Friday, December 21, 2012

Tautoko Idle No More

The value of Twitter, or at least the people I follow, is driven home by the Idle No More protests of First Nations fellow travellers in Canada. Their manifesto reads a follows...

We contend that:
The Treaties are nation to nation agreements between First Nations and the Crown who are sovereign nations. The Treaties are agreements that cannot be altered or broken by one side of the two Nations. The spirit and intent of the Treaty agreements meant that First Nations peoples would share the land, but retain their inherent rights to lands and resources. Instead, First Nations have experienced a history of colonization which has resulted in outstanding land claims, lack of resources and unequal funding for services such as education and housing.

We contend that:
Canada has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by using the land and resources. Canadian mining, logging, oil and fishing companies are the most powerful in the world due to land and resources. Some of the poorest First Nations communities (such as Attawapiskat) have mines or other developments on their land but do not get a share of the profit. The taking of resources has left many lands and waters poisoned – the animals and plants are dying in many areas in Canada. We cannot live without the land and water. We have laws older than this colonial government about how to live with the land.

We contend that:
Currently, this government is trying to pass many laws so that reserve lands can also be bought and sold by big companies to get profit from resources. They are promising to share this time…Why would these promises be different from past promises? We will be left with nothing but poisoned water, land and air. This is an attempt to take away sovereignty and the inherent right to land and resources from First Nations peoples.

We contend that:
There are many examples of other countries moving towards sustainability, and we must demand sustainable development as well. We believe in healthy, just, equitable and sustainable communities and have a vision and plan of how to build them.

Please join us in creating this vision.
I see crazed and crazy posts on the blog, but also reasoned and compassionate replies. In a world of re-indigenising humanity, this marks an important time.
Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Indigenous Geography of Disaster: two upcoming conference sessions

Kia ora koutou,
I’m organising two sessions on Indigenous Peoples and disasters…

Disaster Management Conference - Earth: Fire and Rain

Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference
Brisbane, 29th - 31st May 2013

Indigenous Insights on Disaster and Emergency Management

Threats to life, homes, businesses and the environment are ever present in the form of natural hazards. Indigenous Peoples possess great insight into these hazards with truly ancient wisdom accumulated through unique longitudinal studies evidenced by their successful occupation of their territories. Yet this knowledge has been almost universally marginalised through the processes of colonisation, epistemological racism, and a lack of capacity in the minimal research spaces that are available.

This session takes a first step in bringing this knowledge to the attention of disaster managers, first responders, researchers, policy makers and community leaders. We seek to collectivise our various experiences in mitigating the effects of disasters to the benefit of our own and other communities. We further wish to highlight reasons behind actual and perceived vulnerability of Indigenous communities and work towards improving their inherent resilience to recurring disasters.
Deadline: February 1st

Regional Conference of the International Geographical Union

‘Traditional Wisdom and Modern Knowledge for the Earth’s Future’

August 4-9, 2013, Kyoto, Japan


Indigenous responses to hazards and disaster: risk, recovery, and resilience

Recent disasters around the Pacific’s ‘Ring of Fire’ have emphasised the risks all inhabitants face from ever-present natural hazards and their recurring disasters. Several recent events stand out for the scale of destruction and the severity of disruption to affected communities: tsunamis in Japan (2011) and Samoa (2009), and a series of earthquakes in Christchurch (2010-11). Climate change is expected to exacerbate flooding and bushfire hazards in Australia and sea-level rise remains a daunting challenge for the Pacific Islands.

Indigenous communities often find themselves more at risk to such hazards through histories of marginalisation, discrimination and poverty despite these communities possessing extensive knowledge of local hazards and maintaining collective memories of past disasters. This session aims to bring together aspects of Indigenous knowledge relevant to reducing exposure and surviving disasters. Contemporary experiences will also be examined for response and recovery approaches. Particular attention will be drawn to the increasing urbanisation of Indigenous communities, which exposes them to new and emerging risks, and how resilience to future disasters might be improved.

Deadline: January 15th

Any questions and queries, email me at

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 profile

In the interests of unashamed self-pimping, I have built up my profile. With the proliferation of web promotion, I'm kinda caught between an annoyance that I'm constantly messaged about things and people I don't necessarily care about and a recognition that I can't beat 'em.

I've found to be one of the more sober and useful professional research sites, and have now posted 8 papers, 4 presentations and 1 thesis chapter. Intend to post more, especially now that our earthquake research has entered a more developed phase with our work with Te Awa o te Ora starting to gear up.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

'Poverty is our friend': Kruger's position on Tuhoe history

Caught a little of a RadioNZ interview of Tuhoe negotiator Tamati Kruger on RNZ...

One comment stood out like the proverbial dogs bollocks.

'Poverty is our friend'.

Let me think about that for a nanosecond.


I have these strange conversation about resilience that simply asserts we are resilient because we're still 'ere. Of course what Kruger and others allude to is our history of endurance - through colonisation in Aotearoa - and our ongoing marginalisation.

That's not resilience, which is the ability of a social system to absorb shocks and disturbances before it must change its structure; it can also be interpreted as the time needed for any rebound.

I draw on the literature of socio-ecological resilience but ). Here's a few references:

Resilience: The emergence of a perspective for socio-ecological systems analyses, by Carl Folke.

An Interview with Neil Adger: resilience, adaptability, localisation and Transition

Am now delving into psychology which pioneered the concept in individuals coping with crisis, certainly an important avenue for Cantabrians.

But lets not make a virtue out of necessity. Coping with poverty is not designed to make you resilient. Harkening back to some old-school Marxism, it actually makes other people rich and resilient.

Of course, I don't for a moment think Kruger is that well-acquainted with the old friend of Tuhoe anymore...

Monday, December 10, 2012

NZ Geographical Society Conference, Napier, Dec 3-6, 2012

Lovely time hanging in the Bay, my old stomping ground, for this years New Zealand Geographical Society conference. I stayed in the Masonic, drinking Emersons Book Binder and perusing an almost up-to-date NYRB.

