What’s going on in New Zealand? Three easy pieces

January 9, 2022 • 10:45 am

I haven’t reported lately on what’s happening with science in New Zealand, so here’s a brief update. I have are three items.

As you may recall, there’s been a big fracas about the way to teach science in New Zealand, with the indigenous Māori  and their supporters arguing that mātauranga Māori, or Maori “ways of knowing” (a stew of knowledge gleaned from trial and error, mythology, philosophy, and legend, as well as creationism) should not only be taught in science classes, but taught as coequal with modern science. (See all my posts here.) This, argue the former, is required by treaty obligations (it isn’t). Seven University of Auckland professors signed a letter in the magazine The Listener arguing that mātauranga Māori isn’t the same as modern science, and while deserving to be taught in anthropology or sociology classes, it would be a disaster as taught as a “way of knowing” identical in content and validity to modern science.

Of the seven professors who signed The Letter, one has since died, but two (Robert Nola and Garth Cooper) were elected to New Zealand’s Royal Society, a huge honor.  And those two were—and still are—subject to an investigation by the RSNZ—for exercising their freedom of speech! Both the RSNZ and University of Auckland also issued statements criticizing the group I call “The Satanic Seven.” It was at this point that I realized that although New Zealand is a great country with lovely and progressive people, it is also a very Woke country, with the Māori regarded as almost an inerrant group of people whose “ways of knowing” produce truth simply because they come from the Māori.  And there doesn’t seem to be a surfeit of freedom of speech.

Outside of NZ, people are uniformly appalled by the disapprobation raining down on these two, as well as the other five. But within the country, people are pretty split between the science-friendly and the Woke.

A lot of the disapprobation from Kiwis was inspired by a petition started by two U. Auckland professors, Siouxie Wiles and Sean Hendy, both experts in Covid with high national profiles. You can see part of the petition they started, that garnered 2,000 signatures, here.) A bit of the petition (I’ve put a few logical errors or insteances of distorted reasoning in bold):

A letter signed by seven University of Auckland Professors/Professors Emeritus, published in the New Zealand Listener (July 23), claims to be “in defence of science” against what is described as an effort to “encourage mistrust of science”.

We, the signatories to this response, categorically disagree with their views. Indigenous knowledges – in this case, Mātauranga – are not lesser to other knowledge systems. Indeed, indigenous ways of knowing, including Mātauranga, have always included methodologies that overlap with “Western” understandings of the scientific method.

However, Mātauranga is far more than just equivalent to or equal to “Western” science. It offers ways of viewing the world that are unique and complementary to other knowledge systems.

The seven Professors describe efforts to reevaluate and revise the significance of Mātauranga in NCEA, including the acknowledgement of the role “western” science has played in rationalising colonisation as contributing to “disturbing misunderstandings of science emerging at all levels of education and in science funding.”

The Professors claim that “science itself does not colonise”, ignoring the fact that colonisation, racism, misogyny, and eugenics have each been championed by scientists wielding a self-declared monopoly on universal knowledge.

And while the Professors describe science as “universal”, they fail to acknowledge that science has long excluded indigenous peoples from participation, preferring them as subjects for study and exploitation. Diminishing the role of indigenous knowledge systems is simply another tool for exclusion and exploitation.

The Professors present a series of global crises that we must “battle” with science, again failing to acknowledge the ways in which science has contributed to the creation of these challenges. Putting science on a pedestal gets us no further in the solution of these crises.

Finally, they believe that “mistrust of science” is increased by this kind of critique. In contrast, we believe that mistrust in science stems from science’s ongoing role in perpetuating ‘scientific’ racism, justifying colonisation, and continuing support of systems that create injustice. There can be no trust in science without robust self-reflection by the science community and an active commitment to change.

Because of this petition, the Satanic Seven were further demonized, including having their jobs threatened, receiving harassing emails, and so on. In no case that I know of did the University of Auckland support them. Indeed, it helped criticize them.

Item #1:  It’s therefore Ironic that the main authors of that petition, Siouxsie Wiles and Sean Hendy, are now beefing that they, too, have been the subject of harassment for different reasons, and aren’t getting support from the University of Auckland. It’s laid out in this Guardian piece (click on screenshot):

An excerpt:

Two of New Zealand’s most prominent Covid experts are taking legal action against their employer, the University of Auckland, over what they say is its failure to respond adequately to “harassment from a small but venomous sector of the public” that is becoming “more extreme”.

Siouxsie Wiles, an associate professor of medical science, and Shaun Hendy, a professor of physics, have filed separate complaints to the Employment Relations Authority, which last week ruled that they should proceed directly to the Employment Court due to the “high public interest” in their Covid commentary.

According to the ruling, the scientists say that as a result of their work they have “suffered vitriolic, unpleasant, and deeply personalised threats and harassment” via email, social media and video sharing platforms which has had a “detrimental impact” on their physical safety as well as their mental health.

The determination also noted that Wiles had also been the victim of doxxing – in which personal information is published about a person online – while Hendy has been physically confronted at his university office by a person who threatened to “see him soon”.

Now I don’t countenance either threats or doxxing, which are reprehensible behaviors. But I find it ironic that both Wiles and Hendy are beefing about the very behaviors that their own petition instigated against the Satanic Seven—a foreseeable consequence of their actions (they are of course exercising free speech).  And as for threats, well, having one’s employment threatened would scare me more than simple threats by someone to “see me soon.” I have to add that none of the Satanic Seven have complained of victimhood (I’ve heard about the threats from them privately), nor sued the University of Auckland.  The whole mess is just ironic. The fact is, though, that none of these nine people did anything to deserve public disapprobation, but only two of them instigated a climate of hatred that affected the others.


Item #2. If you want to see how far down the rabbit hole the promoters of mātauranga Māori have gone, here’s an article from a popular magazine, Spinoff, an article that happened to be financed (how does a magazine article get “financed”?) by the University of Otago, one of the big promoters of mātauranga Māori and Māori studies in New Zealand. Click on the screenshot to read (along with the disclaimers):

(The funding, in very small print):

This is propaganda, not journalism:

This piece shares with other defenses of mātauranga Māori two features: a.) a lack of examples of scientific knowledge acquired using Māori “ways of knowing,” and b.) a plethora of mātauranga Māori words so frequent that they make the article almost unreadable to those who don’t speak the language. To me it seems a way of showing off, as if one were describing a kerfuffle about science in France by heavily larding it with French words. I’ll give examples.

First, below is the one bit of knowledge that mātauranga Māori is said to have conferred. This is in an English-language magazine, so good luck following it:

The arrival of a Pākehā scientist at Te Rau Aroha marae in Motupōhue asking questions about mātauranga Māori and kaitiakitanga wasn’t received with aroha by all. Moller said he was viewed as the face of a Pākehā institution which many whānau were sceptical about dealing with.

When the scientists wanted to place radio trackers on the manu, mana whenua firmly opposed it as their tikanga of kaitiakitanga is to not disturb the adult tītī. The scientists later tested the trackers on mainland manu and found they disrupted their attendance behaviour at the colony. Moller says it was a good example of how mātauranga Māori can improve science.

The upshot: indigenous people said putting a GPS tracker on a manu (a “muttonbird”, a type of petrel), would disturb the colony or the birds. They were right. This doesn’t, however, say that there isn’t another way of tracking these birds.

