Jun 21, 2012

Marriage equality, privatisation and the Maori Party and the GC

The marriage equality debate isn’t about to die anytime soon with Te Kaea and the Herald picking up on Hone Harawira’s opposition, or failure to take a position. The Maori Party and the Greens are in support while Labour’s Louisa Wall has a bill in the ballot that would legalise same-sex marriage. Despite strong support from these quarters, our male MPs seem to be stubbornly against or, like in Hone’s case, refusing to take a position. It’s a pity because opposition to equality goes against Maori values. It’s also poor form for some Maori MPs to demand equality for Maori, yet refuse to demand equality for other marginalised groups. Step up male MPs. 

Although the Maori Party voted against the privatisation bill, they also voted against Labour’s amendments to the bill. Again, this was poor form. Apparently a blanket decision was made to vote against amendments that did not concern Maori or the Treaty. This wasn’t good politics. Voting for the amendments would have indicated the Maori Party’s supposedly strong opposition. Instead, the Maori Party voted with the government thus making their opposition to the substantive bill look very, very hollow.


The GC wrapped up last night and I’m going to change my opinion - again. The show was nothing like Jersey Shore and nothing like a documentary. It was an excellent piece of storytelling in a format that was just right for the demographic. The show was full of fluff, there’s no doubt about that, but it also confronted some interesting questions, for example what does it mean to be Maori in Australia. Arguably we didn’t get a wholesome answer, but we got enough to draw our own conclusions. The show’s worth a second go.


It’s Matariki… Happy Maori New Year.


  1. Since when is opposition to equality 'against Maori values'?

    What are 'Maori values' ? There is very little consistency across maoridom in this respect. Iwi have competing interests and visions, and there's no universally applied tikanga either.

    Against 'egalitarian' values perhaps would be more appropriate ?

    To say Maori values promote, or are in favour of, equality isn't exactly consistent with your observation:

    "many Maori (almost exclusively men) outright refuse to develop our customs to accommodate shifting attitudes around the place of women in society – think women speaking on the paepae. These situations reflect the social conservatism of many Maori."

    Of course there's different forms and interpretation of equality and of conservatism, but the two aren't exactly best friends.

  2. Egalitarian would be more appropriate.

    It's misleading to view Marae customs, and Maori culture in general really, through western perspectives. I do not think the exclusion of women from the paepae is sexist or paternalistic. Rather women have a defined role on the Marae - a role that has nothing to do with the inferiority of women or the superiority of men. However, in 2012 the notion of those roles has changed. They are not concrete, and should not be concrete, and they should evolve to reflect the belief that women can and do mix roles.



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