Sunday, January 10, 2010

‘Sons’ of the Soil’: A history of social and cultural capital through Māori farming

Nga mihi o te tau hou!

Here's an abstract for a paper accepted for the upcoming Native American and Indigenous Studies Association conference in Tucson, May 20-22. I'll be presenting in the Indigenous Agriculture session, chaired by Robert Innes (Assistant Professor, Department of Native Studies, University of Saskatchewan).

Abstract: As the Indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand, Māori have a long and intimate relationship with the land. Since 1932, this relationship has been recognized through the annual competition for the Te Ahuwhenua Trophy, awarded to the Māori Farmer of the Year. The competition has two distinct phases, beginning with explicit and implicit government modernization strategies for small farmers and their families on tribal land. Judged on social as well as farm management criteria, farmers in this first phase struggled to maintain profitability in the face of severe and sometimes insurmountable challenges. The competition went into abeyance in the 1990s and was resurrected in 2003. This second phase is dominated by large Māori incorporations who employ few Māori and dispense profit to tribal ‘beneficiaries’. This corporatization of Māori land into agribusiness ventures represents the success of modernization strategies of both Māori and Pākeha (the non-Indigenous descendents of European settlers).

In this paper I present an analysis of Māori farming through the history of the entrants and winners of Te Ahuwehnua. In particular I identify changes in the social and cultural capital by which Māori farmers, their families and tribes seek to govern their land for their own benefit. These networks of trust, distrust, and cultural identity remain evident and influential in contemporary land development and point to how aspects of the future economy of Aotearoa/New Zealand will operate.


There are some interesting topics, including the 'Impact of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease) on First Nation Cattle Producers in Saskatchewan' by 'Found Harvests: First Nations Reserve Agriculture in the Early Twentieth Century' from David Natcher; and Creating a Sustainable Forestry Plantation in Saskatchewan by Jennifer Campeau. So interesting stuff...

And some pics from New Years Eve, Rakaia River (Southside)...

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