Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

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Yellow Peril: cops and robbers, qilai and collapse

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  • the E,

    Not snippy :o)

    That's a great breakthrough. Last time I investigated Vic Uni courses they were not only charging a small fortune (now it's $300 per term of weekly evening classes; still quite steep I think to learn one's native language, but maybe you do get what you pay for) but you had to enrol as a student which turned out to be more paperwork than there was for the entire course I was actually interested in. Now it appears they have reduced it to a straightforward online form - marvelous!

    We were thrilled to find & enrol in a "Samoan as a Second Language" course recently - only to discover that the course's premise was to "learn how to preach the scriptures" in Samoan. Bugger. Not really our priority, in fact most off-putting.

    There is a Samoan course @ Vic, but it costs roughly the same as a trip to Samoa, which is more fun.

    wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    E, i've done stage one of the Vic Uni course (paid for by work), and i'm thinking of shelling my own money for the 2nd stage. pretty useful.

    RB, i think pretty much *any* term can be used as a put down, e.g. "oh, so you're *rich and successful* are you..." if someone on a marae is going to be an asshole, then an asshole they'll be. that said, i agree, 'tauiwi' shits me a little. it kind of stinks of 90s-pc-revisionism.

    i am a new zealander.

    that term in itself distinguishes me being of european descent, formerly colonial, likely to have ties with maori. in a way we are all new zealanders, like our tea-planter cousins dictate, but the content of being a new zealander is bigger than the stingy, racist diatribes you find scattered about remuera.

    and if you give juha a guest post, how about mark b. as well, i've a sneaking suspicion he's at harvard.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    ok, debs, i myself can post all day because i took a week off work. why? to write a play.

    it'll doubtless be awful.

    as we both agree i think we wrote the same phd, but in different disciplines (and i've an inkling mark b. is writing a similar one as well).

    i agree that a little "assimilation" isn't a bad thing, but disagree that assimilation is the term for what you're describing. this is because assimilation always involves the absorption of the minority into the majority, and that's whether its a deliberate (i.e. political) process, or a voluntary cultural blending.

    absorption means that a minority can no longer self-perpetuate because it has lost all distinctiveness. and i'm certain it's the threat to self-perpetuation that most threatens nzl maori.

    i agree with mark that cultures and nations don't have static edges, but are porous, meaning that when you place them in proximity like you have in nzl, you get cross-pollination as you suggest. this is a good thing.

    the trick is finding some way to maintain the healthy cross-pollination, while also maintaining some semblance of cultural distinctiveness for all groups. i.e. new zealanders stay new zealanders, and maori stay new zealanders and maori.

    so far nzl has been very good at this, with our sensible blend of informal reinforcement and quasi-constitutional methods?

    PS. i've always thought kukathas is just a cog in the larger machinery of liberal group rights. he contributes to the general argument that all cultural groups in a nation-state have to be liberal (or as liberal as possible) for said nation-state to function, viz. kymlicka.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    The next question would be how does a state fit together and reconcile the various different “streams of political authority” in such a way that operates as an effective over-all unit while preserving in reality the autonomy that the constituent units would like. That is the issue in NZ, and I do not think our current structure of government is really suited to being forced into contortions so as to fulfil this.

    So we probably need to start afresh, if in fact we ever decide to undertake such a project. However I am not so sure anyone person or group would ever have the political will or ability so as to open and drive such a wide-ranging undertaking – a constitutional reform project outside of a crisis situation is kind of a hard sell, as it should be.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Bennett,

    Ben, you're right that our current structure of government isn't conducive to personal jurisdiction or territorial autonomy. We don't have federalism, so dividing up sovereignty seems dangerous to us. And so all that's left are the Maori seats, devolution, corporate structures and any non-state authority that the state does not subvert. Politically, for the 'foreseeable' future, that's the most that we can expect.

    In terms of starting afresh, Canada had a little turn around in its policy towards First Nations when it finally figured out that they had unextinguished aboriginal title rights, and after an assimilation policy fell stillborn from the press (well, actually it was torn apart by Harold Cardinal in The Unjust Society and others). The result, after a long period of constitutional soul searching, was the constitutional protection of treaty rights and aboriginal rights, a federal self-government policy, a Royal Commission, and eventually, the negotiation of self-government agreements. Of course, the situation was different, and it was more like a crisis in many ways. Like you say, it's not going to happen here anytime soon.

