One hundred and sixty-eight years and Christmases since the signing of that Treaty, Māori are still being clobbered with colonial propaganda.

D Partner respects those Māori who have become assimilated but not those who have not. The latter, according to him, are seeking special treatment.

One P Smith has similar views.

Then, during a discussion of the Treaty with a local businessman, I denied all of this talk of any desire of Māori for separatism and informed him that we only wish to preserve our Māori culture. His reply: "What culture?" As if to say that Māori have no such thing.

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There have been other examples of racism all through the last few days. A Māori Santa Claus caused quite a fuss from some people. I see it all as a storm in a colonial teacup. And any form of separate existence in the modern global village is neither desirable nor indeed possible.

Xenophobia comes to mind in this situation. But I think these critics of Māori should take a good look around our own backyard in the here and now.

Life is cheap here in Aotearoa New Zealand, much cheaper than it ever was pre-1840. Daily murders, hundreds of suicides and road deaths. Abortions. Thousands of children living in poverty. And an underfunded and overworked health system unable to respond to the drug epidemic (the foetal drug and alcohol syndrome being a very serious consequence of that situation).

So where is this advanced and superior culture that our Māori ancestors were promised by the colonials? It seems to me that separatism might be a good idea.

The social engineering exercise that was imposed on my iwi with the Treaty settlement has been a total failure. Nothing has changed. The land is still confiscated. Māori people are still high on the unemployment and suicide stats.

But we Māori did once have a culture of our own, and there was nothing wrong with it. Back to the future sounds good to this Pakeha Māori.

POTONGA NEILSON
Castlecliff


Yellow vests in protest

Paris has been erupting in riots, followed by copycat demonstrations in Belgium and the Netherlands. And the cause? A carbon tax on petrol?

Clearly that tax initiated it in France. However, it appears most demonstrators are upset at lower taxes (lower for the rich, that is) not the "high tax" parroted in the media.

In October Macron cut the wealth tax, corporate taxes, and capital gains taxes…all taxes of the rich. He then slashed workers' rights by "modernising" labour laws (cutting 100 years of hard-won rights).

According to the Financial Times, "Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, which he defeated in a presidential run-off in May, said the tax cuts were designed to reward wealthy campaign donors. Thomas Piketty, the left-wing economist, said the measures were a 'historical error' that would fuel economic inequality."

Le Pen and many of the ultra-nationalist right in Europe continue to be marginally on the left economically (regarding economic inequality), but remain on the far right socially (regarding immigration, culture and racism).

Netherlands yellow-vest protesters tell reporters they are particularly upset that "The social welfare net we grew up with is gone."

Progressive taxes have been replaced by regressive ones that hit the poor — VAT (GST), fuel taxes, etc. Meanwhile the welfare state has declined in most nations. This shrinking welfare state that they miss (once funded by high progressive taxes) is now being funded increasingly by those who can least afford to.

Many believe the continuing global rise of market neo-liberalism is the cause — the "flattening of taxes" (so the rich pay less of the burden than they used to, while the poor pay more) … "liberalising the workplace" — by the destruction of unions with the resulting declining or stagnating wages … "deregulation" — by ending protections … and "globalisation" so multinational corporations can now overshadow the democratic state.

Out of frustration, irrational scapegoats are found in immigrants, carbon taxes and that same "big government" that once worked for them.

BRIT BUNKLEY
Whanganui


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