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Landscapes of Power: New Ways of Seeing and Being in Te Moana Nui a Kiwa


Marama Muru-Lanning, Tia Dawes

Session presentation

The social, economic and political landscape within the Pacific is undergoing profound transformation as Pacific Peoples become increasingly vocal and involved in decision-making processes. This panel will explore the unique realities of Pacific Peoples as they negotiate devolved power, participation, inclusion and sovereignty. And while the notion of ‘self-determination’ is highly problematic in terms of fairness and representation there has nonetheless been a significant transformation in the political and social landscape as Pacific People play a greater role in determining their own futures and well-being. As a result, it may be that some island nations never go through such a fundamental transformation again. The panel will address contemporary issues in Te Moana Nui a Kiwa and the ways in which Pacific Peoples are addressing their needs and their future directions. Issues to be discussed include natural resource ‘ownership’, acute demographic changes, workplace equality, burgeoning diasporic communities, urbanisation and representation. Our panel is open and invites paper submissions from participants interested in changes taking place within the Pacific, and also home-grown responses to change.

Paper submissions are closed

Accepted papers

Tamati Ranapiri: The Spirit Behind 'Te Hau'

Tom Ryan (University of Waikato)

Since publication of Marcel Mauss’ Le Don (The Gift) in 1925, debates about the Maori concept of ‘hau’ have become mainstream in anthropology, as well as significant threads in continental philosophy and the wider social sciences. Prior to this, other indigenous words – totem, tattoo, tapu, mana, etc. – had escaped their indigenous contexts to become entangled in Western scholarly and indeed popular discourse. But, undoubtedly, ‘hau’ has had, and continues to have, most impact into the present era. Numerous commentators on this term have acknowledged the roles played by S. Percy Smith and Elsdon Best, the self-taught Pakeha ethnologists who in 1895 and 1907 respectively translated and published accounts by ‘a Maori sage’ regarding traditional hunting practices, in which the concept of ‘hau’ emerges. The elder’s name, ‘Tamati Ranapiri’, and his tribe, ‘Ngati Raukawa’, also often have been referenced in texts. But of the man himself – ‘ko te tangata’ – no account seems to exist; he appears invisible, an absent presence, a kind of spectral ancestor. My object here is to reassert his humanity, to acknowledge his mana, to welcome Tamati Ranapiri back into our conversation on ‘hau’. We should celebrate the life and work of this much-cited but essentially unknown ‘native informant’; we must grant to this humble subaltern a subjecthood that might enable him to speak to us anew.

Ngā Waka o Aotea: Canoe Narratives of Great Barrier Island

Klink Kelly (University of Waikato)

Aotea is the traditional name for a large island in the Hauraki Gulf, close to Auckland. My iwi (tribe), Ngāti Wai, considers itself to have had unbroken occupation of this landscape since the arrival of our founding ancestor Toi te Huatahi from Hawaiki (Eastern Polynesia) about 900 years ago. This paper will discuss our traditions, genealogies, and histories relating to the original peopling of Aotea, to subsequent interactions with other canoes and tribal groups over the following centuries, and to the arrival of British settlers and the colonial state from the middle 1800s. It also will reflect on how today the Ngati Wai people of Aotea and beyond manifest and maintain their sovereignty, even while their island is formally part of the larger nation of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“A rural landscape changed dramatically, almost beyond recognition, by new materialism.”

Mere Kepa (The University of Auckland)

In past times, Tangata Whenua of New Zealand harvested seasonal foods from stretches of rural roadside. But with increasing pressures of modern life we no longer deem the berm as safe to collect food. The issue is that the Indigenous Maori discourse has been changed dramatically, almost beyond recognition, and the new materialism demands that Tangata Whenua think very differently about the berm. Nowadays noxious weeds, kikuyu and pampas grass, and exotic trees dominate the vegetation on the roadside. The landscape contamination from vehicular traffic, pesticides from agriculture, and fallout from industrial activities are a fact of life in the countryside. Clearly, harvesting food from the berm doesn’t work in 21st century polluted New Zealand.
Reaching the age of retirement from the paid workforce, a small group of Maori and Pakeha [nonMaori] residents has wondered if beauty may be restored to the contaminated and weed infested berm. The Friends of the Berm@Takahiwai (FOB) group has instigated a project to open up new windows on to the base realities of the berm. In collaboration with a local school, FOB is creating a visual design platform that incorporates artwork on the two dilapidated bus shelters as well as native pocket gardens to regenerate and beautify the berm. The spirit of the project is to foster the residents and the children’s love of art and respect for the harmonious relationship that should exist between nature and people

