Saturday, November 06, 2010

Indigenous Geography Dot Net: a new website for IP geogers

A great new website is up and running to represent Indigenous Geographers in 'e' space. Its mission statement?

"To foster pure and applied geographic research and geographic education that involves the indigenous peoples of the world, past and present. To encourage approaches to research and teaching that empower indigenous peoples, and to help build relationships of mutual trust between communities of indigenous peoples and academic geographers."

While not wanting to be accused of biological essentialism, there are great affinities between indigenous people and the discipline of geography, ironic given the strong role geography and its maps had in colonisation. Great to see this, and we all, I'm sure, look forward to contributing and seeing it succeed.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Maori unemployment still crap

Wll another good news report from the bowels of the National-Maori-ACT coalition and its media lap dogs: unemployment drops to 6.4%.

Of course, as I've said before, there actually isn't an unemployment problem in Aotearoa/NZ, there is a racism problem.

For Maori, the rate for the September quarter was 16.2%, compared with just 4.3% for what is still anachronistically called the 'European' sector. (I'm sure a lot of Euro nations would love to have 4.3% unemployment!).

Anyways, its bad people, very bad...Maori youth unemployment of over 30% (Which means over 60% in some regions), and an environment of worsening working conditions (my employer is offering 1.8% from January next year, with expected inflation of 4.8% next year.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fear of a Black Planet? Paul Henry walks the plank...

"Excuse us for the news
You might not be amused
But did you know white comes from Black
No need to be confused
Excuse us for the news
I question those accused
Why is this fear of Black from White
Influence who you choose?
Man c'mon now, I don't want your wife
Stop screamin' it's not the end of your life
(But supposin' she said she loved me)
What's wrong with some color in your family tree"

Public Enemy, powerhouse of the 80s and 90s, hitting heads through the eardrums, morality through the your ribcage, attitude through the gonads. I was a skint dishwasher in London when i bought Fear of a Black Planet on tape and rapped it round on a permanent loop on my Sony Walkman.

I was living in Notting Hill Gate at the time, in a doss house run by an almost creepy Chinese man (I was sitting on the shitter one day when I heard him pledge everlasting love to a rather attractive English girl. She later showed us wicked heads the diamond ring...). There were three South Africans on the run from the army, a girl from Sierra Leone who posed in a porn rag (she showed my roomie, Simon from Oz. I declined to view the spread pages). A beautiful Swedish girl (is there any other sort in a doss house in 90s London?), who had a crush on one of the Saffa's, and who read Bukowski which only I had heard of... ae, there's the rub. All sorts, and it was the diversity which gave it the energy.

Once Ozzie Simon and I had a party in our room - 8' by 10', sink in one corner, cockroaches scurrying behind the peeling wallpaper when you flicked on the single light. I swear we had over 20 people in the space for a time, four on the top bunk, five below, two on the window sill, the others squeezed in, a busker off the street for entertainment.

We once let two other itinerants sleep on our floor -an Irishman whose name I can't recall, and an Italian by the name of Damiano who came from a town on the Adriatic where the easiest money was in smuggling. The first morning we all wake, dress, splash water in turn, move carefully about that tiny space without stepping on any toes until after four minutes or so of no conversation, we all simultaneously broke out laughing.

Good times, although a young persons game, and best to be single to avoid the less proud moments that just cropped up on a regular basis. Rude jokes galore, at anyone's expense. But a respect born of shared troubles: dodgy lodgings, crap jobs, big dreams, anguish artistic longings, unrequited love, a primal lust for life so thick you could lick it.

On occasions I'd walk to work, the kitchen of a private hospital on Harley Street. I was usually the only non-African KP (kitchen porter), most of the others came from Ghana or Nigeria. Black as in blue-black, and proud which so rankled some of the white (English, Irish) chefs they would hiss racist commnents about my workmates amongst the steam and pots and knives. Hiss, mind, never had the guts to say it out loud, to one of those big black faces that had a way of staring down with a certain pity.

I, of course loved, it.

I was eventually sacked, for taking home a plate of untouched roast beef, sliced thin with a bit of garnish, and a packet of digestive biscuits. When my boss, a white woman called Joanne, confronted me about it (I was caught by a security guard) she said how disappointed she was, how she expected better from me.