Missed the pre-conference marae noho at Matahiwi Marae, Clive, (the Green Marae, which I've visited on Tahuri Whenua hui-a-rohe). The visit was organised by the redoubtable Garth Cant and  
Marcela Palomino-Schalscha (We were hosting the annual Maori and Indigenous Doctoral Conference at Lincoln over the weekend). 

I met Professor Brian Murton, now retired, and cheekily asked for a picture. Didn't notice at the time but we hold our hands in the same manner, Kiwi politesse...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Indigenous Geographies

Recent exchange between members of the Indigenous Peoples Special Group of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) brings to light this brochure...

The IPSG works for five specific goals:
1) service to Indigenous communities;
2) service to the field of geography;
3) service to Indigenous geographers;
4) bridge the gap between Indigenous communities and geography/ers;
5) investigate what ethical research means in relationship to Indigenous communities and help guide researchers in conducting such research.

We, the IPSG, believe that Indigenous communities are highly
capable of determining their own research needs, and as researchers who work with
Indigenous communities, we see an important role for geographic tools, methods and
theory for facilitating such research.

I link to their site, or should that be our (I think I'm a member but can't recall paying any fees...)

Upcoming conference of the NZ Geographical Society in one of my home towns, Napier, in two weeks. I'm presenting some more of our earthquake's the abstract:

Indigenous responses to urban disaster: Maori mobility after the Canterbury earthquakes

Abstract: The recent earthquakes in Canterbury have highlighted ongoing response and recovery efforts by those people affected by the most significant urban disaster in New Zealand for 80 years. Many of those neighbourhoods badly affected by the initial quakes and extensive aftershocks have high proportions of Maori and Pasifika populations. This paper presents quantitative and qualitative data on the Maori response. While standard interpretations of Maori being ‘people of the land’ and agitating for land settlement remain valid, the tactics and strategies of those affected by the disaster involve significant mobility. Notwithstanding the cancellation of the 2011 census (due to the February 22nd quake), statistics on Maori are disappointingly sparse. However, Maori school enrolments reveal Maori children moving at rates three times those of Pakeha. Interviews conducted with Maori in the aftermath of the earthquakes further show their concern for their children, the use of whānau networks, and the willingness to migrate, including to Australia, as a response to urban disaster.

Keywords: Maori, urban disaster, cultural resilience.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Latest Maori unemployment figures dire...

Latest Household Labour Force Survey for the September quarter shows a rise in Aotearoa/NZ's unemployment to 7.3%.

The rise is reported as 'unexpected', a statement which merely highlights the empirical and methodological ignorance of current economics.

For Maori, we're back to the levels last seen in the worst of the GFC (Global Financial Crisis): 15.1%.

Considering how many of us have joined the exodus to Ahitereiria [jobless rate in Oz unchanged at 5.4%], this is a staggeringly bad result. Also, given the general confidence and excitement of this years FOMA conference, this result reinforces the two-speed Maori economy. A select and lucky few are doing very well; the great majority are not, and in fact seem to be in a downward spiral.

Expect the usual platitudes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Impacts on Māori of the Ōtautahi/Christchurch earthquakes

Here's a link to our Lincoln 'Conservations' page on Maori Resilience and a draft of a Working Paper on our recent survey results, framed by statistics and interview quotes gathered over the past year.

Impacts on Māori of the Ōtautahi/Christchurch earthquakes

Our conclusions are that while resilience has become a commonplace term within the city, our results show the Māori experience thus far is best described as endurance: the ‘bounce back’ in people’s well-being has yet to happen. This should not be a surprising conclusion at this stage of the recovery in a process that will take many years to complete.

Overall, Māori are remarkably philosophical about the effects of the disaster with many proudly working in their roles through a historic event of great significance to the city and country. Most believe that ‘being Māori’ has helped cope with the disaster although for some this draws on a collective history of poverty and marginalisation, features that undoubtedly contribute to the vulnerability of Māori to such events. Reducing our future vulnerability will require the collective continuance of our cultural practices and an increase in Māori economic wellbeing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Maori views on life, the universe and everything...

Horizon Research recently released a survey - Maori Viewpoint 2012 report - that tracks our views on a range of issues (actually, not that varied a range as it happens...). The survey was done in August and is of 433 adult Maori. (Some of these results are compared with a similar survey from May, 2011).

More of us evidently think Aotearoa/NZ is headed in the wrong direction, 71.8% (compared with 63.1% in May 2011). While consistent across all age groups, concern rises to nearly 80% among rangatahi. Goodbye Gisbourne, G'day Brisbane.

We're also increasingly dissatisfied with the Government’s handling of the economy and more are reporting their household financial positions are worse than a year ago, and more expect them to worsen in the next year. Overall 34.5% of Maori expect household financial positions to crapify.

As for iwi involvement, 5% of Maori are now more involved in iwi affairs than in 2011, though a third are still not active in iwi affairs. 51% have little or no contact with their iwi and 24.6% only rate contact with them by their iwi as adequate or better.

We feel better informed on iwi issues up from 42% in May 2011 to 55%. Nearly 44% of us think our iwi is/are adequately consulting. However, a small majority of 56% feel this consultation is inadequate (it was 72.3% in the previous study). Most of us - 82.3% - want more involvement.
53.7% of Maori say we have received no personal benefit from treaty settlements; 58% feel only a few cousins are benefiting. There has been a 14% fall in the number who feel their iwi are adequately managing their fisheries. Two thirds (64%) feel we have no influence on iwi fisheries policy.
No surprises that 81% of us oppose the Government’s policy to sell shares in state owned energy companies. The party splits are Labour 95%, Mana 100%, Maori party 79% and Green 82.2%. But we're a diverse mob nowadays, so of those who voted National, 67.03% support (14.40% of strongly). There is less certainty over whether Maori own water rights and can attach a value to them: 48.7% say yes, 32% no. The survey was taken in the week the Waitangi Tribunal started hearing an application from the Maori Council and others regarding asset sales and water rights.

Health, unemployment and secondary education are seen as the most important future challenges. Less important are mining and gas and oil exploration; marine and coastal area rights are still viewed as a priority by most Maori.

