The State of Maori of Aotearoa/New Zealand in The 1990s

A paper presented in  August 1996  by Pauline Tangiora, Rongomaiwahine, with grateful thanks to friends for valuable help, especially Helen Yensen who made this paper happen.

"Nga mihi tuatahi Ki te Atua E mihi ana ki nga mate - Haere Haere Haere Te Rangi etu te Papa kei waho. Tena korua No reira - Tena Koutou Tena Koutou Tena Koutou Katoa."

Broad Translation “Respects to the Creator and those who have passed on stand tall earth and sky - Greetings to all.”  


"Contemporary Maori live in several realities. On most socio-economic indices Maori are significantly disadvantaged. Generally in the lower socio-economic classes, many are also culturally impoverished, being unable to speak Maori or to participate confidently in conservative Maori situations. While tribal organization has flourished since 1984, and a range of cultural activities has emerged to enhance a Maori identity, not all Maori have shared in those developments and assumptions cannot be made about Maori aspirations or preferences. In short, there is no single Maori identity, the Maori population is as diverse as any other”. (Mason Durie, Whaiora, 1994)

So there is a problem with the too free use of the general term Maori, not only because of economic and cultural impoverishment (as mentioned in the above quote). It also overrides the primary identification through our iwi (tribal) relationships. And history, past and present, as also geography and other factors, have impacted differently on different tribes. Nevertheless, in a broad sweep of where we are today, there are enough commonalities of experience, and of unity of action and ideas, to speak for Maori as a people.

Whilst facts and figures can convey some of the material loss that Maoris sustained over the last 155 years, and can give some indication of the social, economic, political, and even spiritual disruption of Maori life that resulted, the real pain can only be brought out as we share our personal stories. And as the Waitangi Tribunal’s 1996 Taranaki Report points out: “...the conquest [was] so arranged as to inflict the pain of the past on every generation of their people.” The flaws in the relationship of Maori and Pakeha (predominantly British, but also generally European descended non-Maori) still affect the lives and experiences of Maori today, and everyday.

The story of what colonialism and western expansionism have done to the Maori people of Aotearoa is no different in essence from what was done to other colonised indigenous peoples, who became minorities in their own countries. They are amazing stories of survival in the face of often overwhelming odds.

Our current Government and many others claim that Maori grievances with respect to past injustices, particularly land, forests, and fisheries, are being dealt with. The time won’t be far away when there won’t be any claims left, when all will be fine, and we can be considered “one people”. They say!

The Waitangi Tribunal was set up by a Labour Government in 1976 to investigate Maori grievances, by a 1984 amendment right back to 1840, when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori Chiefs and the British Crown.

The Tribunal is under-resourced, has only power of recommendation to Government, and can only make such recommendations with respect to Crown lands, not privately held property or the conservation estate. Despite these limitations, and the fact that many recommendations have not been acted upon yet (indeed it finds itself with 600 claims on its books), it is doing sterling work helping to research claims and writing reports of their findings. Some reparations are being made, and some tribes are developing a reasonable economic base again as a result. But Government has unilaterally set itself up as judge and jury with respect to who can make claims, what will be considered a legitimate claim, and what reparations the country can afford! Indeed it has, again unilaterally, put a ceiling on the amount of reparation that they are prepared to fund.

For Maori, however, the issues go beyond the return of some of the lands that were unjustly confiscated, or otherwise taken off Maori by illegal means. The Waitangi Tribunal makes this clear in its latest interim Report about the massive but painful Taranaki claim. The following are some quotes from the Overview chapter of that Report:

“For the Taranaki hapu, conflict and struggle have been present since the first European settlement in 1841. There has been continuing expropriation by various means from purchase assertions to confiscation after war. In this context, the war itself is not the main grievance. The pain of war can soften over time. Nor is land the sole concern. The real issue is the relationship between Maori and the Government. It is today, as it has been for 155 years, the central problem.” (emphasis added)

And again: “Maori autonomy is pivotal to the Treaty [of Waitangi, 1840] and to the partnership concept it entails... In our view, it is also the inherent right of peoples in their native territories. Further, it is the fundamental issue in the Taranaki claims and appears to be the issue most central to the affairs of colonised indigenes throughout the world.” (emphasis added)

Maori have today little or no influence on the economic direction that the last two Governments have imposed, as they are still virtually excluded from the highest political centres of decision making. And yet, the extreme free trade policies, driven by a neo-liberal ideology, and controlled by multinational corporations, which have a destructive effect on the whole societal fabric of this country, bear undoubtedly most heavily on Maori. These policies having been set in place without consultation and decision making with Maori.

However, the current position and gains, if any, can only be assessed in relation to what was lost, so a brief historical background is important.


