Monday, 2 May 2005

Rangatiratanga - at whose expense?

Tariana Turia’s Maori Party wants to end Maori dependence on welfare, she says in this week’s Listener. Great. So do I.

“We’re saying these are the groups of people [whanau, extended whanau, hapu, iwi] that have to start taking back responsibility and obligation. Don’t rely on the state because the state makes mistakes.” Marvellous stuff!

The party has been careful to promise nothing, Turia tells the Listener. “Instead it is telling people they have to stop allowing the state to take over their lives.” Just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it.

And it does: “Labour has always believed the state will provide,” continues Turia. “Labour has kept our people trapped in dependence. This so-called welfare state has not done us any favours. We didn’t want welfare. We wanted independence.”

Wow! A libertarian reading this should probably be standing and applauding right now – the rhetoric almost echoes that of great libertarians like Isabel Paterson who warned half-a-century-ago in her God of the Machine that a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

If only Tariana truly understood that. If only that was what she was really saying.

Sadly, she’s not. Her idea of ‘independence’ is one that is funded by taxpayers. She still wants Maori to suck off the state tit, she just thinks the manner of the suckling needs to change: "[W]e believe we have a right to rangatiratanga, as guaranteed under Article Two.” What exactly does she mean by that? “It’s our firm belief that money being spent on Maori needs to be unbundled. It is being spent on them, on behalf of them, but not effectively. It’s a waste of public money… We’re just tired of it. We also think there is a more effective way of spending that money.”

Well, she’s partly right. It is a waste. As Charles Murray pointed out in 1984, from the late sixties to the early eighties the so-called War on Poverty in the US spent almost the equivalent of the country’s entire Gross National Product on ‘relieving poverty’ and it didn’t. “That’s $3,800,000,000,000 – enough to give every poor person in America $117,000 [in 1984 dollars] to start his own war on poverty.” It didn’t. A similar calculation here would I’m sure show a similar result. Said PJ O’Rourke of the lesson learnt: “You can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money.”

And you can’t pretend it’s not welfare just by calling it rangatiratanga. Whatever 'unbundling' might mean it's clear she's not calling for welfare spending on Maori to end.

So the Maori Party is in favour of race-based funding, then? “For sure. Unabashed, upfront,” says her co-leader Pita Sharples. So it's clear what the Maori Party wants is independence and ‘rangatiratanga’, and they want someone else to pay for it. So much for independence. Rongo Wetere has recently given a master-class in what this kind of independence means. So what's new?

And why do the views of Turia and Sharples even matter? At just 2% or so in general polling they’re not even getting traction in the general electorate, despite all their publicity. Naturally however, it’s not the general electorate they’re targeting. A recent and much discussed Marae-Digipoll of just over 100 voters in each of the seven Maori seats gave them a real sniff of success in five of them. These are seats of course that are firmly based on an apartheid gerrymander – a by-product of colonial paternalism that a true claimant of rangatiratanga would firmly reject.

But not this lot. Because when it comes to standing on their own two feet, they really want someone else to do it for them.


  1. PC said: "And why do the views of Turia and Sharples even matter? At just 2% or so in general polling they’re not even getting traction...." Their views don't matter because they are getting juar 2%. But we should listen to the Libertarianz Party that doesn't even show up in polls because it is well and firmly below 1%. The most optimistic number I saw was one quarter of what the Maori Party is receiving. In other words they have at least 4 times as much support. And if the past is prologue then the Libz will receive maybe 1/3 of one percent -- provided they remember to mail in their papers on time.

  2. I do continue to enjoy the many thoughtful contributions from my anonymous readers.

  3. Actually, on reflection I apolologise for being so dismissive of Anonmyous, above. He/she makes a fair point.

    However, I'd suggest there is a difference between the standards of the two different parties he/she mentions. The Maori Party wants power, or at least a seat at The Big Table. Achieving that and getting their feet under the table would be what they would call success. It was by that standard that I asked as I did whether their views even mattered as they are only at 2% or so in polls, because that is precisely how they would judge it by their standards.

    By contrast, what Libertarianz would call sucess is not getting our feet under the table, but getting our ideas out there - and we dont' really care whether the public give us credit in the polls for that or not. By that standard I think Libertarianz does awfully well, fighting well above its weight - and I suspect you'd have to agree if you were honest.

    And don't think it's just me saying this about libertarian parties. The Costa Rican libertarian party for example ~have~ got their feet under the table, but they're aware that the chief benefit this gives them is not to preen and strut, but to give them a a platform to help explain what liberty and freedom and independence actually mean. (Website here:

    A pity the ACT party doesn't see things that way. In fact, a pity they don't know what liberty and freedom actually mean. But we're working on them :-)

  4. It always frightens me to hear Turia talking on the television. Not only does her voice scrape along my spleen, but she usually refers to Maori as "our people" or "her people". She wants to enslave maori to her ideals. I have Maori friends and Maori family, Turia comes across as someone who indeed *does* want to claim ownership of Maori and divide the country.

    Most Maori I talk to about the situation find it difficult to take Turia seriously. She is, after all, pointless.

    Scary prospects.

    Tariana, Tariana...
    Has she gone and lost her mana...

  5. So you're working on ACT? History indicates that when the Libz work on people they attack them, vilify them, insult them and then pretend that persuades people. And it's not true that you want to covert you want to destroy them. Rodney Hide is more libertarian than many a Libz person and you have made it your goal to get him out of parliament so that a Nat wanker can stay in parliament instead (because the public won't vote Libz and you know it, not enough to win anything).

    The Movemento Libertario in Costa Rica are not like the Objectivist cult that runs the Libz in NZ == they are very different so why pretend they are like you. They are more like the US Libertarian Party which the Objectivist sect here has condemned. Don't act as if they give you credibility. If they were in NZ you'd be targeting them to smash like the Libz target any local libertarian group they don't control.

  6. PC,
    Are you really saying that the Libz, as a political party, have no interest in becoming a political player by getting a representative into parliament? And are you really saying that if you did get someone into parliament, noone in the party would care, and you'd just trot along as before? Because that's what your comment above reads like.

    That, surely, cannot be the case. If it is the case, then you would not really be a political party at all. You'd just be a club of people who share certain opinions and get together to chat about them and then go and and try to make others listen to them too. As soon as you take away the political aspiration part of it, it sounds more akin to a bible-study group, or a primary school "gang" than a policital party.

    Perhaps I misunderstood you when you said "By contrast, what Libertarianz would call sucess is not getting our feet under the table, but getting our ideas out there - and we dont' really care whether the public give us credit in the polls for that or not." If so, please enlighten me, because right now I am mightily confused.

  7. Berlinbear,

    As I understand it (& I'm not a party spokesman, so don't take my words as gospel), the primary goal of the Libertarianz party is to effect cultural & political change, to get people thinking about Liberty and how to achieve it. One of the ways of doing this is to get an MP into Parliament, but it's only one of many. If another party sees one of our ideas and changes their policy in line with it, excellent - mission successful.

  8. I think Duncan has summed it up quite nicely, BB.

    And at this stage, I won't be feeding the troll. No point to it.

  9. Conspiracies Inc.7 May 2005, 19:08:00

    Anonymous sounds like a PC blogshill


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