Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk
Please visit the sponsor!
When I came to New Zealand in the late 1970s it was a harmonious nation of "Kiwis".
My first job in this country was working as an electronics engineer for a company owned and operated by a wonderful Maori bloke. Whilst in his employ I worked alongside several other people of different nationalities and never thought twice about it.
When the Sprengbok tours of the 1980s rolled around, the issue of race was highlighted and it was great to see so many Kiwis stand up against the concept and practical enforcement of apartheid.
This truly was a nation where the colour of a person's skin and their ethnic origins were something one didn't even think about when meeting new people, choosing friends or interacting with others.
Sadly, times have changed... a lot.
As other nations work hard to eliminate divides based on race and skin colour, New Zealand seems to be swiming against the tide and placing an increased emphasis on such things whilst apportioning privilege, rights and freedoms.
That harmonious New Zealand, devoid of colour divides seems to have somehow been replaced by one where we have created the very thing we despised so much back in the 1980s -- prejudice based on skin colour and race.
I find it incredible that, in the third decade of the 21st century, we can have sports teams based on race, where those who have the wrong color or ethnic origins are forbidden to join. It is even more incredible that there is no public outcry over this -- because it is *exactly* what those riots in the 1980s were all about.
Then there is the issue of "first people" and the privilege associated with carrying that title...
We are told that Maori are "first people" of New Zealand yet the records show that they were just one of a series of settlers during the times before colonisation. Both Taiwan and Polynesia seem to be the origin of those many different arrivals.
Indeed, New Zealand has no "indigenous" people, all those who lived here were settlers in one way or another.
By the time European colonists arrived, Maori were entrenched as the occupying race and as such, certainly deserve respect for the property and other rights that should be accorded to such status. However, it should be remembered that they did enter a deal (aka "The Treaty") with the Crown and in doing so, tendered some of those rights and freedoms in return for the benefits that resulted from that agreement.
It is worth nothing that "Maori" were seemingly far from "one people" at the time NZ was settled, something clearly shown by the fact that over 40 Maori signatures (the reigning chiefs of the day) appeared on first-signing, with another 500 added within a year. Clearly "Maori" was a term for a very fractured people that were still engaged in tribal wars at the time.
It should also be remembered that not all the reigning Maori chiefs of the day actually signed the treaty -- surely their rights as land-owners and sovereign peoples ought not have been subjigated by or subject to the terms of the document?
Whatever the case, I grieve for the New Zealand I arrived in almost half a century ago.
I miss the feeling of "oneness" and harmony that was very, very much apparent at that time.
Now I'm sure there will be those who say "but Maori were oppressed, their language was not promoted, blah, blah, blah..." and therefore today things are much better.
They are wrong.
Today we have a New Zealand that is very much divided along race lines. We have a nation where the government implements race-based policies in which one group are accorded extra rights, entitlements and freedoms based solely on their ethnic origins.
We have institutionalised apartheid.
I do not blame my good Maori friends for this, they are as much victims as the rest of us are. In fact, they are even moreso.
Modern young Maori are being told they have a right to these race-based privileges. They have a right to these state-mandated advantages over non-Maori. They are owed reparations for events that took place hundreds of years ago.
With that sort of brainwashing, how can modern Maori ever hope to be part of a racially agnostic and colour-blind society?
We sow the seeds of our own discontent.
There is a strange irony to all this taking place half a world away in the UK.
In Britain, the indigenous people (aka Anglo-saxon whities) are also being discriminated against, in favour of non-white immigrants. The beliefs of the Muslim faith are now sacrosanct, with teachers being fired for daring to show images of Prophet Muhammed to a class of children for example.
It seems being "indigenous" or "first settlers" offers no privilege in the UK but here in New Zealand we have the reverse.
In South Africa, apartheid has been eliminated but here in New Zealand we are embracing its race-based discrimination with open arms.
Can't we please get back to the concept that everyone is born into the same world, with the same opportunity to make a success or failure of their lives regardless of the colour of the skin or the date on which their ancestors first set foot on these lush and green isles?
I suspect that so long as their is a lucrative industry based on racism, that will never happen.
Please visit the sponsor!
Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.