Saturday, November 14, 2009

Put the effing cat back in the effing bag!!

Oops. Who let that Pom into our country?!

The column by Fred Pearce on how 100% Pure NZ might just be a tad over-hyped has created something of a stir. Fred is dead right, of course, we have traded a lot on a pair of falsies ('clean' and 'green'), saved by our small population and the filthy crowdedness of the home towns of our tourist visitors. His article has run on all major newspaper websites, although not all make the most of publishing technology and provide links through to relevant reports. Go to Pearce's original article, the nicely titled 'New Zealand was a friend to Middle Earth but is no friend of the earth', published on the Guardian online, and check out his links.

The response is somewhat predictable, most commentators noting Whale Watch Kaikoura picked up the gold gong for UK Responsible Tourism Awards (e.g., Esther Goh of the NZ Herald with her NZ takes prize for 'shameless two fingers' to world'.

Pearce is right of course, and NZers were the first to point out the disparities in the reality of our environmental performance and the hype. That we're locked into whoring our land to the rich and famous is just an extension of the failed policies of the 1980s. (remember when we were destined by the laws of neoliberalism to become the Switzerland of the South Pacific?! Maybe we misheard and Roger Douglas meant Swaziland...). More importantly for me, Pearce exposes the expanding PR industry around environmental greenwashing - check out the rather interesting UNEP Climate Neutral Network...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Māori Social Capital: An exploration through a history of farming awards

Abstract for a paper I'm going to give at the upcoming Agri-Food XVI conference, University of Auckland...

Abstract: Through the post-contact history of Māori, the Indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand, runs the history of some of modernity’s most radical technological revolutions. In a little over two centuries, Māori transitioned from a stone-age people through mercantile capitalism and its military accoutrements; fought intensive wars over land and commerce among themselves and with foreign invaders; and survived threats of cultural, even physical, extinction. Recovering through a politico-cultural renaissance in all its artistic and commercial socio-technologies, Māori now engage in corporate ventures that have a significant presence in the agri/aqua-food sectors. Throughout this history, a constant trope of Māori culture and development has been the importance of family and tribal networks of trust, support and guidance. This very traditional social capital has been complemented, challenged and perhaps supplanted by networks that originate with assimilationist and modernising ideologies of colonisation. These networks now comprise the sociability in which Māori individuals and collectives aid and abet their development.

Yet much debate seems to centre on the clear lack of Māori social capital. Standard social indicators continue to communicate the vulnerability of Māori after two centuries of contact. In the areas of employment, health and education, Māori ‘lag’ behind Pākeha and, more importantly, their own aspirations. While winning many legal, political and commercial battles, Māori collectively experience an uneasy relationship with State and corporate authority. Such dis-ease is now exacerbated by a recession that has seen a rapid increase in Māori unemployment and a corresponding dismantling of many social programmes. Once again, Māori sociability is under threat.

The antidote to this paralysis is evidently greater/better/more economic development. Strategic eyes turn to Māori agricultural development, the ‘sleeping giant’ of New Zealand’s economy which, through antecedent pathways of a Māori role in primary production, embed pathways to the future. The newly rekindled Te Ahuwhenua Trophy, awarded annually to the Māori ‘Farmer-of-the-Year’, has seen Māori incorporations of several thousand hectares with thousands of head of stock, extensive agro-forestry, large-scale dairying, and strategies for continued expansion and productivity gains. Their boards and management engage in debates over sustainability, carbon credits, and added-value exports that require international benchmarking for best practice in financial, legal and managerial operations. But the context in which businesses such as these exist is increasingly challenged by global and local discourses concerning ecological (Kates, 2001; Kawharu, 2002), social (Durie, 2005; UN Millennium Project, 2005) and cultural (Charters, 2007; Lambert, 2008a) resilience. Although often simplified along economic lines through concepts of tangible and intangible capitals, the debate around social and cultural capitals are so complex that their ‘solution’ will epitomise transdisciplinarity.

This paper investigates the concept of social capital through an examination of Māori farming. Historical data from entrants of Māori farming awards is coupled with that of contemporary entrants to provide a template for describing Māori social capital and its change over time. Innovation diffusion discourse, particularly its treatment of technological innovation and tradition and modernity, allows further insight into social capital in general, and enables a clearer understanding of the achievements and challenges of Māori society in particular. I attempt to outline a) the context of contact, development and socio-cultural boundary crossing by Maori farmers, and b) the movements and actions of social capital in Maori farming.


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Maori in Parliament

How things change.

Back in the Orwellian year (1984), just 6% of the Aotearoa/NZ parliament was Maori, Pasifika or Asian. Compare that to the latest parliament (elected in 2008) where 16% of MPs identify themselves as Maori. This means we're slightly overrepresented.

Wait for the bleating to start.

Paving stone in Jack Kerouac Alley, San Francisco.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

NZ in top 10 countries for income disparity: What does this this mean for Maori poverty?

Top 10 countries with the biggest gaps between rich and poor

1 Hong Kong
2 Singapore
3 US
4 Israel
5 Portugal
6 New Zealand
7= Italy
7= Britain
9 Australia
10= Ireland
10= Greece

According to the OECD, New Zealand had the biggest rise in inequality among member nations in the two decades starting in the mid-1980s. Most of these countries are part of the tribe we like to fashion ourselves after (remember how we were advised to be more like Ireland, the Celtic Tiger, more like Singapore, how we have to catch-up with Australia blah blah blah...).

As for Aotearoa/NZ, well it's like the quirky results for South Africa which was one of the richest states in the world, if you counted the few million whites...
The Child Poverty Action Group have brought together some damming studies, e.g., this one from Professor Innes Asher and Dr Steve Poletti.

toi iho/Maori made

The trademark initiated to promote Maori arts and crafts - Toi Iho - has been scrapped by its State agent, Creative New Zealand. I wrote a paper on Geographical Indicators some time ago (June 2004 I'm surprised to see...). I think it is an area worth more attention.

Concerns over intellectual property issues expressed by Maori seem to be lie primarily within patent/copyright/trademark tradition, although Plant Variety Rights feature in the Wai 262 claim. In February 2002 a trademark was created by Creative New Zealand to ‘maintain the integrity’ of Maori art, and to assist in promoting this art and recognised artists nationally and internationally. The toi iho™ trademark marks a significant development in Maori IP. The mark is restricted to works by artists (individuals or groups) who are of Maori descent and whose work is of acknowledged quality (Creative NZ, 2004). The trademark is in many ways a response to Maori embarrassment and anger at blatant ‘rip offs’ in the tourism industry but should equally be interpreted as efforts by ‘Brand NZ Inc.’ to secure added value production for the New Zealand economy.

