Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Introducing The Spinoff Ātea, an online community for Māori perspectives and insight


Introducing The Spinoff Ātea, an online community for Māori perspectives and insight

No more ‘us’ and ‘them’, writes Ātea editor Leonie Hayden.
In pōwhiri, women karanga to welcome guests onto the marae and to settle the spirits of the dead. This role is symbolic of the fact that only women can bring forth life. Men sit on the paepae and give the whaikōrero, trading and sparring with words, to symbolise battle, and the protection of life-bearing women (there are exceptions in some hapū but the idea is that men are expendable). Pn20
The marae ātea is the open area in front of the wharenui where this ritual of encounter takes place. It is the domain of Tūmatauenga, the god of war and people. To show respect for the mana of Tūmatauenga, whaikōrero between those on the front benches should be forceful and filled with confidence and passion. When it is done, those that were at war greet one another, share breath and then food.
Welcome to The Spinoff Ātea.
We dedicate this space to Tūmatauenga, of men and war, Hine-te-iwaiwa, of women and birth, and Papatūānuku, mother of all colours, cultures and genders who holds us all.
Ātea, a new dedicated Māori perspectives section which I’m proud to be editing, is entering a media landscape composed of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Mainstream broadcasters cry, ‘we’re not racist, we just can’t find any brown writers!’ Meanwhile kaupapa Māori production houses like Kura Productions, Brown Sugar Apple Grunt and Pango write and produce award-winning programming and sell their ideas to major networks in the US. News outlets announce they will finally be deigning to spell te reo Māori correctly by using macrons, but then defend their right to publish heartbreakingly racist cartoons.
We wanted to build an arena of thought and debate where the indigenous perspective is the default – like our tuākana at e-tangataWaateaMāori TelevisionTe KarereMarae, and The Hui have, and like so many before them – in the hopes that some of the nearly three million page views The Spinoff attracted last month will find their way to it. This is a fully realised Treaty partnership.
The Spinoff audience is large, young and young-at-heart, open minded, educated and likes to laugh. You care a lot about equality. You listened when Luke Tipoki talked about how mispronunciation of kupu Māori diminishes mana and when the Rev. Hirini Kaa told us that conflict at Waitangi is essential. You cared about Deborah Mahuta-Coyle’s affecting letter to Don Brash. These are among the most-read stories ever published on The Spinoff.
It encouraged us to build on that, and to tell you more. I’ve come into this role after a three-year stint editing Mana magazine – a privilege I never imagined I’d have in my lifetime. Now, to add to this embarrassment of professional riches, I get to take what I’ve learned and try to build something new.

But building new things means acknowledging the old. While it’s fun to poke middle New Zealand and current affairs with a stick, history and tradition need space too. Indigenous approaches to childcare, health, business and education all hold lessons for us today. We need this knowledge to explore ways of practicing Māoritanga in an urban context and to make sense of the last 175 years. I’m excited to be introducing you to writers that take mātauranga from our ancestors and show us how to use it today, as well as writers that speak for the disenfranchised.
Some people might not like it. God knows most stories The Spinoff publishes that touch on race and ethnicity are plagued by grotty comments. I’m afraid to say we will be deleting your ‘Kiwi not iwi’ comments with reckless abandon. Everyone is welcome at Ātea, but we ask you to participate on our terms. Obviously we will delete anything with the merest whiff of ‘farkin lazy Mow-ries’ about it, but I will be deleting the ‘well, actually…’ comments too. Debate and disagreement is par for the course, encouraged even, but if you seek to minimise or erase Māori perspectives and histories, you will be asked to head down the lane and proceed into the deep, blue moana.
Ātea is a dedicated channel for content made by and for Māori communities, and we acknowledge that describes a huge spectrum of people and experiences. It may contain truths you’ve never considered; perspectives you’re not familiar with. Tell us what you think. It’s your paepae.
Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi. Nō reira, nau mai ki Ātea.
Find us on Facebook and Twitter.
This article has been updated to include Waatea News, an essential Māori news and current affairs service.

The Spinoff Longform Fund is dedicated to facilitating investigative journalism. Our focus is on supporting in-depth reporting on important New Zealand stories. Your donation will help us sustain this most resource-intensive form of journalism, ensuring that the most complex and important stories still get told.

