Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Racism Or Reality?

There's a debate going on publicly between AUT professor Paul Moon and Ngāpuhi leader David Rankin, over whether there is a need to distinguish Māori family violence from other family violence. Of course, a grim subject, but nonetheless it has raised interesting points. If you read other blogs, you're probably mindful that Cameron Slater at Whale Oil has already covered this, so I'll try not to duplicate ideas.

“There is no such thing as Maori child abuse or Pakeha child abuse”, says Professor Moon, “there is just child abuse. By putting the word “Maori” in front of it, a stereotype is created which is inaccurate and dangerous”.
The idea in this is that there is no need to discriminate Māori as a separate variety of family violence, as it labels Māori unfairly, branding them all as especially prone to family violence. If you were a responsible Māori parent reading this, surely you'd be upset as being labeled such, so fair call really. 

‘We come from a warrior race’, says Mr. Rankin, ‘but colonisation has meant that we no longer have any battles to fight and we have too much time on our hands so that violent energy is not used up’.
Interesting statement, knowing the way academics and the general public feel, it won't be taken very seriously. I don't agree with it entirely and the wording is particularly blunt, but there are elements of truth in there. Uncomfortable truths from a Māori community leader, and not ones to brush off so lightly either. The statement above does allude to high unemployment in the words "too much time on our hands," which is not a uniquely Māori issue, but one that is reality for them. I would disagree with the colonization element, or that Māori are genetically disadvantaged as a "warrior race," but those are another issue altogether. 
‘The Government has been throwing millions of dollars into these problems but the situation is only getting worse’, he says.
Well, I did write about exactly that yesterday if you read my post about the 2012 new year. No political party has a strategy or solution for tacking social issues, and the more headlines about these problems that come out, the more money the government throws at things. Headlines create public outrage, which creates political pressure, which just makes scared and nervous throw more money into CYF or something else to calm the public and hope it fixes things. I have always said that if money fixes things, we would have fixed everything a long time ago; David Rankin clearly says that this blind expenditure does absolutely nothing. 

Racist Reality

The strange thing about this case is they are both right, labeling the ethnicities of the victims and perpetrators of family violence doesn't do anything constructive, but the sad truth is that it is a problem that is worse in Māori and Pacific Islander communities than others. A friend of mine told me that almost all the victims of child abuse that need treatment at Starship Hospital in Auckland are of these two communities. Child abuse is not exclusive to these communities at all, but it'd be foolish to simply disregard these patterns. To prevent blind and indiscriminate spending, the government needs to create a plan to tackle these issues, seeing where correlation ensues causation, such as poverty and child abuse being closely related. 

It would be interesting to see what Paul Moon has to say about tackling these issues, I do get sick of politically correct academics being so quick to criticize but slow to help, whee their 'academic prowess' would be more appreciated. David Rankin is a person with authority in this issue from his community involvement, 
Mr Rankin suggests that whanau take a greater role in monitoring their members. ‘This is a problem for all Maori’, he says. ‘Its time for us to take that warrior energy and deal to these thugs’, he argues.
At least David Rankin has constructive points to offer, saying that Māori need to own their problems better, and work together to solve them. The implication of collective responsibility means that we have a duty to do something about family violence when we are aware of it, which goes for all communities, not just Māori. 

1 comment:

  1. Speaking as your middle class Pakeha child abuse representative, my concern is that the stats are higher in lower socio economic Maori, but the problem is hidden in other areas. There is a possibility that the reporting rates of child abuse are as low as a third in New Zealand. These numbers come from other forms of research (so number of people that end up in counselling and reveal they were abused as children). Sadly the majority of these cases are sexual abuse which is actually much easier to hide. Believe it or not!


Thanks for commenting and joining the discussion! Remember to keep the language classy, and I'm a stickler for grammar :P