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The Māori Roots of a Multicultural New Zealand Professor Margaret Mutu Department of Māori Studies University of Auckland Bananas NZ Going Global International Conference 18-19 August 2007 University of Auckland Business School. 2. Introduction

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The Māori Roots of a Multicultural New ZealandProfessor Margaret MutuDepartment of Māori StudiesUniversity of AucklandBananas NZ Going GlobalInternational Conference18-19 August 2007University of Auckland Business School



  • Aotearoa/New Zealand has been inhabited by humans for at least 50 generations.
  • For more than 40 of those generations, those inhabitants were all of Polynesian origin and were organised into numerous tribal groupings.
  • About 7 generations ago Europeans/Pākehā started settling here with the agreement and under the authority of various tribal groupings who became collectively known as Māori.
  • In 1840 Māori handed over responsibility for Pākehā to the British Crown because of their increasing lawlessness, but agreed by Treaty to let them continue to settle here provided the Crown controlled them and stopped their lawlessness.

Introduction (cont)

  • About 6 generations ago Chinese started arriving.
  • Many built lasting relationships with Māori.
  • There is no record of problems of lawlessness and disrespect for Māori by Chinese.
  • Māori do not have a formal treaty with Chinese or any of the other ethnic groups who have arrived since.
  • Since Pākehā and Chinese arrived, many other ethnic groups have also come and settled here.
  • Hence New Zealand is a multicultural country.
  • However it has yet to learn how to recognise, respect, and provide appropriately for each and every culture so that we can all share the country’s resources and all contribute fully to its well-being.

Introduction (cont)

In this presentation

  • Role of Māori in Aotearoa/NZ
  • Māori responsibility for our guests
  • Māori experience of Chinese
  • Māori Agreements with Pākehā
  • Māori experience of Pākeha
  • Biculturalism
  • Multiculturalism
m ori role in aotearoa new zealand
Māori Role in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Defined by tikanga (our laws)

  • derive from a world view that we inherited from our ancestors
  • rooted as much in the spiritual aspects of this world as the physical.
  • based on underlying values which include
    • Mana – authority, power, control, ownership, status, influence, dignity, respect all derived from the gods
    • Tapu – sacredness, spiritual power or protective force
    • Whanaungatanga– kinship, relationships through genealogical bonds
    • Kaitiakitanga – inherited responsibilities to take care of all our natural resources including our lands, waters, seas and other taonga
    • Rangatiratanga – chieftainship including sovereignty, rights of self-determination, self government, authority and power to make decisions and own and control resources
our tikanga determines that
Our tikanga determines that
  • We are tangata whenua – we are the hosts for all who visit this country (and hence need to determine immigration policy)
  • We have a duty of manaaki manuhiri - we are obliged to look after our guests and ensure they are well-treated and respected.
    • And if they decide to stay then they need a good understanding of our tikanga so that we can all live here in harmony.
    • We also need a good understanding of our guest’s tikanga so that we know how to look after them properly.
  • Pākehā settlement and introduced legal system has not and can not change these fundamental values and principles but it has made it very difficult for us to carry out our responsibilities.

Māori Experience of Chinese

  • Similarities between our cultures have always been recognised. We both
    • Promote well-being of group over individual
    • Descend from common ancestors
    • Have tribal or clan structures and extended families
    • Support and look after our own
    • Respect our elders
    • Revere our ancestors
    • Pursue decision-making by consensus
  • Shared experience of Pākehā racism.
  • Numerous Māori-Chinese marriages despite strong attempts to ban them in 1920s and 30s.
  • Relationships between Māori and Chinese generally good.
  • Māori could still learn a great deal from, for example, Chinese expertise in business, Chinese pursuit of academic attainment.
  • Some Māori have and do speak out against Chinese but they are a very small and non-representative minority.
  • However it has impacted negatively on Māori perceptions of Chinese, particularly those who have had no or limited contact with Chinese.
  • Information and education would help resolve this, as per Māori Television.
  • It is very important that the history of Chinese-English contact is known and understood along with the history of Chinese settlement in New Zealand.
  • It is also very important that Chinese language and culture is recognised and respected in this country and that the Chinese contribution to this country is known and acknowledged.
m ori experiences of p keh
Māori Experiences of Pākehā

Māori Agreements with Pākehā

  • 1835 Declaration in Independence
  • Declares that the rangatira of the hapū hold mana (includes sovereignty) over all their lands on behalf of those hapū and would never give law-making powers over their own lands to any other persons.
  • recognised by the British Crown.
  • Confirmed by the Treaty of Waitangi.
2 tiriti o waitangi treaty of waitangi
2. Tiriti o Waitangi /Treaty of Waitangi
  • Treaty between two sovereign nations (United Nations recognised)
  • Signed by leaders of tribal groupings and the British Crown
  • Two versions: Māori version authoritative at international law