Maori and Pasifika squeezing through a narrower window to Victoria University

Victoria University has applied to raise fees in its undergraduate education, social sciences and humanities courses by 8 per cent - twice the maximum permissible under government regulations - and justifies this by saying the revenue would allow the university to better support Maori and Pasifika students.

These courses have the highest proportion of Maori and Pasifika students.

With inflation running at a lower than predicted 0.8%, we continue to see universities seeking to raise fees by 4% across all courses.

As a lecturer I know that many students are really struggling financially and will take on whatever employment they can to minimise their debt. But tertiary study is time-intensive - we expect students to spend an hour or preferably two buried in the texts for every hour they sit in a lecture room but many are working as bar staff or supermarket shelf stackers, hardly conducive to intellectual exertion.

With education still our way out of the mire of poverty and underemployment, anything that narrows the window of opportunity is to be opposed, as Ivy Harper, Lincoln PhD candidate, argues...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Zizek and the Maori economy II

A typically jokey and random interview with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek appears in The Guardian.

I've noted in an earlier post about insights on the Maori economy through his thinking on how capitalist hierarchies enforce lower social status while constantly articulating the inherent value and nobleness of our drudgery. So we have tribal leaders, iwi elites, senior managers, cultural brokers and so on pronouncing on rank and file 'tribal members', beneficiaries, and shareholders. Because we hurt, our path must be the right one...

I actually recognise a kindred soul in his subversive interpretation of humour and its role in revealing truth. "Most people think I'm making jokes, exaggerating – but no, I'm not. It's not that. First I tell jokes, then I'm serious. No, the art is to bring the serious message into the forum of jokes."

Gets you in trouble though ay.

Nice reposte to those who think intellectual elites have more insight than others: "When people ask me what to do with the economy, what the hell do I know? I think the task of people like me is not to provide answers but to ask the right questions."

I love laughing at Indigenous elites and their pretensions to intelligence, leadership, and even style (what is it with the orange-tanning application?! Or $70 underpants?!). But this can come back to bite you on the kumu, being such a small world n'all. And even though they are too often idiots, they too often have power, which is no less utilised despite being given them by The Man.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

He aitua: Wilson Whineray

Lincoln University pays respects to the memory of distinguished alumnus Sir Wilson James Whineray who died in Auckland on Monday 22 October aged 77.

Best known throughout New Zealand and internationally as a renowned All Black player and captain, Sir Wilson also had outstanding careers in the business world and with community organisations. The bulk of his business life was with Alex Harvey Industries/Carter Holt Harvey where he rose to be Deputy Managing Director then Chairman of Directors. He was also a board member of many other leading companies and CEO of the Wool Corporation. Community organisations he served included SPARC’s forerunner the Hillary Commission for Sport and Recreation, which he chaired, the Halberg Trust for Children, the Sir Peter Blake Trust, and the Cochlear Implant Trust (Children).

Sir Wilson came to Lincoln University, then Canterbury Agricultural College, in 1953 as a Rural Field Cadet, an elite group the College groomed for government department jobs connected with agriculture. He completed the Intensive Course then the course leading to a Diploma in Valuation and Farm Management, awarded in 1958.

Although born and brought up in Auckland, he came to Lincoln University from Southland where he had been engaged in farm work waiting to take up his Rural Field Cadetship. His father’s background included dairy farming in the Waikato and Wilson turned to the land for his first job after obtaining University Entrance at Auckland Grammar School, where he had been a prefect and vice-captain of the 1st XV. His mother wanted him to return to school but he wanted to “get on with things”.

When awarded the Bledisloe Medal by Lincoln University in 2006 for outstanding contributions advancing New Zealand’s interests, he confessed that he would have gone farming as a career if he had possessed the money! Instead, with his Diploma in Valuation and Farm Management, he went to a position with the State Advances Corporation, then later entered the business world having in the meantime completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

In 1969 he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship which took him to Harvard University and an MBA degree. He was encouraged to apply for the Harkness Fellowship by Lincoln College Principal Sir Malcolm Burns, himself a Harkness alumnus, and he always acknowledged Sir Malcolm’s support.
“My time at Harvard University and in the United States of America was life-changing,” he said.
At Lincoln University Wilson captained the 1st Rugby XV in 1957, under coach Harry Garrett, and led his team to winning the Ellesmere Senior Competition. At Lincoln he was both a Rugby and Boxing ‘Blue’ and it was from there that he was selected as an All Black in 1957 while still a student. He was the University’s third student All Black after John Hotop (1952) and John Buxton (1955). In all, as a student, he played for Lincoln College, New Zealand Universities, Ellesmere, Canterbury and New Zealand.

In later years Wilson would tell of travelling to games in the back of the College’s student truck - covered but with a wooden seat - and of quick after-match socialising before rushing back to the College for dinner by 6.00pm! He said he was always “hugely grateful” for his years playing rugby for Lincoln, Ellesmere and Canterbury.

Wilson Whineray was knighted in 1998 for his services to sport and business management. He is survived by wife Lady Elisabeth, two daughters and a son.

Here's a pic from our archives, Wilson Whinerary is back row, second from the right.

1957 VFM
Back Row: Walshe, W.M. Tothill, T. Firth, R.A. Keene, M.G. Wilson, A.R. Cashmore, B.D. Pinckney, G.W. Janett, D.L. Cassie, A.F. Whineray, W.J. Such, B.W. Front Row: Dalmer, M.J. Mason, G. Cull,S.J. McGregor, E.M. Guise, J.W.B. Frengley, G.A.G. Manson, R.M. Tate, G.F. Tait, R.B. Batten, G.J

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

IGU in Kyoto: Indigenous disaster session

I've put an abstract in for next years IGU conference in Kyoto...