As in Europe, it is the wine and gourmet foods sectors that provide the most sophisticated examples. Tohu Wines has proven a successful brand for Wakatu Inc./Wi Pere Trust/Ngati Rarua Atiawa Iwi Trust to market $4 million of wine, principally to U.K. and U.S. consumers (Tohu Wines, 2004). In the words of James Wheeler, CEO, the main point of difference for their marketing is “being Maori…it makes their experience of our product superior” (Anon, 2003: 25). The attributes of ‘freshness’ and ‘naturalness’ have been attached to other Maori agri-food ventures, often embedded in organic practices; seafood is a significant example, especially in the South Island. Medicinal products stemming from traditional herbal remedies also feature; Tairawhiti Pharmaceuticals have commercially developed a product based on manuka oil that is unique to the region (Cooper, 1995; Cooke and Cooke, n.d.; Tairawhiti Pharmaceuticals, 2004). It is becoming apparent that ‘Maoriness’ is a component of added value, not just for the country as an ‘eco-destination’, but for individual hapu and iwi land-based ventures.

My reasoning for explicitly connecting hapu and iwi land-based industries to what is now a global intellectual property regime via Geographical Indicators is based on sustainability theories that likewise link local communities – their biotic resources and knowledge thereof, as well as lifestyles and livelihoods – to global sustainability, i.e. the actual continuation of human civilisation (with the presumed added benefit of increasing social justice along the way; see Goodman and Redclift, 1991; Berkes et al., 2003). My position is also based on a pragmatic realisation that while it is easy to clench a fist against global capitalism, it’s very hard to turn down extra money when this thing called moni solves so many mundane problems.

The continued growth of cultural and agricultural industries will see ongoing contests for property rights, not just over physical resources but for the ephemeral concepts of intellectual property; the phenomenon has been termed yet another ‘enclosure’ of a global commons (May, 2000). These contests are played out along extended networks that incorporate both social and technical elements. For indigenous peoples, these ‘sociotechnical’ networks have always been difficult to negotiate from a position that is in many ways subversive to state and corporate organisations from the outset. Although concerns ranging from access to markets and trade disparities to food safety and social justice issues, affect and afflict people of all nations, the negative impacts fall disproportionately on the poor. This is a challenge to Maori development that is geared towards that great Brand Kiwi tradition, pampering the puku of the global rich (see Ingrid D. Rowland's review of Feast: A History of Grand Eating by Roy Strong for an insight into the global history of this bioculture...)

That both cultural and biological diversity present themselves as not only desirable but necessary for the long-term survival of the human race underpins important discourses on sustainability. The philosophical position on the appropriation of wealth from the sheer novelty of indigenous food and drink is worthy of more serious discussion. The opportunity for indigenous land owners anywhere to state their commitment to sustainable methods cannot be denied. If this commitment can then justify a premium price in a global market - given that a global aesthetic as well as simple survival is dependent on economically marginal peoples - that is to be applauded.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Māori and the Gene Pool: Do we filter, drain or dredge?

Here's a peer commentary I was aksed to write for a recent edition of the MAI review. It was declined as being too jokey, which I accept. Still, here it is regardless...

What is it about genetic research that reads like a Hollywood B-movie? Certainly the characters are straight out of a casting manual: the ascetic German monk (Gregor Mendel), an eccentric Englishman (Charles Darwin), clean-cut American hero (James Watson), another Englishman Francis Crick (who as a doctoral student in Blitz-torn London was presented with the perfect excuse when his lab was destroyed by a German bomb), a colonial (New Zealander Maurice Wilkins, born in Pongaroa, Wairarapa), an ‘moody’ woman (Rosalind Franklin), and villains galore in the form of capitalists and mad scientists, trying to patent genetic information while cloning dead pets on the side (Rose, Kamin, & Lewontin, 1984; Tudge, 2000; Verschuuren, 1995). And the storylines resonate with the great themes of world cinema. There are quests for knowledge, a host of quirky, competitive, difficult, sometimes plain dishonest colleagues, and the constantly changing political and professional contexts that force alliances one day only to drive them asunder the next. There are recurring historical narratives of surreal oppression - Lysenkoism in Stalinist Russia and the anti-Darwin/anti-evolution ‘Monkey Trial’ in Christian fundamentalist American heartland (Dayton, Ohio, to be precise) - and the corollary heroism of the idealistic scientist, Dobzhansky, or the small-town, bespectacled high school teacher, John Thomas Scopes. On the sci-fi shelf we have the Human Genome Project that, akin to the Supercollider of physics is, a) supposed to shed light on the meaning of life, and b) is very, very, expensive. The history of genetic research is ripe with outlandish personalities, drama and melodrama, and the high-wire politics we get out on DVD for a rainy weekend.

Yet the basics of genetics are so easily communicated, are they not? In the form of a shape (the rather nifty double helix), and ‘written’ in four base ‘letters’ which even more simply always pair up but in ways so numerous we have, drum roll please, the Code of Life. Simple as A, T, G, C. Of course things are never so simple. Mendel, the so-called father of genetics, failed his exams, twice, through anxiety, and his work, which took eight years to complete, was ignored for over three decades. Darwin, adhering to the undergraduate dictum ‘it’s never too late to procrastinate’, published after 20 years of studious deliberation, and then only on a prompt from Alfred Russell Wallace who had essentially come to the same conclusions. If female graduates still struggle against institutional sexism, imagine the experiences of Rosalind Franklin who was, among other things, Jewish and practically the only woman in the monastic labs of post-war Cambridge. (She was to die, age 37, from ovarian cancer brought on by her work with X-rays which had revealed the actual structure of DNA). The anti-evolution theory show trial of Scopes was thought up by several Dayton businessmen who saw an opportunity to put Dayton on the map. There is, after all, no such thing as bad publicity. If one might be so bold as to make a quick synopsis: genes spell trouble.

But the beauty of DNA is not just that it has a simple structure, amenable to change, but that it is wonderfully adept at explanation. On the walls of the Lincoln University gym is a poster proclaiming we are ‘hard-wired’ to crave fat and sugar: s/he/I couldn’t help themselves/myself … pass the coke please. Of course genetic determinism, like any other determinism, is fine if you get to do the determining and as Gary Hook points out, our ability as Māori to determine research in which we appear as a keyword is still lacking to the extent that Lea and Chambers (2007), while ostensibly seeking to illuminate issues of Māori and Pasifika health, step into something of a void but like the cartoon coyote keep running until they look down…

Marxist biologist Richard Lewontin (surely worth Googling on that introduction alone), warned of the dangers of fixating on DNA, as if through reductionist observation you could understand emergent life itself (1985; 1982). In this Richard Dawkins (while something of a gene-fiend himself) takes us towards useful territory with his musing upon the concept of the ‘meme’ (rhyming with cream, not mimi), a unit of cultural transmission, of imitation if you like. Memes are to be regarded as living structures, having real-world effects in operating as conceptual parasites that use the human as a vehicle of propagation. Thus when we hear the word ‘warrior’ in association with an ethnic group, we can quickly shut down confusion as the ‘world’ already matches up a set of manifestations – crime statistics, a preternatural ability to play full-contact sport, underachievement in education, and so on. This ‘savage’ meme arose through the blissful ignorance of Enlightenment thinkers to become official policy, supported by scientific research and perpetuated through popular media. It’s in the childrens’ stories of Enid Blyton, the racial profiling of the 1970s dawn raids, and the biography of George Nepia. Like a bad prawn curry, it just repeats.