Of Polynesian origin, Maori settled Aotearoa/New Zealand some time between the 2nd and 12th c. AD. By the time of first sporadic contact with Dutch, French and English explorers in the 17th and 18th c., Maori had settled the whole of the country and had adapted most successfully to the challenges of the new environment, climate,and the different types of resources available here. They developed an intricate social structure and economic system to serve their needs. Their culture was flexible and evolving in response to new challenges, evidence of a dynamic and resourceful people.

Social and political organisation built from whanau (families) through hapu (whanau groupings) to iwi (“tribes” or hapu groupings) and waka (“canoes”: tribal groups whose whakapapa (genealogy) places them as having originally arrived in the same “canoe”). Currently, the primary cultural identity for Maori is through their respective Iwi affiliations.

Spirituality developed as a seamless part of the natural, every-day world, and of the people’s relationship to their environment, a holistic concept of human beings with a kaitiaki (caretaker) role towards the natural world.

Contact with early explorers and those who came in the late 18th century and early 19th century to trade for timber, flax and provisions, to settle, to proselytise and “civilise”,and to hunt seals and whales, had its destructive aspects, but allowed Maori to select and incorporate new knowledge into their own culture whilst remaining in control of the manuhiri (guests). Generally, Maori welcomed the new contacts, finding the odd European quite a useful addition to a tribe. By the 1830s there were only a few hundred permanent non-Maori in Aotearoa. Maori themselves were starting to travel to and trade with other countries.

As a result of perceived threats to law and order as more Pakeha arrived, and as a result of a quest for national unity, Maori rangatira (Chiefs) of the North adopted a national flag, and in 1835 drew up a Declaration of Independence, which declared the country to be independent, with “all sovereign power and authority residing in the rangatira in their collective capacities", and petitioned King William IV of England for protection. When Captain Hobson was sent to New Zealand to treat with the Maori Chiefs for cession of sovereignty, his instructions stated that Maori “title to the soil and to the sovereignty of NZ is indisputable, and has been solemnly recognised by the British Government.... we acknowledge NZ as a sovereign and independent state...”. To this day Aotearoa NZ is an Independent country as seen above.

The Treaty of Waitangi, 1840

There were basically two Treaties, an English version and a Maori version. The latter was not just a translation of the former, but differed in quite significant aspects. Whilst the English version claimed Maori ceded sovereignty to the British Crown, in the Maori version, only a type of governance (kawanatanga) was given to the Crown, whilst Maori were guaranteed their “tino rangatiratanga” or “absolute control and authority over things Maori”. Both versions guaranteed Maori full possession of their lands, villages, and other properties or “treasures”, with the Crown to buy only such lands as Maori were willing to sell. Maori were further guaranteed full British citizenship rights, whilst an extra protocol (Article 4) guaranteed the protection of Maori customs andpractices. Nearly all of the 500+ Rangatira signatories signed the Maori version. In international law it is the Maori version which counts in any dispute over interpretation. This is the principle of Contra Proferentem. In essence, the Crown promised to abide by rights that Maori possessed as Tangata Whenua, only adding the benefits of British citizenship. It gave Pakeha the right to be here, but only if they honoured the Treaty!

In 1840 Maori vastly outnumbered the 2,000 odd non-Maori, whilst most tribes were well armed with traditional and European tools for war. There is just no way that they would have ceded their sovereign powers. A few attempts in the early 1840s to wrest control from Maori by military means were not very successful. From then on till the end of the 1850s Maori retained control of much of the country, with Pakeha controlling their own growing settlements.

Whilst Maori held to the Treaty, and the verbal discussions and guarantees around it, as a sacred covenant, the British only invoked it to keep Maori cooperation until such times as they were strong enough numerically and militarily to fight the Maori in the 1860s to gain complete control over resources, destroy Maori economic base, and marginalise them socially, economically, culturally, and politically.

Maori were deprived of challenging Crown breaches of the Treaty in the Courts, when Chief Justice Prendergast declared the Treaty “a nullity” in 1877. Though Parliament still refuses to ratify the Treaty as the basic constitutional document of Aotearoa, occasional clauses in recent legislation requiring compliance with the Treaty, have allowed some important challenges.

Unfulfilled expectations

Maori could reasonably have expected to remain in the majority; to have a regular, but limited number of new migrants coming in; to keep control of their own areas, which comprised the bulk of the country, with Pakeha controlling their own settlements; to work out conflicts and issues of common concern through negotiation as between equal parties; to learn and apply new technologies in their own ways, with Pakeha also learning from them. Maori were well able to compete with Pakeha at that time, being the main suppliers of food for the new settlements, and controlling most of the coastal shipping, as well as trading with other countries.