Indigenous responses to hazards and disaster: risk, recovery, and resilience

"Recent disasters around the Pacific’s ‘Ring of Fire’ have emphasised the risks all inhabitants face from ever-present natural hazards and their recurring disasters. Several events stand out for the scale of destruction and the severity of disruption to affected communities: tsunamis in Japan (2011) and Samoa (2009), and a series of earthquakes in Christchurch (2010-11). Climate change is expected to exacerbate flooding and bushfire hazards in Australia and sea-level rise is a daunting challenge for the Pacific Islands.

Indigenous communities often find themselves more at risk to such hazards through histories of marginalisation, discrimination and poverty despite these communities possessing extensive knowledge of local hazards and maintaining collective memories of past disasters. This session aims to bring together aspects of Indigenous knowledge relevant to reducing exposure and surviving disasters. Contemporary experiences will also be examined for response and recovery approaches. In particular attention will be drawn to the increasing urbanisation of Indigenous communities which exposes them to new and emerging risks."

The conference theme is leveraged off an old Japanese whakatauki - on-ko chi-shin - evidently taken from a Chinese one (wengu zhixin) that says only by exploring the old can we understand the new. Understanding how traditional ideas, linked to interaction between society/culture and the environment, were formed in different countries and regions will be fundamental to future development. This works well with our earthquake research and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to take this offshore.

A panui will be coming out from organiser Brad Coombes. We have an optional hikoi of Ainu ventures which I hope to go on but time and budget are always tight. Anyone interested in being involved, please get in touch.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Maori Farmer of the Year: who was the first winner?

I'm updating my Google map of Te Ahuwhenua winners and placegetters and want to upload a picture of William (Bill) Swinton, the inaugural winner of 1932. To that end I'm publishing the picture here. The reference is pages 192 and 193 of Ranginui Walker's biography of Ngata (2001, Viking). Bill farmed at Raukokore in the Bay Of Plenty. 

Bill receiving the trophy from Lord Bledisloe, with Apirana Ngata in the background. I had a lovely email from a descendant of Bill, explaning that his tipuna had just performed in the local kapa haka competition, hence his clothing.

Big day on the marae!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Federation of Maori Authorities and Maori farming data

Enjoyed todays hui-a-rohe for Te Waipounamu of the Federation of Maori Authorities. Chair Traci Houpapa and CEO Te Horipo presented on The Federation's new strategy and progress as well as updating attending members and supporters on current issues such as water rights, dairying, and the ETS.

AgITO (soon to be relaunched as Primary ITO) and OPUS International were also in attendence and gave presentations on their work with Maori.

Of interest to me is the broad survey on Maori agricultural assets held by FOMA members undertaken by StatsNZ. FOMA members farms are nearly 2,000 hectares, eight times the size of the average NZ farm. It's acknowledged the data is probably quite an underestimate, indeed one presenter spoke of the 38,000 cows contributing to Miraka Ltd., most of which are on Maori land. I've reproduced two of the tables below...

The ETS analysis was of particular interest, given Maori have perhaps 45% of pre-1990 forests thus limiting us in our current development options. Keep putting your tamariki through law school...

Monday, October 01, 2012

He aitua...

You knows your old when you just need the name to know they're gone.

Eric Hobsbawm misses out on the maiden century with a well-compiled 95, but then most of us will.

I read his four volume 'Age of' series -  The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 (published 1962, god I was negative 3), The Age of Capital: 1848-1875 (1975, still running the blacksand beach of Castlecliff), The Age of Empire: 1875-1914 (1987, jesus, dropped of UC and was making concrete reinforcing mesh in Bromley), The Age of Extremes: 1914-91 (1994, hell I think I was unemployed in chch!).

To quote the Guardianista:

The four volumes embodied all of Hobsbawm's best qualities – the sweep combined with the telling anecdote and statistical grasp, the attention to the nuance and significance of events and words, and above all, perhaps, the unrivalled powers of synthesis (nowhere better displayed than in a classic summary of mid-19th century capitalism on the very first page of the second volume). The books were not conceived as a tetralogy, but as they appeared, they acquired individual and cumulative classic status. They were an example, Hobsbawm wrote, of "what the French call 'haute vulgarisation'" (he did not mean this self-deprecatingly), and they became, in the words of one reviewer, "part of the mental furniture of educated Englishmen".

Like that 'mental furniture'...not just the preserve of Enlgishmen, bless.

Go well koro.

Michael Parekowhai...rocka my soul in the Bosom of Abraham

Thought I'd better acknowledge the change in background, from the 'Plastic Maori' display to Michael Parekowhai's The Bosom of Abraham (2003). Parekowhai is of Ngā Ariki, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, and  Rongowhakaata stock.

This traditional kowhaiwhai pattern is on plastic and is illuminated from behind. It's one of my favourite pieces in Lincoln's art collection, which features some great Maori artists who I'll feature regularly. It is one of two pieces, the other pictured below...

Regarding the use of  plastic, many of us will recall the derogatory comments on Ngati Whatua's plastic waka that was used to promote Maori business ventures during last year's Rugby World Cup.

Michael has contributed these trippy bulls on grand piano's pieces to the ruins of Otautahi...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Zealand dairying productivity

I always browse the Friday edition of local rag The Press (okay, local rag is actually the Ellesmere Echo but it doesn't burn as well as The Press) because that's the day they run the farming section. And there I found a remarkable article, 'Importing feed 'harms productivity'' by Sue O'Dowd.

The first sentence rings like a bell: 'Productivity on dairy farms declined 0.5% a year between 2000 and 2010...'. This is from the rising costs of input such as imported feed, the revelation coming from Rob Brazendale, head of the DairyNZ productivity team.

Farmers are canny business peeps and undoubtedly watch international price movements daily to see where they are positioned. But do we as a nation labour under a myth of NZ farm productivity success?

The farming sector is groaning under growing debt, up 4.5% over the past year to over $49 billion. (Actually all NZ debt is up over the past year.)

I recall an article by economic geographer Paul McCann who listed NZ at 16th for farm productivity, hardly the 'world leader' we're accustomed to thinking of ourselves. The rural land-based sector has been the butt of a number of jokes and insults. Some warranted - dirty dairying a case in point - but agriculture still pulls in over 60% of this country's foreign earnings.

