A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Català_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ The.Supplement
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours || of past 30 days | of 2002 | of 2003 | of 2004

Syndication Of A-Infos - including RDF | How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) Aotearoa-New Zealand Imminent Rebellion #1 - Anarchy: A Maori Perspective

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 27 Jan 2004 11:03:39 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

BEING Maori, identifying with Mana Maori
and believing in the principles of anarchism is
a seemingly huge paradox, full of
insurmountable contradiction.
Maori who are part of the struggle for Tino
Rangatiratanga (Maori sovereignty) see their
political and social ideal in the return of Mana
Whenua, the control over their own physical
(fisheries, land, forests, seas) and intangible
(Te Reo Maori, health, justice, beliefs)
resources and the working in partnership with
the colonial government on issues affecting the
How can this reconcile with the political and
social ideals of anarchism, where every person
is free to organise themselves and their lifestyle
as they please, in co-operation with others and
the environment; without oppressive
hierarchical or discriminatory structures,
especially as the traditional Maori structure of
society is hierarchical, patriarchal, oppressive
and sexist?
Hapu and iwi were ordered into rangatira
(ruling class), tutua (commoners), and
taurekareka (slaves). Power was handed down
from the chief to his eldest son, although if he
was a bad or inadequate leader he could be
usurped by one of his younger brothers. Women,
if a member of the chief's family (sister,
daughter) were accorded the mana of the ruling
class, but did not become chiefs. They were
used as bartering objects to build stronger
alliances with other hapu and iwi. This enforced
marriage/slavery often led women to choose
suicide as their only option. Women were also
prevented from being involved in some tasks
because of menstruation, which was considered
unclean and capable of rotting vegetable crops
and spoiling food.
There are many aspects of traditional Maori
culture which work contrary to basic anarchist
principles: Maori were a warrior race, who
actively sought to invade other communities,
killing, brutalising and enslaving the
inhabitants, destroying their homes and crops
and stealing their possessions.
Yet there are some aspects of Maori culture
which are living examples of anarchist co-
operation - the concept of whanaunatanga, the
extended family, was the basis of all Maori
society. The hapu was simply a larger whanau
with a leader (chief) and iwi were related hapu
to a common ancestor. The whanau was usually
made up of three or more generations, who
worked and lived together for the good of
common existence. Each generational group
had a particular role to play, and each role was
recognised as equal in value for the good of
the whanau.

Adults made up the regular labour force of
working the gardens, maintaining the buildings,
cooking, making clothes, fishing, hunting, and
any other heavy labour work, including war
parties. Having and raising children was
considered the primary function of the whanau
and their care was left mainly to the elders,
who were greatly esteemed for their knowledge
and life experience.
Everybody took responsibility for the
children regardless of who the parents were.
This collective responsibility is demonstrated
through the language were matua applies to
mother, father, aunt and uncle, and tuakana,
teina, tungane and tuahine applies to brothers,
sisters and cousins.
Overall the whanau and the hapu worked
collectively for the benefit of everyone, crops
were collectively worked and shared amongst
everyone. Fishing and hunting successes were
also shared. Each hapu worked for themselves,
and traded with neighbouring communities if
necessary or desirable.
One of the most important and significant
aspects of Maori culture is the relationship of
the people to the land. Maori cosmology forms
the basic premise of the creation of the world
and its people and prescribes the way people
must behave and relate to the earth and its
resources. Many stories and myths describe
exactly how to fish, plant, and catch birds while
still respecting environment's need of time and
space to recover.
People's relationship with the earth is one
of child to parent, where Papatuanuku is
revered as the giver of sustenance, provider of
life, as well as the receiver of a person's body
for protection and comfort at death. Every living
thing: plants, trees, animals, and even
inanimate things eg. rivers, mountains, waka,
wharenui have a mauri, an essential lifeforce
which is respected and valued. Any handling
of these things required chants, rituals and
expressions of appreciation and concern for its
This principle of respect and value of the
earth is still an essential part of Maori identity
and many practices are still maintained,
especially with fishing and the collecting of flax
and other natural resources for making cloaks,
kete etc. This area is one maintained
predominantly by Maori women.
Working with our natural resources rather
than against them is a basic premise of a
successful anarchist society.
A culture is not a static institution but a
living, growing response by a self-identified
people to their changing environment. But a
people whose culture is threatened by imminent
absorption (destruction) will hold steadfastly
to its remaining ideals and practices in an effort
to protect and preserve itself.
Maori culture was nearly wiped out by
colonial invasion. Maori people were
decimated by a combination of introduced
disease and government sponsored genocide;
the Maori population declined by 60% in only
20 years.
The assault against our culture forced Maori
who had the knowledge of our cultural ways
into staunchly keeping them alive through rigid
practice and rejection of change. This `cultural
freeze' is a self-protective response to a threat
of destruction and the very real fear of being
Maori feminists have struggled for years
against a barrage of accusations of `having gone
the Pakeha way' or that feminism is a Pakeha
thing and anti-Maori. Yet Maori women
continue to struggle not only against white New
Zealand patriarchal dominance, but also Maori
patriarchal dominance, believing that "unless
Maori feminism is harnessed and the sexism
of society, including Maori society, challenged,
the successful attainment of the goals of Maori
development will elude Maoridom".
A society under siege had no room for
development, only self-preservation. There is
no way Maori culture will change or grow
unless guaranteed by white society security
from interference or integration.
So, how can this contribute to anarchism's
movement towards free, non-hierarchical
collective communities? I have already given
a few examples of some aspects of Maori
culture which relate directly to many anarchist's
ideas of anarchist society. There are many more,
such as holistic healing and real justice and
rehabilitation for victims and offenders.
Many ways of doing things inherent in our
culture and which were suppressed by the
colonial government and its institutions,
correspond with many anarchist principles.
But only through the restoration of Tino
Rangatiratanga to Maori people will our culture
have the freedom to grow. And only through
cultural growth will Maori society be able to
discard the oppressive and hierarchical
structures of the past and develop into a free
and egalitarian society.
- Metiria Turei (Originally printed in 1993
and reprinted with Metiria's concent. Metiria
may, however, no longer hold the above views
especially considering she is now an MP for
the Green Party)

****** The A-Infos News Service ******
News about and of interest to anarchists
INFO: http://ainfos.ca/org http://ainfos.ca/org/faq.html
HELP: a-infos-org@ainfos.ca
SUBSCRIPTION: send mail to lists@ainfos.ca with command in
body of mail "subscribe (or unsubscribe) listname your@address".

Full list of list options at http://www.ainfos.ca/options.html

A-Infos Information Center