NW ZEALANED, MAORI

‘The Kiwi Model’, The Economist, December 1st 2018 p58

‘Many [Australia] Aboriginals look with envy across the Tasman Sea, to the Maori. They remain at the bottom of New Zealand’s pile, but still live longer and healthier lives than Aboriginals. New Zealanders who identify as Maori are 15% of the population of 5m. Their median weekly income of NZ$900 ($610) is almost double that of their Aboriginal counterparts. Although more than half of New Zealand’s inmates are Maori, they are less likely to go to prison than Aboriginals.

This relative success is partly a reflection of colonial history. British settlers reached New Zealand much later than Australia, found what they saw as a more civilised society, and signed a treaty with the Maori in 1843. It was routinely flouted but a tribunal established in 1975 has allowed the Maori to seek redress for historical abuses. But it also reflects the Maori themselves. They are a tight-knit group compared with Australia’s distinct indigenous “nations”. They formed a monarchy in order to unify against colonialists, and almost all speak the same language. Once near extinction, it is now taught in schools and spoken in Parliament (where the Maori have reserved seats). An illustrious list of leaders includes Winston Peters, the current deputy prime minister and foreign minister. Three Maori have become archbishops and two governors-general.

Some 87 agreements have been struck between various tribes and the state in the past 30 years, helping them to lay the past to rest. Financial reimbursements can be stingy, but some have won large enough settlements to develop successful companies. The largest belongs to the Ngai Tahu, a people spanning most of the South Island, who own farms, fisheries and tourism ventures. TDB Advisory, a consultancy, values the assets of Maori “post-settlement entities” at NZ$7.8bn, far more than Australia’s entire indigenous economy. The two countries’ attitudes towards their indigenes could scarcely be more different. Mainstream Australians are still largely segregated from Aboriginals. New Zealanders tend to take more pride in their mixed heritage. Maori tattoos are ubiquitous in mainly white suburbs. Citizens of every hue glory in their country’s domination of rugby (both the men’s and women’s teams are ranked top of the world). All purr with pride at the haka, a Maori war dance that precedes international matches.