And that’s about it. Yes, you could teach this in a class as coequal with animal behavior, but it would take just two minutes. And this is the kind of example touted as the “science” of mātauranga Māori . But remember, that “way of knowing” also includes creation myths as scientific “truth”.

The paucity of what mātauranga Māori (“MM”) has to add to classes in modern science is repeatedly seen in articles that defend MM. Yes, some examples are useful in spicing up the curriculum and making it seem more local, but it’s not a replacement for modern science.

And a few bits of incomprehensible dual linguistics:

The University of Otago associate professor specialising in genetics is the most senior Māori academic of the handful working in his field.

For the last 20 years, Wilcox has been designing and creating tikanga-based research frameworks. He was part of the team that created Te Mata Ira: Guidelines for Genomic Research with Māori, which lays out how whakapapa, kawatikangamanatika and manaakitanga guide how DNA research is conducted with iwi and hapū.

Oops, here’s some more dissing—this time a backhanded slap at modern genetics:

Among the papers he teaches at the university is one about Māori concepts of hereditary inheritance – whakapapa and pepeha.

Whereas in Western science genetics is specialised, “pushed off the side” to breeding programmes or for “recreational” purposes like ancestry.com, Wilcox says whakapapa is a central tenet of te ao Māori culture.

Pushed off to the side for breeding programs and “recreational” pursuits like 23AndMe??? Does Professor Wilcox not know the span of modern genetics, now deeply invested in reconstructing human migration and ancestry from DNA sequences and “ancient DNA”, working on cures for dieases using CRISPR, or unravelling how genes create phenotypes (“evo devo”)? I’m sure whakapapa is investigating these matters as well as epigenetics and the role of micro-RNAs in gene expression. But wait, there’s more! (My bold.)

However, there are similarities between the two cultural approaches. Pepeha is split between hereditary locators (waka, iwi, hapū) and environment locators (marae, maunga, awa). Wilcox says this is exactly the same as the first equation in quantitative genetics: my phenotype is the sum of my genetics as well as the environment that I live in.

“So pepeha in some respects is the conceptual equivalent of quantitative genetics, it’s just a different way of looking at it,” says Wilcox.

Yeah, right? Does pepeha encompass Fisher’s fundamental theorem of genetics, or the breeder’s equation? I’m guessing “no.” And phenotype is not the “sum of genetics and environment,” because, as all real quantiative or evolutionary geneticists know, there is interaction between genes and environment. It’s not just phenotype = effects of genes + effects of environments. I’d love to give Professor Wilcox a quick quiz on modern molecular and quantitative genetics. May his whakapapa help him!

A bit more of linguistic preening and virtue signaling, and we’ll pass on.

To protect the whakapapa of his iwi and hapū research participants, which have included his own whānau of Rongomaiwāhine and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa – “you don’t want to get on the wrong side of them” – he writes up cultural agreements which ensure the data collected belongs to the iwi and hapū, not to the researcher or their employers such as crown research institutes and universities.


Item #3.  Here’s a sensible defense of how to lessen educational inequities in New Zealand, and one that doesn’t involve introducing MM into science class. As I’ve discussed before, New Zealand’s status in educational achievement of students in STEM, compared to students in similar countries, is abysmal. This article agrees, but so do all sentient Kiwis. How to fix it?

Click on the screenshot, from the NZ magazine Stuff. There’s also a video. The author, Gaven Martin, is a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Massey University (not one of the Satanic Seven), and he’s going to get into trouble for writing this.


There has been considerable debate around the intersection of NCEA, mātauranga Māori, and science. But it is the wrong debate.

I would like to offer a different perspective, informed by the review of mathematics education I chaired for the Royal Society of New Zealand and Ministry of Education recently.

Like many of the significant shifts we have seen in education and NCEA over the last few decades, the current debate is underpinned by slogans and little if any evidence.

First, there should be no doubt that our national teaching of science, technology and mathematics (henceforth just “science”) delivers cruel results.

In 2018-19 our 13-year-olds scored their worst-ever results in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (60 countries); and 15-year-olds had their worst-ever Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results in reading, mathematics and science (about 90 countries).

. . .We have been in both relative and absolute decline for more than 20 years. The economic costs to the nation and the impact on individuals of this are truly appalling. Read An empirical portrait of New Zealand adults living with low literacy and numeracy skills, by an AUT study group, and then weep – I did.

. . . But surely the worst thing about our current education system is the way it exacerbates – indeed grows – inequity. The relative performance of Māori and Pasifika peoples in science education is a dark stain on our nation, and we simply must address it.

The current slogan for the NCEA changes appears to be, “Many Māori are disengaged from science because they don’t see their culture reflected in it”.

There is no evidence that such a claim has any bearing on education success rates. The issue is not about groups or individuals seeing themselves in the curriculum. It’s about the way our children are taught​, and the knowledge and skills teachers bring into the classroom.

Martin goes on to indict several aspects of NZ education that disadvantage Māori students in particular, but you can read the article. The important part for our purposes is that he doesn’t see teaching MM as “science” as one of the remedies:

It is ridiculous to assume that students who are from lower socio-economic backgrounds, or who are Māori and Pasifika, are not as smart, or able; it is about opportunity to learn. Our system and its prejudices denies the opportunities to those who might most benefit.

Another slogan: “Elevating the status of mātauranga Māori is not about undermining science. It is about incorporating genuinely useful indigenous knowledge, such as approaches to environmental guardianship, that complements science.”

My view is that that is a very generous interpretation of what the NCEA changes actually offer. But more importantly, such tinkering with some NCEA standards is not going to deal with the real problems. [JAC: NCEA are National Certificates of Educational Achievement, the equivalent of secondary-school diplomas that come with three ratings.]

Because ultimately, this debate reflects a cynical ploy by the Ministry of Education, pretending to address the seriously inequitable outcomes of our system. The real issues are very hard and there is no quick fix.

. . . For the last two decades there has been no political will to fix this mess. Maybe our political classes agree with the Productivity Commission, that we should import those with the skills our economy needs (predominantly in science), and our children can look after the tourists.

I don’t think he means mātauranga Māori as “the science skills our economy needs.”

87 thoughts on “What’s going on in New Zealand? Three easy pieces

  1. “Because ultimately, this debate reflects a cynical ploy by the Ministry of Education, pretending to address the seriously inequitable outcomes of our system. The real issues are very hard and there is no quick fix.”

    In other words, the New Zealand government is trying to move the goal posts, rather than address the need for better science education. It won’t help the Maori, and it won’t help the other 80% of the population either.

  2. That’s a good summary of what’s happening, except the fracas is not limited to just how to teach science in NZ, but how to teach everything in schools — namely, how much Maori content to add to every subject.

    The original Listener letter that started off the Wiles-Hendy social media attempted lynching was very careful to state science does not belong to any ethnicity in particular. However, when the U Auckland attacked its seven academics, Chancellor of Vice Dr Freshwater explicitly mentioned ‘western science’ in contradistinction to ‘Maori knowledge’.

    The most telling aspect is that neither Wiles, Hendy, nor UoA management have ever admitted much of ‘Matauranga Maori’ eg creationist myths, other myths, is NOT science. Wiles, Hendy, UoA management etc attacked the academics for ‘hurting feelings’ and denigrating Maori ‘cultural ideas’. Seems ironic, that a primary purpose of a university is to sift through and evaluate ideas, yet Wiles, Hendy, and UoA management cannot abide the notion that most Maori traditional knowledge, just like British, Indian, Chinese, or Nigerian folk knowledge, is incorrect or metaphorical approximations [ as is in strict quantitative terms in high gravitational fields etc, Newtonian / classical physics ].