I snapped at her. 'What does that mean?!', both us knowing full well she meant that as the only white man in the basement (not many poms picked me as Maori), I was the most reliable, the one she depended on, I would've been the next for promotion. She looked down, ashamed at even this tangential challenge.

I think I listened to AC/DC that night, taking the tube home (from Marble Arch? The memory's not what it was, and I threw out my 13 or 14 volumes of daily dairy recordings). Momentarily thought of tossing myself on the tracks, then pulled back. 'Oooh, shit that would hurt.'

One day in the kitchen a fella came up to me, blue-black, chubby, small thin moustache. He said, 'Are you Maori?' (They all knew I was from NZ). 'Why, yes,' says I, amazed (those who know me know i'm cafe au lait!) so I asked, 'How'd you know?'.

'Oh,' says the African, 'you just look like you are.'

He lent me two books by Malcolm X, one a collection of speeches. They were inspiring, of course, but i was surrounded by inspiration in those days, the energy source being the diversity of a colonial metropole.

One thing i'm sure. TVNZ is not less diverse for the departure of one Paul Henry. As we know, they are a dime a dozen, pudgy people, soft, fearful, smarmy but perhaps slightly less so from this day on. I see scared hope in their stupid, maniacal, grins.

As another poet once said,

"He went like one that has been stunned,
and is of sense forlorn.
A sadder and a wiser man he woke the morrow morn."

PE in the south, January 7th, 2011.
Bench Music, The Groove Guide, Juice TV, 95bFM and RDU Present:

With support from Scalper // Ghost
Tickets from and Real Groovy

Make some noise Christchurch

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Homai to hinu? Fatty feed, fatty land, fatty peeps. Palm kernel extract and harmful trans fats

Not that we need to keep proving the holism of life but research linking palm kernel extract (PKE) (sourced from the tropics but fed to cows here in Aotearoa) adds to the poor press of PKE and red meat in general.

'Palm kernel expeller' is what is leftover when kernel oil is pressed from the nut in the palm fruit, and it is increasingly used to supplement dairy cows' largely grass diet is increasing in New Zealand.

This rather annoying observation comes courtesty of Dr Jocelyne Benatar at the Cardiovascular Research Unit of Auckland City Hospital. Published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, these results are sure to add further pressure on the meat industry. Given ongoing concerns about traceability and the wealthy consumers NZ Inc. targets, Maori agribusiness best work fast to secure a) image, and b) markets. The two cannot be separated.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Message Stick

Latest newsletter (September 2010)of the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The term of Chair Mick Dodson is coming to an end, a term marked most notably by the passing of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples was passed in the General Assembly on 13 September 2007.

"Our sense of humour is still with us after so many centuries of tragedy, it is what binds us, helps us to keep going and I think key to our survival. There is nothing like a good laugh to break tensions, aid communication and to move forward."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Maori and Carbon Sequestration: if my pohutakawa seedling dies, is the Whenua Conference no longer carbon neutral?

As mentioned earlier, carbon credits, the ETS, and Maori agribusiness were top of the pops at the 2010 Whenua Conference at the Distinction Hotel, Rotorua. As part of the giveaways, attendees received a dainty wee Pohutukawa seedling, along with the ubiquitous flax kete. My old employer, Manaaki Whenua/Landcare Research Ltd. have been very proud of their money-spinner, carbonZero. By planting these baby trees about the whenua, we were supposedly ensuring the conference was carbon neutral and therefore somehow sustainable.


Mine's been in the flax kete sitting in the storage compartment next to the drivers seat in my clapped out and definitely carbon-spewing Subaru Legacy (okay, except when I took it out for a photo shoot after a jug of Classy Red at the Lincoln road Harringtons Bar and Brewery).

My question is quite simple. If I let the thing die (and i don't think it can survive this far south), does the conference then become non-neutral for carbon auditing reasons?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tahuri Whenua AGM 2010

We celebrated the 7th AGM for the National Maori Vegetable Growers Collective, a.k.a. Tahuri Whenua, on September 18th at Parewahawaha marae, Bulls. The mother of all storms - as big as Oz they said - was passing overhead, so a formal powhiri was dispensed with and we ran through the whakatau inside the wharekai.

It was great to catch up with old friends, including Rosie from Ruatoria...
Rosie fed back from regional Ngati Porou efforts.

Nick and Hanui talking about the kumara varieties cared for by Del Wihongi. Tahuri Whenua has offered to help Del's daughter with kaitiaki duties.

