from Whenua Fenua Enua Vanua blog
"The veneer is radical, but the substance is not
PACIFIC JOURNALISM REVIEW 11 (1) 2005 211
THE INDIGENOUS PUBLIC SPHERE
DR EVAN TE AHU POATA-SMITH
“ Neo-liberal reforms and the growing social inequalities in New Zealand society have not affected all Maori equally. Those Maori representing tribal corporations and commercial interests have directly benefited from the pro-business, neo- liberal agenda that was implemented to restore the conditions for profitable capital accumulation in the New Zealand economy from 1984 onwards.
They have benefited from the reduction in corporate taxation levels that was achieved through large cuts in welfare expenditure, the commercialisation of health, housing and education.
On the other hand, the dismantling of the welfare state, the cuts to benefit levels and the introduction of market rents for state housing in the 1990s brought increasing hardship and poverty for many New Zealanders.
Working class Maori have had to face the prospects of increased poverty, falling real incomes, unemployment, deteriorating employment conditions and job security, social welfare cuts and user-charges for education and health services. So, while those Maori representing tribal corporations and commercial interests have directly benefited from the economic policies of successive governments, the over-representation of Maori in the working class has meant that the vast majority of Maori families have borne the brunt of the economic restructuring.
With the growth of inequality and social polarisation within Maori communities it is increasingly difficult to sustain this notion that Maori communities are classless communities that share the same sets of experiences of inequality and the same political aspirations this ignores the critical divisions that have arisen within and between iwi, hapu and urban Maori communities over the allocation and distribution of the benefits of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process, a process that has resulted in a substantial shift in resources and compensation to those sections of Maori society already wealthy and powerful.
It is critical to acknowledge that Maori struggles over the past 15 years have not simply been directed against Pakeha and the state, but have involved the struggles of ordinary Maori families for a greater degree of control over resources within iwi, hapu and urban Maori communities.
Indeed, the revitalisation of militant Maori struggles in the 1990s represented a direct challenge to the Treaty settlement framework and the narrow commercial interests of tribal authorities. It revealed profound levels of discontent with the adoption of corporate models for the management and distribution of settlement assets and exposed the failure of cultural nationalist strategies to provide a real solution to historical grievances and Maori inequality in wider society."I have struggled with 'çlass politics' verses 'identity politics' and have generally fallen on the side of identity. This article has made me think and this year we all have to a lot of thinking - about what is important, where the lines are, and what we will and won't accept. With national into their second year - the neo-con agenda will be pushed very hard and we must resist it.
Kia ora Ana for helping me see a bigger picture and getting me to think more.