    Why did this happen? Because NZ is NOT, legally, a multi-cultural democracy. Yes, overseas readers, you read that right. Only Maori culture has legal protections. And protections against ‘ridicule’ or ‘insult’, the way the Prophet Mohammed is protected in Islamist nations.

    1. The population of NZ, in the 2018 census, shows around 16% Maori, 15% Asian, 11 % Pacific Island. In NZ government classification, anyone who has the tiniest aspect of Maori ancestry and ‘identifies’ as Maori in some respect, is counted as ‘Maori’ for statistical purposes. Auckland artist Peter Robinson has a series of paintings called ‘3.125% Maori’ which is his genealogical amount, and Auckland Art gallery classifies him as a ‘Maori’ artist, even though Robinson is lampooning the idea that being 3.125% Maori can allow him to claim grant money and cultural privileges as a Maori. One can have 2.125% Neanderthal/Denisovan genome, and 1% Maori, and be counted as an official Maori, but not a member of the culturally oppressed and colonised Denisova / Neanderthal peoples.

      The extreme White ethno-nationalists, including Prime Minister Ardern, claim the nation is a ‘Pacific’ nation, even though Australia next door describes itself as an Asia-Pacific nation, or an Indo-Pacific power. Asians in NZ are so culturally disregarded that it is very hard to get left-leaning NZers to even admit in public how the nation is a Westernised Asia-Pacific multi-ethnic society. These deluded folk walk around bleating like sheep about a ‘bicultural nation’ ie Maori-White, even though the last time the nation was overwhelmingly Maori-White was in the 1960s.

      1. Even in the 1960s I would not say that NZ was overwhelmingly Maori-White, unless you use a “drop of Maori blood” definition of Maori. As a high school student in Palmerston North in the first half of that decade, on an academic track, I had neither Asian nor Maori classmates – and I don’t remember many Asians or Maori at the school. At Victoria University in the second half of the decade, I had Asian classmates, but no Maori ones. There have been Chinese in NZ since the mid-19th century, almost as long as Europeans; as I recall, the initial group came from the US when gold was petering out in California but had been found in the South Island.

  3. Professor Wilcox’s notion that Genetics is no more than a “recreational” sideline is a perfect example of a content-free, “Science Studies” doctrine. Perhaps such doctrine has already been taught as if it were science for the past few decades in New Zealand, reflecting a triumph, not so much of matauranga Maori as of matauranga postmodernism and School of Ed twaddle. This kind of teaching must have helped along the sharp decline in various assessments of student knowledge . The perfect solution will no doubt be obvious to the NZ educracy: stop doing assessments.

    1. “The perfect solution will no doubt be obvious to the NZ educracy: stop doing assessments.”

      Agreed. They will also want to stop doing those pesky international comparisons…then the problem will have gone away! A bit like covering up the change oil light indicator on your car with tape…you’ll never have to worry about changing your oil again.

      1. I was Jerry, and thanks again to you and this group for your continued interest. I’m not an FRSNZ though, and no longer have an ambition to be …

  4. I’d not heard of Prof Martin, which in itself is pretty telling about the esteem in which science and maths are held in the NZ media, but it seems that he is one of the most distinguished mathematicians NZ has produced – up there with Roy Kerr and Vaughan Jones. The full review he mentions in his article is very good, although perhaps mainly of local interest:

    Although the review discusses only maths and statistics education in the English language the authors have been obliged, presumably by RSNZ style rules, to write with the usual admixture of Māori words (the weird “ākonga student” throughout), with Māori section titles preceding the English version and in larger type – my favourite being “Whakarāpopototanga” for “Executive Summary”. No doubt only racist dinosaurs will find this odd.

  5. Student-centered learning (mentioned by Gaven Martin as currently practiced in NZ) has worse outcomes with students from less educated family backgrounds. This has been known for a long time and the effect shows up even in the optimized versions of student-centered learning used in experiments designed by people who want to show the superiority of such methods. If the reformers are so pro-traditional wisdoms, they should have a try at traditional school teaching methods that have the benefit of empirically working better for children from less privileged homes.

  6. So, the petition set up by Siouxie Wells and Sean Hendy actually uses the phrase “ways of knowing”. Just like astrologers and palm readers…

    And they want to be taken seriously?

    PS Anybody know if Skeptics Guide to the Universe have covered this? It is the kind of anti-science nonsense they would have taken down a decade ago. I’ve not listened to it for a good 7-8 years.

  7. “…their supporters arguing that mātauranga Māori…should not only be taught in science classes, but taught as coequal with modern science.” – J. Coyne

    This follows directly from woke postmodernism, according to which…

    “[N]ot only is any knowledge socially constructed, but it is by definition biased and can’t be an accurate representation of reality. This, together with the fact that different cultures have different understandings of the nature of the world, implies that no worldview is more authoritative than any other. As such, all worldviews are (epistemically) equivalent in terms of their ability to know anything about reality, and amount simply to different “stories” about reality. So, for example, the scientific worldview has no greater claim to understanding reality than any other “story.” That is, a scientific worldview is no truer than a religious worldview, or even than a superstitious worldview. Moreover the scientific worldview (developed by white, European males) constructs knowledge about reality in such a way as to perpetuate systems of oppression that benefit oppressor white, European males. As such, even the tools used to understand the world according to the scientific worldview such as logic, argument, evidence, hypotheses, controlled experiments, etc. serve to perpetuate oppression.”

    (Pincourt, Charles, and James Lindsay. Counter Wokecraft: A Field Manual for Combatting the Woke in the University and Beyond. Orlando, FL: New Discourses, 2021. p. 5)

      1. Giving background information about the ideology behind the demand that mātauranga Māori “be taught in science classes,” and that it be taught “as coequal with modern science.”

  8. While I largely agree with the thrust of your article, you aren’t doing yourself any favours being sniffy about the inclusion of Maori words in English language articles. This is common practice in NZ, and most literate members of the public would have little problem following these snippets.

    1. Yes, I’m perfectly aware of that, but I presume that these articles are meant to be read by people who don’t speak Maori as well. I’m talking about communication here, which is what you call “sniffy”. In fact, I’ve asked several Kiwis to help me understand what some of those words mean, and very often they don’t know. So much for communication!

      1. Ramesh 2.125% Denisovan/Neanderthal ; 0% Maori.
        I agree with Jerry. Even though I came to NZ as a primary school-age child, I skim over these Maori bits, which get more profuse by the year.

        Commentor Joe must be ironic, given that Gaven Martin’s article linked here notes the crappy NZ high school results in most subjects, including reading in English. The decline in reading comprehension in NZ schools since 2000 almost exactly tracks in time the increase in Maori-English hybridised crypto-Creole used in NZ. As an Asian, I like to troll White NZers drooling in their postcolonial guilt by writing reasonably good English prose [ by NZ standards ], and using a wider vocabulary in spoken English than White NZers can, notwithstanding their enthusiastic cut-and-pastes of Maori words.

        Can’t blame the decline in schoolchildren’s reading comprehension on social media for this or smartphones, since they came a decade later.

        Maybe Gaven Martin can weigh in on this?