They were also involved in the growing extraction of kauri gum, in the manufacture of rope from flax, inshore whaling, in goldmining, and in guiding European travellers around the country.

Though Pakeha acted as if Maori had ceded full sovereignty to the Crown and proceeded to establish a structure of government which completely marginalised Maori from the centres of decision making, in many ways it was still a sovereignty in name only for at least the first twenty years after the signing of the Treaty. Without any provocation the Government used its forces to start a CMI war in 1860, in which the government, not Maori, were in rebellion!

“The rhetorical question in the Government’s eyes was, ‘whose authority should prevail, that of Maori or that of the Queen?’ The question in Maori eyes... was how the respective authorities of Maori and Pakeha were to be recognised and respected and the partnerships maintained. To the governors of the day, such a position was an invitation to war. To Maori, it was the only foundation for peace. It was peaceful purpose that the Maori leadership most consistently displayed there was a place for Pakeha in their country, provided Pakeha could respect them.”

“Of the numerous Treaty breaches, we believe none was more serious than the Government’s failure to respect Maori authority.. .While historians and previous commissions have generally concluded that the Governor caused the war through errors of fact on Maori customary tenure, a ‘blunder worse than a crime’ in the opinion of [19th c. historian] W Pember Reeves, we consider the larger error was one not of fact but of principle. The Governor assumed that his own authority must prevail and that of Maori be stamped out, when the principles of the Treaty required that each should respect the other. While the Governor would not recognise this principle, Maori placed their faith in it” (Taranaki Report, emphasis added)

Not all tribes were attacked and some Maori were even co-opted by the Government to fight on their side, but the final effects of those years were to impact on all Maori ever after: land was taken from those considered to be in rebellion and those who obviously were not, and land continued to be alienated by various means, sanctified by racist laws, several of which were passed just to legalise past illegal transactions and actions. Maori were marginalised socially,economically and politically, as their economic bases were destroyed, their culture demeaned, their language forbidden in schools, and their leadership weakened:

“All were affected, even non-combatants, because everyone’s land was taken, people were relocated,land tenure was changed, and a whole new social order was imposed. The losses were physical, cultural, and spiritual... For Maori, every nook and cranny of the land is redolent with meaning in histories passed down orally and a litany of landmarks serves as a daily reminder of their dispossession.” (Taranaki Report, emphasis added)

Maori initiatives for inter- or pan-tribal unity through various social, political and religious movements, with the aim to resist encroachment on their lands, their autonomy and physical and spiritual wellbeing, had started even before the signing of the Treaty in 1840. Like others that arose later, they were a threat to Pakeha control, and unacceptable to the newly established settler governments. Government attempted to undermine and marginalise them out of existence, or co-opt them to serve government purposes. However, many of these initiatives did not die, but surfaced regularly to become stronger as time went on till at this point in time Maori have become an irresistible force, whose demands for their rightful place in this country cannot be denied much longer.

A Monocultural Society, Means and Effect

People from many different ethnic groups have migrated to this country, making it demographically multi-cultural. Nevertheless, Aotearoa/New Zealand is overwhelmingly mono-cultural in the structure of its institutions, its main value system, and the way it operates: Pakeha dominate the decision making, control resource allocations, and are the group which benefits most. Britain provided the main model.

The basis of the Treaty relationship was bi-cultural, with the manaaki manuhiri (caring for others) protocol of the indigenous people (Maori - Tangata Whenua or “people of the land”), who were prepared to share this land as long as the newcomers balanced this by respecting Maori autonomy. The Treaty was signed as between two equal parties, two sovereign peoples.

However, the newcomers carried a conviction of the utter superiority of Western civilisation, and an ideology which underpinned a belief in their divine right to rule the world and exploit its resources and indigenous peoples. Their deep-seated racial prejudices could not perceive of treating “coloured” peoples as equal.

This is not the time or place to describe in great detail the means by which this country became monocultural, with Pakeha having almost total control over land and other resources, and over decision making, and Maori becoming a marginalised minority in their own country. In essence, they are the mechanisms of colonialism everywhere, even if with local variations. To mention just a few:

The use of the Treaty as a tool of domination has already been mentioned, as also the use of military violence leading to civil war in the 1860s. However, the use of both police and military force to destroy Maori communities that resisted peacefully, or were simply in the way of “progress”, went on well into this century, nor have recent governments hesitated to use such force to stifle non-violent Maori protest demanding restoration of their rights and possessions.

Parliament and Government were structured so as to exclude Maori from a part in political decision making. Maori were effectively disenfranchised with the N.Z.Constitution Act in 1852, and allocated 4 seats (out of 70) in 1876, to contain rather than expand Maori participation.

