The Dim-Post

January 26, 2016

Field Notes on Australia Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:33 pm

Every year in New Zealand as Waitangi Day draws near, various conservative/right-wing columnists throw tantrums about the protests and ‘grievance industry’ and lack of jingoism surrounding our national day and, inevitably, compare it unfavourably with Australia Day. This year I happened to be in Australia for Australia Day. And:

  • Australia Day has protests! Sometimes they ‘flare up’ or become ‘fiery’ or result in ‘clashes’ and become major media events. Just like Waitangi Day!
  • The papers over here are filled with think pieces about national identity and rants decrying historical grievances and wondering whether Australia Day is truly the national holiday and should Australia become a republic? Some refer to it as ‘Invasion Day’. One columnist in the Melbourne Age – I swear this is true – actually suggested Australia Day could be more like Waitangi Day, although it was only one in a list of more desirable national days (Bastille Day, etc).
  • Most Australians seem indifferent to all of this and see it as an extra day off work, and spend the day shopping, or at the beach, or have a barbecue. Again, this strikes me as identical to how most NZers experience Waitangi Day.
  • It is more festive! Some people fly the Aussie flag on their cars. Some shops put Australian flags in their windows. The government hands out honours. Some councils organise events with bands, bouncy castles, face-painting, etc. The ice cream stand at the beach town we’re staying at sold special Vegemite flavoured ice cream. People bought it and ate it! Because they love Australia! There’s no reason shops, councils etc in NZ can’t do the same, but the tantrums by Mike Hosking et al don’t seem to be winning them over.
  • The major difference between the days – to me – is that Australia Day explicitly celebrates European colonialism (it is the anniversary of the arrival of the ‘first fleet’ in 1788), while Waitangi Day is about the partnership between peoples. Which is not to minimise racial injustice in New Zealand via the comparison, just to say that I feel like we got our national day right in that respect, rather than the Australians.

53 Comments »

  1. I think you have it right and that in no way is Australia Day better than Waitangi Day which at least shows that the indigenous people are valued here, even if there is still work to be done
    On the other hand there seems to be a Twitter push to shut down any dissenting views, sort of a preemtive strike so beloved of the late unloved Robert Muldoon

    Comment by rayinnz — January 26, 2016 @ 8:45 pm

  2. It may be that the NZ experience sheds a more favourable light on how we do things, and provides us with opportunities to reflect and perhaps revisit the subtle mixed emotions people feel about our history as a colonised nation. On one hand, there is a surfeit of ‘white guilt’ in New Zealand which is largely absent from Australia’s national psyche, and also a predominance of certain kinds of white descendent in New Zealand which has been diluted by a more diverse range of ethnicities and cultures in Australia. In short, Australia is a more cosmoplitan place, but more likely to be in denial about its history of race relations in particular with respect to atrocities committed against the ‘aboriginal’ peoples. In contrast, many white New Zealanders tend to believe they have a more egalitarian history and that their history of race relations is ‘better’ because New Zealanders they didn’t actively engage in genocidal drunken killing-sprees. But the bar isn’t really set very high, is it?

    Who knows New Zealanders might have (ethnically cleansed) Maori if they could, but Maori were too well organised to allow it. Truthfully, teh motivations of early colonisers was more altruistic and and sopisticated than that. That New Zealand quietly went about expropriating land and stifling indigenous culture in more genteel ways and that Waitangi was really an attempt to legally ratify the colonisation of New Zealand on orders from Sydney perhaps subconsciously still informs contemporary New Zealanders’ ‘white’ (and ‘brown’ angst about our so-called founding document and day of celebration.

