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(en) Aotearoa-NZ. Thral #24 - Tino Rangatiratanga and capitalism

From <ffyddless@yahoo.co.nz>
Date Mon, 10 Mar 2003 17:55:25 +0100 (CET)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

from thrall magazine, number 24 (late

Tino Rangatiratanga and capitalism 

?Ka whawhai tonu matou ake ake ake ? - Rewi Maniapoto
1864. (?We will fight on forever, ever and ever?.) 

Firstly I?d like to say that this my opinion on what
is Tino Rangatiratanga, acknowledging that there are
many different meanings for Tino Rangatiratanga and
the concept itself is part of a rich and ongoing
debate in Maori society. So I think the
debate/dialogue/discussion surrounding Tino
Rangatiratanga is an organic/dynamic thing so in that
vein of thought my own views are also dynamic and
changing. So yeah that?s all the disclaimer shit out
of the way [ in case I change my mind : and someone
quotes me out of context.] 

I feel that no one person has all the answers but that
there should be parameters where the korero is
contained, so that the korero is relatively in the
same ?discussion ball-park.? I also think that some of
the issues surrounding Tino Rangatiratanga are for
Maori and Maori alone to debate/decide. (How that
decision is made is another thing completely). I think
there are some aspects of Tino Rangatiratanga that
non-Maori can engage on but there are some aspects
that are for Maori only. This is consistent with
principles of self-determination, meaning it?s not
self-determination if someone else is determining it
for you. 

A good definition of Tino Rangatiratanga can be found
on the Tino Rangatiratanga website.
(http://aotearoa.wellington.net.nz) The word ?tino? is
an intensifier and the word ?rangatiratanga? broadly
speaking relates to the exercise of ?chieftainship?.
Its closest English translation is self-determination
- although many also refer to it as ?absolute
sovereignity? or Maori independence. Such a concept
embraces the spiritual link Maori have with
?Papatuanuku? (Earthmother) and is a part of the
international drive by indigenous people for self

courts, parliament, the universities, and other
?talking heads?.) 
How this broad definition fits in with what is
happening in Maori society, the sorts of parameters it
throws up and the extent of those parameters, I think
is determined, at the flaxroots level. Treaty
principles (and other similar attempts thrown up by
this and that government and this and that court and
then mulled over by the academics in the learning
institutions) have all been reactions to direct action
at the flaxroots level. For example the setting up of
the Waitangi Tribunal and the establishment of the
Maori Language Commission culminated with actions from
the 60s, and 70s. 

I think the struggle for Tino Rangatiratanga happens
on a number of levels, a part of the struggle is the
retention and revitalisation of our language and
customs. In that sense every volunteer in every kapa
haka group and Kohanga reo (and other similar groups)
is in some way contributing to the struggle of Tino
Rangatiratanga. Where I think the most clarity and
direction happens for Tino Rangatiratanga is on the
direct action frontline (as opposed to parliament, the
courts, the classroom). The ?Movement? has
traditionally been an extremely heterogeneous social
force encompassing a considerable variety of political
strategies, campaigns and participants. But this is
where the parameters of Tino Rangatiratanga are set
(or not set ). Like most movements the Tino
Rangatiratanga movement has a tradition and a history.
This tradition is rooted in conflicts over the Treaty
of Waitangi, Maori resistance in the ?Land Wars?,
inspired by the Prophet Warriors Titokowaru and Te
Kooti Arikirangi, the philosophies of Te Whiti and
Tohu Kakahi, the strategies of the Kingitanga, the
resilience of Rua Kenana, and the foresight of Ratana,
and those countless ancestors whose blood soaks this
land. In the modern context this tradition has been
held up by new groups and individuals such as Nga
Tamatoa, WAC (Waitangi Action Committee), Te Kawariki,
Black Women, Te mana motuhake o Tuhoe, Te Kawau Maro,
(the list goes on and on) who in turn drove and were
inspired by the Occupations of Bastion Point
(Takaparawha), The Land March and the countless
Marches on Waitangi, resistance to the infamous fiscal
envelope and the Occupations it set off, Pakaitore,
Takahue, etc. The establishment of the Tuhoe Embassy,
the Occupation of Waikaremoana, resistance to Free
Trade and Genetic Engineering. It is here where I
think the parameters of Tino Rangatiratanga are
debated /digested /formulated. 