If the flagship industry has declining productivity within our key export sector, a hard rains gonna fall.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Neuroscience and economics

An interesting mash-up has been taking place between neuroscience and behavioral economics through the somewhat banal observation that individual definitions of 'maximize' and 'happiness' vary. By mapping those parts of the brain that are doing the actual defining of maximizing and the happiness, we could better account for those fundamental economic actions.

One comment is worth pulling in full from the Chronicle of Higher Education webpage...

I have not understood how economic theory could have spent even one day on the premise that humans act in their own self-interest.  How could a science disregard so fully the comic-tragic heritage of human beings? I wasn't in the least surprised that, aside from a few astute economists, the universities of the modern west had not produced theories and practices that would recognize, let alone inhibit such collapses as 2008 from happening--economists are themselves part of the comic-tragic heritage in that they thought a modern subject was a rational agent.  

So that while I'm very interested in what cognitive sciences can tell any of us, unless neuroeconomic theory is integrated with the most ancient insights and folk wisdom regarding the folly of human being, and the value of meaning as that value is cultivated and lost in our rapidly changing communities, it will be very late to arrive at conclusions long explored.  Buddhism has 5,000 years of studying the conditions under which a thought arises and provides ethical practices for living ethically with desires that lead to suffering.  Indigenous traditions emphasize the meaning and sustainability of exchange between the earth and its people, rather than the immediate profit realized from the sale of a commodified object.  If the neuroeconomists do not crawl backwards while studying the fMRI, they will remain in a modernist bubble, mistaking the brain of an individual as the site of meaning. 

At this moment of collapsing ecosystems and economic networks, we have the opportunity to reconsider what Charles H. Long calls "the meaning of matter and the value of meaning" which would produce a profound economic science adequate for the challenges of our times. Any economic theory that begins with the human subject will hang itself on its modernist valuation of the subject.  When economic theory begins with a human's position and dependence on the Earth (air, water, soil, climate, flora, and fauna), then cognition takes on an entirely different light because the question becomes, in what ways is homo economicus perceptive of Earth, upon which all economic relations and transactions depend. 

Once homo-economicus has lost the ability to see, smell, hear, and value Earth, (and these losses of ability are pandemic in modern, urban social mindscapes), you're left with real ignorance such that, even in Pinedale, Wyoming the air quality is so bad from ozone that you cannot ski on a cold winter's morning. My suspicion is that, in these days of "Drill here, drill now!," the neuroeconomist might be drilling the depths of individual brains without realizing that s/he will learn nothing outside of the desires of a tragic, modernist, human whose consumption habits and ignorance will make for a very short shelf life.  

The original article provides a nice academic map. While economics - when truly insightful - has always relied on a mixture of disciplines, the interdisciplinary lessons of Indigenous academia may yet prove vital as we lead the world's Indigenous turn...

Indigenous Health

Just back from the 5th Biennial International Network of Indigenous Health Knowledge and Development Conference held on the St Lucia campus of the University of Queensland Brisbane. The conference theme was Building Resilience: Renewing Individuals, Families and Communities. There was some depressing data presented including some health indicators for Maori that showed increasing rates of rheumatic fever and heart disease and figures showing Aboriginal children are being removed from the families at rates higher than the forced removals from last century.

High turnout from Maori showing we have comparatively secure funding and extensive programmes. I stress comparatively as many Indigenous programmes are under huge pressure as support (by which is meant funds!) are withdrawn as the ongoing financial recession continues to bite.

Members of Homai Hoatu. Have guitar, will travel...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We told you so...

As a researcher who regularly - but not solely - uses qualitative data, I'm often challenged by quantitative-centric colleagues as to the veracity of my findings and the robustness of my data. Which is fair enough. If I've got interesting numbers, and I do look out for them, I'll build them into my work as and where they are valid and robust although it must be said that numbers can be as woolly as drunken hearsay ($38 billion Maori economy anyone?!).

I accept we're often too quick to take on narrative approaches and re-articulate the stories of participants for their supposed insights. But here's a very interesting take on narrative from economist Robert Schiller who accepts "people remember – and are motivated by – stories, particularly human-interest stories about real people."

No shit Sherlock.

This morning I heard three inspiring Indigenous women who spoke at the opening of the 5th Biennial International Network of Indigenous Health Knowledge and Development conference at St. Lucia camous of the University of Queensland. Each began with the story of their own families which framed their lives and work. While Tariana Turia threw in some numbers six children, 20-something grandchildren, some more grand children (the exact numbers escape me!), it is the interconnections of whakapapa and the lived experiences of a family that define who she is.

Schiller's point seemed to be that how people hear and retell stories about the financial crisis somehow affects their actions and responses. Again this is hardly new but perhaps a page has been turned in the methodologies available to economic analyses.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hard rains gonna fall...Again

I posted awhile back on the declining Maori and Pasifika media wage. Coupled with high unemployment from these two communities and it’s easy to see why the government (mainly in the increasingly bizarre persona of PM John Key) retains a certain degree of popularity.

Quite simply, mainstream New Zealand, aren't carrying their load which is disproportionately shouldered by Maori and Pasifika communities.

But before this mainstream cries foul, let visit current political economic debate and its examination of the exchange rate.Two camps are evident.

The first argue that the exchange rate is too high by which is meant the $NZ dollar is somehow falsely valued by international exchange of the Kiwi, currently 82 US cents to our dollar. This makes are goods more expensive and more difficult for our exporters to compete. One option is for the Reserve Bank of NZ to cut the Official Cash Rate (currently at a record low of 2.5%) although proponents accept restrictions would be needed to diffuse the risk of runaway house prices.

While it is widely accepted our dollar is overvalued (perhaps by 20%), and that a correction will take place one day, the second camp argue that manipulating the $NZ exchange rate is too difficult - indeed possibly beyond the tools and competence we have at our disposal - and doomed to (expensive) failure. The current Minister of Finance lives in this tent. In a recent interview, he recommits to a floating exchange rate and accepts it may go even higher.