      2. I’m 46 and a Kiwi. Never been overly interested in Maori issues or language (Te Reo), but I had no problem whatsoever reading this. As others have pointed out, there’s been more use of Te Reo over recent years, probably something like 30 – 50 words in common usage (in radio/TV/newspaper reporting). I’ve picked them up without even realising I was doing so. But yeah, there probably is a bit a virtue signalling going on, as is typical for this publication.

        The Spinoff’s most definitely tailored for a local liberal (way more likely to be familiar with Te Reo words) audience – so totally appropriate usage.

        I may be a bit of a bleeding-heart lefty, but I actually really enjoy the increasing use of Te Reo here. One more thing that makes us a bit unique, and pretty cool to keep a previously dying language alive.

        That aside, couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of all the other issues you raise!

    2. I’d strongly disagree that most literate members of the public would have little problem following that article without a Maori dictionary. I certainly couldn’t, and nor could my wife, a native Kiwi who used to edit books for a living. Although to be fair she did say that she probably couldn’t understand it even with a dictionary. I doubt the authors believe it either, given that they have included many links to an online Maori dictionary.

      Incidentally the link from the screenshot doesn’t work for me:

      Most people understand a few Maori words – mana, aroha etc – but the wholesale importation of large numbers strikes me as comparatively recent and baffling. How many literate adults would know that “Ngā Ihirangi” means “Table of Contents”? Or even that “tihi” means “summit”, as I learned from a recently erected sign in Cornwall Park?

      1. I might as well clear up the field linguistics question discussed here by many : ‘How many Maori words actually do appear in NZ society nowadays, given the nation is 16% Maori [ 0.5% Maori genealogy or more = ‘Maori’], 15% Asian, 11% Pacific, 1% wider Middle East’?

        Why am I qualified to answer? Because I am biracial [ Indian-Chinese ] who culturally identifies with the high western bourgeois arts, but am comfortable with Indian and Chinese classical culture. Most of my professional work interactions are with those of Pacific ethnicities, but I also see professionally Whites, Asians and Maori in equal amounts. I am unusual socially insofar as most of my interactions lie with those who do not comprise my ethnicities. ( I presume most readers of this post would interact socially the most with those of their own main ethnicity.)

        Therefore I often witness 1- Pacific people talking amongst themselves ( at work ), 2- East Asians talking amongst themselves, 3-South Asians talking amongst themselves, 4- Whites talking to Whites ( eg for 20 years I have been the sole non-white in the Auckland branch of the Wagner Society ), or to a mixed audience.

        What I can say is that at work, I very frequently overhear Pacific peoples talking amongst themselves, who don’t realise I can overhear. Young Pacific people either speak their home language, especially with elders, but amongst other young Pacific people their overwhelming preference is for English WITHOUT Maori words. This is a striking empirical finding, since the Ardern Labour government is using all the levers it can to make Maori spoken everywhere, and Pacifica overwhelmingly vote Labour. I have mainly seen Pacific young people use Maori words when White people turn up, eg in a school or university setting, when White bureaucrats lapse into their Maori-White Crypto-Creole.

        Indian people in my experience almost never use Maori words speaking amongst themselves ( except in a White dominated workplace setting ), and neither do East Asians. For Asians speaking to Pacific people I have never seen anyone use Maori words, except under institutional duress.

        There is one major exception when Asians and Pacific people lapse into a stuttering version of Maori-White Crypto-Creole : when it comes to the arts. The arts scene is highly performative, especially the visual arts. Here, I have seen Asians and Pacific lapse into Maori words in the presence of progressive Whites, with a refractory period of some Maori words when the Whites disappear, before it tails off into English or home languages.

        In the NZ institutional world, the general rule is ‘the more government $ is given to the group, the more Maori words are slapped on. Conversely, the more private money an institution gets, the fewer Maori words are spoken except for window dressing.’ Case in point : corporate art. Art irrespective of ‘artistic merit’ is bought for both window dressing and investment. In NZ’s big law firms and businesses, 25 years of art attendance for me has shown the following : art with Maori words/design slapped on the artwork is hugely popular and largely placed in major public places in the building, even though White people say ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ to clients in big business ( but ‘Morena’ and ‘Kia Ora’ if it is a university or in the arts/museum world ).

        I know several people who curate corporate / institutional art collections and they all admit the same : the artwork that is chosen by high-ranking White people to hang in their offices and private homes has much fewer Maori words and themes slapped on than what appears in the public spaces. These people often like 19th century/early 20th paintings that feature White people or cute animals. BIG EXCEPTION : when White people in the corporate and institutional world are filmed for TV or internet video calls, background books and artwork have Maori words and design slapped on at far higher rates than reality. Happens to others also. Economist Shamubeel Eaqub usually appears on camera for TV and video calls with a book behind him with a big spine that reads : ‘TANGATA WHENUA’.

    3. I lived in NZ for 28 years before moving to Australia in 2000. From my time in NZ I don’t recall ‘English language articles’ being peppered quite so liberally with Maori words. A lot of the language used is outside of my comprehension. Things must have changed drastically in the last 20 years if the vast majority of non-Maori in NZ can interpret 100% of the Maori expressions contained therein. It almost as if the writers of such articles go to great pains to include a multitude of Maori terms as a form of virtue signaling…..

          1. I wouldn’t use the term. I voted for her twice. But I do think it’s becoming clear that her government has an agenda, of which the changes in science education are part, that might cause me to re-think my choice next time around, depending on the state of the opposition.

          2. Definitely a quisling if you consider utter devotion to the UN as the enemy. And I too voted for her twice and will never do so again. In fact, she is so good at quietly killing democracy without the populace realising, that I can think of other names she should be called as well.

    4. There being a long history of mostly amiable Maori-European relations and high rates of Maori-European intermarriage, it is unsurprising that many Maori words, especially those associated with Maori society and NZ’s unique flora and fauna, have been readily adopted over the years into everyday English.

      In recent years, to the capture of NZ’s powerful central government bureaucracies, especially education, health, social welfare, by the notion that reviving Maori language and culture will miraculously eliminate the Maori underclass has been added a news media bribed by taxpayer dollars to promote Maori language as a condition of continued financial support, and this has led to a surge of Maori words in English language news, weather reports, opinion pieces, as well as government department reports by people either anxious to keep their careers, the cash, or genuinely believing that scattering Maori words in English texts is Doing Something Good and Useful.

      I consider myself a literate NZer and spent most of my career teaching English in schools with large numbers of Polynesian students, including Maoris, and learnt a Polynesian language enough to occasionally speak it slowly and clumsily to students and supportive colleagues, but I’m somewhat overwhelmed by Maori words now appearing in official documents and suspect most NZers, literate or not, like me, find their use non-communicative, pretentious and a bit of a turn-off.

    5. Disagree Joe, many of us NZers hate the inclusion of Maori as every third or fourth word in everything we hear, read or are expected to write. The vast majority of us were educated without the use of Maori at all and in a country which is very multicultural it is especially annoying to asian immigrants and similar who had to work hard on english language skills to get here (and now in fact outnumber Maori) and are being told to now learn Maori to understand almost anything the government and media puts out.

      NZ is an almost 100% English speaking country and has been for getting close to 150 years so why do we now have to change our language to pidgin English? Will it help us negotiate trade deals overseas?

      We spend $Millions each year promoting Te Reo Maori and offering training in it but despite this, Maori who chose to speak Maori have declined year upon year despite 20 years of considerable funding. The use of Maori as it has evolved over the last few years is entirely political and supports the current governments undemocratic and ‘unkiwi’ bi cultural co governance agenda and the virtue signalling white elite.