    So we don;t really know how to act appropriately, or indeed what ‘appropriately’ looks like.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — January 26, 2016 @ 8:56 pm

  3. Couldn’t agree more, Danyl. As an Australian New Zealander, I’m constantly bemused by how New Zealanders think Australia suffers no angst about national identity – and that people would think ‘Australia Day’, AKA Invasion Day, is something to admire. I wrote a bit about this a few years ago: http://pundit.co.nz/content/aussie-aussie-aussie-um-um-um

    Comment by Ewan Morris — January 26, 2016 @ 9:45 pm

  4. I’d love to know which countries’ national days pass off without protest of some kind. North Korea’s, I suppose.

    The protests here are given more prominence in our media because a) the main ceremonies take place in the protest heartland (as opposed to parades in a sanitised capital city in security lockdown), and b) nothing much ever happens here, so a bit of push and shove makes headlines, whereas elsewhere you’d need a proper riot and tear gas.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — January 26, 2016 @ 11:40 pm

  5. the thing i find the strangest about waitangi is the number of people who wont see a single protest except for on the news, yet spend days and days either side of the event whinging about something they never encounter – when they could just put their complaint into action by not focusing on the protesters in the first place.

    The day is really what we as individuals choose to make of it

    Comment by framu — January 27, 2016 @ 8:03 am

  6. On the other hand there seems to be a Twitter push to shut down any dissenting views …

    I know! Let’s combine in a single discussion thread a discussion of the merits/drawbacks of Waitangi Day as our “National Day” with all the fun and games of Twitter politics. What could possibly be more productive and constructive than that?

    Comment by Flashing Light — January 27, 2016 @ 8:09 am

  7. In short, Australia is a more cosmoplitan place…

    According to indexmundi (http://www.indexmundi.com/), the ethnic makeup of the two countries is:

    Australia: white 92%, Asian 7%, aboriginal and other 1%

    New Zealand: European 71.2%, Maori 14.1%, Asian 11.3%, Pacific peoples 7.6%, Middle Eastern, Latin American, African 1.1%, other 1.6%, not stated or unidentified 5.4%

    Also, anyone who has spent any amount of time in the two countries would note that Australians are (on the whole, in the round) much more given to expressing overtly racist sentiments than is the case in NZ.

    Comment by Flashing Light — January 27, 2016 @ 8:19 am

  8. “So we don;t really know how to act appropriately, or indeed what ‘appropriately’ looks like.”

    Yeah, but we’re kind of working on it, in our often-a-bit-over-earnest way.

    I kinda like that about us.

    Comment by robhosking — January 27, 2016 @ 9:16 am

  9. @ Sammy: St Patrick’s Day seems reasonably protest-free. As is St Andrew’s Day and Burns Night.

    Comment by Don 1 — January 27, 2016 @ 10:39 am

  10. @Don1,

    There’s an ongoing party-political fight in Ireland over whether to institute a new “Republic Day” as Ireland’s “proper” National Day – as opposed to St Patrick’s Day ersatz version (see http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/diarmaid-ferriter-kenny-should-stop-playing-party-politics-over-republic-day-1.2386021). And that’s without going North into Ulster and seeing what happens on July 12 … .

    As for St Andrew’s Day, it may be protest free because no-one in Scotland really seems to know or care about it!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 27, 2016 @ 11:18 am

  11. Sammy: St Patrick’s Day seems reasonably protest-free. As is St Andrew’s Day and Burns Night.

    Outside of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates Irish ethnicity. It’s only a holiday in Ireland and Ulster as it’s an important feast day. It’s not a National Day.
    Pretty much the same for St. Andrews Day which only recently became a public holiday in Scotland.
    Burn’s Night isn’t either a National Day or a religious holiday.

    So there are pretty clear reasons why there are a lack of protests on any of these days.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 27, 2016 @ 12:21 pm

  12. St Patrick’s Day seems reasonably protest-free.

    Yeah, about that.

    http://www.irishnews.com/news/2016/01/18/news/loyalists-plan-belfast-flag-protest-for-st-patrick-s-day-386216/

