On Morning Report, we heard again that structural racism was behind the forced uplifts of newborn Maori babies from mothers whom Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Children, deemed incapable of looking after them properly.
We hear a lot about structural, aka “institutional”, racism. It falls into the same category as so-called unconscious bias, which can be defined as the bias you have when you didn’t know you had a bias. (So how do you know you have it? Because woke activists tell you. They recognise it even when you can’t.)
Structural racism is an ingenious notion because it means racism no longer needs to be intentional or even conscious. We’re told it’s an intrinsic part of the power structure created by privileged Pakeha.
By this yardstick all whites are racists. We are all smeared with the taint of racism, regardless of how much goodwill we might feel toward Maori or people of other ethnicities. The purpose of this is to make us feel guilty and ashamed of the society we’ve created, and therefore more amenable to radical change. That’s what makes it such an ingenious concept.
But back to that Morning Report item, in which we heard from RNZ’s Maori news director, Mani Dunlop, that besieged Oranga Tamariki boss Grainne Moss now concedes that the “structural racism” represented by baby uplifts has had detrimental consequences for the relationship between Maori and the Crown. (Incidentally, the line between journalism and activism is now so hopelessly blurred that I’m not sure we can rely on Mani Dunlop for neutral, balanced reportage on issues concerning Maori.)
We’re told there’s an urgent need for change in the way Oranga Tamariki operates. Dunlop reminded us that Maori babies are five times more likely than non-Maori to be taken from their mothers, as if that’s conclusive evidence of structural racism.
Taken at face value, it’s certainly a damning statistic, and few people would deny that forced uplifts must be a very traumatic experience. But rather than accepting the five-to-one figure as proof of racism, shouldn’t we consider the possibility that Maori babies are disproportionately at risk of harm, and ask how that might be remedied?
Later in the programme we were told that transgender people are having trouble accessing “gender-affirming” health care. Some have to travel to other towns to obtain prescriptions for hormone treatment or see a psychologist. One such person, who identified as neither male nor female, complained that “they” (RNZ uses the gender-neutral pronoun) couldn’t get public funding for surgery to remove breast tissue and had to raise the money from family members.
Apparently it’s now the taxpayers’ responsibility to ensure that free “gender-affirming” health care is available on tap for people with every permutation of sexual or gender identity, including some that were unheard of a few years ago. They’re a tiny minority, but their needs are evidently so urgent that we must have a national strategy to deal with them. We even learned there’s an organisation called the Professional Association of Trans-Gender Health Aotearoa. (Of course there is, Karl; don’t be silly.)
Meanwhile, over on NewstalkZB, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta was trying to explain to Mike Hosking why she intends to abolish a law that allows voters to veto council proposals to create special Maori wards.
While emphasising how much she valued local democracy, Mahuta clearly didn’t think this should extend to voters exercising their right to reject the idea of race-based wards that provide Maori with a short cut to power.
All the evidence indicates that when strong Maori candidates run for councils, they have a good chance of being elected. If more Maori could be encouraged to engage in the democratic process (or as Kelvin Davis put it in 2016, “get off their arses and vote”), their prospects would be even better.
But Mahuta wants guaranteed seats for Maori, which strikes me as extraordinarily patronising. It suggests Maori can’t get elected on their own merits, when history shows otherwise. But worse than that, it amounts to differential treatment on the basis of race – surely the essence of racism.
As I wrote in a column when Northland Maori were lobbying for a greater say in local government last year, what we’re really talking about here is power through the back door. The advocates of guaranteed Maori representation want to bypass the democratic hurdles that other candidates for public office must leap over.
I pointed out in that column that in the 2016 local government elections, Porirua elected its first Maori mayor, Mike Tana, who beat a favoured Pakeha rival. Wellington acquired a Maori deputy mayor, Paul Eagle – now an MP – and a new Maori councillor who succeeded Eagle in the deputy mayoralty. Eagle, incidentally, had increased his majority in three consecutive elections.
In those same elections, South Wairarapa voters elected three Maori to their district council, Napier gained a Maori councillor and a Maori was elected to the Horizons Regional Council. All this happened without the benefit of separate Maori wards or other forms of special treatment. (I haven’t checked to see how Maori candidates did in the 2019 elections, but it doesn’t matter; the point is made.)
I also mentioned Georgina Beyer and Ron Mark, former Maori mayors of Carterton, and rugby league hero Howie Tamati, who served on the New Plymouth District Council for 15 years (and then contradictorily insisted that Maori needed their own ward). Case made, surely.
On NewstalkZB this morning, Mahuta had no convincing answer when Hosking put it to her that all Maori had to do to ensure better representation in local government was to run for office. But at least the question was put.
On Morning Report, by contrast, people promoting the identity politics agenda are rarely, if ever, challenged with awkward questions. State radio’s flagship news and current affairs show has morphed into a Woke Chronicle: a daily recitation of grievances and demands by minority groups whose special pleading is accepted without so much as a raised eyebrow.
New Zealand has to decide what type of place it wants to be: a diverse, harmonious, tolerant, multicultural country with a common interest in prosperity and freedom, or a splintered one in which multiple groups jostle for special treatment on the basis of real or imagined differences of ethnicity, sexual preference, culture, religion, gender or any one of the many other divisive “identities”. I think I know which society most New Zealanders would opt for.