    6. I’m a NZ and I don’t agree with that.

      Most NZers are familiar with some Māori words but very few speak te reo (Māori language) fluently – yet many articles in mainstream NZ media are now peppered with Māori words and phrases to the point where they are difficult to follow unless you do speak te reo.

      I think this an intentional strategy from academics and activists pushing Māori supremacy, as it makes it harder to argue with the specifics of an idea or proposal if it is largely unintelligible.

    7. I disagree. The inclusion of Maori words in these English language articles, without clear translations in the same text, renders the articles unreadable and therefore almost useless as an overview of the content. It’s an ineffective and blatantly arrogant way to attempt communication with non-Māori readers.

  9. I notice that Siouxsie (née Susanna) Wiles is British, and received her college and Microbiology training in Edinburgh. It is regrettable that she has not campaigned for the inclusion of the Lay of Ossian in the teaching of science in Scotland, but perhaps that will come next.

  10. Referring to the pdf titled “An empirical portrait of New Zealand adults living with low literacy and numeracy skills”, linked in Quotes from Item #3). What is striking is the disparity between an identifiable underclass and everyone else, as we certainly see in Canada and presumably in the other countries I mentioned.

    Granted there is concern elsewhere that performance at the top is not as it needs to be, either, but that’s for another day. It seems clear that with the worst performance concentrated among Maori and Pacific people, efforts to improve must be targeted there. Which leads immediately to ask about the ability of the children to do better. Unfortunately, a child born with fetal alcohol syndrome has permanently blighted mental capacity for sociability and educational achievement. They are eight-balled before they start. This is what efforts to improve the lot of Indigenous people in Canada run smack into but of course we aren’t allowed to talk about it. I don’t know if other societies face this.

    So my question is, To what extent is alcohol abuse generally, and among pregnant women particularly, seen as a social problem among Maori? This is even more important than substance abuse over-all because alcohol has the particularly pernicious consequence of directly blighting the developing embryo and fetus that other drugs do not share (other than hypoxia from overdoses and the ability of methamphetamine to prolong a drinking binge.)

    The report was silent on alcohol and drug use. Higher “mental health” contacts were noted among adults with low literacy and numeracy. This is commonly known to be a euphemism for drug and alcohol intoxication but it misses the particular contribution of fetal alcohol syndrome (which is sometimes folded in with developmental disorders) on school performance.

    Anyone from NZ able to enlighten me?

    1. Oops, “the other countries I mentioned” is an editing error. I now mean other OECD countries that have higher proportions of illiterate/innumerate people than NZ does.

    2. I’m not from NZ, but according to Wikipedia:

      Māori suffer more health problems, including higher levels of alcohol and drug abuse, smoking and obesity. Less frequent use of healthcare services mean that late diagnosis and treatment intervention lead to higher levels of morbidity and mortality in many manageable conditions. Compared with non-Māori, Māori people experience higher rates of heart disease, strokes, most cancers, respiratory diseases, rheumatic fever, suicide and self-harm, and infant deaths.

      In addition:

      [A] 2008 study by the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse showed that Māori women and children are more likely to experience domestic violence than any other ethnic group.


    3. It certainly applies in Australia and has created many other problems such as how do you deal with FAS affected people including juveniles who commit terrible crimes as the jails are not the appropriate place to incarcerate them. They still don’t necessarily have the mental capacity to rehabilitate themselves. They are definitely not isolated rare cases

    4. “It seems clear that with the worst performance concentrated among Maori and Pacific people, efforts to improve must be targeted there.”

      Let me tell you what those”improvements” look like.

      Maori have poorer health outcomes. Let’s leave aside the higher smoking rates, and worse obesity statistics.
      There is a proposal to introduce a Maori Health Authority. This authority will take some 30% (I can’t remember the exact figure) of health funding to be spent on Maori alone – based on that wide ranging definition of who is Maori. In addition, Maori will have full access to the remaining 70%, AND veto rights over health spending that affects non Maori.

      Utterly crazy. Imagine saying Maori DIDN’T have access to something based on ethnicity. But it’s ok for noon Maori to suffer that.

    5. In South Affrica FAS and the somewhat milder FAE (fetal alcohol effect) are definitely a serious problem, particularly in the coloured population. IIRC in a hospital in Upington, Norh Cape, about 10% of babies are affected. Although I doubt it is that high in all coloured communities, it is high everywhere.
      There are campaigns to improve that situation, but I don’t know how successful these are. I fully agree that tacking that would be of much greater help than the kind of virtue signaling we’re talking about.

    6. Its a factor amongst others that results in the underclass that we have here in NZ. But unlike in some countries we dont have significant numbers of Maori living in reserves drinking a lot.

      There are many socio economic issues creating the crisis in education at the bottom end, currently only 60% of NZ school age children attend school regularly but one of the issues that is blindingly obvious and has grown over time is that large parts of Maoridom feel disenfranchised and are refusing to follow the NZ societal path so to speak. Its understandable when you consider that the average home in NZ is $1 Million and that the ‘underclass’ is locked out of decent housing, many living 8 – 12 to a house, others in garages and sheds and even cars. There is almost no public housing with the waiting lists skyrocketing year on year. Wages are low and for the poorly educated, lower still. There are large Maori and Pasifica families where both parents work 2 and 3 jobs each. Children too are encouraged to work as soon as possible, even if it is only part time.

      I personally think it all starts with good quality, affordable housing but our government thinks it is an identity politics issue and is not putting the resources into replacing public housing that peaked in the early? 70’s and has been reduced by about 35 – 40% since then.

      1. Agreed that the reserve system (reservations they’re called in the U.S.) are a particularly toxic model. Few people on reserves work at even one job, much less 2 or 3. That is a helpful description of the trans-Pacific differences. Thank you.

        1. Leslie,
          in November 2021 the NZ Productivity Commission published a report, which is alluded to in the last sentence of Gaven Martin’s article posted above. I wrote to the new ( ethnic Indian ) head about this, and to my surprise he wrote back stating he largely agreed, and turned my email into a formal public submission. The reasons that Gaven Martin alludes to as ‘very difficult to solve’ are probably the ones here I dared to list :