    But (i) it is an example we might point to that the sky doesn't fall on liberal democracy if there is a little (or even quite a lot of) differentiated citizenship, and (ii) it's weird we never mention it in our constitutional debates, given we took a lot from Canada's example when creating our Bill of Rights Act 1990.

    Che- Nice detective work. I am doing an LLM at Harvard.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    The problem with the Canadian example is that so long as the Supreme Court (or whomever your final arbiter of choice is) is selected by a federal government that is not representative of all the streams of political authority then the rights / authority of the minority streams are in effect really at the gift of the federal government.

    Mark, how is Harvard going? (You are the same Mark from Vic law school right?)

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    On the "pakeha" thing: I though Michael King had dealth with that. The entire population of the planet read Michael King, right?

    A very nice person also just got me the "Best of Whim Wham" (goverment name Allen Curnow). There's a nice response to an MP calling the term a vulgarism in a Treaty bill debate. Don't have it with me, and it would be a bit naughty to copy the whole thing out, but aside from casting aside variou spurious derivations, there was one memorable bit describing the 'vulgarism' as "older than the poet Byron".

    Assimilation - if it helps anyone, I read an interesting model in "Critical Mass" a book about using physics-style modelling for social science (and an interesting overview of the history of social science).

    The idea was if neighbouring zones oin a grid shared the same value for one of several characterisitcs (analogous to cultural features) they could make the value for another one equal every turn.

    As I recall, you tended to end up with one dominant culture (set of values), perhaps with one or two ghettoes unable to communicate with the majority.

    Not a excellent model for the purposes, I'd have said, be interesting.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Bennett,


    The problem with the Canadian example is that so long as the Supreme Court (or whomever your final arbiter of choice is) is selected by a federal government that is not representative of all the streams of political authority then the rights / authority of the minority streams are in effect really at the gift of the federal government.

    sure, that's why the Supreme Court doesn't really want to decide what self-government is, and why it didn't. It wanted to leave those negotiations to the federal, provincial and tribal governments. Which then came to a compromise, and created self-government agreements that hopefully do represent a confluence of the streams of political authority in their parcelling out of sovereignty between these three levels of government. Whether the self-government agreements really recognise the political authority of First Nations to an acceptable degree really depends on the kinds of bargaining chips that they have over the other governments - in British Columbia, it was probably a combination of some sense of the justice of self-government, combined with the looming fact of huge tracts of unextinguished aboriginal title.

    Harvard is great. If you like reading and writing yourself to death...

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    mark, just guesswork.

    and i'm inclined to agree and disagree about the canadian. the main variable that distinguishes canada from here is territorial separation as you indicate (often the tribes/bands negotiating with the crown have very distinct parcels of land). the system works because on 'indian land' the majority knows what goes, in a 'when in rome' kind of way.

    what i have read about canada suggests that off the reservation though, things aren't so rosey.

    OTOH nzl is too intermixed to really have that idea work at all. the differentiated citizenship really has to be wrapped up inside a universal, shared vernacular.

    so the political authority we're talking about almost *always* comes back down to the rights and obligations of maori and crown under the treaty, and within the same sovereignty, i.e. back to square one, because it is representative of all parties.

    furthermore, it's really not all that hard to interpret. 1. crown's in charge, 2. maori get the final say over their own culture and things they think are important, 3. everyone has equal rights.

    it's not rocket science.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Listening to a first nation bloke lecturing on Nat Rad a whiles back, I got the feeling one issue in Canada was the state imposing their own strict genetic definition of nativeness the wasn't that helpful and would see them bred out of existence in fairly short order.

    Sorry if I sound wildly vague today. I'll work on it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Manakura,


    1876, Canada: Parliament passes the Indian Act, which like the Dawes Act in the U.S.A. was intended to help with the cultural elimination of indigenous Canadians. It created a distinction between status and non-status Indians. The former lived on reserves and/or belonged to bands and were therefore qualified for certain treats via treaties signed by their people and the colonial government. The latter got not a thing. A clause in the act stated that when a status Indian married a non-status Indian he/she and all their descendents became non-status.