All this, and more, has been dismantled by Stephen Jay Gould, the British evolutionary biologist and anatomist who became a historian through his work on biology in general and evolution in particular. Gould, who takes some delight in the dispute it must be said, destroys biological determinism in his Mismeasure of Man (Gould, 1996). The book was first published in 1981 (a year for, um, reflection on the New Zealand perspectives of racial categorisation if ever there was one) in reaction to the surge in popularity of biological determination vis-à-vis blacks and whites in the reactionary climate of 1970s America. It was subsequently republished in the aftermath of Herrnstein and Murray’ The Bell Curve. Just to remind us, the Bell Curve purports to prove Blacks are not as intelligent as Whites, and – as the James ‘The Father of DNA’ Watson was quoted saying in 2007 “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really.” So don’t bother, there’s nothing that can be done about poverty in Africa, violence in the ghettoes, ethnic minority underachievement in education. It’s nobodies fault. It’s their genes…

As Gould points out, the impact of the Bell Curve cannot be put down to its science. So why the continued enthusiasm for genetic determinism? Well, why do people watch adverts for things they already own? To be reassured they have made the right choice. The recurrence of racist discourse is, simply, socio-political. Of course, by ‘simply’ I mean in concordance with the media sensationalism, blithe ignorance and curious disdain that characterises modern life. As Gould and others have detailed in horrific detail, ascriptions of character, psychology, and potential on the basis of biology underpin a political doctrine we barely discuss but cannot erase: violent, oppressive, rightwing, market-mimetic, fascistic, racism.

As for the limited study of Rakaipaaka genetics, it’s content can be, indeed has been, critiqued by the researchers’ peers (Crampton & Parkin, 2007; Merriman & Cameron, 2007). This is not to say that genetics is not important for Māori health: one day it may be the most important thing, the last bastion of personalised healthcare for Indigenous Peoples! But not yet, not when we’re still trying to get our tamariki on nutritional diets, remove cigarettes and alcohol from the purchasing power of teenagers, and properly housing our kaumātua. Countering the racism behind these struggles takes place in many dimensions and at various scales.

I have a sneaking suspicion the danger is not that such science takes place: there isn’t that much of it, and other scientists have been so brutally scathing of its approach and findings. Even if Māori could influence the destination of seven figure amounts in Crown Research Institutes, this is mere tinkering. When Mendel was breeding his sweetpeas, Karl Marx was tracing the hereditary nature of global capital which ultimately came ashore, first by sailing ship, now by internet, and continues to mate with us and itself in ways so perverse we have yet to properly name it all. The terrible thing is, Pakeha don’t understand it either.

So how do we change it? What memes to we want to spread? The moniker of ‘gardener’, in conjuring up bucolic productivity, sweet fruits, new potatoes and buzzy bees is more accurate and if we keep banging on about it, might just take hold. Or perhaps ‘fishers’, of land, kaimoana, and people. Of course, it would help immensely if we did more gardening, and the fisheries were healthier, and if we were safer, and told more people about it in ways they can understand and appreciate, and maybe even evolve. We have much to learn in all the tinkering needed to flourish in today’s world but we’re well placed to re-indigenise humanity! As a wiser commentator than me once said “Science is the work of human beings. The only way to get close to objectivity is through intersubjectivity”. More hui I’m afraid.

Somebody ought to make a movie of all this.

Follow-up: Here's a book review on bioethics

Also this critique by Jessica Hutchings and Paul Reynolds

Crampton, P., & Parkin, C. (2007). Warrior genes and risk-taking science. Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 02-March-2007, Vol 120 No 1250, 120(1250). Retrieved from

Gould, S. J. (1996). The Mismeasure of Man. New York: Norton.

Lea, R., & Chambers, G. (2007). Monoamine oxidase, addiction, and the “warrior” gene hypothesis. Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 120(1250). Retrieved from

Levins, R., & Lewontin, R. (1985). The Dialectical Biologist. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Lewontin, R. C. (1982). Organism Environment. In H. Plotkin (Ed.), Learning, Development and Culture: Essays in Evolutionary Epistemology. Chichester: Wiley.
Merriman, T., & Cameron, V. (2007). Risk-taking: behind the warrior gene story. Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 120(1250). Retrieved from

Rose, S., Kamin, L., & Lewontin, R. (1984). Not in our genes: Biology, ideology and human nature. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Tudge, C. (2000). The impact of the gene. New York: Hill and Wang.
Verschuuren, G. (1995). Life scientists: Their convictions, their activities and their values. North Andover: Genesis Publishing Company.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Te Ahuwhenua: Maori Farmer-of-the-Year

I attended this years Te Ahuwhenua Trophy dinner held in the Event Centre, Gisborne, June 19th, courtesy of Meat & Wool NZ. This years competition focused on Sheep and Beef (the annual award alternates with Dairy); the finalists were Morikau Station (near Ranana on the Whanganui River), Hereheretau Station (west of Wairoa), and Pakarae Whangara B5 (north of Gisborne).

Pakarae Whangara B5 took the award but of course the achievement is spread wide and far through the increasing economic performance of these incorporations.

Pakarae Whangara B5, winners 2009

By chance I met Colin Brown, son of 1946 winner Henare Paroane of Clevedon. Colin had brought his fathers medals along, including two place medals from 1942 and 1944. Colin was first to the manuhiri waiting space, quietly awaiting proceedings, and happened to be in the motel unit beside mine.

Colin Brown, Clevedon, with his father's Te Ahuwhenua medals

Some people have waited a long time to see these blocks of land become what they promised to be - a source of pride and income!

Historical Unemployment Figures for Maori

As we seem to be heading into yet more scary data for Maori i thought it timely to get some sort of historical perspective. Māori unemployment rose from 11.3% in 1986 to 25.4% in 1992. By 2007 it had fallen to 7.7% (incidentally the lowest rate since the Household Labour Force Survey began). The rate for our whanaunga o Te Moananui a Kiwa between 1986 and 1991 rose from 6.6% to 28%, the highest rate for any ethnic group.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's in a name: Indigenous place names in America

Name the land, name the people.
Renee Louis (Hawaii, and on the Hawai'i Geographic Information Coordinating Council) was quick to add the following corrective:

Interesting and typical. Don't know if it is worth the bother to correct them of all the good work currently being done by Indigenous scholars including the planning of an International Conference on Indigenous Place Names.