          My reasoning chain is tabulated below :
          1. In ‘International migration to NZ’ figures 3.1, 3.2 show permanent and long term arrivals by areas/country of residence. International migration is largely through the points system for skills/education, followed by chain migration of family/family unification.
          2. Maori and PI preponderantly drive ’natural increase’ in population due to far higher birth rates, with median age these populations around age 25, far lower than all other ethnicities.
          3. All international studies of educational attainment show regression curves with inverse correlation of educational attainment of progeny with increasing family size; and positive regression fit with educational attainment of child and a) educational level of the mother, b) age of mother
          4. Skills/points based migration will favour those with greater formal education, as well as English-speaking sills.
          5. Ballooning house price inflation since the 1990s means that intergenerational transfer of wealth through property favours the demographic mix of house owners prior to the periods of house price inflation grossly exceeding wage rises.
          6. Factors 2, 3 and 5 above imply that intergenerational wealth transfer from property to Maori and PI children will be effectively zero over the next few decades.
          7. Factor 6 shows that housing insecurity will be most marked for Maori and PI, and housing insecurity is correlated with poorer educational outcomes of progeny.
          8. Migration from Asian countries, at levels determined by policy settings, still will have the pattern of wealthy migrants from China, and those from South Asia/Philippines with combination of English language skills and job qualifications.
          9. Migration from Pacific will be chain migration, NZ Realm nations, and low level educational qualifications.
          10. Factors 1 to 9 inclusive above imply ethnically stratified skills/wealth-based immigration; with Whites and Asians as higher skills/ higher wealth.
          11. Factors 1 to 10 inclusive lead to widening ethno-socioeconomic differentiation in NZ society over the next few decades. Asians largely degree credentialled, equal or higher rates than NZ-born Whites; White immigrants also credentialled equal to or higher rates than NZ-born Whites.
          Maori and PI, less intergenerational wealth from property, lower educational credentials, culturally high birth rates acting as roadblock to closing educational gaps with Asians and Whites.
          12. Increasing productivity of the nation will be partly hampered by 1) increasing % of retired Whites and ethnic Chinese ( 1 child households from China means that chain migration parents from Mainland China will greatly increase elderly Chinese here ) 2, the increasing % of low educational attainment Maori and PI cohorts. However, higher birth rates of Maori and PI will increase the % of prime working age adults for these groups.
          13. Low intergenerational wealth transfer via real estate to Maori over next 50+ years, along with poorer-paying lower skilled jobs will lead to increasing political demands by Maori for additional revenue streams through ‘customary rights’ to counterbalance this.
          14. Increasing % of Asian population over the next 50 years will act as brake to point 13, since Asian migrants will not have the postcolonial guilt of White NZers and therefore are more likely to object to wealth transfers predicated on indigenous ’sovereignty’.

          1. Thank you for taking the trouble to spell this out, Ramesh. I find it absorbingly interesting and helpful. (I hope this note of thanks doesn’t go to the over-commenting count. I couldn’t not acknowledge it.)

          2. Interesting points there Ramesh with which I largely agree but I think you have point 14 wrong on a few counts.

            I may be wrong and you may have a different experience but my experience of Chinese immigrants in particular and others escaping difficult regimes is that they come here, work hard on getting a foothold and building wealth but are almost entirely silent politically. I have wondered if it is a knock on effect of growing up in a communist regime (eg: dont prompt the authorities notice) or simply that building wealth is more important than paying much attention to the country at large.

            I think Asians could have a huge role in turning the tide of this bi cultural co governance paradigm we are being forced into. We need more voices prepared to stand up and say NZ is a multicultural country and we are all NZers and we are all equal under the law!

            As to the post colonial guilt of white NZers, I am not sure you are reading it right.

            It seems to be a more generational view than anything. Most non Maori Nzers dont feel any post colonial guilt, the younger ones who have been through higher education in NZ over the last ten years have had a lot of this stuff pounded into them and believe it hook, line and sinker but NZers over 40 are largely proud of their country. They definitely care about inequality but they dont believe we need BiCulturalism to keep making progress.

            3 things also factor into what is happening- the lynch mob that now forms whenever anyone questions the government’s agenda (Think Judith Collins asking about whether the Govt was enacting He Pua Pua). The fact that so many middle New Zealanders are struggling to keep food on the table that they are blind to everything else and simply not paying attention. The completely strings attached $100″ Million grants made to the media and the multiple millions spent on top of that for media advisors and paid for advertorials in Newspaper and TV.

            Many NZers are steadfastly against what’s happening but are too scared to say anything lest they be branded racists but sadly many are utterly convinced the idea of separatism is so far fetched that it simply couldnt happen. So white post colonial guilt – not so much – fear, ,overwhelming drudgery, ignorance and unremitting propaganda much more so.

            1. Ramesh 2.125% Denisovan/Neanderthal
              Nico : fair points, mate. I was lazy and pasted en bloc what I wrote to the NZ Productivity Commission, grammar flubs and all. I should’ve been more nuanced about ‘postcolonial guilt’, but you have supplied the extra detail.

              While this blog has focussed on science and Matauranga, here is an article I wrote for a London site, about Matauranga and western music in NZ :

              Incidentally, I am glad to report an email I received this lunchtime, which pertains to my campaign to increase Asian representation and decrease Matauranga in the Auckland arts. I wrote to Foundation North, one of the three core sponsors of the Auckland Arts Festival 2021 and 2022, enclosing the 15000 word complaint I’ve submitted to the Human Rights Commission about anti-Asian acts perpetrated by Auckland arts groups. The gist of my complaint was that as the % of Asian Aucklanders exceeds the total census population of both Auckland Maori [ 0.5%+ Maori ancestry = ‘maori’ ] and Pacific Islanders combined, this implies the baseline cultural formula of multi-cultural Auckland arts groups/festivals should be Asian themed events greater or equal to sum total of Maori/PI events.
              Foundation North have written, ‘the perspective you presented has been considered and is now logged in our funding system, where it can be referenced as and when needed.’

    1. Why the word “”Pakeha””? What is wrong with White? Only a tiny fraction of NZers speak any level of Maori and the majority of them are White liberals who did a night course Intro to Maori Language and drop the odd bit of vocab at their dinner table parties because they are snobs.

        1. So? White is the word we describe ourselves as and which everyone knows. Why would any White person identify themselves with a Maori word, except hypocritical elitist snobs?

          1. I believe the use of Pakeha is a generational issue and very much dependent on what connotation you consider it to have. Younger woke NZers are keen to be seen as Pakeha (as it denotes white NZer and distances them from the colonial mother country). The other form used is white european. Older people prefer this option because perhaps the roots they have but also because in the old days, there was a lot of controversy over what Pakeha meant including the suggestion it meant ‘Long Pig’ which was fairly derogatory. I personally hate being called pakeha and on a personal level, it has racist connotations. I would only ever want to be called, or call myself, a NZer. I find the renewed fixation on race in NZ by our government and media as being inherently divisive.

            1. As someone who is from “the silent generation “ I have never referred to myself as WHITE – when did this happen?
              I suspect just in the last four years.
              I’m not a pakeha I am a New Zealander and if there is a box to tick I am a NZ European.
              Kiwi doesn’t seem appropriate either as so many of us fly all around the world (or used to before Covid-19)
              Who wants to identify with a flightless brown bird ?

              1. New Zealand = White. Aotearoa = Maori/Globalist.

                Go into a soulless cavernous mega mall in Auckland and you are experiencing Globalism – minority white demographics looks like an international travel hub. You could be anywhere on the planet, over weight zombie consumers shuffling around clutching smart phones and Global Corps branded shopping bags.

                That is the destruction of white New Zealand identity, history and culture, replaced with brand “Äotearoa”.

              2. I often refer to myself as “Canadian” on forms. I’m starting to find things annoying with race lately. I guess it’s my own backlash.

            2. My mom a NZ of the Silent Generation always referred to herself as Pakeha and no one thought anything of it at all. I’m worried that these completely normal words and behaviours are being mixed in with things the woke are doing. And that long pig thing was shown to be bullshit. No one knows where the word came up and it isn’t derogatory at all but most likely means something closer to “not Maori” though it came to refer to colonists who happen to be white.

              1. My impression is that the use of the term Pakeha is less widespread than when I arrived, perhaps because non-Maori NZ have become less overwhelmingly white, and it sounds odd to refer to some one whose parents or grandparents came here from, for example, China, India, or Sri Lanka as Pakeha. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to themselves as “white” though.