    Comment by unaha-closp — January 27, 2016 @ 2:08 pm

  13. As an Australian, born, raised, “educated” and currently living here, although benefiting from 10 wonderful years living in NZ I’m surprised by that people in NZ seriously want Waitangi Day to be more like Australia Day. Australia Day is a very awkward day for many of us. It’s hard to celebrate a day that marks the invasion of the country. And while the whole concept of Australian “patriotism” has been problematic for many of us for a long time, the Cronulla riots really belled the cat on the overt racism of many “patriots” to the extent that organisers of the Big Day Out tried to ban wearing of the Australian flag at concerts. Despite looking nearly identical, in my 10 years in NZ I never associated the NZ flag with the fear of (contemporary) violence and aggression that the Australian flag gives rise to. Despite being a white, male, Australian, I would go out of my way to avoid white Australian men displaying an Australian flag as I generally don’t want to be exposed to violence or bigotry.
    I think the rural NSW cafe owner summed it up best with his sign “Yes we’re open on National Dickhead Day” http://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/3686757/australia-day-sign-in-bermagui-creates-outrage/?cs=507

    Comment by Briefly a Kiwi — January 27, 2016 @ 6:56 pm

  14. The difference between Australia and Aotearoa is that Maori had farming – and therefore villages and towns – whereas Austronesians (aka Australian Aboriginals) had exactly nothing they could farm. Ergo, no farms, and a largely nomadic, hunter/gatherer lifestyle

    When the Europeans arrived, they could map their cultural understanding of village social dynamics onto a typical whanau or hapu economic unit, but in Australia there were no cultural or economic units on to which Europeans could map their cultural understandings.

    As a result, Kiwi life has been a story of cross-pollination and cultural appropriation (in both directions), and in Aussie there is a vast void of racism prosecuted by the ignorant colonial/settler masses and their descendants/invited immigrant communities. I can count on one finger the intelligent conversations I have had with Australians about Austronesian rights.

    One day, when iwi and hapu have sorted the residual problems we inherited from European colonisation, Maori will fund projects to address the issues of colonial racism in Australia. Because we can, and we should, and we know what needs to be done.

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — January 27, 2016 @ 8:47 pm

  15. One difference you haven’t mentioned is that NZ is past the worst of the government atrocities, whereas in Australia the rate of removal of Aboriginal children is higher now than during the “Stolen Generations”, we have had the Australian military enforcing “The Intervention” in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory in the last five years, and Aborigines still have fewer rights than other Australians (The Intervention again, but also a whole lot of other things. In NZ “Maori Land Rights” are in addition to normal land rights and at times supersede them whereas in Australia “Aboriginal Land” has fewer protections than freehold). There are so many official reports that amount to “yep, this is bad, but we’re going to keep doing it”. Black deaths in custody, hate crimes against Aborigines, forced closures of communities and forced removal from “Aboriginal Land”, disproportionate policing of black people and communities, the list is endless.

    When people say “it’s history, get over it” they are talking about literally yesterday.

    Comment by Moz in Australia — January 27, 2016 @ 11:19 pm

  16. The difference between Australia and Aotearoa is that Maori had farming – and therefore villages and towns – whereas Austronesians (aka Australian Aboriginals) had exactly nothing they could farm. Ergo, no farms, and a largely nomadic, hunter/gatherer lifestyle

    When the Europeans arrived, they could map their cultural understanding of village social dynamics onto a typical whanau or hapu economic unit, but in Australia there were no cultural or economic units on to which Europeans could map their cultural understandings.

    Having spent close to two decades of my adult life in Australia I’d largely agree, though a couple of additional observations if I may:
    James Belich made an interesting point when he described indigenous Australians’ general lack of interest in the fruits of Western civilisation as “something for which to this day they have never been forgiven”. Maori culture by contrast featured a vigorous interest in such things, right from the time of first contact.

    In his The Future Eaters Tim Flannery described the practice of “firestick farming” as a form of indigenous agriculture involving controlled burn-offs. He makes a compelling case that the extensive grasslands of what became the rich agricultural prize of the Victorian wheat belt were created by thousands of years of “firestick farming”. In his account of his voyage up the Australian East coast James Cook recorded that he was rarely out of sight of fires on land, which he understood at the time to be human handiwork.