Friday, October 6, 2017

White Person Saving Dark People's Lives????????

Ambae is Vanuatu’s story, not just a global media backdrop


A pre-evacuation village meeting near Nduidui on Ambae Island, Vanuatu. Image: Dan McGarry/Vanuatu Daily Post
OPINION: By Dan McGarry in Luganville, Vanuatu Pn19,
It happens every time disaster strikes in the developing world. The inhabitants of the place become background players in a drama about selfless aid workers saving lives in the furthest corners of the globe.
To be fair, most aid workers reject that narrative. I should know. I’ve been one. When category 5 cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu, I helped the UNICEF communications team deliver some of the first reports from the storm-ravaged country.
The image of the intrepid white person (let’s not dance around it) saving dark people’s lives is an inevitable and apparently unavoidable product of people’s need to understand. For you millions sitting at home, in the car or on the train, reading or listening to the news, all you’ll ever know — all you can know — about these far-flung localities is what you get in the 90-120 seconds that the media can give you before you move on.
If the scene contains familiar faces, it’s easier for you to relate. If it’s spoken in your language, it’s easier still. It’s all about making you care. And your care saves lives.
But we have to find a way to remember that the people in this story speak their own language. They have their own culture, their own values, their own sense of what is right.
Forced into exile
The defining aspect of the Manaro volcano story is how quickly and effectively people all across this country mobilised to support Ambae’s population after the volcano forced them into exile.
Goods were being collected from the moment people began to filter down from the hilltop villages that were the first affected by ash and acid rain. Nobody waited for authorities to tell them what to do.
Family comes first in Vanuatu, and we are all one family when faced with adversity such as this.
The islands of Ambae and Maewo have always enjoyed close ties, and nowhere was this more evident than in their warm and well-organised reception for the evacuees. One by one, chiefs from north to south designated which groups would be their respective wards.
Villagers throughout Maewo stepped up, establishing spaces for them in their villages, digging latrine pits, designating cooking areas, building shelters and providing food, water and other necessities.
People from end to end of the island of Pentecost have turned out and done everything within their power, not just to accommodate, but to welcome Ambae’s exiles. Pangi village in the south is famous for its land-diving.
Chiefs there gathered evacuees together and welcomed them with a feast, literally slaughtering a fatted calf for them.
No scenes of pandemonium
Nowhere has the effort been greater than in Luganville, Santo, which is hosting over 5300 evacuees. As the ships began arriving, some carrying as many as 1000 at a time, there were no scenes of pandemonium so commonly associated with mass migrations.
An eyewitness wrote, “People everywhere, trucks and cars everywhere, but everyone [was] calm, no panic, no one upset as the community welcomed them.”
Only one person—an elderly man—has reportedly died so far, and he died of a broken heart at being uprooted from his land.
Vanuatu’s government is not absent in this picture; it is an inseparable part of it. The grassroots Ambae Manaro Organising Committee has worked hand in glove with the National Disaster Management Office to ship donated relied supplies, first to the island of Ambae itself, and now to Santo, for distribution to the large evacuee population there.
The foreign donors, aid organisations and NGOs who know us best will be doing the same: integrating their efforts into local endeavours.
Evacuees to be employed
The Ambae Manaro committee yesterday reported that they would be seeking to employ people within the evacuee population itself to provide essential services to their companions. The Santo Ambae Support Community echoes these sentiments.
“It’s so important for the evacuees were welcomed and cared by the community from Ambae, they can talk [the] same language and still feel [at] home.”
Those NGOs with a permanent presence here in Vanuatu know the value of fitting in, employing Ni Vanuatu staff and consultants in key positions in order to ensure that they operate effectively and with sensitivity to local concerns.
In spite of all this, millions of people who know nothing of Vanuatu but its suffering will only see images of military planes, bales of supplies, ships and expat workers doing what they can to help.
On TV screens, tablets and phones, the people of Vanuatu will be reduced to the backdrop against which the soap opera of disaster relief unfolds its all too predictable melodrama.
Swamped news feed
It doesn’t have to be that way, but sadly, it probably will be.
So today, at least, before our news feed gets swamped with images of Hercules planes, Black Hawk helicopters and crisply uniformed military officers, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves: This is Vanuatu’s story. It’s a story about fellowship, about buddies in bad times, about pulling together, and about helping at all costs.
Can we get through this without international help? Not a chance. We know it’s offered in the spirit of camaraderie and friendship.
We’re grateful, too. But when you talk to the international media, please don’t forget who was there first, and who will remain when you’ve gone back home.
Dan McGarry is media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post. Asia Pacific Report republishes VDP articles with permission.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Why the Maori Party Lost its Way and its Seats