While this may seem a good thing if you are buying imports (which we all do as this includes petrol) or travelling offshore, we're a trading nation and need to sell more - and make more profit from what we do sell - to cover our debts and presumably pay them off.

But here's the kicker. As the minister goes on to explain: "... reducing [the exchange rate] would reduce the standard of living of all New Zealand households."

Maybe. But as we already know, the burden of recession is carried on Maori and Pasifika shoulders. The correction will come. And our people will be even poorer.

As an interesting parallel, a recent article in The Guardian notes that the 'dismembering of the welfare state is presented as a technocratic exercise of 'balancing the books' '. In this way Bill English and John Key both speak of the current reforms as being a necessary exercise. 'Democracy is neutered in the process and the protests against the cuts are dismissed.' Just as in Christchurch. The description of the externally imposed Greek and Italian governments as "technocratic" is the ultimate proof of the attempt to make the radical rewriting of the social contract more acceptable by pretending that it isn't really a political change. Be under no illusions, political change is taking place in Aotearoa?NZ in the form of even more radical wealth transfer from the have-not-enoughs to the have-plenty's.

Hard rains gonna fall.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Christchurch School Mergers and Kura Kaupapa Maori

Rapid explosion of Facebook comments on the proposal to merge the two Kura Kaupapa in Otautahi, and merge and close many of those schools affected by the earthquakes. I know one of those kura has lost just ten pupils - hardly a threat to their operations and they expect to grow their roll through the rebuild, now picking up somewhat.

There is, of course a strong economic rationale for the proposed closures and mergers. [the rationale is that NZ is broke and getting broker ;)]

There's always a strong economic rationale for drastic change in recessionary times.

MP for Te Tai Tonga, Rino Tirakatene, has said "You betcha Labour opposes this merger...Sure, Labour realises that there had to be a change in Canterbury post-earthquake, but not like this. Not without proper consultation. Theres a way to deliver bad news! Hekia delivered hers from the Enola Gay ! I'd like to think my Labour colleagues have more of a heart than the Nats."

[Was going to correct the typos but maybe it shows our MP is really busy as opposed to not being able to write right...] [oh and decided not to point out Labour's approach to troublesome natives, arresting due legal process and legislating away our rights: pot, kettle, black ay bra] [oh oh, the Enola Gay was the US Airforce plane from which dropped the first atomic bomb...]

Government consultation processes have always been loaded against Maori; the current government merely compounds this by the scale and breadth of their disdain in what is clearly a process entered to bolster the government's position in any court action (re: assets sales and water rights) and achieve - for the Chch school's proposal - a designated outcome.

[what does it mean when a government coalition member slams government approach to consultation?!]

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, there's something rotten at the heart of this government, and with all due respect to MP Rino, I'm far from convinced that Labour has any more heart than National (I suspect they retain strong proponents of neoliberal economics within their ranks). The Prime Minster's performance in supporting the thoroughly tarnished John Banks is the latest incarnation of a leadership that thinks their wealth is proof positive they're cleverer than the rest of us.

Anyway, taking the kids to tomorrow's protest at the Bridge of Remembrance. The names carved in that stone, while they wouldn't've all supported Maori language schooling, fought for a fairer world.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuhoe sign

Just announced: Tuhoe have agreed to settle.

$170 million, plus an equal role in governing the Urewera.

Maumau kai, maumau taonga, maumau tangata ki te po!

I'm up on our marae this Xmas (taking our girl's whenua home) and look forward to getting the rundown on what this means for us at Te Kuha Tarewa and Waimako.

Panekiri on the left, Waikaremoana behind, Whitiaua on the right.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mozzie economy tracking down?

The Maori economy can only be the totality of economic activity undertaken by Maori. Simple though somewhat larger than the BERL-framed 37 billion-dollar-baby. Of course, we have to accept we can never draw a line around it, not least because any line we do draw would have to take in 130,000 cousins in the West Island (Australia for those not in on the geography joke).

With median Maori weekly incomes are down $40/week over the past year - thus shouldering the economic recession - Australia remains an obvious opition with 21 consecutive years of economic growth. Truly exceptional and probably not matched by any other similar economy.

But we now have news that the Australian mining sector has contracted for the first time since the Wallabies drank from the Bledisloe CUp (okay, I havne't checked that. I just needed a really really long time period). While Western Australia still managed to add 51,000 full-time jobs, the rest of Australia has lost 13,000. A bit of growth in New South Wales (11,000), Queensland (5000) and the territories, but over (I think the past year) Victoria has lost 21,500 full-time jobs, South Australia 19,000 (one job in 30) and Tasmania 6700 (one job in 23).

Ozzie youth unemployment - a key indicator for me - is 23.5%.

But for Maori any slow down increases our vulnerability, first because NZ is highly reliant on a bouyant OZ economy.
Second, because (as Maori show) Australia remains something of an extension to Aotearoa, a landfall of security and growth. While we'll still pick up work there, the squeeze is on and we're just one of many migrant groups in the queue (and for most it can't be the dole queue, a luxury for citizens only).

It was not that long ago when PM Key assured us all that NZ would be fine as we had the busy and hungry Australian and Chinese economies to pull us along. It was a hollow call then, and a poor result now.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Where have all the flowers gone....

Kia ora koutou,
I remember a record in Mum and Dad's record collection by The Howard Morrison Quartet, 'Greatest Hits' or something like that. Some great songs - songs to croon to - and one that stood out was 'Where have all the flowers gone'. A sad song that I 'got, even as a kid, but see as more poignant now that I have children of my own.

Our whanau is like a lot of other whanau - we have a strong and proud military history (my cousin Tuhoe spoke of this when interviewed about the Urewera 'terrorism' raids; Tuhoe was a Vietnam vet). That young Maori and Pakeha are still being killed overseas must give us pause to reflect. To that end, a picture taken inside the lobby of Lincoln University's library. The two paintings on the wall are titled 'Mt Casino', the scene of some horrific battles in World War 2 in which the 28th Maori Battalion had a role.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Maori Food: promotion of a kai portfolio...