I know it is Saami, but there are 5 of us currently (as in right now today) planning a conference to bring together Indigenous peoples working on preserving the place names in their respective homelands. It will be the first of its kind and it will be recurring every 3 years in various parts of the world."

Carve the land, carve the people.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stream-lining the Waitangi Claims process: the System giving itself a lube job?

Movement on the movement front...this from the Guvnor:

1. More use of informal mediation between parties before going to the Waitangi Tribunal and the Maori Land Court. It would work similarly to the process for resolving employment disputes.

2. Support iwi preparedness for negotiations - the Crown would provide information and possibly funding for early planning and preparation.

3. Continue to recognise iwi coming together for joint or parallel negotiations - iwi would be encouraged to form groups with similar aims to negotiate together.

4. Increased Crown transparency on who it intends to negotiate with and quantum - the Crown would have a list of groups it intended to negotiate with and early on in negotiations would give the potential value of redress. Currently, the Crown decides if a group is large enough to deal with on a case by case basis.

5. More systematic use of Crown-funded facilitators and more senior Crown chief negotiators - this would be similar to current practice but with more people used.

6. Reduce the role of the Crown in allocation of redress where requested - iwi and Crown would agree to a high level settlement and iwi would determine the allocation of redress among themselves.

7. Streamlining the legislative process - using draft legislation, drafting the deed of settlement and settlement bill at the same time and passing settlement legislation for iwi at the same time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Castlecliff Beach

Dropped in to my old stomping ground of Castlecliff Beach, the place being deserted (as it was last time i called in), during the school holidays no less! Driftwood piled up at the hightide line, a piece of which I brought home (being taken into secure storage by the very understanding Air New Zealand staff).

Found a wiki entry for this place, learning more about its history 30 years after I left than I ever heard while actually living there Such is life...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Updates on the Geographic Controversy over the Bowman Expeditions / México Indígena

These are some links collated by Zoltan Grossman on the issues surrounding the México Indígena project at the University of Kansas and its connections to the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In Zoltan's wordsa: "It is important to understand the larger context of military targeting of Indigenous dissent in the hemisphere, a background which has generated the concerns about the project. The México Indígena project was jointly funded by the FMSO and the American Geographical Society (AGS). It was coordinated by Kansas geography professors Peter Herlihy and Jerome Dobson, workingwith the FMSO's Geoffrey Demarest and Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi (UASLP) Professor Miguel Aguilar Robledo."

Soldiers struggle to put a Bosnian protester outside of a gate at Eagle Base in Tuzla. Local farmers were upset at road construction across their land.

Concerns were sparked in July 2005 when the U.S. Army initiated a $20 million counterinsurgency program called the Human Terrain System (HTS). The program consists of five-person "human terrain teams" featuring anthropologists and other social scientists embedded with combat brigades. One team was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2007 and five more to Iraq in summer 2007. Some of the social scientists wear combat fatigues and carry weapons. If this all sounds a bit like a social scientists 'Boys Own' make believe, think again. Do we assume that the study of social science somehow innoculates us against complicity in moral dubious fieldwork?! I recall a PhD candidate at the University of Canterbury who desparately wanted to go to Yugoslavia during its violent disintergration, to study the associated geopolitics (he put in his budget for a camoflage flak jacket and helmet...). There's something appealing about war, to boys.

I digress. Roberto Gonzales reports accounts that have emerged about "difficulties plaguing HTS, including missed recruitment goals, ineffective training, and paralyzing organizational issues. Former human terrain team member Zenia Helbig has publicly criticized the program, claiming that during four months of training there were no ethical discussions about the potential harm that might befall Iraqis or Afghans or the importance of voluntary informed consent. Furthermore, Helbig claims that, "HTS's greatest problem is its own desperation. The program is desperate to hire anyone or anything that remotely falls into the category of ‘academic,' ‘social science,' ‘regional expert,' or ‘PhD'," which has led to incompetence." (Of three anthropology PhDs assigned to the teams, none has appropriate regional expertise and none speak Arabic.)."

All in all an interesting debate for geographers who, afterall, have mortgages to cover, children to feed, spouses to clothe... On a lighter note, Zoltan's own webpages provide some nice insights and tangents. It's not all about 'hopping the bags' (this is a new Aussie term I've learnt, from WW1 and yet another metaphor for going over the top).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Whakairo te Whenua: Sculpting the land

What is a good place? Just as the philosophers of old mused on the good life, the good person, the good act (just as we all did, of course), I also prefer to wonder what a good place is. What does it look like, how does it sound, and smell. In other words, how does it feel

Lecturing MAST 319 at Lincoln University, 2003, 2004, 2006, I use to pass a particular hedge just the citiside of Prebbleton. I was so struck by its feel, while retaining an obvious function, that I took a phot. Canterbury nor-westers are a notorious wind, but then privacy is reason enough.. Once I caught the old fella (it had to be an old fella), trimming it. Trimming it just so.

The hedge is gone, victim to whim or perhaps the new subdivision nextdoor, Prebbleton Central. (Prebbleton Central. Be better if it did have a train station...). As is the apple orchard that was on the Lincoln side of Prebbers. We all know a good place when we live in one. How do we make new places? How do we make anew the places that have run to ruin?! If we as Maori can't articulate visions of better places, then what's it all for.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Potatoes galore

With the World Potato Congress just passed, held in my town of Christchurch, March 22-25, and autumn nights closing in, thoughts turn to warming, nutritious dishes like ... potatoes. Boiled, mashed, roasted, chipped, there's no denying the culinary versatility. We also know well the botanical diversity, although as this article in The Guardian tells, that diversity went through the bottleneck of European introduction with the resulting varieties still capable of impressing in their range of form, colour and taste.

The local Lincoln Fieldays was its usual riotous collection of farm machinery and farmers. New varieties of potato were on display such as the Purple heart above, and below in close up...

Monday, March 30, 2009

okay, okay, so I didn't invent the term 'Ninny State'

Other poets have beaten me to it: i've yet to neologise. Here's a 2007 blog , something from 2006.

And as for the 'Nanny State' (the term), it seems Maggie 'There is no such thing as society' Thatcher used it yonks ago. Good luck to her...

The Ninny State

For many years we enjoyed the dazzling humour that posited Aotearoa/New Zealand as a Nanny State, brought to its knees in the nursery of the world by an overwhelming Leftist 'Mothership' government. (Oh, and remember how women were to blame, there were chicks/no dicks from the top office to the Chief Judge...).