The end of ‘neither left nor right, but Māori’

Morgan Godfery looks back at the four term history of the parliamentary Māori party, 2005-2017. Pn18.
Te Ururoa Flavell, the former Minister for Māori Development, school principal, charity boxerand “Iron Māori”, is out of Parliament after twelve years representing Waiariki, a four-term run that saw him expand Whānau Ora – his party’s signature achievement – reform gambling laws, improve access to housing grants, and hand iwi and urban Māori the power to set the government’s direction on te reo Māori. “A gentle man who cries at happy news,” Flavell is vowing to stand down from his party’s co-leadership after a devastating election night where party supporters, pale and mute, watched Labour’s Tamati Coffey take Waiariki with a more than 1000-vote majority.
“New Zealand has spoken,” party co-leader Marama Fox told The Hui on Sunday morningher voice cracking as people shuffled past her in an airport departure lounge. “They want to go back to the age of colonisation where the paternalistic parties of red and blue tell Māori how to live.” For Fox and her supporters, Sunday morning must’ve felt like a darker, colder world than the one in 2008 where Māori voters returned five Māori Party MPs, including Flavell and the party’s co-founders Dame Tariana Turia and Sir Pita Sharples. It was a brutal comedown for the party Turia promised would be “neither left nor right, but Māori.”
In the end, that was the problem. Transcending the left-right divide simply meant making their peace with power. Instead of tearing down the coloniser’s table the Māori Party sought a seat at it. Treachery, some people said, and in 2009 – only a year after inking a supply and confidence deal with National – the party came under heavy fire for “selling out” and supporting the government’s amendments to the emissions trading scheme (ETS). The amendments saw the government subsidise or exempt the country’s biggest polluters meaning “higher petrol and power prices as households [were] forced to share the cost of pollution.”
Some members were furious. Hone Harawira, the caucus radical, withheld his support, even as five iwi were set to secure planting rights to thousands of hectares of conservation land under a deal Turia and Sharples secured. How could Harawira support something that might drive up the cost of living for whānau? Sure, iwi might profit from the carbon credits they could accumulate, but any profit would come at the expense of working Māori who were helping subsidise big polluters. Rather than transcending the left-right divide Harawira went left while Turia, Sharples, Flavell and Rahui Katene, the then MP for Te Tai Tonga, went right.
They couldn’t escape the divide between labour and capital, even if they were Māori.   

Everyone seemed to understand this: Harawira, party members like Annette Sykes, and even conservatives like then-Labour MP Shane Jones who condemned Turia and Sharples for “selling out” working class Māori in favour of a “privileged elite.” The only people who seemed to miss the significance of the split over the ETS were Turia, Sharples, Flavell and Katene who would insist it’s better to be at the table than not, even if it means compromising on some occasions. What’s good for iwi is good for whānau, right? And anyway, the wins will come.
In one sense, they were right. The wins did come. From Whānau Ora, the welfare programme putting families in charge of the government services they receive, to Māra Kai, the programme planting communal gardens in Marae across the country. In this year’s budget the Māori Party secured $122 million in new spending. “The Māori Party keeps its promise to whanau,” boasted the official press release. But what the talking points left unsaid is $122 million represents less than 0.1 percent of core Crown spending in the year to June 2018.
Is 0.1 percent enough to keep you at the table?
Not Hone Harawira, the hard-talking northerner who abandoned the party – well, was pushed – after publishing an extraordinary column in The Sunday Star Times in 2011 criticising his colleagues for their shift right. “[Our] public positions on some issues have changed a lot since we were in opposition,” he wrote. “In 2005-2008 we voted 30 percent with National and 70 percent against, but in 2008-2010 we voted 60 percent with National and 40 percent against.” Translation: we’re siding with the bad guys. “National” is still a curse word in Māori communities with the party struggling to top ten percent of the party vote in the Māori electorates.
At first, the split seemed as if it were a divide between left and right. Radicals and conservatives. But it was more than that: the split happened over the very nature of kaupapa Māori politics itself. Is it rights-based or emancipatory? For the Māori Party, the idea is to secure Māori rights within the existing system. Treaty rights and the like. Hence the singular focus on sitting “at the table,” the place where decisions are made. But for Harawira and his Mana Movement the point was to contest the system. Rights were things that could only exist in another, different system (whether Māori, socialist or some kind of cross).