Transforming education spaces for Pasifika: Implementing a Pasifika Resource Kit at three tertiary institutions in Canterbury, New Zealand

Ashalyna Noa (University of Canterbury)

Sam Uta'i

According to the NZ Tertiary Education Commission (2017: 7), Pasifika tertiary course completion rates have improved overall but continue to be below that of non-Māori and non-Pasifika. From 2006-2015, the Pasifika course completion rate at Level 7 and above increased from 68% to 75%, while non-Māori and non-Pasifika completion rates increased from 85% to 89%. From 2006-2014, we see similar disparities in qualification completion rates. The Pasifika qualification completion rate at Level 7 and above (60%) was 23 percentage points below the non-Māori and non-Pasifika completion rate (83%).

The understanding of effective teaching and learning strategies as well as culturally responsive support for Pasifika students is critical if tertiary educational institutions are to increase Pasifika success within their institutions.

A Pasifika Resource Kit was developed as a result of the findings from the main research project and the ensuing report (Change strategies to enhance Pasifika student success at Canterbury tertiary institutions). The voices of Pasifika students’ from three tertiary institutions were the building blocks in the development of this resource kit.

In this presentation we will unpack this particular Pasifika Resource Kit to build on, encourage and/or affirm current practices in the transformation of learning spaces within tertiary institutions for Pasifika students.

The SS Ventnor and Mitimiti: Māori and Chinese commensurability in death

Jacinta Forde (University of Waikato)

In October 1902, the SS Ventnor, en route to repatriate the remains of over 500 Chinese gold miners whom had died in New Zealand, sank off the coast of the Hokianga harbour on New Zealand’s northwest coast. The bones of many of those on board washed ashore and the local tribes, Te Roroa and Te Rarawa buried them either in the sandhills or in their own ancestral cemeteries. Since 2008 descendants of the deceased miners have made their way to the places where their ancestors are perceived to lie. This paper will ethnographically describe the endeavours of one local community, Mitimiti, where this event has brought together an unlikely union between local Māori residents and Asian mourners. It highlights Māori understandings of social relationships between themselves and the new-comers to their land. More than a century ago, the ancestors of Mitimiti locals welcomed into their community the remains (iwi) of these strangers. In more recent years they have offered friendship and comfort to their descendants, most of whom are coming in organised groups from China and elsewhere in New Zealand. This paper will be particularly concerned to explore the emergence of entrepreneurial activity associated with this phenomena in Mitimiti itself with interested Chinese partners.

The French Pacific territories and free trade: what does it mean to be independent in 2018?

Jeremy Ellero (University of New Caledonia)

On November 4th 2018, New Caledonia will decide with a referendum on its independence from France, this could impact the perspectives of economic integration within the Oceania region. On the one hand, the low level of development and narrow markets of the Small Islands States prevent commercial opportunities. On the other hand, the level of Gross Domestic Product in Australia and New Zealand combined with the stability of their economies offer a trade potential. A wider opening of the French territories in their environment then seems perfectly paradoxical. Many Pacific islands are seeking to export labor for seasonal employments. Conversely, the high value-added products of the Australian and New Zealand industry are likely to destabilize the economies of the French collectivities. But more significantly, the integration of the French territories in their environment induces a modernization of the growth fundamentals (French financial transfers, salary indexation, currency overvaluation, trade barrier) and a homogenization of the level of economic development of the Pacific islands. Therefore, free trade shall be perceived locally as a first step towards regional integration in other areas: institutional, normative, monetary, academical, military, and scientific research.