In order to arrest the apparent decline of national and regional economies, novel products are routinely developed for wealthy consumers seeking status-affirming ‘quality’ attributes: ‘Search’ attributes are those generally available to the consumer at the time and point of sale, such as price and presentation. ‘Experience’ attributes are not realised until preparation and consumption, and for food would include taste, moisture, crispness, and so on. ‘Credence’ attributes are those pertaining to environmental health, sustainability, ecological resilience issues and so on. Indigenous ventures, including Maori, now attempt to satisfy these wealthy (generally European or North American) consumers and their values which may include supporting Indigenous ventures, although the resulting niche markets can be very large and difficult to historically impoverished groups to supply.

The latest attempt by Maori to crack this market takes the form of a portfolio of wines, beer, and condiments. 

It remains a difficult enterprise, not least because the market is flooded with premium goods from exotic locations, scrambling for attention. At least it is pitched at the right audience, that is those wealthy punters who have most probably seen their personal wealth increase in the past 5 years while the majority of the consumers have put away the wallet for such luxury purchases: kina pate? Paua relish? Like a lot of things in Aotearoa/NZ, such delights are either free or beyond your working class purse!

I do expect to be sampling some of these wares sometime in the near future...

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Maori unemployment down

Although headlines read unemployment has risen over the past quarter, it has actually decreased for Maori, down to 12.8% from 13.9% in the first quarter of 2012.

Pasifika unemployment is also down, from 16% to 14.9%.

Canterbury figures are much worse overall: Male unemployment up from 5.5% to 6.5%; female rate disconcertingly up from 4.9% to 8.3% The overall rise, although slight, shows how badly stalled the economy is.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Maori Poverty 2: 'Cheaper to let Maori children die...'

A study by Clair Mills,  Rhema Vaithianathan and Paparangi Reid show the dire state of Maori health. In brief...

•  15,376 ‘excess’ avoidable hospital admissions for Māori children during the period 2003 to 2007;
•  36% of hospitalisations classified as ‘potentially avoidable’;
•  Tamariki Māori accessed GP consultations at a lower rate than non-Māori;
•  Pharmaceutical claims for non-Māori children were 15 % higher, with non-Māori laboratory claims  55% higher than Māori;
•  ACC claims for Māori children 32% lower than non-Māori, and median cost lower;
•  Specialist outpatient visits by Māori children 86% lower than those of non-Māori children.

Frightening, and shameful. 

Of course the Star Sunday Times opening sentence is designed to garner a response, begging the question why it hasn't received more attention, but reinforcing the NZCCSS study that shows Maori and Pasifika communities shoulder a disproportionate load in rebalancing the country's books. 

Considering the study was for the years prior to the current economic malaise, we're going to be more frightened, and more ashamed.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maori and Pasifika poverty

No surprises that the income gap between Maori and Pasifika communities and what are still colloquially called 'Europeans' (I think they mean Pakeha) has grown over the past four years of wider economic contraction.

The Vulnerability Report, published by the NZ Council of Christian Social Services contains some frightening information on how the local recession and GFC (Global Financial Crisis) have impacted upon vulnerable whanau.

Maori youth NEET (Not in Employment, Education, or Training) is particularly galling (see graph below) but there are tragic consequences across the entire gamut of Maori and Pasifika communities.

It is difficult to know where to begin on resolving all this. First, it exposes the current political approach - Maori Party coalition with National and ACT - an abject failure (and I hear strange rumblings about Whanau Ora here in Otautahi and lesewhere, the one policy that the Maori Party has pinned their reputation on). Second, I am now very distrustful of the iwi-based approach of Treaty settlements, voiced earlier through ongoing posts on the so-called Maori Economy. The 'Maori Economy' represents Maori-centric businesses that variously engage with their own shareholders.

The wider reality of Maori economic being-ness is clearly bad and getting worse.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Indigenous Peoples and the urban environment...

Now working on a chapter for a book to be coming out soon on Indigenous resilience. Edited by Amohia Boulton, some of the contributors, including yours truly, will be on a panel discussing Indigenous resilience and health at the upcoming 'Indigenous Health Knowledge and Development (INIHKD)' conference on the St. Lucia campus of the University of Queensland, September 24-28.

Anyways, the literature and found this ...Urbanizing frontiers: Indigenous Peoples and Settlers in 19th Century Pacific Rim cities by Penelope Edmonds. The PAcific Rim angle is particularly enticing as I argue that we have new and emerging risks through our occuppance of urban areas around the Pacific Ring of Fire...

Friday, July 20, 2012

The recent eruption of another significant Maori resource issue - water rights - provoked by the government policy of partial-privatisation of four NZ energy companies. The case provides a nice comparison to how the mainstream NZ reacted to the Foreshore and Seabed case a decade ago.

My own iwi, Tuhoe, will be watching with interest as we claim Waikaremoana whose waters run through several hydro schemes. As I often say, we can korero about our waters in terms of myths and legends, but we can also incorporate cumecs and megawatts, dollars and cents.

Joshua Hitchcock has a dissection of the Maori Council's actions:

"The NZ Māori Council have done Māori a great disservice in bringing this particular claim and linking in to the partial sale of State-Owned Enterprises in the manner that it has. By linking this claim to the keystone legislation of the Government’s second term, it was always doomed to fail. The Māori Council is a body desperately searching for relevance amidst the rise of independent Māori political bodies and the more representative Iwi Leaders Group. It no longer speaks with the authority of Te Ao Māori behind it, instead it appears to have been captured by the specific interests of Titewhai Harawira and Donna Hall. It speaks volumes about the strength of their case that the Iwi Leaders Group, a body comprised of the elected leaders of Iwi throughout Aotearoa, refused to support the claim and instead preferred to continue negotiation with the Crown around water rights."

Morgan Godfrey has a comment on the several Maori organisations variously engaged or marginalised by the current National-led government. I've attended several Federation of Maori Affairs (FOMA) hui (and hope to get to this years AGM as well), and like many others am somewhat in the dark about the Iwi Leaders Group (ILG). That the government's approach follows in a long line of colonial 'divide and conquer' approaches makes it no less palatable to Maori.