Education has been a major tool of colonisation imprinting the minds of both Maori and Pakeha children with the Pakeha version of New Zealand history, race relations, and culture. Maori language was forbidden to be used in schools, resulting in an almost critical loss of native speakers. The system aimed at conserving Pakeha culture, and ignored or denigrated Maori knowledge, culture, art and literature. Racist prejudices also expressed themselves in teacher treatment and expectations of Maori children. No surprise then that this system failed most Maori children miserably, with very high numbers leaving school without any formal qualifications, and with generally a high sense of failure.

Christianity as it was brought by missionaries and often continued by mainline churches has played its role in the colonising process, with attempts to eradicate and/or demean Maori spiritual beliefs and practices, though early missionaries also brought welcome educational and technological innovations.

As mentioned before, Maori were able to compete successfully with Europeans in fanning, shipping, and business, before and in the first 20 years after the Treaty. All over the country, Maori adopted the new technologies, had thousands of acres undercrops, built mills and operated large vessels. They contributed more than half of customs revenue in the late 1850s, and built up large capital assets. But their success aroused not admiration but enmity. The 1860s wars and deliberate policies thereafter, particularly those leading to loss of land, destroyed the Maori economic base. Maori could not obtain capital loans to develop the last bits of communally-held land left to them. By the 1980s only 3% of land was still held by Maori under traditional title. Partly as a result of deliberate policy, Maori came to occupy the lowest rung of the economic ladder, with unemployment rates far in excess of any other group in society. Many welfare benefits were not paid out to Maori to the same degree as to Pakeha. Whilst the latter may no longer obtain today,the cutbacks in welfare benefits and increasing user-pays policies in health and education again bear hardest on Maori.

Similarly, the justice system failed to do justice by Maori. Dozens of laws were passed to ease the alienation of Maori land, to legalise past illegal actions, to differentially rate Maori land, and to keep some Maori in prison or exiled when courts could not convict. Maori are still likely to be convicted several times more than Pakeha for a similar offence. Maori law and systems of justice were considered mere “lore” and ignored. Again, it is no surprise, that Maori fill prisons out of all proportion to their numbers in the general population.

In 1996 Moana Jackson with Kaumatua and Kuia travelled the length and breadth of Aotearoa to hear from Maori how the Justice system impacted on the families. Out of this came “Maori and the Criminal Justice System” Hei whaipaanga Hou - which offered the Government an alternative on how to address Maori people. This has not been implemented.

Other institutions, such as health and welfare, also operate on monocultural principles, though some changes are occurring, which will be outlined below. With the severe disruption and attempted destruction of the Maori way of life, Maori health also suffered. Maori experts (tohunga) in physical and spiritual (holistic) healing were forbidden by law to practise. And Pakeha delivery systems were insensitive to Maori beliefs and values, and as such were not easily accessed by Maori. Maori life-expectancy has not increased to the same extent as that of Pakeha, and rates of incidence of many illnesses are higher for Maori than in the general population, indicative both of the debilitating effect of a century and more of oppression, and of the failure of monocultural institutions to deliver their benefits to Maori to the same degree as to Pakeha.

It is truly appropriate to talk of “institutional racism” and it is not surprising that Maori still rate high on almost all negative indicators of social wellbeing and low on all positive indicators.

Land grabbing and other policies that disadvantaged Maori are not a matter of the long- distant past. The Public Works Act gave Government power to take Maori land without notice to the owners, who had no right of objection, and had to accept what compensation Government considered fit to pay, if any. A few examples: A Maori village was moved from the Auckland waterfront in the 1950s, after it was burned to the ground. The people were shifted elsewhere into state housing for which they had to pay rent. In the 1960s land was taken for hydro-electric development in the centre of the North Island, but Government took much more than was needed for that project. Land taken for defence purposes during WWII was often passed to private ownership, or for such purposes as Council owned golf courses, rather than returned to Maori. Some of those have been the focus of Maori land and building occupations.

Occupation to retrieve Maori land by owners has been painful especially as media reporting does not tend to give factual reporting so the public are given correct information.

Maori Women

Colonisation has born even more heavily on Maori women, in that Christian/Victorian/British concepts of the position of women in society lost them the status and place they had occupied within traditional society. Several women signed the Treaty. Women traditionally carried the mana (loosely translated as status/prestige) of the hapu, and some hapu were named after women. Inheritance and tribal membership came through the female as well as the male line. Women also carried the mana of Papatuanuku (the Earth Mother), from whence life is born.