    Cook’s description of New Zealand’s Europe-like geography and climate made it a prime candidate for the next British expedition to the antipodes, which happened to be the first convict fleet. It was only his account of the intractable nature of its inhabitants that shifted the site to Botany Bay, where a relatively small armed force could expect to keep hostile natives in check.

    Back in the 90s Spiro Zavos wrote a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald lauding Pakeha New Zealanders for their comparatively enlightened record on race relations. Most of his liberal readership seemed happy to don the proffered hair shirt, which rather overlooked the fact that NZ was only conquered with the active co-operation of a sizeable proportion of its indigenous inhabitants. Nationalistic mythology aside, both Australia and NZ were colonised by the same empire. Whatever indigenous rights have been retained have been hard-won in blood, rather than dispensed at the pleasure of colonial overlords.

    Comment by Joe W — January 28, 2016 @ 7:51 am

  17. I had forgotten Waitangi day was even happening until a friend asked for an All Black jersey to take to the “traditional” London pub crawl. I will celebrate by introducing my work colleagues to the joys of pavlova at morning tea (that is at 12pm here) and quietly feeling very pleased with myself for being an NZer.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 28, 2016 @ 8:03 am

  18. As a result, Kiwi life has been a story of cross-pollination and cultural appropriation (in both directions), and in Aussie there is a vast void of racism prosecuted by the ignorant colonial/settler masses and their descendants/invited immigrant communities. I can count on one finger the intelligent conversations I have had with Australians about Austronesian rights.

    The people you refer to as “colonial/settler masses” were to a large extent not either colonial or settler. Convicts were travelled half way round the world unwillingly. They could be beaten, chained, raped and starved without recourse to the law.

    Comment by unaha-closp — January 28, 2016 @ 10:56 am

  19. > a largely nomadic, hunter/gatherer lifestyle

    I believed this for many years, but—as Joe W mentions above—my perspective completely changed after discovering Tim Flannery’s writing and ‘Dark Emu’ by Bruce Pascoe. Thinking about it logically, it seems implausible that any major group of humans could live for 50,000 years across such a large and inhospitable continent without practicing some form of agriculture. Evidence from primary sources (settler diaries) suggests they managed the landscape with fire, distributed plants and trees, built dams and wells, and stored surplus food for later use.

    Reading about the early history of Sydney, it’s clear that the Australian narrative overall is not nearly as monolithic as popular notions would have it be. Sydney was a thriving, scummy little multicultural port town where people from all over the Pacific rim—including Māori chiefs with full moko—could be seen wandering the streets and Governer Phillip enforced a strict code of conduct for interactions with the local people. It wasn’t until later on (1820s?) when the British began to enforce stronger cultural and political domination that Sydney became whitewashed. By then the Sydney indigenous tribes had been devastated by European diseases so they were unable to compete as their ancestral lands were swallowed up by the growing population. Other parts of Australia have stories which are both similar and completely different. You only have to look at the large number of unique indigenous languages and cultures to get a sense of how complex the reality was, and how much of this rich detail and diversity has been lost. In our desire to create essentialist narratives around racism and nationalism, we often tend to overlook those differences, and emphasise the similarities and sameness more.

    Comment by Mark Rickerby (@maetl) — January 28, 2016 @ 3:16 pm

  20. > When the Europeans arrived, they could map their cultural understanding of village social dynamics onto a typical whanau or hapu economic unit, but in Australia there were no cultural or economic units on to which Europeans could map their cultural understandings.

    This is perceptive and makes a ton of sense. Would love to read more about it, from either perspective.

    Comment by Mark Rickerby (@maetl) — January 28, 2016 @ 3:44 pm

  21. Australia is where ripe mangos go uneaten beneath the tree.

    Comment by NeilM — January 28, 2016 @ 9:51 pm

  22. …but in Australia there were no cultural or economic units on to which Europeans could map their cultural understandings.

    I’m not sure what I think of that argument.

    There’s perhaps more cultural overlap between European colonists and maori than with indigenous Australians but perhaps also maori were already organised into larger economic structures – due to climate and geography – that gave an advantage in terms of military opposition.

