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Michael Bassett discusses Maori identity

summarised by The Centrist

In the article Who is a Maori, historian and author Dr Michael Bassett says that right up until passage of the Maori Affairs Amendment Act 1974, a Maori was anyone who had half Maori ethnicity or more. 

But, Bassett argues, from the earliest days of settlement, there was a pattern of Pakeha men marrying Maori women. By the 1970s, those who could claim to be Maori were fast disappearing. 

In 1974 Norman Kirk’s government re-defined a Maori as “a person of the Maori race, and any descendant”. 

From 1995 birth and deaths office collected ethnicity data based on self-identification rather than their DNA. The numbers defining themselves as Maori rose from roughly 8% of the total population in 1974 to 17% at the last census.

Bassett says there are now no full-blooded Maori alive, and few, if any, half Maori. 

Michael Bassett discusses Maori identity - Centrist

The 17% of New Zealand’s population who claim to be Maori all have more DNA from non-Maori ancestors. In most cases, much more. In other words, if we went back fifty years to the 1973 definition, there would be no Maori left.

Much so-called Te Reo that children are being taught consists of newly-created words. Instead of learning better English, Spanish or Chinese, the major languages of the modern world, they are learning a newly-created artificial language of no use anywhere else than New Zealand.

What Bassett calls the current craze for privileging the Maori world view, is being driven by the Maori elite who use it to justify themselves and their status. He says the Labour Party hasn’t explained why the party, which once prided itself on its international connections has decided instead to make the promotion of a newly-created culture with no international standing its prime reason for existence. 

Bassett says Maori are New Zealanders like the rest of us. However, the current Labour government seems determined to drive a racial wedge into society by constantly favouring one ethnicity and the outlandish claims about the superiority of its culture over all others. He asks what about joining the rest of us who would like to return to a colour-blind New Zealand where members of all cultures have equal rights and equal responsibilities?

Read Michael Bassett: Who is a Maori? here.

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