Listen to Hinemoana

Dan Hikuroa (University of Auckland)

Novel governance experiments in Aotearoa New Zealand are transforming public, government and scientific understandings of rivers as being. Initiatives driven by Māori have created spaces for thinking about rivers differently, valuing rivers as holistic, historical and cultural entities with lives and rights of their own. These build upon relational understandings of rivers as entities that are more ancient and powerful than people, viewing water and rivers as the lifeblood of society and the land.
As Māori perspectives conceptualize humans as part of living systems within innate relationships between people and rivers, land, forests, sea they offer prospect to reframe natural resource ownership.
The National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management contains Te Mana o te Wai - the integrated and holistic well-being of a freshwater body. It emphasises the right of a river to be a river, and second the need to ensure the integrity of the catchment and biota: only then can people derive sustenance.
Te Awa Tupua Act personifies the Whanganui River as a ‘living being’ with its own needs and rights given legal protection.
The Te Awaroa project has demonstrated the power of giving ‘Voice to the River’.
According to Polynesian tradition, Hinemoana is the personification of Te Moana Nui a Kiwa.
What if we gave a ‘Voice’ to Hinemoana – what if the resources were hers? Such visions provide myriad opportunities. to for example, reframe resource use into taonga relationships.

Ka tangi a Tukaiaia kei te moana, kia tupato: Impacts of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 upon coastal tribe, Ngātiwai.

Ngahuia Harrison (University of Auckland)

The ownership and access to water, both fresh and salt, are contentious issues in Aotearoa. In 2003 Chief Justice Sian Elias affirmed the Māori Land Court’s jurisdiction to hear claims concerning Māori customary rights to seabed and foreshore, “much legislation concerned with ‘land’ applies to seabed and foreshore.” This judgement ultimately propelled the Labour Government to legislate with the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 to ‘safeguard the seabed and foreshore for everyone.’
In 2011 the Act was replaced with the Marine and Coastal Area Act (MACA). In describing MACA, Moana Jackson acknowledges the same inequities exist in the new version though they are ‘enshrined’ in different language. The Act places the onus upon Māori to prove unextinguished occupation since 1840, to the Crown.

Ngātiwai have historically subsisted over ocean as they commuted, and continue to do so, between their island homes and coastal rohe (boundaries). For a tribe with minimal in-land holdings, Ngātiwai’s rohe spans Northland’s east coast and twelve outlaying islands, MACA becomes a key piece of legislation.
The importance of establishing rangatiratanga over their coast becomes a principal concern in order that a number of customary rights are protected, such as the gathering of seafood or the correct interment of stranded whales. In this regard, the pressures and timeframes set out within the Act compromise Ngātiwai’s cultural responsibilities, tikanga (correct protocol), and cultural mores.

The fingerprint of power – an enduring legacy of colonialism

Edgar Te Piere Warahi Wallace (University of Auckland)

I pose the question ‘what has the fingerprint of Queen Victoria got to do with my mother in 2016?
At the time of Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, Great Britain was the largest empire in the world. Queen Victoria had left an indelible impression, her finger print by royal decree was over colonial policy throughout her empires representing enduring British power of attorney, privilege, subjugation and in some cases annihilation. Today, that fingerprint is like an imperceptible watermark that exists on public policy and legislation in New Zealand, despite the so-called expression “post-colonialism”.
I looked after my mother for over 10 years as her informal caregiver and negotiating the policies of power (imbedded with the fingerprint of the Empress of India) to obtain government assistance for this 80+ year old kuia (Maori matriarch) was difficult. Mother’s situation is endemic throughout the colonies of the former British empire now rebranded, The Commonwealth – a title that contradicts the economic realities of the majority of its indigenous populations.
I will explore this phenomenon further, that is, the effects of the enduring power and legacy of monarchical fingerprinting on colonial public policy in Aotearoa in this modern era and its impact on people like my mother, in a segment of my doctoral research. In the meantime, this presentation will provide an overview of that much deeper and textured foray into colonial symbolism - marginalization and disempowerment.

The Habitus of the Hau: Why hau matters to flaxroots Maori

Marama Muru-Lanning (University of Auckland)

Moving beyond dialogues that locate 'hau' within the domain of anthropological chiefs, this paper demonstrates the vitality of hau to flaxroots Maori. A basic explanation of the term includes thinking about hau as the 'breath of life or an energy that passes between people binding them together'. My paper asks: how do flaxroots Maori understand hau as a pivotal mechanism of reciprocity and community hauora (wellbeing)?

In this study I examine how contemporary appropriations of Maori fundamental concepts by 'others' are theorised by flaxroots Maori. Giving voice to the moral dilemmas and ethical contradictions that people bring upon themselves when they use 'things' that don't belong to them I will explore how concepts such as hau are understood by flaxroots Maori to exert agency on new users.