    1987, Canda: Parliament repeals aforementioned clause of 1876 Indian Act and around 100 000 peeps regain their 'status', for what it's worth. However it simply reinstates the old regime by creating a law that says if 2 consecutive generations marry 'off the reserve' then the third generation lose their status and hence all rights to aforementioned treaties. It merely slows the genocide via oppressive biological notions of authenticity down.

    You were probably listening to Harry Daniels, who was once the leader of the Aboriginal Congress in Canda. He calls the new version of the Indian Act the 'Abocide Bill'. Here in Aotearoa we only got rid of our blood quantum laws in the mid-70s, I think. I only just missed out on having 'Octoroon' or 'Quadroon' or something even sillier stamped on my Birth Cert.

    Funny how settler populations can absorb any amount of indigenous genes and remain authentic but the absorbing of any European stock into indigenous populations diluted their racial purity and rendered them 'inauthentic' and ineligible for their own heritage.

    Whaingāroa • Since Nov 2006 • 134 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Bennett,

    Che - generally agreed. But the whole intermixed thing is not a big problem for establishing small territorial enclaves, which is surely what many marae are, de facto, at the moment. 'Off reservation' is the problem for liberals; how do you imagine that we can give effect to your interpretation of the Treaty - 1. crown's in charge, 2. maori get the final say over their own culture and things they think are important, 3. everyone has equal rights. - in a way palatable to the majority. I'm not sure that's possible apart from those methods we have at the moment, given that they themselves are so unpopular. Also, interpreting the Treaty may not be rocket science, but neither is it 3rd form English.

    Lyndon - the 'disappearing Indians' definition is in the Indian Act, section 6. It's 'explained' here. It's needed because 'Indians' get federal benefits, which the federal government obviously wants to limit. If tribes have power, then they can determine membership themselves - for example, here. The tribal government will also limit their membership, but they're far less likely than the federal government to exclude people who would be included under tribal law.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Thanks guys.

    I love this place sometimes. It's like using google but without the hard work.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    If you get bored and want to read more about this conflict between liberal and communal (I simplify) state models, have a look at the constitutional discussions in South Africa up to about the mid 1990s. If I recall correctly there is a fair bit of literature on the topic, and there is the added bonus that both systems were to a certain extent tried out. Although to be fair, the Apartheid version was flawed beyond use so it wasn’t a true competition of ideas.

    (they are planning to upload the formal discussions from the Forum and the Assembly onto the internet, as a searchable databse, but that is not online yet)

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    ben and mark, i'll have to agree about the irrelevance of the constitutional/territorial models for nzl. i dismissed the sth african and canadian models pretty early in the thesis because they tend to associate 'culture' or 'nationality' too strongly with place.

    homelands, reservations, 'marae-as-place-to-be-maori' and the like act to conserve minority groups. minorities continue to exist, but only within their menagerie. what they also allow for is detractors of minority rights to say is "you can be as different as you want in private [i.e. on the marae], but out here in public you'll tow the majority like'. which we'll recognise as the "brash/bassett" position.

    it's also the position taken in relation to aboriginal people in australia. one that continues to fail them miserably.

    my favoured liberal authors instead argue that the basis of any minority-majority interrelationship is a recognition that both groups require a public space in which to conduct their own politics. that's what the territorial models are trying to do in a roundabout, 19th century kind of way and failing at.

    the unique thing about nzl is that we have both maori and mainstream conducting its politics in the same public space, or 'public sphere' to use a jargonism. nzl civil society does or should allow both cultures to be practised in public, politically and non, and this ensures the perpetuation of both cultures.

    what i'm driving at, in plain english, is that giving effect to the treaty requires the acceptance that maori voices have to continue to be heard right up close to mainstream voices. they'll often be in the same room, in the same political debates, and will often irk people who don't understand them.

    and if you don't understand them? well, just don't get paranoid. they're probably not even talking about you anyhow!

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It is amazing how scared people are of kids these days. Glad Tze Ming had a pithy comeback which made them feel like dicks. As Benny "The Jet" Urquidez said 'People sense confidence, don't wanna try u no more'.

    But I don't think being in a wealthy area is any guarantee that the local punks are safer. You can be viciously set upon by a group of wangstas every bit as much as by the real thing. Probably not the first time these guys have pushed an asian girl around, just the first time they got one with a sharp tongue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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