    So not a matter of understanding or not but who could respond assertively to understanding of European aggression.

    Comment by NeilM — January 28, 2016 @ 10:03 pm

  23. @unaha-closp 19: It is not material whether the settlers were willing or not, their disposition matters not to the tide of Eurocentric colonial conquest.

    @Mark Rickerby 20: The difference between farming and advanced hunter/gatherer techniques (such as firestick farming) is that actual farming creates a surplus of food so an economic unit can develop non-productive classes (e.g. priest, warrior). Maori had farming that allowed this, Austronesians did not, and the colonial Europeans were quick to exploit this,

    @NeilM Why do you always seek the negative thought-experiment ? Do some research, please. The reality is that climate and geography are worthless – in a pre-colonial intervention context – unless farming is possible. Europeans did not necessarily begin their relationship with Aotearoa or Australia with aggression, why paint this picture? Are you being a troll ?

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — January 28, 2016 @ 11:37 pm

  24. @moz Your points are very bleak and really infuriating. All the more reason why the only economic powers in our sphere that will invest in addressing this will be the relatively rich Maori iwi, probably Tainui, Ngai Tahu, Te Arawa (and others but I can’t predict at this time). Somebody has to deal with this, and it falls to indigenous whanau in the first instance. We shall prevail in Aotearoa, and then we will fix Aussie, simple as that.

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — January 28, 2016 @ 11:45 pm

  25. Portraying the settlers as a monolithic tide devoid of difference, isn’t going to help if we are to determine differences in mode of settlement. The global diaspora from Europe was multi-faceted thing, with little uniformity of people involved. The difference between Australian colonists and NZ settlers played an extremely large part in creating the differences in the colonies.

    Comment by unaha-closp — January 29, 2016 @ 9:32 am

  26. The difference between Australian colonists and NZ settlers played an extremely large part in creating the differences in the colonies.

    Examples? One thing both countries had in common at the close of the 19th century was the confident expectation, fueled by shallow science and a sense of manifest destiny, that their idigenous populations were in the process of extinction. The phrase “smoothing the pillow of a dying race” was commonly used on bothn sides of the Tasman by those who thought of themselves as well-meaning progressives. Logan Campbell’s One Tree Hill obelisk was intended as a memorial to the entire Maori race.

    Comment by Joe W — January 29, 2016 @ 10:37 am

  27. The progressive tendency to have an over-inflated view of its own importance hasn’t yet diminished.

    Australia was settled as an extra-judicial penal colony and penal labour was used on large tract farms. Convicts had no rights, freed convicts had few rights and worked for very little on the farms. The gentry held power to themselves. Then just as the convict trade was ending the gold rush happened. Immigration of all the world’s poorest surged to Australia and freed convict labour quit their debt servitude on the farms. The gentry with no-one left to farm their land, taxed the bee-jee-bus out of the miners to force them back into harness. Mining licences were expensive to buy and worthless to own. Gold was required to be sold to government brokers at a fraction of its value. Lawlessness was rife, including armed rebellion by the miners against the colony.

    The point is that the colony of Australia treated its own colonists as sub-human serfs, gave them no rights and exploited their labour for all it was worth. What chance that this same colony would then grant more rights to the locals than they provided to their own colonists?

    Comment by unaha-closp — January 29, 2016 @ 11:18 am

  28. I prefer Waitangi Day to Australia Day. We, New Zealanders as a whole, are more willing to confer special status on the rights of our indigenous people than that huge hot hole of a country across the ditch.

    Comment by Dan — January 29, 2016 @ 11:42 am

  29. @unaha: Did you know there was a gold rush in NZ too?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — January 29, 2016 @ 11:57 am

  30. The point is that the colony of Australia treated its own colonists as sub-human serfs…

    There was never a “colony of Australia”. Until federation, New Zealand was simply one of several Australasian colonies. Federal Street in Auckland was named in anticipation of NZ becoming part of the new Commonwealth. The idea had significant support in some quarters back then. Western Australia only came on board because they were promised a railway, which they eventually got. Despite being only half as far from Sydney as Perth, the technical barriers to a trans-Tasman railway seem as formidable as ever.