Aleise Puketapu presenting her research on the 'Lifecycle and epidemiology of the Tomato/Potato psyllid'. This pest, originally from North America, has seriously impacted on several crops including Taewa. Aleise, incorporating research findings from experts from UC (California, not Canterbury) advises monitoring your crops, choose selective chemicals, and plant a border crop where you can hit them first, fast, and hard!

Who dat?!

...Aunty Chrissie!

We've produced an excellent poster celebrating the first seven years of T.W., with photo's of each hui about the motu, including the Peru trip of last year.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christchurch Earthquake: Ruana te whenua...

I've yet to say anything significant about the recent Christchurch earthquake. 7.1 - a decent shake by anyone's estimation - I was in Wellington at the third and final MANU Ao Maori Academic Leadership. Yeah, irony in spades...

No deaths, lots of broken wine glasses, some frazzled nerves, and one of those reminders we may not want but always need.

Anyways, my drinking spatiality has been dramatically altered. The Lincoln staff club will change venue, Memorial Hall being more like a barn...

The Famouse Grouse, Lincoln's historic pub (no, I didn't know either; second oldest in Canterbury evidently) is no more...

And even the Craic on Riccarton Road is fenced off.

Otherwise the storm is about to start. Don't for a moment think that Cantabrian spirit and resilience is in good shape.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Matauranga Maori: methodological musings...

We recently hosted Charles Royal at Lincoln University, albeit briefly. At an informal kai and nibbles Charles gave those staff present an interpretation of Matauranga Maori (see also this presentation from a conference in 2006).

For Charles the principle approach of MM is that of 'tatai': two things come together, producing a third. Now this approach is easily recognisable as akin to other relational methodologies, a la Marx, and the Actor-Network theorists such as Bruno Latour. This marks a significant divergence from those methodologies that elevate individual and therefore isolated analytical units, for example the rational all-knowing consumers of neoliberalism.

The challenge remains to identify those actants relevant to Maori, trace their travels and travails and actual begin to do something to increase the number of beneficial outcomes and avoid, remedy or mitigate the negative outcomes (acknowledging we're still in the midst of debating what they might be).

Graham Smith has also published and presented widely on the methodological history and implications of matauranga Maori.

Other sites...
See this site - Rangahau - for a great collection of Matauranga Maori practitioners.

Also this post on 'Badiou, Extension and Networks...'

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Maori Unemployment

Well, Aotearoa/NZ's unemployment rate is now back at 10-year highs with overall unemployment up to 6.8% from last quarters teasing plummet of 6%.

Maori unemployment is up from 14.2% to 16.4%. As the Pikiwhara, Parekura Haitch, sayz "That means 26,400 Maori are now without jobs, an increase of 3,600 since the previous quarter."

Talking to taxi drivers, barmen, waitresses and shirt sales staff as I do, the looming double dip has been a topic of concern for some time. But these national figures hide the true pain. For young people aged 15-19 years, the unemployment rate is 26.5%. For young Maori in this age group it is 38.7%. Two out of every five rangatahi are outta work.

Yet again the issue of mining on Maori land has arisen as a geological survey of Northland/Tai Tokerau is announced. I heard Margaret Mutu on RNZ decrying the decision. The issue I raised on an earlier post remains: poor countries (like A/NZ) and poor societies (like Nga Puhi) don't have the options of Luxembourg or Switzerland. I'm not advocating for ripping up the land for minerals (we allow Africans, Asians, South Americans and Australians to do that...) but unless we seriously address Maori unemployment (and underemployment when the economy is back up on its flat feet), we remain mired in the poverty, serfs amidst the plenitude of Papatuanuku. Mining is one of the many activities we can't exclude...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Whenua Conference

Really enjoyed the just done Whenua Conference, Rotorua, 21-23 July at the Distinction Hotel. Good keynote speakers although must say I'm tired of the 'we are unique' spiel that the Minister of Maori Affairs trotted out (We're the only Indigenous minority who are marginalised, undereducated, suffering poor health, subject to ongoing racism and ... well we're not. Ay...).

Anyways, I presented on the opportunities for Halal branding for Maori, a project I'm squirreling away on with a couple of contacts at Lincoln and in Malaysia. More later...