While no great fan of the Labour government (Treaty partnership anyone?), I would like to claim dibs on the term 'Ninny State'. The gushy John Key continues to plow a furrow through the twirling world, hoping always for the best and assuming, 'cos people say how nice he is in person, that everything will work out. A cycleway the length of the country (oops, too expensive, and I still refusae to bike through Halswell Junction or Sockburn roundabouts), training for workers laid off for one day a fortnight (um, what sort of training, the free sort offered by desparate Polytechs?), borrowing for tax cuts (but not for Kiwi Saver), upping ACC levies (despite no real long-term drama). Anyways, going off on a bit of a (non-referenced) rant. Ninny State: you heard it here first.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Whakairo te whenua

I recall a cover piece to a New Zealand atlas, ‘Whakairo te whenua”, sculpting the land. We do not live as animals, relying on evolution to fit us to our niche [okay, I’m not a strict evolutionist, having been persuasively persuaded by Lewontin and Levins and their The Dialectical Biologist (with Richard Levins). We attempt, for better or for worse, to make our lives easier, to give us more time to sit and play with the kids, enjoy a Three Boys IPA, reread Gravity’s Rainbow, or whatever.

"You are sitting in the deconstruction of the American Dream," he says, indicating Baltimore. "Which is to say there was a fundamental myth that if you were willing to work hard, support your family, stay away from shit that ain't good for you, you'd do all right. You didn't have to be the smartest guy in the room. The dream wasn't that everyone could get rich. It was that everyone gets to make a living and see the game on Saturday, and maybe, with the help of a government loan or two, your kid'll go to college."

His anger is wide-reaching: deprivation in Baltimore, imaginary WMDs in Iraq and Wall Street scandals are all part of the same betrayal - of capitalist institutions "selling people shit and calling it gold".

Never again...?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Minister of Maori Affairs appoints Taskforce on Maori economy

Lets take a look at the line up...
Mark Solomon, (Ngai Tahu). Kaiwhakahaere of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu (Seemingly forever embroiled in a leadership challenge).

Ngahiwi Tomoana, (Ngati Kahungunu). Chair of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, based in Hastings

Bentham Ohia, (Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Pukenga, Ngati Ranginui, Te Ati Awa, Ngati Rarua). Pouhere (CEO), Te Wananga o Aotearoa, for past five years, Chair, Te Tauihu o nga Wananga (national body of wananga). Trained teacher, senior manager at TWoA for 14 years.

Daphne Luke, (Ngati Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine). Tumuaki, Te Arahanga o Nga Iwi Maori Economic Development Agency, Otaki. Self-employed business coach and consultant. Post-graduate lecturer in Maori entrepreneurship, Te Wananga o Raukawa

John Tamihere, (Ngati Porou ki Harataunga). Consultant and broadcaster, CEO of Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust. Former Minister of Statistics and Associate Minister of Maori Affairs (Economic Development)

June McCabe (Ngapuhi, Te Rarawa and Te Aupouri). Chair of Exelerator, New Zealand Leadership Institute, Auckland University. Board member of Television New Zealand Limited (TVNZ) and a former director of ACC and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund Limited. Former Director of Corporate Affairs, Westpac Bank,

Rob McLeod (Ngati Porou). Managing Partner, Ernst and Young New Zealand. Chair of the NZ Business Roundtable, Member of Capital Markets Task Force. Lead negotiator, Nga Haeata (Ngati Porou hapu Treaty settlement committee). Chair of Government Tax Review in 2001. Former Chair and director of major New Zealand and Maori enterprises

It's not true to say, as many culpable in the crisis have, that no one saw it coming. Lots of people did, although reading through the Maori media editorials of last year you'd be hard pressed to say they had any original insight into the economy. This is an important point as Maori argue we have a) a different economy, and b) this economy is somehow better (not necessarily in earning more money - although we all accept that would be nice, but in how it operates, how it treats people).

I'm skeptical, in the professional sense (i.e., steering clear of that oozing, dripping cynicism that too often passes for a critique on anything Maori, although also avoiding like the plague that romanticised view of the battlefield caravaneers...).

Sharples has put in place a two years project, by which time the recession will be over and the Taskforce no doubt lauded a success. Nice work if you can get it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tahuri Whenua hui-a-rohe: Ruatoki, 6th-8th March, 2009

Te whanau Tahuri Whenua enjoyed a fantastic three days at Tauarau marae, Ruatoki, from the 6th to the 8th of March. An excellent turn out, with over 80 people listening to presentations on Nick's trip to Peru, Eddie's Olive grove and Sid Clark on the manuka venture up Ngati Porou way.

Our first stop was just down the road from tauarau, Ngakahi Trust, where Nesi Bryce showed us the gardens that included a native plant nursery, kumara seedbeds, two types of store houses, and a puipui weaving operation.

Aroha checking out a pataka built by staff and workers at a hapu venture, Ruatoki Valley

Hanui (Hastings) and Fraser (Tikitiki) check out the kumara seed bed

We also took in a guided tour of Eddie Smith's olive grove, a dream he had nurtured for many years, aided by several seasons picking olives in Afghanistan, Iran, Greece, and France. His advice for Maori entrepreneurs? Be blind, deaf and dumb! Because if you thought too much about it, you'd never do it!! His daughter, Miriama Smith, is the gorgeous judge on tv's 'Got Talent' show...just thought I'd mention it.

Eddie's Olive label...Hinu (fat or oil; takawiriwiri, spiral)

We visited several other places, including Molly Turnbell's place where we enjoyed a few beers. Later that evening, more beers were had in a tin shed on which the rain pounded and lightning flashed! All this by candle light as there was an extensive powercut that night. Two ukeleles and a guitar, a dozen good voices and some old crooning songs! Oh and Johnny Walker popped in, downed by the cap in a style reminiscent of the islands. Auae, a good night was had by all!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Geographic Survey Project of the Sierra Juarez Mountains Stirs Protests

The mapping scandal continues to bubble with this post from Nancy Davies on the Narco news Bulletin. It is an interesting read and is not without parallels in two projects I have participated in Aotearoa/NZ (blogged mercilessly in the early days of this blog...). Indigenous peoples are intellectually 'interesting' and potential very profitable (for private companies and governments) but also profitable to those academicians who manage to wheedle or conspire some form of collaboration.

Anyways, the debate looks to continue...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Science and Technology Studies (STS)

At the end of last year I attended the "Towards STS networking in the Asia-Pacific", a two-day meeting at Victoria University of Wellington, 1-2 December 2008.
There were 45 participants from China, Japan, Singapore, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and a total of 24 papers were presented (including keynote and plenary talks), representing a wide range of STS perspectives and research approaches. The organisers released a report on several concrete outcomes that resulted from this meeting.