                Forms here annoy me. I have to tick “Other” and write in “English”. I’d still often be referred to as a Pom, or sometimes “whingeing Pom” or “Pommy bastard”.

                Somewhat woke article on the topic in the Guardian yesterday:

              2. Yes Diana, the historical ie 19th century usage of ‘Pakeha’ by Maori meant ‘foreigner’ irrespective of settler origins. Chinese in the 19th century apparently were initially called ‘Pakeha’ by Maori.
                ‘White’ is not an official designation on NZ census and other government forms, which habitually used ‘NZ European’ for as long as I can remember.
                It seems White NZers for the 19th and much of the 20th century described themselves as ‘British’, or ‘citizens of the British Empire’.

                The term ‘NZ European’ probably started to enter historical usage with the rise of NZ nationalism in the wake of WW1, and increased in the Great Depression. The White NZ nationalists were left-leaning, and blamed Empire for the slaughter of WW1, and international capitalism for the depression. Therefore in the early to middle 20th C, very left NZers would probably describe themselves as ‘NZ European’, and even ‘Pakeha’, while the middle ground and right still considered themselves foremost as British Imperial citizens. ( In the early 20th C, the poll tax levied against Chinese was also to be levied on Indians, who were often called ‘Assyrians’. It was actually Whitehall that overruled the NZ Dominion government, on the grounds that Indians were citizens of Empire, and therefore could not be extended the sanctions against the Chinaman.) A Green Party voter or Labour voter prefers to use ‘Aotearoa’ and ‘Pakeha’ far more than the right. It’s a handy crib to discern with about 80% accuracy where someone is on the political spectrum even if their speech or written content carries no political slant.

                The term ‘NZ European’ over the past few generations has shifted to be the preference of the middle ground and political right, because while the early 20th C left stressed the ‘NZ’ part of ‘NZ European’, now the left uses ‘Pakeha’ and ‘Aotearoa’– basically any Maori words slapped on. ( Wiles and Hendy habitually use these terms in public.) This is because of the psychological need of the left to stress a ‘unique NZ identity’, inter alia, Matauranga.
                NZ Labour Party and Greens comms to constituency members are in Maori-White Crypto-Creole. The neoliberal ACT party uses English almost exclusively. In fact I received a generic Xmas card from the ACT party, mailed to everyone in their fortress Epsom electorate, and I was overjoyed. It was bilingual — Simplified Chinese and English.

              3. I think I implied “foreigner” with “non Maori”. I am not sure everyone agreed that was the word use though. Also, I don’t know if Chinese would be called Pakeha today only because I once watched some border reality TV show in NZ and a Chinese lady got really mad being searched and claimed that they didn’t behave this way toward Pakeha to which the border person said they did too behave this way toward Pakeha and anyone else. In this sense I think the Chinese lady was referring to New Zealanders of European descent.

              4. All true, Diana, but my point was in the 19th century, “pakeha’ was a term used by Maori for ALL new settlers, while 19th C British settlers documented themselves as ‘British’ or ‘NZ residents of the British Empire’. The point of my comment was to clarify for non-NZ readers of this blog that terms of national identity have shifted in meaning over the past 180 years.

                Nowadays no Asians, unless they are mixed-race, consider themselves either ‘Maori’ or ‘Pakeha’. A recent White NZ historian, Michael King, wrote a biography called ‘Being Pakeha’ in its first edition, and ‘Being Pakeha Now, recollections of a White Native’, in its second edition. Recently a NZ Chinese film reviewer wrote her biography as a reflection of these names : ‘Being Chinese : A New Zealander’s Story’ by Helene Wong.

              5. Perhaps it depends on where you live in NZ. I was raised for all of my childhood in a small country town in Canterbury where there were no people of Māori decent at all. It wasnt until I went to a Highschool with a comparatively (for South Island) large number of Māori pupils from a settlement nearby.
                I don’t remember any kind of attitude from anyone that was racist. We were all just teenagers.
                Certainly we had a head boy who was Māori and also prefects and just as many high achievers.
                The current hostility is horrifying and I am so disappointed in this government for promoting these divisions.
                Sometimes I wonder if they really have considered the “endgame” the fallout of this has yet to come.
                I have voted Labour most of my adult life and would consider myself centre left and now feel I have no where left to vote. I will not vote for these separatist policies.
                As far as I am concerned Māori are New Zealanders as are the rest of us. My grandkids are 7th generation NZers.
                Having said that, after the UK joined the common market A NZer needed to prove a British grandparent before unrestricted travel there. Fancy that – a tiny % didn’t count.

              6. My mom grew up in both larger and smaller towns in NZ and spent a lot of time in really small town where there were lots of Maori. My nana had many Maori friends and so did my mom but of course there was still racism. One friend of my nana’s neighbours lost friends when he married a Maori girl. Stupid. I think things are a lot better now than they were back then in the 60s.

  11. This situation reminds of a conversation with an elderly doctor regarding schools. As he said in my day it was pretty obvious there were smart and dumb kids but now there are no dumb kids, where did they all go?

  12. Thank you for this article.

    This is the first time I’ve seen the following (as I don’t read the Guardian):

    “Two of New Zealand’s most prominent Covid experts… Siouxsie Wiles, an associate professor of medical science…”

    Siouxsie Wiles has a Ph.D. in microbiology; her special expertise is in bioluminescent bacteria. It is not clear that she ought to be regarded as an epidemiologist, although that is how she is sometimes described in the NZ press.

    My first exposure to Siouxsie Wiles was listening to an interview on the RNZ (Radio New Zealand) morning programme, where she didn’t enlighten us very much about Covid-19 but did emphasize that it was a good opportunity to implement a Universal Basic Income.

  13. The authors in item #1 write of “knowledge systems”, or “indigenous ways of knowing” which include “methodologies” which have not yet been discovered by so-called “western” science. I’m interested in the non-overlapping part and would like to get an idea, what they mean. I tried to find relevant literature on such mysterious knowledge.

    Perhaps of interest what I found: The top entry in google scholar for me was “Indigenous Knowledge Within a Global Knowledge System” (Durie, 2005), a 12 page paper which coincidentally is based much on the Maori. By sheer happenstance, the paper was written by Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie, New Zealand professor of Māori Studies and research academic at Massey University. His field is psychiatry. I’m going to assume that this is the source of their assertions of the authors listed in Jerry’s article.

    What does it say? It comes down to preservation of an indigenous culture and their traditions and an equal status (not as lesser), which from my vantage point gets rationalised as special ways of knowing. The paper itself more or less admits that this is just about respecting a mythology-infused understanding of nature, with the Maori as part of it, and not actual insights they might have. The author puts a very thin veneer over it, since he wants Maori and their culture as good as the “western” one. This end justified the means.

    Science is one body of knowledge and indigenous knowledge is another. It is important that the tools of one are not used to analyse and understand the foundations of another, or to conclude that a system of knowledge that cannot withstand scientific scrutiny, or alternately a body of knowledge that is incapable of locating people within the natural world, lacks credibility (Waldram, 1995, 214–218).

    Further, the aim is to depict the Maori ways as equal in status to the “western” one. And by that, he explicitly means their mythology too. Further, he says that is already not a problem, because …

    Many scientists subscribe to religious beliefs that cannot be explained by science, and many indigenous people use scientific principles in everyday life while at the same time holding fast to indigenous values. There are an increasing number of indigenous researchers who use the interface between science and indigenous knowledge as a source of inventiveness and, rather than seeking to prove the superiority of one system over another, are more interested in identifying opportunities for combining both.