Agreed that

  • British Crown has rights of governance (make laws and keep the peace in respect of Pākehā)
  • tino rangatiratangaof Māori is recognised and will be upheld by British Crown
  • Māori have all rights and privileges of British citizens and the Crown guarantees protection of Māori
post treaty of waitangi
Post-Treaty of Waitangi
  • The British government issued clear instructions to emigrant settlers to adhere to the Treaty.
  • Settlers ignored the Treaty and set up a parliament which excluded Māori and passed legislation designed to entrench Pākehā political and economic dominance and control in New Zealand.
  • Māori resisted but became outnumbered, marginalised and stripped of ownership and use of our resources. Finally achieved minimal representation in Parliament in 1867.
  • Māori resistance continued nevertheless but was either suppressed or ignored.
post treaty of waitangi1
Post-Treaty of Waitangi
  • Pākehā openly and unashamedly maintained a White New Zealand policy until World War II.
  • Māori were permitted to be honorary whites. Some accepted and assimilated. Some also mimicked Pākehā racism. Most did not.
  • Chinese were openly subjected to racial discrimination.
  • All Māori continued to be subjected to racial discrimination.
  • Māori attention was concentrated on to trying to sort out our Pākehā guest.
Post World War II – United Nations’ conventions on human rights and elimination of racial discrimination.
  • 1971 – New Zealand appoints a Race Relations Conciliator.
  • Māori protest at on-going violation of Treaty causes international embarrassment.
  • 1975 – Waitangi Tribunal established to investigate breaches and recommend remedies.
  • 1987 – Court of Appeal rules that Treaty is “part of the fabric of New Zealand society” and “the country’s founding constitutional instrument”.
  • New Zealand’s bicultural Māori – Pākehā make up becomes more widely recognised.
1980-90s – Waitangi Tribunal issued reports upholding claims that are serious and very extensive, recommending urgent and comprehensive remedies.
  • 1990s – Governments began to comprehend the enormity of their liabilities as result of breaches of Treaty and started back-tracking to avoid them.
  • 1994 – Government announced its Treaty of Waitangi settlements policy which is designed to absolve governments of their Treaty responsibilities and systematically extinguish Treaty claims as cheaply and as quickly as possible.
  • Provoked very strong Māori reaction against yet another treaty breach.
  • Māori commenced a wide-spread educational programme of decolonisation.
  • 1990s-2000s Governments reduced and started removing Māori funding across all sectors – “mainstreaming” Māori programmes and returning to assimilationist policies. Limited responsibility (but full blame) for Maori problems was devolved to Māori organisations but with minimal or no resourcing.
  • Government played Māori off against our non-Pākehā guests, issuing propaganda that Māori are just one of many ethnic minorities, we should be treated the same as other ethnic minorities and should assimilate into the Pākehā majority. Asserted that New Zealand is now multicultural, not bicultural, with Pākehā the dominant and determining culture (white supremacy).
  • Māori fought back litigating endlessly, protesting on streets and throughout the country, referring matters to the United Nations and working there to develop the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Government retaliated by fostering racist animosity against Māori, using assimilated Māori against their own relations. Carries on to this day. NZ Race Relations Commissioner aware but unable to remedy.
  • 2004 – Māori anger boiled over with confiscation of foreshore and seabed – that legislation denies Māori access to the law which applies to all other New Zealanders (protection of property rights).
  • 2005 – Māori Party elected to 4 seats in House. For the first time, Māori have independent, informed voice in House. Had some effect in pressuring government to stop its racism against Māori.
  • Government currently supporting legislation to remove principles of Treaty of Waitangi from all legislation and opposing adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • 2005 – United Nations Special Rapporteur visited.
  • Two United Nations reports issued confirming that Treaty of Waitangi is recognised internationally and condemning racial discrimination against Māori by New Zealand government, by opposition parties and by media. Numerous recommendations made. Government ignores both reports. So does media.
  • Government appeared before United Nations committee last week saying New Zealand is now multicultural and Māori have no special place.
  • Māori were also there refuting government claims.
  • Māori will keep fighting to stop Pākehā racism, to have our true status recognised and respected and to have all our guests properly respected and included within New Zealand society. Māori and Chinese need to discuss how best to achieve that.

Selected References

Ballara, Angela. 1986. Proud to be White? A Survey of Pakeha Prejudice in New Zealand. Auckland, Heinemann.

Chang, James I-Hsuan, 2004. “Māori Perceptions of Contemporary Asian Immigration”. Upublished MA thesis, University of Auckland.

Ip, Manying, 2003. ‘Māori-Chinese Encounters: Indigine-Immigrant Interaction in New Zealand’. In Asian Studies Review Vol 27 No.2.

Ip, Manying and Nigel Murphy, 2005. Aliens at my table – Asians as New Zealanders see them. Auckland, Penguin.

Lee, Jenny Bol Jun, 2007. Jade Taniwha: Māori-Chinese Identity and Schooling in Aotearoa. Auckland, Rautaki.

Liu James Hou-fu et al, 2005. New Zealand Identities : Departures and Destinations. Wellington, Victoria University Press.

Mutu, Margaret, forthcoming. ‘Māori Media Depiction of Chinese’ in Manying Ip (ed) Māori-Chinese Encounters. Auckland University Press.

Ng, James, 2003. ‘Characteristics of Chinese culture and aspects of health care’. Available on

Spoonley, Paul, 1993. Racism and Ethnicity. Auckland, Oxford university Press.

Stavenhagen, Rodolfo. 13 March 2006. “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people: Addendum: Mission to New Zealand”. Geneva, Switzerland, United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Walker, Ranginui, 2002. ‘Māori News is Bad News’ in Judy McGregor and Margie Comrie (eds) What’s News? Palmerston North, Dunmore Press.

Young, Steven, n.d. ‘The Chinese in a Bicultural New Zealand’. Available at