As for the future of Maori agribusiness, am I the only one whose noticed any society that pins its economy to agriculture suffers declining relative wealth? And are there any ecologists not in the pay of the dairy sector who think dairying is sustainable? And with the growth in robotics in agriculture, where are the jobs for our youth? (Okay, in computing and engineering but we're not exactly getting numbers through). And how many Maori agrifood ventures are in profit. Real profit. Just a few minor points, don't wanna piss on anyone's parade. Not yet anyway ay.

Loved the skewering of Carbon Credit Forestry ... nothing more testing than a Maori audience. Word to the wise: the answer 'You can find them on the internet' is not a good one for the question 'Where are these carbon traders?' Chur...

As for my boys, Bruno (left) wants to be a copper, Whiti (right) wants to make movies and be an actor. Well, lest they don't wanna do a PhD!

Maori boys on the farm?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Innovation flat in NZ - latest report...

New figures just released for NZ innovation, showing some interesting stuff. First, the headlines - Innovation resilient in face of global crisis - is an admission of failure: you need MORE innovation in a financial crisis.

Research I'm currently working on that looks at technology users as innovators confirms the difficulties for inventors in this country, lack of finance being the main obstacle (confirmed in the SNZ report). Within the results (Table 1) we see declining innovation activity over three financial years (2005, 2007, 2009)...less money = less innovation = less money = less innovation...

Our flagship sector (agriculture, fisheries and forestry) which between them contribute 5% of GDP with an innovation rate of 32%. I recall from somewhere our farming sector was ranked 15th or 16th in the world for innovation, a case of resting on our laurels (and indicative in the ongoing malaise of the meat and wool sectors).

Not good....

Gallagher's HQ, Hamilton. Started with Bill Gallagher, Waikato farmer and inventor of electric fencing, and an old horse that kept rubbing up against Bill's truck...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tekau plus a Multiplier?

After listening to the soft cop on Radio NZ this morning trying to skewer first, Paul Morgan and then, John Paki I realised two things. The first was that RNZ will really miss Sean Plunkett - love him or loathe him he's capable of asking tough questions with doggedness. Fellas like Paul and John have been batting away more searching questions from the pitbulls of Maori politics for many years now.

Second, and more importantly, is the struggle Maori businesses still have in establishing export markets. Its a hard game people, and we need to bring the best brains to the task. Hint: they may not be Maori...
The project was always a tough ask: ten Maori companies worth $10 million in exports in 10 years. We're somewhat arrogant in our assumption that Indigenous/Maori branding and our happy-go-lucky attitude, good looks and history (of whaling, warfare and monopoly trade) was some sort of automatic entre into the global economy. Not even.

A tangential issue that repeats like a bad mussel is nepotism in Aotearoa/New Zealand in general and Maori in particular. A visiting Ngati Kahungunu presenter spoke of this the other day here at Lincoln ...'Auntys GArden, I'll speak about this later, really interesting stuff. Anyways, how are we meant to operate without somehow working in with siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins?! And once you're in a particular field at a certain level, don't you know each other anyway? Look at the contortions the most senior justice authorities are going through to deal with an erring judge?

We are, of course, blithely naive about corruption in this country, so ready to chant our credentials, so reluctant to protect and enhance them. Transparency International NZ has published an interesting report on this ignorance: Are We As Good As We Perceive?. Seems that many of New Zealand’s largest listed businesses have not achieved fundamental best practice ethics standards. For companies listed on the NZX 50, only 44% have policies prohibiting bribery. This compares to 72% of the UK top 100 companies (by market capitalisation), 57% in Europe, and 69% in the US.

Further, several high profile cases give us cause for concern. In August, last year Phillip Taito Field became the first Member for Parliament to be found guilty of corruption; Field was sentenced to six years jail in October. In November, a report by Margaret Bazley into the legal aid found the system “undermined by more than 200 corrupt lawyers”. Four councillors elected to Environment Canterbury with personal and business interests in water use were found to have voted in favour of these interests.

All dodgy stuff, agreed? In wider NZ, sports - an area in which New Zealand takes great pride - several sportspeople have been found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs; a NZ rugby-player (Nick Evans) was involved in a serious cheating case in Premier League rugby in the United Kingdom. There is also the strange case of a NZ registered company leasing a plane delivering weapons somewhere, via Thailand…

Trust is hard won and easily lost. Is it already gone from Aotearoa/Neew Zeeland?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tekau Plus a minus?