In terms of figures for unemployment and poverty, Maori women score highest, as also on certain illness indicators. Violence, which in oppressed groups tends to turn inwards, has impacted more on women and children. Yet as the history of women is at last being written, it is clear that women have carried the brunt of maintaining Maori strength, and are often in the vanguard of Maori initiatives to reassert their rights, demand redress of past and present grievances, and move into a positive future.

The Current Position

There are several headings under which the current position can usefully be discussed:

a. How is the Government and society in general responding to demands by Maori for justice, i.e. to what extent are grievances being redressed, and are Maori really catching up with respect to political participation, to health, to education, and so on.

b. How is the economic direction into which the last both Labour and National Governments have steered Aotearoa/New Zealand in the last dozen years, effecting the country in general and Maori in particular.

a. Redress of Grievances and the Current Position

Some very significant changes have undoubtedly taken place, some of which have already been alluded to above. The changes have been Maori driven, in that in the last 30 years Maori have become increasingly assertive about their rights, more and more unified in articulating what needs to change, and what reparations need to be made. Many have become more pro-active in their protest, using direct action at times to bring home to Government and the wider community disputes over particular land or other issues starting with the famous Landmarch of 1974, through protests and demonstrations at public occasions such as the “celebrations” of Waitangi Day, and through increasing use of occupations,sit-ins, and such.

Many Pakeha and other non-Maori are also coming on board, by educating themselves and others to understand their history, to let go of power, supporting Maori actions, and help develop models of interaction, which acknowledge and respect Maori sovereignty. Historians, archaeologists, sociologists, and other academics are adding their skills to research which underpins the needed changes. There have indeed been significant shifts in public attitudes, though letters to editors of the main newspapers, and talkback radio abound without right racist statements, giving some indication of the depth of racial prejudice which still exists in society. Research on views of government action comparing 1989 and 1993 responses, showed that in 1993 about 65% of people surveyed responded with either a weak or strong no to the question of “special rights to Maori to make up for past injustices”. There was little change from the 1989 response on the same question. (Jane Kelsey,The New Zealand Experiment, 1995, p. 325) Nevertheless, Government and society generally have made a start with recognising and accepting things Maori. Most organisations and institutions have mission statements which recognise a commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi, or rather the principles of the Treaty as defined by Government not Maori, though few have strategies in place to make such a commitment real. More Maori are being recruited into mainstream institutions and organisations, but there is seldom a real change in the culture of the institution or organisation. The many structural changes occurring in various institutions as a result of a free market driven economy and privatisation tend to put “bi-cultural” changes on the backburner. Attitude change is slow at any time, and Treaty/biculturalism education for Pakeha not a real govermnent priority. Most Members of Parliament still operate from a monocultural view of their society. “Cultural Safety” education as part of nursing training has come once again under attack from M.P.s and others.

Maori are becoming less and less tolerant now of Government and the rest of society dragging their feet about honouring the Treaty. Government is still doing that with respect to key issues. A few quotes taken from two recent letters (13 May and 18 July 1996, in response to a group of Pakeha urging Government to come to terms with Maori sovereignty issues) from the Minister of Maori Affairs (a Pakeha!):

“The evolution of the modern New Zealand state is another new circumstance since the signing of the Treaty. The Government acts on the basis of its mandate from the electorate. We do not believe that this mandate extends to the granting of sovereign powers to Maori, or that either version of the Treaty requires the Government to do this, or even that it would be practical.... We are also willing to explore ways to develop a more meaningful partnership between Maori and the Crown. We envisage that this will evolve to some extent through ongoing discussion of possible models for the future and through the return of resources to iwi and hapu through Treaty settlements. I reiterate that the partnership arrangement will have to develop within our current constitutional framework. You will find, however, that the complexities of government cannot be encompassed within a simple doctrine to the Treaty. I agree that modern circumstances are characterised by a lack of wide and informed debate on Treaty issues. Any attempt by the Government to promote such debate would require very careful management to avoid the risk of causing alarm or seeming to steer public opinion in any particular direction... The Treaty of Waitangi imposes moral obligations on the Government, as well as legal obligations where it is mentioned in statute...I do not believe that the Government has a mandate for significant change in [our current constitutional] arrangements...”

Quotes from the Waitangi Tribunal’s 1996 on the Taranaki claim on pages 2 and 4 above make it clear that the Tribunal considers the basic fault in the relationship between Government and Maori, from which all problems past and present flow, is the failure of Government to respect Maori autonomy, and hence failure to treat with Maori as equal parties in negotiations. This was certainly the conclusion too of significant national hui(gatherings) called by Government to explain to Maori the Government’s so-called “Fiscal Envelope” (1995) proposal to settle Maori grievances once and for all in the next 5 to 10 years. This proposal is basically non-negotiable. It was resoundingly rejected, yet Government continues with it.

