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...
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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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