The conflict would take its toll with Harawira retaining his northern seat under the Mana Movement and Katene losing her seat to Labour’s Rino Tirikatene, even as Labour’s share of the party vote across the Māori electorates sunk from 50 percent in 2008 to 41 percent in 2011. Two seats down the party MPs took the message and got to work over the 2011-2014 term. Turia took Whānau Ora off Te Puni Kōkiri, the hapless Ministry for Māori Development, handing community collectives’ power over how to support whānau while party members voted on the “succession question,” electing Flavell male co-leader in 2013.
After almost a decade in Parliament the party MPs were no longer the hellraisers they once were. Turia, who’d crossed the floor to vote against Labour’s Foreshore and Seabed Act, Sharples, with his straggly mullet, and Flavell, often seen with a guitar in hand, were paid-up members of the establishment, even going as far as wining and dining donors at the notorious Northern Club (the home of Auckland’s capitalist class) in 2014. Ten or twenty years earlier Turia, Sharples and Flavell may have set up a picket line demanding the club return its land to  Ngāti Whātua, but the party had long since made its peace with power.
Some people find this hard to reconcile, but it was always the point. The party MPs were never elected to tear down the house from the inside. They were elected as Members of Parliamentwith one end in mind: repealing and replacing the hated Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004. The courts were never an option here – the Supreme Court cannot overturn legislation – and direct action only went so far, culminating and dissipating after the 20,000-strong hikoi in 2004. The Māori Party was the last, best option.

Perhaps this is where politics becomes unfair. Repealing the Foreshore and Seabed Act and replacing it with the Takutai Moana Act 2011 is the party’s crowning achievement, a strategic triumph. Under the Takutai Moana Act no one can own the foreshore and seabed, the only position consistent with tikanga (under Māori law you cannot “own” land, only exercise rights and responsibilities in respect of it). This felt like progress. But it was also the moment the party’s rationale for “sitting at the table” exhausted itself. What was there left to fight for, other than 0.1 percent of core Crown spending?
I should concede that this is re-writing history, if only a little. For all its conceptual merits, the Takutai Moana Bill still came under heavy fire. Of the 72 submissions at select committee stage from iwi, hapū and other Māori organisations only one submission supported the Bill’s passage without significant amendments. A good deal of submissions condemned the Bill as not that different from the Act it sought to replace. Again, Hone Harawira criticised his colleagues. The party leaders extolled the virtues of sitting at the table.       
In one sense, they were right. It’s better to sit at the table than not. But that’s defending their position with a negative. “Imagine how worse off you might be”. This is never going to make a convincing pitch, especially when your opponents are promising to empower you rather than simply protect you. When Labour’s Māori MPs and candidates talk about 100,000 new homes, three years of free tertiary education and a health system that’s there when you need it, people hear an empowering message. When Māori Party MPs and candidates talk about sitting at the table “making gains for our people” those very same people are positioned as the passive beneficiaries of our technocratic overlords.
The tragedy is the party MPs always felt more comfortable siding with the establishment, both the political establishment and the Māori establishment. After Native Affairs screened serious allegations of financial mismanagement and impropriety at a subsidiary of the Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board in 2013, Turia condemned the media “attack” on the kōhanga board and questioned whether Māori Television “had forgotten its original purpose,” as if its original purpose were to never criticise Māori, no matter how powerful or how urgent the questions.  
In the end, the Māori Party could never command a majority of support in Māori communities, losing two seats in 2011, another two in 2014 (the only consolation was picking up list MP and media sensation Marama Fox) and the final two in 2017.  The Māori Party MPs always “regarded themselves as representatives not just of a party,” wrote former party candidate Kaapua Smith in 2006, “but also of a wider social and cultural movement.” This is the movement they would eventually lose touch with, sitting at the table while the rest of us starved.
-- Reprinted from The Spinoff" , an alternative media voice that I highly recommend.