Nevertheless, some grievances are being settled, if usually only partly. One of the most notable “settlements” has covered Maori commercial fishing claims under the Sealord Deal (a fishing and processing venture half owned by private corporate interests). This was imposed on Maori with less than three quarters of Iwi agreeing to the settlement. In other words an imposed deal. Currently this has been taken to the Human Rights in Geneva for a decision. Maori now have commercial control (not to be confused with sovereign control) of about 40% of the fishing industry. However, many Maori consider that Government did not negotiate properly, and that the process of settlement resulted in some tribes missing out on the benefits,issues that Maori are still working on both amongst themselves and with Government.

With respect to land,the infamous Public Works Act referred to above, was finally repealed in 1975. The two most notable land claims that have been (partly) settled, are the huge Ngai Tahu, South Island, claim, and the large Waikato one in the northern half of the North Island. Claims are, however,restricted at present by Government unilaterally imposing both a money value limit of NZ $l billion, when the losses are conservatively estimated at more than NZ$100 billion, and also limiting what land may be available to settle claims, excluding not only privately held land, but also most of the conservation estate and natural resources (the “Fiscal Envelope”). Even though Maori throughout their country opposed the Fiscal Envelope when the Government presented it to Maoridom - arrogantly the government is proceeding with “their fiscal envelope”. By 1990 the position of land in Aotearoa/N.Z. was approximately as follows: 50% owned by the Crown or reserved for public purposes; 47% freehold land under European definition and title (some owners are Maori); and 3% Maori land, held in communal ownership. To give some indication of the size of claims not considered yet:the Waitangi Tribunal considers the Taranaki land claim to cover more than 770 thousand hectares (nearly 2 million acres).

Education is one area where marked improvements are taking place, with Maori establishing their own kohanga reo (0-5 years language nests) for Maori, by Maori, and in Maori, though non-Maori are not excluded. Since the establishment of the first one in 1984, numbers are growing exponentially. In 1993 about 46% of eligible Maori children attended a kohanga reo. Also by 1993 there were 25 Kura Kaupapa Maori (primary/secondary schools taught in Maori and the Maori way) and several Whare Wananga (Maori tertiary institutions). At that time 36% of Maori children were involved in a form of Maori language education. Many mainline schools have bilingual or immersion classes. More and more Maori teachers and principals too are appearing in the mainstream system, providing much needed positive role models. More Maori children are gaining educational qualifications, and also going on to tertiary study. Universities and Polytechnics have Maori Studies Departments, and a growing number of Maori academics can also be found in other disciplines. Once approved by the State, the kohanga reo and kura kaupapa Maori are basically funded at the same rate as other state schools. This means that the burden of catching up with the enormous backlog in appropriate resources still falls mainly on the Maori community itself, which is generally the least able to do so financially. However, the success of the Maori parallel education system is becoming clearly evident, with those going through facing society with a stronger sense of pride in their own identity, and ready to play positive roles in the continuation of the Maori.

However, the success of the Maori parallel education system is becoming clearly evident, with those going through facing society with a stronger sense of and pride in their ownidentity, and ready to play positive roles in the continuation of the Maori renaissance. Yet Maori is the official language of Aotearoa it’s not given the same resources as English.

It is expected that the loss in number of fluent Maori speakers will not only be halted, but start to turn around and become a positive gain. But it is not sure at all yet that the language is “safe”, though many (including a growing number of non-Maori) are now learning Maori, and Maori has been officially recognised as one of the two official languages of Aotearoa. For a language to remain truly alive, it needs to be used in everyday situations. The media play an important role. Though there are Maori radio stations to cover most of the country, and Auckland has since a few months a Maori TV station, programmes in Maori, and/or covering Maori news and issues on mainstream TV or radio are still very limited indeed. As for the main newspaper and magazine media,the same applies, in that coverage of Maori news is increasing, though with more emphasis on negative rather than positive news, and with issues covered mainly from an establishment, Pakeha, point of view. Newspapers and a glossy magazine published by Maori, largely in English, are filling a needed gap for both Maori and non-Maori. They build on a tradition of Maori newspapers that goes back to the middle of the last century.