    There are some goals listed at the end, and it becomes clear that the cart is dragging the horse (direct citations).
    {1} “full Maori participation”
    {2} “actively protect Maori custom and methodologies”

    Hence, the requirement dictates …

    Paradigms that encourage and enable interface teaching and research require balance between indigenous methodologies and conventional academic methods associated with higher education, including research.

    Durie, M. Indigenous Knowledge Within a Global Knowledge System. High Educ Policy 18, 301–312 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.hep.8300092

  14. Those Maori words used in the example seem fairly ordinary to me and pakeha use them too (like whanau, marae), I think it’s fairly embedded in the culture there and may seem weird to outsiders but I’ve often heard and read this level of English with Maori words. I only recently realized kumera was a Maori word and just thought that’s what they call sweet potato in NZ.

    1. Everyone would understand “whanau” and “marae”. “Kumara” is a Maori word, but there’s no English equivalent – “sweet potato” is too general – and nobody calls them anything else. I doubt that most people would have a clue what “manaakitanga”, “whare wānanga”, or ” kaitiakitanga” mean without a Maori dictionary. As for “embedded in the culture”, to a modest extent in general, but advanced use in the media is such that TVNZ now needs to produce a glossary so that most of us can understand the TV news:

      1. Perhaps I’m trying to make clear that words like I mention and many others are part of the vernacular in NZ. It’s harder for Americans and Canadians to understand how Maori words are embedded in the language in NZ because we don’t have an equivalent here and reading something with a scattering of these words could come off as just trying to be woke when it’s something that is done for decades. My mom’s friends sign Christmas cards as from them and whanau for example and sometimes mention things in Maori that I have to ask my mom about because it’s not the same here. Most also don’t know that Maori is the second official language in NZ and it appears on the passports. This is something that would be very foreign to an American (less so for a Canadian since we have French so there is at least a reference for us).

        As for kumera my point was that I didn’t realize it was a Maori word. I just thought it was a name they gave these things in NZ like they call a lot of foods different names than we do in NA.

        1. Its elite driven. The filthy peasants, especially the White ones, are just suppose to bow and scrape as Globalism is foisted on them – and they will for the most part while the housing bubble continues.

          If the intellectual Know Betters really cared about saving the Maori language then mandating Grand Theft Auto language options only had Maori would be a good start.

          1. That is a very strange non sequitur that seems to try to overlay paranoid right wing tropes to something wholly unrelated. You sound bot-like.

            1. I agree, genXer is starting to sound like a slightly unhinged bot – eg “minority white demographics looks like an international travel hub.” in response to Otherwise

              1. Indeed and “globalism” which is just laughable to me when associated with Maori and NZ.

  15. Over-woke gone mad. Apples and oranges.. or apples and kiwi’s. Respectfully treating cultural beliefs and knowledge enriches our societies, but putting them on a pedestal and claiming they are somehow equivalent to or better than scientific knowledge gained through scientific method shows ignorance of the latter. Its ironic that MM is being compared to knowledge from scientific method, yet is resists one of the core tenants of scientific knowledge, everything is theory and can be disproved. Scientific method welcomes critique and attempts to disprove it. It seems MM is relying on laws to protect critical analysis of itself. Cultural rituals were often ways to pass on safety knowledge, like food safety pre-refrigeration, with halal and kosher food preparations. We have now learnt about bacteria, and how halal/kosher methods protect against death.
    Its sad, i think, that a phd in microbiology (Siouxsie), can get more caught up in the surge of academic institution based wokeism, and seemingly fail to understand the difference between ‘apples’ and ‘kiwi’s’. Comparing two different forms of knowledge and trying to equate them together fails logically. It also insults generations of people who have devoted their lives to science.

  16. Any chance we can get a list of the most important scientific breakthroughs of mātauranga Māori in the last 100 years to compare it with White science?

  17. Pepeha is split between hereditary locators (waka, iwi, hapū) and environment locators (marae, maunga, awa). Wilcox says this is exactly the same as the first equation in quantitative genetics: my phenotype is the sum of my genetics as well as the environment that I live in.

    “So pepeha in some respects is the conceptual equivalent of quantitative genetics, it’s just a different way of looking at it,” says Wilcox.

    If I’m interpreting the above correctly, Professor Wilcox is engaging in what resembles Muslim attempts to “prove” the Quran predicted all the discoveries of modern science. A poetic verse where Allah lays out the Heavens like a tablecloth predated the discovery of the red shift; a passage describing the human hand is secretly a revelation of blood types, etc. Find a vague superficial correspondence between ancient wisdom of one type or another and a bit of solid science and claim they’re either the same, or proof of God, or both. The Hindus are also experts at this.

    This isn’t science. It’s apologetics. Secular apologetics, if we’re charitable.

  18. A little while ago I noticed a propensity for the virtual signallers in my company to end their English emails with a Maori phrase meaning (when I googled it) “goodbye”.

    As an experiment I substituted “Regards” in my signature for a Black African language greeting of departure “Go Well” in Zulu. (like Maori this language only became written with the arrival of European scholars and doesn’t lend itself to corporate correspondence)

    Many co-workers of African origin replied in kind.

    One woman of Maori heritage (who incidentally uses the aforementioned “Regards”) politely enquired as to the meaning and was pleased to learn something new.

    None, I repeat none, of the virtual signallers chose to enquire at all.

    1. I do some work with staff from a few Iwi (now I’m at it) organisations, and it’s pretty standard for them to start an email with “Kia ora” and end with “Ngā mihi”. I wouldn’t call that virtue signalling though. They just about never use any Maori words in the actual body of the email though, the only exception I can remember being when one suggested meeting for a kōrero (discussion). I rather like it – much as I liked the way a Nigerian colleague signed his emails with “In the Blessed Hope”. I think that “kia ora” must have been in fairly common use since at least the 1980s – I remember being struck by it when I arrived, having previously only known of “Kia-ora” as an orange drink advertised in cinemas by Ronnie Barker, with the injunction not to make “idiotic slurping noises” while drinking it.

      All of this reminded me with a clip from a satirical TVNZ show from around 2005, which gives an idea of the tone of the discussion back then: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Wv5oA-VQqk

      Unlikely they’d get away with it these days, although the presenter Jeremy Wells did recently make the news overseas by getting our PM to state live on national TV that Tinder liaisons of up to 25 people were now allowed under new Covid rules.

      Apologies to overseas readers if this all seems terribly parochial and boring, not to mention massively off-topic.

  19. Not to intrude myself in a NZ debate, but language problem with Science are present in all non-English speaking countries. I have studied up to MSc in Italian language, but to publish on scientific journals I have to write in English. I am not making a big fuss about that, even though 400+ years ago I would have written my Science in Latin. I do not think that classical Latin period scientific knowledge is actual and should be taught in Science class. BUT I am proud of my classes in ancient Latin and Greek at high school level, where I happily learned about Zeus, Jupiter, Mars, Juno, Christ, etc., all those foundational mythological figures. I would never ever anyway take away from my Science curriculum all the non-Latin speaking scientists. You can well have an “History of Science” where Maori myths take the place of “Mediterranean” myths. But actual post-Galilean Science should not be mixed up with myths. Non factual based and non methodologically sound research is not Science. It is Myth. And I would not take today as my Science book Lucretius’ “De rerum natura”. A bit outdated.

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