    Not all Australian states experienced significant gold rushes. That didn’t prevent South Australia and Tasmania signing up to be part of the Commonwealth.

    Comment by Joe W — January 29, 2016 @ 12:53 pm

  31. The monolithic, jaundiced and factually inaccurate version of Australian history that many New Zealanders believe is one thing. The monolithic, jaundiced and factually inaccurate version of their own history that many Australians believe is quite another.

    Comment by Mark Rickerby (@maetl) — January 29, 2016 @ 2:07 pm

  32. This discussion thread is more interesting and reasonable than I would have expected given the topic. Well done all.

    Comment by Sam — January 29, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

  33. @Ortvin Sarapuu: think its common knowledge.

    What I just found out is that you can still do it.

    http://www.nzpam.govt.nz/cms/iwi-communities/finding-petroleum-minerals/gold-fossicking/fossicking-areas

    Comment by unaha-closp — January 29, 2016 @ 3:42 pm

  34. @unaha: So why didn’t the NZ gold rush have similar effects to those you’ve described taking place in Australia?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — January 29, 2016 @ 5:39 pm

  35. The monolithic, jaundiced and factually inaccurate version of their own history that many Australians believe is quite another.

    “Jaundiced”, as in
    “Behold the golden wattle
    Symbol of our land
    You can stick it in a bottle
    You can hold it in your hand”

    Comment by Joe W — January 29, 2016 @ 5:55 pm

  36. Mikaere, I appreciate where you’re coming from, but I’ve never heard Indigenous Australians refer to themselves as ‘Austronesians’, and (with the possible exception of Torres Strait Islanders) I don’t believe they speak languages in the Austronesian language group. Also, isn’t saying that Maori will ‘fix’ Australia a little uncomortably close to what colonising powers used to (still do) say?

    Comment by Ewan Morris — January 29, 2016 @ 7:21 pm

  37. @Ortvin Sarapuu: the differences the Aussie governing British culture formed as a legacy the systemic penal brutality. The nature of colonial administration in Australia’s response to the gold rush was that of an instinctively aggressive regime. Boatloads of “eurocentric colonials” arrived searching for gold and were subjected to a campaign of repression.

    I’d suggest the differences between NZ and Australian race relations owes large part to the nature of the colonial regimes.

    Comment by Angus Robertson — January 29, 2016 @ 8:24 pm

  38. @Ewan Morris I am using the term that Jarrod Diamond coined, it is *way* less pejorative than the term “Australian Aboriginals”. When Maori go and ‘fix’ Australia, it will be from the perspective of a colonised people, not from the perspective of a bunch of born-to-exploit Europeans. Can you appreciate the difference ?

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — January 29, 2016 @ 8:41 pm

  39. Mikaere, all I’m suggesting is considering what Indigenous people in Australia might like to be called, and whether they want someone to come in and ‘fix’ things for them. Maori aren’t necessarily immune to the belief that they know best what’s good for other people.

    Comment by Ewan Morris — January 29, 2016 @ 9:02 pm

  40. I’d suggest the differences between NZ and Australian race relations owes large part to the nature of the colonial regimes.

    I agree. Early Australian govt was overtly oppressive in a way that did not occur in NZ. Then there was the rise of the Squataucracy and the outlaw mythology. And practices such as black-birding.

    Also NZ got a higher relative number of Scots and less Irish which I think influenced the relative dourness of Kiwis as compared to the more flamboyant Ozzies.

    I quite like Australia and Australians in general. I find them a bit more straight forward. What you see is most likely what you get.

    Comment by NeilM — January 29, 2016 @ 9:44 pm

  41. There is no mention of _partnership_ in the treaty. Maori chiefs signing Te Tiriti did so, fully aware that they were ceding full sovereignty to the British monarch. Some initially balked at the prospect of accepting a woman (Queen Victoria) as having more mana than them.