1. A special journal issue of selected papers from the workshop will be pursued by the workshop organisers, in the first instance through the newly established East Asian Science Technology and Society Journal.

A call for papers will be set in motion in February 2009, following the themes from the workshop, with the aim of publication in late 2010.

2. A regional STS Network is to be set up, with a convening group. A/Prof Richard Hindmarsh (Griffith University, Brisbane) was invited by workshop participants to be the inaugural Convenor (for 2009), with advisors Dr Karen Cronin and Virginia Baker (ESR, Wellington), and support contacts in China (Dr Ma Huiduan), Japan (A/Prof. Tomiko Yamaguchi), and Singapore (Dr Sulfikar Amir). However, as A/Prof Hindmarsh is also the organiser for the next STS workshop in Brisbane in November 2009, he has passed on the role of Convenor to Karen Cronin but remains on the committee as Deputy Convenor. Karen’s employer (Environmental Science and Research Ltd) is extending its capability in the STS field and has kindly agreed to provide support for the Network e.g. through hosting web pages, contact database.

3. Format for the Network. Rather than creating another professional association, it is envisaged that the Network will be an informal group, aimed at developing collegial relationships in the Asia Pacific region. It would operate primarily though an annual workshop, along with an email contact list and a website. There will be no formal membership, committee structure, or fees. The annual workshop will be self funding through registrations, grants and sponsorship. To share the workload, the Convenor role will be rotated on an annual basis [to December]. The Convenor will co-opt support from among the Network members, including appointing an organising group for the annual workshop.

The Network will be open to those with an interest in STS research, theory and practice in the Asia Pacific region, and it will be complementary to existing formal associations. Many network participants already belong to established national or international STS/HPS associations. The Wellington meeting agreed to investigate the options for a complementary support relationship with a potential regional chapter of 4S, but upon investigation this option is not available.

4. It was agreed to hold the next STS networking workshop in Brisbane, in late November 2009, with Richard Hindmarsh as the organiser. The Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University, of which Richard is a member, is kindly providing primary funding support. Special features of the Brisbane meeting will be a focus on the environment and on indigenous issues.

5. Network members are also looking forward to meeting again in August 2010 in Japan, at the 4S annual meeting in Tokyo. This will be an opportunity to extend our contacts in the Asia Pacific region and potentially present joint papers or sessions.

6. The Wellington meeting was honoured to have the participation of Professor Chen Fan, Chief Professor at the Innovation Institute of Philosophy and Social Science for STS Northeastern University, China and President of the Chinese STS Society, along with his colleague Dr Ma Huiduan. Prof Fan kindly offered to host a future regional STS networking meeting in China in 2011 or 2012.

7. Website information on the Wellington workshop was hosted on a blog. Following the workshop, the blogsite is being updated with a photo of participants, the programme, keynote and plenary speakers’ details, and the abstracts.

The full workshop presentations and future information for STS networking will be set up soon on a permanent web page, hosted by Environmental Science and Research (ESR) on its STS pages.

Finally, we would like to thank once again all our speakers, and in particular our sponsors: Environmental Science and Research (ESR), the Victoria Management School at Victoria University of Wellington, the Building Research Capacity in the Social Sciences Fund (BRCSS) in New Zealand, and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University in Brisbane.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Maori Ecopolitics in a Recession (if we're lucky) or a Depression (if we're still dead unlucky)

Ex-Alliance peep Laile Harré said an interesting thing on Nat Rad February 9th in response to Mathew Hooton’s comment that it was Prime Minister John Key who had to raise the issue of Maori unemployment when he recently met with Maori iwi leaders. For Laile this was “Damn depressing and a worry about where the civil society leadership of Maori heads’ are at.” I too have been waiting for a pronouncement from Maori leaders on a) how they perceive the current economic situation, and b) what they consider Maori collective options to be. Scan the editorials in the Maori media at the end of last year reveals a comparative lack of concern which for me tests claims of a true 'Maori economy'.

The TPK briefing to the incoming Minister notes “the extent of the future impact of tightening global economic conditions has yet to be fully understood. Mäori may be disproportionately vulnerable to economic shocks, particularly given the employment profile, the recent growth in the entrepreneurial sector and the high level of exposure of the Mäori commercial asset base to world markets1 along with the forecast falls in export demand commodity prices. Care will need to be taken to manage the impacts of changes in the economic circumstances of Mäori on other aspects of their wellbeing.”

As a footnote we have some numbers: “The Mäori commercial asset base is particularly vulnerable, with some 60% exposed to international trade, compared to 31% of the wider economy facing this exposure.” On a tangent, Te Tau Ihu iwi have just announced a massive settlement, with the media predictably focusing on the IP of the 'national' haka, Ka Mate (the one the All Blacks used to always do...).

Maori Minister Pita Sharples held a Maori Economic Forum in which he noted Maori vulnerability in economic downturns, our employment levels are generally double that of the national average, meaning current Maori unemployment levels are 9% compared to 4.5% for the NZ population as a whole. Sharples noted that in 1992, the proportion of Māori families marked as low income was a 42%, compared to the average of just 26%.

Ostensibly, the Maori economy has a holistic foundation (akin to Western concepts of socio-ecological resilience) and a longer itergenrational timeline. Of course it could be said that empirical evidence of these concepts are under contruction. Ngai Tahu presents aspects of this intergenerational timeline. But if Maori employment is going to hit 12, 15 or even 20%, what role do these iwi juggernauts have to play? On the one hand, Maori as citizens of NZ have all the rights to social welfare and other support. On the other hand, we all know how little difference that has made to our resilience in the past.

For a useful primer on the current economic crisis see Donald McKenzie's article in the London Review of Books. McKenzie notes the ‘collapse of the public fact’ which underlies this crisis and also notes the similarities and differences between physics and finance. “There is a generic resemblance between much of modern finance theory and mathematical physics. The Black-Scholes-Merton pricing equation is a form of what is known in physics as the heat or diffusion equation, which describes phenomena such as the flow of heat. The random walk model of share price changes appears in physics as Brownian motion, the movement of particles subject to minute, random collisions. Yet there is a crucial difference: finance inhabits the world of what the sociologist Barry Barnes calls ‘social-kind’ terms, not natural-kind terms. We do not ordinarily imagine that the flow of heat along a metal bar is affected by our beliefs about that flow. In finance, however, we cannot make the same presumption. Finance theory describes a world of human institutions, human beliefs and human actions. To the extent to which that theory is believed and acted on, it becomes part of the world it describes.”

He goes on to say “This (scarcely novel) observation is usually taken as a criticism of finance theory, but it is nothing of the kind. Its implication is not that the assumptions of that theory are false, but that their truth is a historical, context-dependent matter.”