Seems the much-trumpeted 'Tekau Plus' project has foundered on the usual rocks of grandiosity...let's hope they don't find evidence of fraud: I'd settle for simple incompetence.

Released on the 26th of June, the Tekau Plus Value for Money Review Report reveals a rather cobbly web of not-quites and not-evens. Established in September 2007 as a partnership between the Māori Trustee, Poutama Trust and the Federation of Māori Authorities Incorporated (FOMA), it was intended to promote 10 Maori companies to become exporting ventures worth 10 squillion each. With three-years funding of a tick over $3 million, big things were expected.

While initial media reports had a complete lack of exports for the 10 engaged companies, Tohu Wines has certainly been exporting (most of their product is sent offshore), although this was happening before Tekau Plus began. I'm going through the report now...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

He Aitua: Jose Saramago shuffles on...

I'm always braced for the death announcement of Muhammed Ali but Jose Saramago caught my out. One of the great writers, holding the fort against fascism in his own Portugal and really for the rest of the world. How sad to think his last years were spent seeing the creeping cowardice of bullying government, the gall of corrupt bankers and docile passivity of people come traipsing along the darkened corridors of modernity...

Check out 'The year of the Death of Riccardo Reis'...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Traditional Knowledges Conference

A good time was had by all in the recent Traditional Knowledges Conference, Auckland University in the well-appointed School of Business. I flew up on the Tuesday, staying Wednesday night. Met many old friends from MAI days, quite a few of us now having passed through the PhD grinder and surviving relatively sane.

Great to finally meet Prof Dan Longboat. He's been hosted by Dr. Jamie Ataria (who's spread between LandCare and Lincoln Uni). Dan 'gave' us the term 'Re-indigenising Humanity' which we're using at Lincoln to frame projects to do with, well, more about that later...

Prof Dan Roronhiake:wen (He Clears the Sky) Longboat

Conversations with Dan and his colleague Steve Crawford (who's also visited LandCare a couple of years ago) are just further enticement to work closer with Indigenous peoples across the Pacific. So many similarities and opportunities to learn from each other and transfer the ideas, skills and people we all need. Then we can starting helping Pakeha...

As for the conference dinner, most excellent food if slightly delayed...and why am i always at the naughty table?!

Table 12: Waitangi Shortland, Pip Pehi, Lisa Kanawa, Sean Ogilve, Craig Pauling in the front row; Tui (?), Marg Wilkie, moir, Dan Longboat, Mahinarangi across the rear.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

NAISA conference: Native Americans and(or) Indigenous Scholars...

I traveled back to Tucson last month for the NAISA meeting. 800 of us ensconced in the luxurious Westin La Paloma Resort (for all that I neglected to take any photos until I was loading up Big Kevin's rental for a run to the Roadrunner Hostel, downtown on 12th St. We'd spent most of the previous day in Nogales...short story but not for global digital regurgitation...).

Some of the 5 pools at the Westin. What ecological footprint?!

What to report? Well I presented on the history of Te Ahuwhenua, some work that has come out of my current research on Technology Users' Innovation (TUI). I really just chatted away about it, having honed my (not always appropriate) style in presenting to stroppy Maori's who don't mind pulling you down a peg or three (actually, some of them relish the prospect!). Anyways, I owe Nga Pae a journal in thanks for providing some ($1500) or the funding another $2,000 for flights from MANU AO.

With 11 parallel sessions, it was hard work catching what was relevant, let alone what was interesting! Standout for me was the film 'Crossing Arizona' on the risks taken by Indigenous peoples crossing into the US (and painfully for me the prevalence of death by dehydration on tribal lands, an moral issue highlighted by Mike Wilson of Tohono O'odham).

Tohono O'odham territory

I met some great Saskatchewans, who introduced themselves to me as I stood in the lobby. Once I saw beers on their table, I knew everything was gonna be alright...(okay, except for the cost but Tom Allen drove us down to the nearest supermarket where yours truly burdened himself with a dozen cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ales). Our session line-up was as follows:
  • Organizer: Robert Alexander Innes, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Chair: Joe Hiller, University of Arizona
  • Found Harvests: First Nations Reserve Agriculture in the Early Twentieth Century: Robert Alexander Innes, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Impact of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) on First Nation Cattle Producers in Saskatchewan: David Natcher, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • A New Paradigm in Indigenous Agriculture: Tom Allen, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Creating a Sustainable Forestry Plantation in Saskatchewan: Jennifer Campeau, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ‘Sons’ of the Soil’: A History of Social and Cultural Capital through Maori Farming: Simon J. Lambert, Lincoln University, New Zealand.