    Comment by David White — January 29, 2016 @ 11:43 pm

  42. Maori chiefs signing Te Tiriti did so, fully aware that they were ceding full sovereignty to the British monarch.

    No, they didn’t: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/259356/tribunal-upholds-sovereignty-claim

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 30, 2016 @ 7:09 pm

  43. Yes, they did. The Waitangi Tribunal is not necessarily the source of truth about history. “In making this untrue statement [about the chiefs not ceding sovereignty] in violation of the historical evidence they [the five members of the Waitangi Tribunal] are either culpably ignorant or deliberately lying.” [Source: One Treaty, One Nation p43] Several chiefs are recorded as speaking against the treaty on Feb 5, saying that they refused to allow a higher authority over them, yet they signed the treaty the next day, knowing it meant the Queen was now sovereign, and they had to obey (but in turn were protected by) British laws. For example, all slaves were freed.

    Comment by David White — January 30, 2016 @ 9:06 pm

  44. Several chiefs are recorded as speaking against the treaty on Feb 5, saying that they refused to allow a higher authority over them, yet they signed the treaty the next day, knowing it meant the Queen was now sovereign

    There is a bit of a contradiction between the degree of angst and deliberation with which maori signed the Treaty and the view that they didn’t intend to sign over anything of great importance.

    But the battle maori have fought via the Treaty – in practical terms – has been to reclaim the ability to make autonomous decisions because that was taken away unfairly and because the consequences have been so dire – pakeha decision making on their behalf didn’t work out very well.

    The battle over words I find a bit esoteric but it is embedded in a broader process by which there’s been some sucess redressing historical injustices which, looking around the world, are often intractable and lethal. The Tribunal might have its faults but without it we’d be worse off.

    Comment by NeilM — January 31, 2016 @ 1:25 pm

  45. @Andrew Geddis – there’s a slightly infuriating habit I’ve noted lawyers seem to have where they’ll refer to court judgments to resolve questions of history, psychiatry or economics. All judges are experts in is the law, where they make pronouncements on other fields it is hopefully based on expert opinion, and to be superseded by genuine authorities in those fields.

    Comment by Icarus — January 31, 2016 @ 11:06 pm

  46. @Icarus,

    I didn’t link to a court judgment. I linked to the Waitangi Tribunal, which is not a court. While Maori Land Court judges are members of that Tribunal, it has a far wider membership than just judges/lawyers. See here: http://www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/waitangi-tribunal/about/tribunal-members

    And as that Tribunal noted in its report, “A number of New Zealand’s leading scholars who have studied the treaty – Māori and Pākehā – have been expressing similar views [about the Treaty and Sovereignty] for a generation.” I’ve discussed this here: http://pundit.co.nz/content/kereru-meet-felis-catus

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 1, 2016 @ 8:08 am

  47. The Waitangi Tribunal is not necessarily the source of truth about history.

    True! But why do you think this is: http://trosspublishing.co.nz/publication/one-treaty-one-nation?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 1, 2016 @ 8:10 am

  48. True! But why do you think this is

    Durrr, Geddis!
    Because it’s written by a bunch of aggrieved middle-aged white bloviators, so facts.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 1, 2016 @ 9:25 am

  49. A new post on “Aboriginal agriculture”.

    Comment by Joe W — February 2, 2016 @ 5:00 pm

  50. Interesting that mere days after this post that Waitangi Day was so crudely represented to the international community as a place where a dildo can be used as part of the political discourse. I can only assume the hurler was steeped in tikanga Maori ways and meant this device as a metaphor for some implement Maori used to plough their fields or prize kumara out of the ground with?

    Comment by leeharmanclark — February 7, 2016 @ 7:47 am

  51. Lee

    Or the protestor may have been hinting that Joyce is a dickhead.

    Comment by Ross — February 7, 2016 @ 9:24 am

  52. I’d suggest you are over-thinking it, Ross.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — February 7, 2016 @ 9:37 am


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