, not a single Māori alive today … would have existed. Sir Robert Jones
No races just mongrels
Opinion piece by Roger Childs
Bob Jones article in the National Business Review about a “Gratitude Day” caused offence in many quarters. Some suggested he should be stripped of his knighthood. However, in the statement from that article which we have quoted above, Bob speaks the truth.
In answer to a question from Andy Oakley when he lodged his Te Pakeha claim, the Waitangi Tribunal defined a Maori as being a person of the Maori race of New Zealand. This is what the 1975 Treaty of Waitangi Act says.
One problem: anthropologists and other scientists reject the concept of race. As people who seek out their DNA background find, all humans are physiologically the same and in terms of origins we are all basically mongrels!
Recent media reporting on the possibility of expanding our prison capacity mentioned that over half the present inmates are Maori. But what does that mean?
Let’s take prominent “Maori”, Sir Tipene (Steve) O’Regan, as an example. He is one sixteenth Ngai Tahu. So if we look at two prisoners sharing a cell, on the top bunk is George whose forebears are New Zealand born and back over the generations, English, Irish and Dalmatian.
On the bottom bunk is Fred. His ancestors are New Zealand born and back over the generations, English, Irish and Dalmatian, however he does have a Maori great, great grandmother. So in the official statistics on the prison population Fred is classified as Maori.
Shouldn’t it be part-Maori, if Fred wants to be called that?
Classifying people can be discriminatory
Classifications of population can be misleading and disastrous, and in the past have been used to serve the political ends of the rulers.
The Jewish pogroms in Russia, Hitler’s treatment of the Jews, and discrimination against African Americans in the USA, are some of many appalling examples. Back in 1950 South Africa’s Population Registration Act was designed to exclude all non-Whites from voting and other basic civil rights.
It is ironic to note that if all Maori living today had been in South Africa in the apartheid era, they would have been classified as Coloureds.
Doing the census
According to the media, Simon Bridges is National’s first Maori leader. He is in fact three sixteenths Maori, two up on Steve.
It would be interesting to know how the new party leader will classify himself in question 14. Will the 82% of his ancestors who are non-Maori take precedence?
Obviously people are entitled to call themselves what they like, and Statistics New Zealand is keen to classify people by ethnicity.
Unity in diversity
Today we have a very cosmopolitan population, and folk from China, India, Korea, Samoa, Tonga – to name but a few, are virtually all far more than 50% ethnically Chinese, Indian etc…
However, those who have taken out citizenship generally see themselves as New Zealanders, while taking pride in their cultural roots.
But the majority of people who call themselves Maori have less than 50% Maori blood.
How about we all classify ourselves as New Zealanders? After all, regardless of our origins, we are equal citizens of the country called New Zealand.
We can still celebrate the Chinese New Year; enjoy St Patrick’s Day; play the bagpipes; use the local marae; attend the Pacific Island Church; go to the Bhawani Festival … these are just some of the multitude of elements that make up our distinctive New Zealand culture.
Food for thought.