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...
Simon Lambert

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