Big nights were spent in the company of, among others, Adam from Georgia and Mario from Texas.(I've always enjoyed drinking in American bars,something about the quick service...)

My own research focus will perhaps within economic geography, perhaps looking at inter-Indigenous trade in preparation for a session Jennifer Campeau is keen to put together on Indigenous entrepreneurship for the next NAISA conference (Sacremento, 2011).

From the my overall feelings on the conference, I'm more convinced than ever of the need and worth of collaboration between Maori and other Indigenous groups. We are going through similar processes with enough staggered temporality and spatial variability as to be able to learn and teach each other. It'll happen, I'd just like to see it happen quicker...

Brendon Hokowhitu,Alice Te Punga Sommerville and moir

Hotel Enrique, blurily shot on the way back to the border...

Anyways, its hard work being away from Bridge, the boys, and Willa. Always think how much fun the boys would have ('longest waterslide in Tucson') and Bridge would love the shopping.

Trailers on the way to the Tucson airport...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Indigenous Peoples and Mining: Maori and Schedule 4 Land.

Amongst the recent debates here in NZ we see the merest hint of the ‘paradox of ethical poverty’ through the simmering engagement of Maori complicity in mining. (By the paradox of ethical poverty I mean the romanticised racism of poor Natives somehow being happy Natives, in their natural state, at one with nature et cetera, et cetera). As I noted in one of those regular rants on Facebook, we are complicit in the operations of the mining sector. Take your average mobile phone for instance. In an article on the Congo mining sector, John Prendergast and Sasha Lezhnev highlight the supply chain of the 3Ts - tin, tantalum, and tungsten – important minerals in the ever burgeoning mobile phone and personal computer market. In perhaps the most shocking example, the Congo mines are manned by underpaid workers, including children, and the issues are the same as those raised by the morality of so-called blood or conflict diamonds.

15 year-old Congo boy mining. (He started aged 8.)

My point is that mining is integral to the contemporary economy. Your bog-standard computer contains aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gallium, gold, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, palladium, platinum, selenium, silver, and zinc. Stuff which ain't growing on trees. (Which is not to say that heavy metals can't be harvested... check out Dr. Amanda Blacks just completed thesis on bioavailability). Advances in energy technologies will require a range of minerals, often sourced from the rural areas of developing countries. Electric cars with lithium batteries? Step up Bolivia. Of course Australia has mined all over aboriginal land, and serious concerns exist for other areas.

The justification of mining Schedule 4 land in Aotearoa/NZ is that we're basically broke as a nation and have to draw more on our natural resources to catch up to Australia, hardly the best performing OECD economy, given its perverse reliance on mining), but the point is taken: the poorer we are (relative to those we compare ourselves to), the fewer our collective options.

What then for Maori? After all, are we not poorer than Pakeha as a group? Do we not also own (or are about to own) large tracts of land which, as was mentioned last year when the audit of DoC land was announced, just may hold considerable mineral wealth? Its certainly on the table in the Coromandel, where Ngati Rehua have already fingered the government for bad faith bargaining.

This debate sits alongside the wider debate on ownership and utilisation of Aotearoa/NZ resources. We're upset at Chinese ownership? Well, so are others. China is the single biggest investor in Africa, and the role of China, Taiwan and Japan as aid donors is challenging NZ's 'backyard' for influence. I do not necessarily oppose this role - god knows we've treated our Pacific neighbours like shit - but the Chinese buy votes for their purposes, which may not match sustainable Pacific futures, and may not match ours...

Yet again we are faced with a debate on what we find acceptable in our way forward. (Perhaps that is the wrong analogy, too spatial. We're 'onward' in the temporal sense....time passing regardless of our physical location). And NZ as a society hasn't been especially good at that since, well, not in my adult life. First let's get some numbers together - quantities help establish qualities - then lets put out some more maps, this time including transport links, processing facilities and so on. Then lets get some talking heads in the media and start thrashing it out. They lead the debate n the RSA's, working mens' clubs, hairdressers, and bus shelters. It started with a hiss and a roar but has since faded away (okay, perhaps drowned by all the other issues, not least being Canterbury water...on which let me mihi to my old friend Dave 'Sudsy' Sutherland who spoke with real emotion over the future of this province and its water). Are we destined set camp at the crossroads, talking with the devil about what we can trade for our pleasure?

