Thursday, June 26, 2014

Iwi Development As-It-Is: the Maori economy, capitalism, and democracy

Increasing chatter from the 2011 BERL report which cemented the 30-sumpin' billions we are worth ;)  Innovation (and science) drive a lot of this re-positioning of the so-called Maori economy. (My thoughts on this are out there). I think we need to get our facts right too...I was at an international conference where a Maori researcher argued the Maori economy was now 25% of the NZ economy.

'No,' says I, 'surely it's just 5-6%?'

'No,' sez she, 'it's $36 billion...'

'Yes,' sez I, 'from the 2011 Nana report...' which usefully provides a piechart showing Maori contributing 5-6%, which includes self-employed Maori ($5.4 billion) and Maori employers ($20.8b) taken from Stats NZ data. The guts of the 'Maoriness' of this economy is that encompassed by Maori trusts et cetera: $10.6 billion.

Heoi ano. Of course economic activities can - and I would argue, should - be interpreted as all-encompassing, a subset of our mythical and environmental parameters. (Don't panic, Judeo-Christians have thought this way through generations of capitalists...). The back story is that mainstream NZers have been on a nice little earner here in Aotearoa.

Circumstances have changed.

The capitalist mode of production still rests on the fact that the material conditions of production are in the hands of non-workers in the form of property - capital and land - while the masses are only owners of the personal condition of production, their labor power.

Further, the peculiar evolution that is neoliberalism now appears in all its stunted glory. Aotearoa/NZ's strategy seems to be a state of 'not-being': not being Spain, not being Ireland, not being Greece.

But as we stumble into a post-settlement era, Maori have a unique position: increasing numbers of us are capital owners (land and assets), albeit as often (very) small-shareholders, while remaining reliant on selling what labour power we possess to survive.

Awhile ago, after the NZ government had replaced the democratically-elected (regional) Environment Canterbury councillors. Local iwi authority, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, support this usurpation. And why wouldn't they? The previous arrangement hardly worked in their favour and now that the government is hell-bent on opening up water for dairying, TRoNT are well-positioned to milk this for all its worth through Ngai Tahu Farms.

Our economy is sexy at the moment, not least as the global capitalist system has squeezed all the low hanging fruit and is looking to drill down - pun intended -and move into the peripheries, literally and philosophically, with Indigenous land and resources now being revisited for ongoing commodification and capitalist economic growth.

Hard rain's gonna fall...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ru Whenua work acknowledged: Heroism award to Ngai Tahu Fireman

Great to see the heroism of Scott Shadbolt acknowledged by the government today. Scott was the first participant in our research and has just been awarded the New Zealand Bravery Medal for his heroic efforts as an USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) first responder through the February 22 earthquake of 2011. 

Ka nui te mihi ki a koe Scott, he toa, he rangatira!

Updates of our research are regularly posted on these pages but also Lincoln University's ‘Conversations’ webpage and a Facebook page .

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Message to the 7th generation...

Tena Koutou!
First, I hope you are lucky enough to speak the same language as everyone else on the planet. I hope they still have the words creole and bastard for this (they were all Peoples), and pidgin or slang, but if not I'm sure you have words of equal weight and beauty.

Second, because you have so much mail I will tell only one story. A Matariki dinner (and complete with Matariki Aspire vin) saw me at a table with seven, eight, then nine, of the most beautiful, intelligent, witty dining companions I have ever had the pleasure of breaking bread with. All women, all Maori. As a 21st centruy graduate of Canterbury University and its geography department the gender ratio was unusual but not especially so; it was once within the bounds of your tipuna's imagination! That they were Maori was notable but after all, it was an Indigenous peoples conference in Aotearoa. I'm dead, not stupid.

No, it was the paucity of Maori men (initially at least, thankfully nga tane gravitated to our table after the second course and third drink...) that amazed me and, perhaps, disappointed my companions, for what is a ball for except to eat drink and meet members of a complementary orientation. (Of course maybe they did all meet companions of a complementary orientation; again this was once within the bounds of your koro's imagination). That was the night I saw a simple and abhorrent truth: community is matriarchal/outside is patriarchal/violence will visit, from the latter to the first (not necessarily brought by Pakeha, not necessarily by men), and children will be scared instead of sacred.

Forgive your parents if their fears have become yours, they were my fears first of all. My fear of losing you and seeing you scared and scarred. I didn't want to lose any of you, but I lost you all, and I don't want any of my moko's to be scared but you all will be.

Third, a pepeha. Another man once said of our tipuna, who whaled on wooden ships powered by wind and muscle, “Game to the marrow, these fellows are generally selected for harpooners, a post in which a nervous, timid man would be rather out of his element.” Ironic that nervous, timid men should be so comfortable in the company of tyrants.

naku noa et cetera
simon lambert
b. Wanganui, Oct. 17th, 1965.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Citizen Science: How do Maori engage?

The latest development in science is the concept of 'CitizenScience' whereby citizens are empowered to engage with science (I think we should generalise this to 'research') and scientists through various engagement methods, governance roles, technology diffusion and tuned research approaches. The intent is to mobilise community participation and responses to research.

Nice, tautoko.

Of course we must remain skeptical given past experiences of Indigenous Peoples and science. I like the description by Collins and Evans of the Third Wave of science whereby the domain of science elites is pierced by non-certified experts (for example, kaitiaki):

Too often we default to a monolithic 'Western' science, represented by Wave One. This frames much of what Linda Smith described in her well-known 'Decolonising Methodologies'. Wave Two sees greater transparency as the electorate/tax-payer demands more responsibility from these high priests of knowledge...

Now we see citizens invited into the tent. Scientific American ran this special issue...
The advances in technology, such as mobile phone apps, are enabling citizens (including kids) to gather, analyse and distribute information...

At Lincoln we are determined to be a part of this. With several of us experiencing the tortuous National Science Challenges processes (which are ongoing), we see more opportunities for Maori to engage in relevant research, determining at least some of the projects and outputs. 

However it remains a difficult task for individuals and collectives.

As an example from the work on disasters I've been doing since, well, the disaster in Christchurch, interprets the role of Matauranga Maori as important for some hazards and some landscapes, but argues this knowledge is fragmented and its relevance often questionable. Indeed the notion that Indigenous Knowledge such as Mātauranga Maori and its (problematic) integration with science can somehow build resilience ‘invites a fundamental question that must be continually revisited’ (Bohensky and Maru, 2011):
  • Which systems are these integration processes building the resilience of, for whom, and on which scales in time and space? 
  • What Maori institutions and practices enable the rapid and accurate assessment of the location, movement, and needs of Maori individuals, whānau, and communities? 
  • How do contemporary manifestations of Maori community translate into tangible support networks in locations of known and future environmental hazards; through periods of environmental stress including long-term climate change; and through the dislocation and disruption evident in post-disaster landscapes including built environments?

My colleague Jamie Ataria has provided this translation of Citizen Science for us: Rangahau Taiao - Ma te Hapori, Ki te Hapori, E te Hapori. Interesting times e hoa ma...

Bohensky, E. L., & Maru, Y. (2011). Indigenous Knowledge, Science, and Resilience: What Have We                   Learned from a Decade of International Literature on “Integration”? Ecology and Society, 16(4).

Simon Lambert

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