Despite the current vogue for knocking neo-classical economics, I agree with McKenzie when he says "Mathematical finance is part of the infrastructure of the modern world...Yet we must also remember that finance theory describes not a state of nature but a world of human activity, of beliefs and of institutions. Markets, despite their thing-like character, their global reach and their huge volumes, remain social constructs and the feedback loops that constitute them are intricate, knotted and far from completely understood.“

This interpretation is similar to George Soros’ ‘reflexivity’ concept and is surely not antithetical to the holistic interpretation of the world Indigenous peoples continue to adhere to.

Another tangent...Donald McKenzie also reviewed a fascinating account by Caitlin Zaloom of the coal face of neoliberalism, the trading floor of a modern stock exchange. Click on to ‘Zero is a clenched fist’.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dispute on Collaborative Ethics for Research With Indigenous Peoples within Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group

The concerns raised regarding the Bowman Expedition project(s) have led to a wider debate on ethics in research. One IPSG poster comments "What disturbs me the most is the fact that so many members of the academic community are ready to believe very serious allegations made against their colleagues without a second thought. Don’t we routinely teach our students to be critical of information found on the web, especially when it comes from an unknown source?

They further comment: "On the subject of ethics, I would like to point out that the AAG 'Statement on Professional Ethics' states that members should refuse to 'spread unfounded accusations and rumors about colleagues' (2005, p. 1). The wide circulation of the accusations through AAG outlets without any effort to corroborate them or contact the people involved has given them some degree of credibility. The reputations of fellow geographers have been badly and to some degree irreversibly damaged, something that will likely affect their careers (and potentially those of their graduate students) for many years. The institutions involved have been tarnished. The discipline as a whole may even suffer. If good research can be so easily discredited, academic freedom is also in the balance. If we assume that all indigenous leaders are inherently noble and do not have the ability to construct discourses that manipulate the truth to advance their ambitions, then we are all vulnerable. This is another form of essentialism."

And further: "Receiving funding from military sources for research in geography, political science, psychology or any other branch of the social sciences is clearly controversial and merits debate. But we should keep in mind that the field of cultural geography has benefited significantly from the Office of Naval Research program that funded the field research of Carl Sauer and many other prominent geographers from the late 1940s to the late 1960s (see Herlihy et al., 2008 in the Geographical Review, volume 98, issue 3). As far as I know their research did not contribute to military operations or cause the loss of life. A careful analysis might indeed show that it had the opposite effect. Through the México Indígena project I learned first-hand that there are decent people employed in the military, people who are distressed by mistakes of the past and who want to make a positive difference from within by giving us “university types” a chance to show them what we can do and how we do it. But if funding from military offices is deemed immoral, perhaps we should consider the United States government as a whole. Many of the conflicts that have occurred around the world were initiated by people in elected offices, not by people in the military. Does that mean we should refuse funding from the Fullbright program, which is sponsored by the State Department? I don’t think so, but maybe others do."

I agree with this last comment: "These issues need to be debated, but should be debated respectfully without vilifying people who have views that differ from our own views." Interestingly, the debate also includes concerns regarding the editorial and review policy of geography journals. From my position, I am still bemused by geography's inherent dysfunction and can't help but think it is a function of the fields sheer diversity. I also can't help but think this is a good thing...

For those who know me, you will be aware that I have held personal concerns over what i considered substandard ethical practices on two collaborative projects involving Maori horticulturalists (at the Bioprotection Research Centre, Lincoln University) and kai tiaki of customary fisheries (at the Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai project at the Centre for Study of Food, Agriculture and the Environment, Otago University). In both cases, regardless of the validity of otherwise of the concerns I and others held, I was sacked from the first and sidelined from the second, so I know firsthand how these things can unfold, i.e., badly for the whistleblower! Oh, I would be the first to admit that my little one-man protest action at the BRC's international symposium probably prompted the actions of my so-called 'supervision' team...

...Luckily I have an excellent research job now, but the risks to a young researcher trying to develop a career in a hostile environment is one that is often discussed amongst postgraduates. Unfortunately, there seems to be little prospect of change, especially given the ever greater demands on 'results', publications, and proposals.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Zapotec Indigenous People in Mexico Demand Transparency from U.S. Scholar

The Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) - a longtime partner of Grassroots International based in Mexico - denounced a recently conducted study in the Zapotec region by U.S. geography scholar Peter Herlihy. Prof. Herlihy failed to mention that he received funding from the Foreign Military Studies Office of the U.S. Armed Forces. The failure to obtain full, free and prior informed consent is a violation of the rights of indigenous communities as codified in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations in 2007. In addition, UNOSJO fears that this in-depth geographical mapping of indigenous communities may be used in some harmful manner by the military.

The México Indígena project forms part of the Bowman Expeditions, a more extensive geographic research project backed and financed by the US Foreign Military Studies Ofice, among other institutions. The FMSO inputs information into a global database that forms an integral part of the Human Terrain System (HTS), a United States Army counterinsurgency strategy designed by FMSO and applied within indigenous communities, among others.

Since 2006 the Human Terrain System HTS has, since 2006, been employed with military purposes in both Afghanistan and Iraq and according to the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, further Bowman Expeditions are underway in Mexico, the Antilles, Colombia and Jordan.


Zoltan and Renee of the Indigenous Peoples' Specialty Group (a part of the Association of American Geographers) put this together. There's some excellent guidelines at the bottom on ethical approaches to working with Indigenous communities.

"After sitting and thinking on this for several days Zoltan and I are compelled to call upon the membership to forge a document/statement regarding the larger issues involved here. Many people have been affected/effected by the whirlwinds of controversy this has generated on many listservs. Those of you that responded to my initial email have posed some serious questions that no doubt should be answered.

However, the IPSG is not the authoritative body best suited to judge individuals' research projects. Institutional review processes are the fairest venues to address violations of research ethics while giving researchers a forum to defend their work. In focusing only on an individual geographer as such, we may not be changing the overall research process and instead limiting ourselves to an episodic, tit-for-tat conflict.

We feel that best way to go forward is not to focus only on this situation, but to rise above it and use it as a teaching and learning opportunity about the larger and lasting lessons of the controversy. We would like to inform as many geographers as possible that this situation is NOT NEW to Indigenous communities around the world. (In fact, similar controversies often happen with other academic researchers doing field research in politically marginalized communities.) We also would like to discuss the larger political/economic context of any research project--especially in volatile times and places--and point toward positive models of respectful cooperation between researchers and indigenous communities.

Zoltan and I are willing to work with anyone interested in writing a formal statement, and have drawn up the following notes to help begin a subcommittee's discussion:

1. Research ethics in indigenous geography
• Free Prior and Informed Consent (UN Declaration Article 11/2)
• Indigenous Methodologies (L. T. Smith)

2. Use of research
• Emphasis not on intentions but on effects of research
• Unintended consequences
• Data used by government forces or corporate interests against Indigenous
• Geopiracy
• Geoproperty—-privatization, “stability” concepts, etc.