CULTURAL NATIONALIST DIVIDE (the divide between rich
Maori and poor Maori.) 
Yup nasty old capitalism. I think that one of the
parameters that needs to be set is a Maori based
analysis of capitalism. Placing white settler
colonisation of Aotearoa within its historical
context, it can be seen as a part of the global
process of capitalist expansionism based on the
destruction of the territorial and cultural integrity
of the indigenous populations by the expropriation and
commodification of their lands and human resources.
>From a tikanga perspective capitalism began in
Aotearoa with the commodification of Papatuanuku, that
is the individualisation of whenua, disrupting the
collective connection that Maori had with the whenua.
This is the nature of colonisation so the struggle
against colonisation is the struggle against
capitalism. Capitalism is class struggle, that is,
capitalism, by its very nature, forces people to work
for a wage. For example, by stealing communal lands
and resources, causing the indigenous peoples who
relied on those lands and resources for survival,
causing them to move to the cities to work as wage

The struggle against colonisation and capitalism also
has contemporary manifestations, but there are also
things that happened relatively recently that we can
be learn and build on. The Tino Rangatiratanga
movement in the 60s and 70s drew on other social
movements of that time period that identified with the
left, specifically the Anti-Racist Movement, the
Women?s Liberation Movement, and the Trade Union
Movement (a lot of shit was going down at this time eg
the biggest amount of strike activity in the history
of colonial New Zealand, the Mangere Bridge lockout in
1978, the Kinleith strike in 1980 etc). The political
turbulence of this period culminated ( for the Tino
Rangatiratanga movement ) in the 1975 land march on
parliament, Bastion Point, Raglan and the regular
protests at Waitangi. 

In the 80s, a lot of energy was focused on winning
Maori studies and language programmes in the education
system. For large parts of the movement the emphasis
on the rediscovery of culture came to be the objective
of the movement itself and a substitute for practical
struggle. Although I think struggle for the
revitalisation of te reo Maori and tikanga are good
things I think they need to seen as just a part of the
fabric of Tino Rangatiratanga. By focussing on
cultural issues this allowed the co-optation of a
Maori elite within the structures of the state forced
many Maori leaders to straddle the uneasy gulf between
pushing the Maori struggle forward and maintaining the
existing state of affairs. The prestige and wealth
that went with such privileged positions in the
settlement process meant that Maori leaders became
increasingly removed from the concerns and vitality of
the flaxroots Maori struggle. Tino Rangatiratanga
could be then seen as economic independence because we
were free to enter the ?free market?. Capitalism with
a smiley (Maori) face. Bullshit. Watching our
rangatiratanga go up and down on the stock exchange is
not a good thing, especially if someone flies a plane
into it. 

Tino Rangatiratanga should be a radically democratic
alternative to capitalism in which the flaxroots,
local community would be constantly and actively
involved in making the key decisions about the
allocation of societies resources in a collective,
co-operative and open manner rather than behind the
closed boardroom doors of large corporations (be they
tribal or otherwise). It would involve communities
making these important decisions and running the
economy and society as a whole on a day-to-day basis.
Tino Rangatiratanga should embrace a system in which
our entire economy is geared up to satisfy the needs
of human beings our tikanga, cultural values and
aspirations not the profit margins of a tiny elite.
(i.e. human need, not greed!) It would encapsulate our
role as kaitiaki, guardians of the earth and the
eco-system. It would be based on a vision of society
free of racism, class exploitation, women?s
oppression, homo-phobia and the oppression of
indigenous peoples. 

This helps us to understand the nature of Maori
corporations, corporate warriors, the brown table,
tribal capitalists, who by cashing in the momentum
created by Tino Rangatiratanga advocates, have managed
cash up generations of Maori struggle for only a small
fraction of what the land, fisheries and other
resources were worth (and for some Maori assigning a
$$ value to Papatuanuku or Tangaroa is obscene). Tino
Rangatiratanga needs to be rescued from corporate
warriors, tribal executives and Maori businesses along
with the ideologues of the New Right to define Tino
Rangatiratanga in a way that seriously threatens the
living standards of the vast majority of working class
Maori whanau. 

I think a way of acting on all of this is recognising
that the struggle for Tino Rangatiratanga is part of a
broader international struggle simply because the
system that we?re fighting against is an international
one. This seemed to be picked up on in the 60s, 70s,
and 80s (and some people still got the afros, and
leathers looking like Black Panthers). Our struggle
against capitalism depends on building a movement that
has an organic connection with Aotearoa and an
analysis of the system here. It is simply dangerous to
assume that what happens in Britain or Europe can be
simply applied to NZ. While there are broader trends
that are the same, we need an indigenous analysis of
class struggle and capitalism in NZ not the borrowed
writings of British authors applied mindlessly and
indiscriminately to a country 12,000 miles away. The
Polynesian populace is overwhelmingly working class
(for those of us lucky enough to have a job)...our
values and outlook are not the same as British
workers. We need to build an indigenous analysis and
political strategy that relates to the realities of
surviving capitalism in our own little part of the
world. - Teanau Tuiono. 

Good shit to read about the same kaupapa: The
Evolution of Contemporary Maori Protest
White Settler Colonialism and the Political Economy of
Labour Migration

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