The usual smokescreens are blowing across the battlefield, including taniwha and a pay dispute

No Right Turn is typically scathing of John Key. While I think history will treat Key badly ('It's the economy, stupid...') he has played this with great Machiavellian aplomb. He's 'stood up to Maori' on the one hand, while quietly dealing with the corporate-focused ILG on the other, ensuring the planned share offering can go ahead with at least some Maori 'agreement'. 

Of course, Maori who oppose this strategy may yet go to the courts, in which case all bets are off!

Friday, July 13, 2012

John Campbell, oops

The assumption that newsreaders hold some sort of intellectual superiority was squashed a long time ago of course, but still a little concerning to see our most public faces display ignorance.

John Campbell (TV3 news) was taking email responses to an item when one response referred to Ngai Tahu as Kai Tahu.

'No, no, no, [chuckle, chuckle, chuckle]. That's NGAI Tahu dear watcher...'

Now anyone with any sort of familiarity with Maori in the South Island would know that there is a Ngai Tahu dialectical variation that sees the 'ng' replaced with a 'k'. Thus the mountain/maunga/mauka Mt. Cook/Aorangi is often called Aoraki. I work at Te Whare Wanaka o Aoraki (although I will often refer to Te Whare Wananga o Aorangi, which reflects by te reo lessons and not my tribal dialect of Tuhoe who have 'n' instead of the 'ng' and hence the old joke of the Tuhoe boy in the city who calls out 'Hey cuz, sin, sin o son!'

I assume someone from Ngai/Kai Tahu sorted him out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012

Latest report on 'State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012' released. 

"One of the overriding threats facing minorities and indigenous peoples in every region of the world is the risk of being driven from their land and natural resources, which are vital for their livelihoods, their culture and often their identity as a people. Many communities have been closely tied to their territory for centuries. Yet once their land is targeted for development – mining, oil and gas, dams, agribusiness, tourism or conservation – they are deftly and often violently evicted with little or no compensation."

Maori lead the Indigenous world in many respects but I increasingly sense we've plateaued...

Monday, July 09, 2012

Maori, Water, the Markets, and Surety

We're always told the markets like surety, they like to know what's going to happen. So much interest will turn to the remarkable developments in the claim for water by Maori. First a decision in the Paki v. Attorney General case in which  the descendants of the owners of five blocks of land along the Waikato River at Pouakani have claimed the Crown acquisition of the riverbed was in breach of the Crown's duties.
Essentially this turns on an interpretation of the river being navigable under s14 of the Coal Mines Amendment Act (1903). Where a stretch of river is not navigable, an enforceable interest to the riverbed might remain in the hands of the Maori customary owners.
Some nice turns of phrase by Mai ChenThe philosopher Heraclitus said that you cannot step into the same river twice. Change is constant. It remains to be seen whether the Government finds the Supreme Court's decision in Paki "navigable".
                                                               Venn Young and Eva Rickard 

Then the Maori Council takes an urgent case to the Waitangi Tribunal seeking to stop the governments planned sale of State Owned Assets: Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian and Solid Energy.
The PM has come out firing:"We don't believe anybody owns water. What we do accept is that people own water rights. We don't think the sale of 49 per cent of Mighty River Power in any way impinges on those water rights."
He goes on: "The Waitangi Tribunal's rulings are not binding on the Government, so we could choose to ignore what findings they might have - I'm not saying we would, but we could." 

Of course if the Government refuses to act on the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal, the Maori Council could take its case to the High Court. 

We're along way from the surety that markets desire. Good job.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Maori Economy Googled...

Haven't posted an Google Alerts on the Maori economy lately...still a very patchy feed anyway. here's some random stuff:

Big ups to Huia Publishers...I recall a time when it was possible to own and read every book on, by, about Maori. Now, forgedditaboutit!

Huia Publishers – Celebrating 21 years in Publishing
... throwing its long shadow over the New Zealand economy and still being in ... Even more so when your business is a Māori business publishing books about ...
Blue-collar classes persecuted those below them
Otago Daily Times
It has long been the lot of women, Maori and Pacific workers to hold this status on the economy's"reserve bench". Cibele Locke in Workers in the Margins ...
Bryan Gould: Maori leaders have the right idea
New Zealand Herald
... shaky mast because the failure of an economy still mired in recession to ... so that they can hold the assets in trust for future generations of Maori.
Another Crown Minister bragging about how they treat the natives here...
Opening address to the Rio+20 Summit
... the Treaty of Waitangi has created a special partnership between the government and Maori...New Zealand sees a green economy as a driver of economic...

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Maori economy: insights from the just past Nga Pae conference

So much going on but a potted review offered anyway of last weeks International Indigenous Development Research conference, held at Auckland University.

I was lucky to be in a great session, well chaired by Te Tuhi Robust, that started with an update on Te Awanuiarangi's Te Tupunga Māori - Te Pae Tawhiti, Māori Economic Development Project, a Nga Pae-funded project. 

Titled 'Creating clarity in the clouds of definitions of and for Māori Economic Development', Rawinia Kamau and Richard Jefferies defined and framed their approach, drawing out distinctions between Western and Indigenous approaches. Richard offered interesting insight from his board meetings with Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd. and kiwifruit operations. Like any other corporations, these are always pleased to announce their profits, achieved as much by screwing down labour as expansion and investment. 

As Richard pointed out, Of course, tribal shareholders have whanau subject to that screwing down...

Richard recalled his time at Matsui, and the insights he had on Japanese thinking that promotes Japan ahead of anywhere and anyone else.

I then threw out a quick presentation on Maori and innovation, critiquing the Flat world approach that assumes, among other things, that geography and culture don't matter.

Then came a fascinating presentation by Dr. Sean Kerins from the Centre  for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University. Called 'Building for the bottom-up: Indigenous development initiatives in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia.' Working with Waanyi and Garawa peoples, Sean outlined how they had achieved better biodiversity and successful fire management through traditional approaches to country.  

Simon Lambert

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