In the health area, there is an avowed commitment by the public health authorities to improving Maori health. New approaches to funding and delivery of health services, have allowed Maori to become providers of health services themselves to serve their own people, building on the many Maori health initiatives already inplace. But, as Professor Mason Durie points out in Whaiora (1994),they are often “caught in the ironic situation of being providers for government programmes but without any real opportunity to shape the programmes or to give attention to their own plans” (p.151). Funding is usually short-term, where Maori health planning may have much longer term goals. It is hard to properly plan if there is no security of continued funding. Conflict between Maori and health funders often arises because Maori tend to use broader criteria to measure outcomes. The Maori focus is more holistic and also recognises that Maori health is negatively affected by cultural, economic and social factors (e.g., unemployment, poverty, poor housing, cultural alienation). Increasing unfettered free market policies and ideology tend to result in promotion of competition between providers on the theory that it will enhance performance and efficiency... Instead, it often leads to “a multiplicity of poorly funded, under-resourced authorities with high overheads and an incapacity to grapple with the wide-ranging demands of Iwi development” ( Durie, p.155). And (of course?) Maori were not part of the planning of the many changes in the structure of the public health system, at the outset.

It has now become possible to use the Courts to successfully challenge Governmental policies detrimental to Maori, but only when legislation includes a clause requiring the Crown to act in accordance with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. Such happened, for example, with the 1986 State Owned Enterprises Act, when the Crown’s right to sell crown land which might be used to settle Maori claims was successfully challenged. For a people who have little resources the sacrifices are great.

The Waitangi Tribunal has not just considered land issues, but also ways of sewage disposal, and pollution of rivers and coastal fishing grounds. Language issues, as well as the position of women under the Treaty have been and are being challenged. The Tribunal is still under-resourced, having at present 600 claims in the pipeline, and is limited in that it can only recommend settlements to Government.

Many Maori have gained positions within the system and are working from that position to improve the situation for Maori. One example is Te Puni Kokiri, the Government Department which replaced the Maori Affairs one. There is concern that Maori working in this Department cannot make changes only flag to Cabinet Minister concerns of Maori. However, many would like to see its role less one of explaining Government policies to Maori, and more one of challenging policies. In 1985 Aotearoa/N.Z. even got its first Maori Governor-General! (He was succeeded by another first: a woman Governor-General!) Maori can now be found representing this country intemationally not only in rugby, but also in golf and netball, and many other sports. Maori have always been well represented in the entertainment industry. As for film, drama, literature and the arts: there is an absolute outpouring of talent.

With respect to parliamentary representation, today Maori still have 4 seats (out of 97), but can stand and vote in general elections if they so wish. With a change from “first past the post” to a form of proportional representation and an increase in parliamentary seats to 120, the number of Maori seats has been increased to 5, with an expectation that many more Maori will gain seats as candidates for general parties. The first election under the new system takes place in October 1996. Many Maori consider, however, that they will only obtain effective political power, if parliament is reformed to include a Maori “house” alongside a non-Maori one, and/or an upper House, in which Maori would have equal representation with non-Maori. At best the October elections under the new electoral system may increase the number of Maori MPs to 15, spread over several parties. Even if they combine in a Maori caucus when specific Maori concerns are at issue, this is far short of the constitutional position of Maori envisaged in the Treaty partnership. This will not guarantee a Maori unity.

One way for Government to co-opt the Treaty once again to its own agenda, was to have Pakeha Judges approve a list of 5 “principles” of the Treaty by which Government will abide, which entrench the concept that Maori ceded sovereignty, and can only claim control over the resources they still hold. It confirms the Government’s responsibility and right to set the process for redress of grievances. Though the Government sets itself the duty of consultation, this does not mean they have to listen. To Maori the Treaty is about negotiation between equal parties.

Models for interaction: Maori are not claiming a separate state. They want to be free to determine their own destiny and be able to work according to their own cultural values and customs. This may require what are sometimes called “parallel” structures, of which the Maori school system is a good example, rather than working together with Pakeha in what remain essentially Pakeha structures and Pakeha cultural ways of operating. And they want to be involved in decisionmaking at the highest political level.

Immigration: By 1900 it was generally thought, and also hoped by many, that Maori were a dying race. However, Maori numbers increased again, the 1991 census recording over 323 thousand Maori out of a total population of 3.3 million, i.e. about 9.5%. Not all Maori recorded their ethnicity because of the way the census question was recorded. As has been the case with indigenous peoples elsewhere, Maori too were swamped by immigrants. Today, a key issue that Maori want debated and demand to have a direct and decisive say in is how many, from where, and what other criteria are applied. It is not so long since a “white New Zealand” policy was in force. Now Government seems to go all out to attract rich capitalist entrepreneurs.

Though Government keeps insisting that there can be only one justice system for all, some Maori accused have been officially tried on Marae (the traditional meeting places of Maori) by their own tribal elders and using traditional processesand sentences. The results suggest that the outcome is more positive/restorative for the victim and for the perpetrator of the crime than the established system, though the sentence is not necessarily less. As stated earlier this is not the norm - only on selected cases.

b. The Effect of Free Market Policies

In the last 10 years, Aotearoa has undergone major changes driven by an economic revolution of free market and de-regulation policies. Many public communication,transportation, and other assets ware sold, and Government saw its goal as minimal involvement involvement in the economy and in social welfare. Whilst the official version of the impact of these policies is very positive, it is left to critics of government policies to bring out the destructive effects on employment, on wages, on benefits, and on social cohesion.