Other reading:

Here's the oroginal government discussion paper: 'Maximising our Mineral Potential:
Stocktake of Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act and beyond'

Howlett, Catherine. "Flogging a Dead Horse? Neo Marxism and Indigenous Mining Negotiations" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, Washington Hilton, Washington, DC, Sep 01, 2005 . 2009-05-25 (Although lordy lordy, they signed the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights...)

History of Mining in the Pacific, by Dr. Allen L. Clark, Senior Fellow, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Dr. Katerina Teawi, a visiting scholar at the MacMillan Brown Pacific Studies department a few years back, explored some fascinating issues with the extraction of phosphate on Banaba in her research 'Our sea of phosphate: The diaspora of Ocean Island'.

Check out this 'Mining Information Kit for Aboriginal Communities'

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Salmon apology: Winnemem Wintu on the Rakaia!

Great to see representatives of the Winnemem Wintu tribe of Northern California have arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand to reconcile various dynamics concerning the great Chinook salmon, introduced game fish of the east coast rivers of the South Island. I've been fishing the Rakaia since I was a wee kiddie, mainly for herrings and kahawai down at the south side of the mouth, and sometimes eels in the nooks and eddies.

I was lucky enough to witness the Calling Back the Salmon ceremony last year on the banks of the Yuba River, courtesy of UC Davis ecologist Josh Viers...

Josh Viers

The Rakaia environs are quite sparse, very bleak on a southerly day but a great place for communing with Mother Nature...

I also enjoyed conversations with Bill Jacobson of the Social Alliance Network

News leads here in Aotearoa on the Winnemem Wintu: TV 3

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is there an Indigenous response to financial crises?: The evolution of Māori Cultural Political Economies

Just returned from the Asia-Pacific Economic and Business History Conference, Pipitea Campus of Victoria University. I delivered a paper on Is there an Indigenous response to financial crises?: The evolution of Māori Cultural Political Economies. Essentially I see a convergence between Maori Cultural Political Economies and non-Maori/Pakeha CPEs as we now adminster more and more of our assets through a capitalist lens (which speaks of the resilience of a mode of production we as Indigenous peoples, among others, have long been critical of).

Some interesting data was presented by Evan Roberts of Victoria University on Maori height as a proxy for economic well-being. "Tall active, and well-made" Stature of the New Zealand Maori population c.1700 - 1976. I'll incorporate Evan and his associates data and analyses into my paper as I tool it up for publication.

Managed to get an hour in Archives before my flight outta town, some wonderful records of Maori farming and farmers through their engagement in Te Ahuwhenua, the 'Maori Farmer of the Year' trophy, awarded annually (with a few gaps) since 1932. This will be the subject of my next conference attendance, the massive Native American and Indigenous Studies Association conference in Tucson, Arizona, May 20-22.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Kainga Whenua

Interesting policy by which Maori can return to their land, put in place some new housing and hopefully improve their living conditions. Essentially requiring a three-way agreement between borrowers, land owners (who one presumes are whanau) and Housing New Zealand.

Perhaps this will be a topic for debate at the upcoming Maori Housing Conference. Certainly we need to move on the whole issue of Maori housing, with concerns for, among other things, overcrowding, uninsulated homes, and the security of electricity supply (especially for isolated communities). Since 1991 the proportion of Māori who own their own home has fallen from 61% to 45%. While some of this may be due to a quite rational decision to rent, given the Kiwi savings approach of paying off your house, this stat puts Maori in a very poor position for the future (oh, unless of course we're all squirreling away a good amount of our income into secure diversified investments...)

Iwi are starting to take this on this issue. Ngati Awa, for instance, are leasing six of their own houses to Housing NZ for specific whanau. (Incidentally I've heard Ngati Awa are exploring the possibility of using innovative, locally-sourced, building materials based on pumice...).

Of course they've YouTubed this announcement...

On a last note, I'm impressed by Kiwibanks proactive 'for NZ' stance on a number of issues (not least their consistently lower interest rates).
Simon Lambert

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