Maori Development

by Ross Himona




I believe that Maori Development shares all the aims and enemies, and the principles and practices, of the discipline of Community Development.

Essentially, we should focus on helping Maori communities to help themselves; to analyse their own situations, to define their own problems and challenges, to set their own aims and goals, and to devise their own solutions and strategies.

However I think that the main overall aim of Maori Development should be to gain equality of opportunity and achievement for Maori individuals, within their Maori communities, in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the land of the Maori. It is a collective imperative. And I think its main enemy is still the racism that is inherent in the constitutional, governmental, political, cultural, social and economic arrangements in Aotearoa/New Zealand, through which the white (Pakeha) elites maintain their hegemony.

Some of course aim to achieve more. For many the aim is nothing less than Maori hegemony, or Maori sovereignty in our own land. For others the aim is something less; self-determination. These aims are expressed as tino rangatiratanga or mana maori motuhake, and they mean different things to different people (see the article below by Te Ahu). All of these many aims are legitimate within their own contexts, but they do lead to a greal deal of fragmentation of effort.

However, most Maori are united in the belief that we do not get a fair deal in our own land, and that we need to take back the power that was once ours to determine for ourselves how we will live and how we will prosper in our land, Aotearoa.

We need to start with the simple yet basic aims of respect, dignity, peace and prosperity for all Maori, within a context where Maori may choose to be Maori, in whatever way that they want to be Maori.

At the moment we are seeking these and other aims through a variety of frameworks, or analyses, including Treaty Analysis and Gap Analysis (see below), land and fisheries claims, land occupations and protests, and through the many shades of political analysis that we have borrowed from the Pakeha elites; from Marxism to New Rightism.

Te Puni Kokiri (the Government's so-called Ministry of Maori Development) is instrinsically anti Maori development. Although led and staffed by Maori (increasingly less under Chief Executive Officer Professor Ngatata Love), it led the way in constructing and promulgating a developmental analysis based on the Treaty of Waitangi (Treaty Analysis). In doing so Te Puni Kokiri helped further governments' aims to water down the meaning and impact of the Treaty.

In doing so Te Puni Kokiri (and the Department of Maori Affairs before them) also helped Government to wrest the Maori Development initiative from iwi (tribes) and other Maori communities, and to further disempower most Maori, other than those few Maori elite who have benefited from the process.

More recently Te Puni Kokiri has resurrected an analysis (Gap Analysis) based on the disparities between Maori and non-Maori achievement and performance across a range of social and economic statistical indicators. In doing so, Te Puni Kokiri has once again focused attention and remedial action on the symptoms rather than on the underlying causes of inequality. In doing so, the highlighted problems become perceived to be Maori problems rather than inherent social and economic inequalities in the elitist and racist system.

In my opinion Maori should focus on two main intermediate goals; to eradicate racism in Aotearoa, and to re-write the constitutional arrangements through which the Pakeha elites maintain their hegemony. This re-write will incorporate the Maori understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi.

At the same time I believe we should be guided by the principles and practices of the discipline of Community Development in our everyday efforts to alleviate the suffering of our people, and to bring greater peace and prosperity to their lives.

And our many political, cultural, social, and economic goals can all be accommodated within that Maori/Community Development framework. The goals of empowering communities to take charge of their own destinies are the same.

But we urgently need to re-focus, and to take back the initiative from Government.


The Evolution of Contemporary Maori Protest

... an article by Te Ahu. A very good background to the field of Maori Development.

An article about Waitangi Day posted to several newsgroups

The Market As God

... an article by Harvey Cox in "The Atlantic Montly"