“The New Right revolutionaries sneer at would-be critics because they are not in possession of the facts. Indeed the theory driving the revolution asserts that there is no need to measure social impacts since these are not the responsibility of the state. The market will determine the appropriate social response...” (Phillida Bunkle of Victoria University, in New Zealand Women 1985-1995: Markets and Inequality, 1996,p.4)

“The impact of structural adjustment was never arbitrary. The fictional level playing-field was premised on the structural poverty of race, gender and age... Maori were the most marginal of the marginalised. Having been systematically stripped of the resources that guaranteed their economic, cultural and spiritual well-being, Maori were reduced to an underclass in their own land. As predominantly unskilled wage labour they depended heavily on employment by the state. ..Through corporatisation and privatisation successive governments sold [state] resources, cut the jobs and cast many rural Maori communities adrift. Maori were made more dependent on state handouts than ever before. In the paid labour force, Maori were traditionally over-represented in the production, transport, equipment and labouring sectors, which suffered the greatest job losses... The children suffered heavily. Almost two-fifths of Maori children were members of households in the lowest 20 percent of incomes... Maori women, especially those under 30,had the highest rates of unemployment, were more likely to be sole parents and had lower incomes than either Pakeha women or Maori men... The combined effects of benefit dependency and low-wage, low-skilled labour meant that in 1990 the average Maori household received only 79.2 percent of the average income of all households... The evidence was clear that, with the onset of structural adjustment, the colonial legacy of poverty, dispossession and alienation that had operated since 1840 had taken another, equally pernicious, form. (emphasis added, Kelsey, J., The New Zealand Experiment, A World Model for Structural Adjustment?, 1995, pp 283- 285)

Whilst Maori unemployment was always higher than that of Pakeha, the disparity has grown worse. In the quarter to June 1995 Maori unemployment stood at 16.1% compared with a Pakeha rate of 4.4%. The rate for Pacific Islanders was similar to that of Maori.

The competitive, individualistic values underlying the New Right policies are the opposite of traditional Maori ones, though some Maori are taken in by the rhetoric of "self-sufficiency”, seeing it as a step toward self-determination and autonomy. In general, the current economic, social and political policies are destructive of community, and of values that nurture communities, such as caring and sharing, and responsibility for the common good. As such Maori cultural cohesion, as indeed the social cohesion of the whole society, is being affected.

The shift to market-driven education and health provision, and user-pay policies, also bear most heavily on those most vulnerable financially: Maori and Pacific Islanders,women and the aged. Education is becoming more job focused, rather than “a vital repository of unique identities and cultural values, a source of much-needed contest and critique, and a valued activity irrespective of market demand”. (Jane Kelsey, p. 329)

Free-marketeers do not believe in a free-market of ideas, as is quite clear when their critics seek access for wider public discussion of their research findings and critiques through the main media, be it press, TV, or radio. Privatisation and a concentration of ownership, has resulted in self- censorship of editorial content and journalistic style. There is very little room for independent,hard investigative journalism, nor in depth and balanced reporting of the major issues of concern to the Maori/Pakeha relationship.

The Gatt Uruguay Round is about free trade, and especially about measures that will allow huge transnational companies to increase their stranglehold on trade, on natural resources, and on essential technologies. Free trade is not fair trade! Nor are sustainable development, social justice and participatory democracy considerations. It is a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and no  longer acceptable for Government to commit this country to such far-reaching agreements without its Maori Treaty partner being a party to the negotiations.

It is going to be very difficult to reverse some of the changes that have been made, even if there were to be a next government dedicated to attempting this. With the first election in October 1996 under the new system, there is little likelihood of one party gaining an outright majority. At this stage few expect the inevitable coalition government to be very different from the current one with respect to free trade policies. There is also some fear that redress of Maori grievances may become less of a priority.

Conclusion Whilst the brief overview given above suggests that there are many positive changes for Maori, it is too early to start celebrating, as so much remains to be done and new threats have come to the fore. The key flaw in the relationship between Maori and Government, and indeed between Maori and non-Maori generally, has yet to be addressed: the recognition of, respect for, and implementation of Maori autonomy.

Tungia te ururua kia tupu whakaritorito te tupu o te harakeke - “Set the overgrown bush alight, and the new f1ax roots will spring up”.

Pauline E Tangiora

Me Aro Koe ki te Ha o Hine-ahu-one.

Pay Heed to the Dignity of Women.