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Panel 19: Māori landscapes and culturescapes


Marama Muru-Lanning

Session presentation

The social, economic and political landscape within Aotearoa-New Zealand is undergoing profound transformation as Māori become increasingly vocal and involved in decision-making processes. The Treaty settlement process of the past 30 years has provided an impetus for increasing participation through recognition and redress for historical wrongs. And while the notion of a ‘settlement’ is highly problematic in terms of fairness and durability there has nonetheless been a significant transformation in the political and social landscape as Māori play a greater role in determining their own futures and well-being. As a result, it may be that Māori never go through such fundamental transformation again.
The panel will address contemporary Māori issues and the ways in which Māori are addressing their needs and their future directions. Issues to be discussed include natural resource ‘ownership’, rapid demographic change, urbanisation and identities and representation. Our panel welcomes abstracts that focus on changes taking place within Aotearoa-New Zealand, Māori responses to change and the ways in which some Māori are capitalizing on those changes.

Paper submissions are closed

Accepted papers

Ngā Haki: Flags as Symbols of Mana Maori

Tom Ryan (University of Waikato)

At the time of early contacts with Europeans, the Maori of Aotearoa had nothing like the symbolic object the wider world called, and still calls, ‘a flag’. But in the decade around the 1840 signing of the Treaty of Waitangi that situation changed dramatically, and ever since then Maori have created and flown flags to reflect the political concerns of every level of social organisation, from localised tribes to nationwide movements. This paper tracks this major transformation in the Maori culturescape. It begins by reflecting on the northern warrior chief Hone Heke’s attacks through 1845-1846 on the principle British flagpole in New Zealand, and Marshall Sahlins’ claim that these were not about the flag but about its pole, which Heke and his supporters interpreted as equivalent to the sacred poles used by Maori to assert mana over tribal landscapes. The focus then turns to the three major flags introduced by Maori in opposition to Pakeha power: first, the ‘United Tribes’ flag adopted in the mid-1830s, especially for flying on Maori trading ships in Australia to assert their independence; second, the ‘triple star’ flags elaborated by Kingitanga and related Maori anti-colonial groupings during the wars of the 1860s-70s, and now obliquely referred to in the New Zealand anthem; and third, the Rangatiratanga or ‘Sovereignty’ flag, launched in 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Treaty, but which today is only allocated a secondary place in this nominally ‘bi-cultural’ nation

Crown as flawed subject: iwi, the state and the politics of recognition

Avril Bell (University of Auckland)

In the present era of Treaty settlements in Aotearoa New Zealand, central and local government have different roles vis-à-vis Maori iwi. While settlements create partnership relationships between iwi and central government – whatever the shortcomings of these partnerships – local councils do they have the status of ‘Treaty partner’. This difference creates a frustrating situation for iwi, in which local councils can continue with colonial business as usual that limits the economic and political possibilities for iwi in their rohe (territory). In this paper I draw on a case study of the relationship between Muriwhenua iwi and the Far North District Council (FNDC) in a building project in Kaitaia, one of the main towns in the FNDC territory. At the heart of the issue is the inability of the local council to recognize the sovereignty of iwi. I use this case study and recognition theory to explore the proposition that the contemporary New Zealand state is incapable of engaging in partnership relations with iwi. Rather, the state must be seen as a split and stunted subject, without memory or heart, not a fit subject to engage in the practice of recognition.

The changing patterns of Māori aged care

Tia Dawes (University of Auckland)

The economic, social and cultural needs of an ageing Māori population are addressed in this paper. There is profound change happening across the world in regards to an ageing population, yet within NZ there is almost no public discussion or recognition of the issue of the growing Māori population. This is surprising; kaumātua (older Māori) are growing at a faster rate than any other demographic within New Zealand. This will have significant implications for not only the provision of resources and services for this group, but for the whānau (families) and hapū (extended families) who care for them. Can Māori rely on traditional models of care for their kaumātua or will new ways of caring and engagement be necessary to meet Māori needs? This paper will examine some of the issues at play within NZ, including the implications of the government’s recent decision to raise the age at which older people qualify for the retirement pension.

The Invisible Reality for Informal Caregivers of Aged Whanau Members – A Maori perspective

Edgar Te Piere Warahi Wallace (University of Auckland)

In October 2011, the Whanganui District Health Board reported that very few Maori and Pacific residents lived in rest homes. This was further echoed in a 2012 report by the NZ Human Rights Commission who were struck by the absence of Maori as residents. Where are these aged Maori (Kaumatua) and why are they not in state funded facilities? My research addresses the plight of informal Maori caregivers who, because of cultural practices, have no other option but to care for their aged family members (whanau) who are 65 years or older at home. What does home mean for the aged whanau member and also the person providing care? What is the reality of their “around the clock” 7 days a week caring responsibilities? My research is concerned with the factors that suppress equal opportunities for informal Maori caregivers and what legal processes exist to redress their current status of being “invisible” and “unpaid.” There is an economic benefit to the NZ Government of maintaining this status quo and it is evident in figures produced by Infometrics in 2013 who calculated using census information an approximate value to be $10.8 billion.
My study seeks to advance the Ageing Well literature and press Government to change the status of informal Maori caregivers from “invisible” to visible worker and “unpaid” to paid.

The Meaning of Recognition in the post-settlement phase of Maori claims in New Zealand

Toon van Meijl (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Maori and the NZ government are finalizing a long-term process of reaching full and final settlement of the dispossession of the Maori that took place in the nineteenth century. Although the settlements have addressed long-standing colonial grievances of Maori, they have not immediately resolved all socio-economic problems in Maori society. In this paper, I will explore to what extent the sovereignty that is being reclaimed by Maori tribes is compromised by the disenfranchisement of those Maori who benefit from the settlements only marginally, partly because tribal corporations who have signed a settlement invest barely in socio-economic welfare, but partly also because some Maori decline to be represented by tribal corporations that have been repossessed by the government.

Ancestors For Sale - Privatising New Zealand Electricity Generation

Marama Muru-Lanning (University of Auckland)

Against the wishes of many Māori and non-Māori New Zealanders, the National government partially privatised New Zealand’s electricity generating industry between 2013 and 2014. Using kaitiakitanga (guardianship) as a lens I will examine how contemporary privatisation processes redefine Māori relationships with their lands and natural resources (rivers, lakes, geothermal resources and wind) in their territories. My research introduces some of the moral dilemmas and ethical contradictions that emerge for iwi-Māori in relation to neoliberal privatisation. My study asks: how do flax-root Māori understand the sale of electricity companies that draw on natural resources which Māori recognise as: tūpuna (ancestors), tupua (spirit beings) taonga (treasures), atua (super-natural beings) and whānau (family); have Māori become shareholders in electricity assets; and how might being shareholders mediate their duties as environmental stewards?
My discussion will reveal the complex range of Māori experiences and responses to privatisation and contribute to scholarship on the impacts of privatisation on indigenous peoples.