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Another NZ Herald article telling a one sided story 

In brief 
  • Boris Sokratov narrowly defines privilege as being tied to property rights.  
  • Privileges exist in the political realm through Māori appointees and Māori seats, but this doesn’t get a mention. 
  • Media support for Māori activism is also a form of privilege.

 A narrow definition of ‘privilege’, which may be misleading

In an opinion article by Boris Sokratov: “Who are the real privileged in Aotearoa New Zealand – Māori or Pākehā?“, he discusses privilege in terms of land ownership and control. Sokratov says those who historically owned a substantial amount of land may have experienced advantages rooted in their property rights. He then points to an expensive house on Takapuna beach, whose owner had apparently illegally cut down a tree, as if that somehow supports his argument. The definition of privilege offered by Sokratov is quite narrow. He points out that 6% of New Zealand is held in Māori title, while 51% is in private ownership. Yet, a significant portion of private ownership may also include land owned by Māori. Additionally, the conservation and Crown estate contain land originally held under native title, which was dedicated to the Crown for conservation purposes.

Sokratov mentions Bastion Point, arguing that the land was unjustly taken by the Crown, which was a significant injustice to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, who had already released most of the land needed for Auckland’s development. However, Sokratov then writes:

“All Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei wanted was recognition that the whenua belonged to them. Once the Crown acknowledged that, guess what they did? They gifted the land back to Auckland Council for full and unfettered use by all of the people of Tamaki Makaurau.”

Sokratov neglects to mention that Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei also received a settlement of $3.2 million in 1988, and only a small portion of the land was returned as parkland. So whilst we don’t know of anyone currently arguing the settlement was not warranted, its portrayal in the op-ed is highly misleading in our opinion because not only did Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei receive Bastion Point plus compensation, they then filed a claim for the entire Waitemata Harbour. 

Note, too, that the government, by way of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, provides funding to Māori for eligible historical claims to prepare, present and negotiate those claims against the Crown. This covers legal advice, administration, research, and travel costs.

While acknowledging these issues are complex and have a historical context, it’s worth looking at some other examples of benefits and programs, which constitute a privilege. 

Māori political representation

One significant aspect is Māori seats in Parliament, which provide a platform for Māori voters to have a significant influence in political decision-making. These seats also enable the representation of Te Pāti Māori (TPM). 

Another NZ Herald article telling a one sided story  - Centrist
“A narrow focus on privilege that includes only land rights is missing the forest of privileges for the trees.”

Māori representation extends to Māori-only seats on several local councils, appointments to Statutory Boards, local and advisory committees, and various roles within government agencies. The Resource Management Act mandates Māori consultation, often involving iwi representatives in these processes.

Māori influence in media

Overrepresentation in the media may be regarded as a privilege by many. Groups receive funding to promote Māori-centric issues through radio, television, and online platforms. The Public Interest Journalism Fund has controversially been used to support Māori-related topics and Treaty Principles, in line with left-leaning parties such as Labour, TPM, and the Greens. 

There are several instances of the media allowing parties on the Left to play the race card against their political opponents. Generally claims of ‘white supremacy’, ‘racism’ and even ‘genocide’ are run almost at will. Accusers usually need not be concerned with the mainstream media examining the substance of these highly inflammatory claims, which can be effective in silencing political opponents. 

Education

Scholarships based on ethnicity are provided to students who identify as Māori, aiming to address historical disparities in educational opportunities, often with a lowering of the entrance criteria. There is also a significant inclusion of Māori-focused content in the curriculum, seeking to foster cultural awareness and understanding.

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