3. Larger political/economic context
• Indigenous role in government change (Bolivia, Ecuador) and rebellions against globalization (Chiapas, Oaxaca, etc)
• Extreme government repression of indigenous (Colombia, Oaxaca, Peru)
• US military aid to government militaries, as US military studies indigenous
• Targeting of indigenous movements as against “democracy,” lumped with insurgent/terrorists in “war on terror”

4. Positive research models
• Approach communities with capabilities; but community determines research priorities
• Linda Smith—serving indigenous communities’ survivance
• NMAI report, "Guidelines for Research with Indigenous Peoples"
• AAAS Science and Human Rights—proactive, support indigenous
• Don’t avoid working with indigenous due to sensitivity; honest mistakes can be forgiven
• If you assume you’re a guest, you may be welcomed. If you assume you’ll be welcomed, you’re no longer a guest.
• Principles of Reciprocity
• Looking at hearts of researchers , not only minds.

Please let us know if you can help us put together this statement for our website prior to the Annual Meeting in Mar 22-27."

Zoltan and Renee,

Co-chairs, Indigenous Peoples' Specialty Group (IPSG)
of the Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Digital Theses

Kaitiakitanga: Māori values, uses and management of the coast
A Master's thesis from my old department at Canterbury that presents three case studies: the Kaikoura coastal environment, Akaroa taiapure and the foreshore / seabed debate to illuminate experiences of Maori relationships with the coastal environment. Insights from theories of place identity and environmental management, especially those with a postcolonial focus are used to map out the cultural politics in which indigenous resource management practices and experiences are related.

Marae: A Whakapapa of the Maori marae
A quite stunning collection of photographs make this thesis a worthy contribution. I met Adrian several times at UC and he says he has a large collection of pictures taken during the course of his fieldwork that he wishes to make available online.

Land, authority and the forgetting of being in early colonial Maori history
The thesis underscores the magnitude of change when tapu disappeared as the support of chiefs' civil governance, which was played out in the migration of mana (personal power) from chiefs to, modern, land. The disappearance of tapu also, however, aided the rise of Maori civil society within the colony on the basis of the desire for modernity which kept Maori engaged with the government - and therefore still governed. This is studied through letters that detail the operation of civil life in Taranaki and among Ngati Kahungunu, with special reference to the experience of Wiermu Kingi and Renata Kawepo.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wairau Bar

Remember the controversy over the repatriation of Rangitane koiwi from Canterbury museum that raged in the Press newspaper last year? Well following the resolution of this tug-of-war, excavation work is under way at an old burial site on the Wairau Bar in Marlborough as archaeologists also prepare to rebury ancient Maori bones. The site just outside Blenheim and considered one of the most important in New Zealand has not been deeply probed since the 1960s.Source for photo's: Carl Berenston...Liquid Sky Photography

Local iwi Rangitane refused to give consent for further archaeological work until its ancestors' bones removed by Canterbury Museum in the 1940s and 1950s were returned to the earth. A deal with the museum and Otago University last year paved the way for their reinterment, expected in April. Professor Helen Leach is based in Otago; her work has dealt extensively with Maori horticulture.

At the powhiri to welcome Otago University archaeologists, team leader Richard Walter said he was conscious the world would be watching.

"If I do anything wrong, my career is over," he said. "This is likely to be the last time any archaeologists work on this site ... and we have to get it right.

"We don't want to gather more material to put on museum shelves.

"We are here to get the tupuna back into the ground with the least possible damage to the site."

The 15 archaeologists will spend the next three weeks locating suitable places to rebury the bones, and gathering fresh information on the historical inhabitants. Rangitane chairwoman Judith MacDonald described the start of the dig as hugely significant.

"When we started this, we didn't see that there would be a need to have archaeologists. We didn't see that we should be having to meet other people's needs as part of the project. For us, we had a very simplistic view that our people had been taken unceremoniously out of the ground and taken away from their lands and that they should simply be returned and put back into the ground."

However, MacDonald said the iwi recognised the modern expertise of Otago University's archaeologists, and trusted their ability to return their tupuna without disturbing graves.

Walter said his team would focus on the different occupation layers at the site.

"One of the layers is a village site, so we want to be able to identify which layer it is, get very good radiocarbon dates from that layer and from that we will be able to match that information to the material that is in the Canterbury Museum."

Early excavation of the Wairau Bar provided the first direct link between New Zealand and the islands of East Polynesia. Bones from the site have been dated back over 700 years.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Physico-chemical and morphological characteristics of New Zealand Taewa (Maori potato) starches

The most common search terms that are coming up in the blog-counter are to do with Maori potatoes. Here's a paper, rather technical but interesting none-the-less, on the physico-chemical, morphological, thermal, pasting, textural, and retrogradation properties of the starches of Karuparera, Tutaekuri, Huakaroro, Moemoe were studied and compared with starch properties of a modem potato cultivar (Nadine). There are also a lot of searches for kamo kamo (and from around the globe...homesick Maori?!). I chose not to grow an kamo kamo this season, they take up a heck of a lot of space and I've reduced the total size of my vege plot anyway (the boys need more space to run like the wild things they are).

Anyway, I offer these two pictures of succulent kamo kamo.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Krazy Kelvin - NZ Maori Blog

Just have to add this link in, a recipe for Maori Potato, Bacon and Watercress Salad Krazy Kelvin - NZ Maori Blog complete with outrageous photograph of a blonde cuddling some watercress...

Here are some even flasher recipes from Kinaki Herbs.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Kauri Rot

This just through from Chuckie van Schravendijk, ex-Lincoln and UC grad now working for Tainui. Although only identified in April of last year (i.e., 2008). Phytophthora taxon Agathis (PTA), poses a significant threat to Kauri. PTA is a microscopic funguslike plant pathogen that only affects kauri. Recent research has identified PTA as a distinct and previously undescribed species of Phytophthora.

The symptoms? Yellowing of foliage, loss of leaves, canopy thinning and dead branches. Affected trees can also develop lesions that bleed resin, extending to the major roots and sometimes girdling the trunk as a “collar rot”. PTA can kill trees and seedlings of all ages.PTA has been found at Huia and Maungaroa Ridge in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and at Department of Conservation reserves at Great Barrier and Trounson Kauri Park in Northland.

Question: Is there a need for a specific Maori response, by which I mean do we as Maori need to coordinate a response in spite of any government attempts to understand
this disease? Do we trust MAF and others to do the job ... think Rock Snot and Varroa, neither of which can be considered exemplars of biosecurity success. The Kauri is one of those fellow denizens of te ao Maori that enable the reflection of ourselves.
Simon Lambert

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