I wasn’t intending to post on Peters on consecutive days — better on the whole to ignore his stupid antics. But his comments reported this morning are irresistible. Then again, they’re intended to be.
He asks why there are so many “useless” Pacific men in power positions in the Pacific and not enough women. Also, he says there are too many Maori men “parading around the maraes as peacocks doing no work”.
First, this week’s award for complete lack of self-awareness combined with breathtaking chutzpah goes to… I mean, when you read the words Maori men, parading, peacocks, who comes to mind?
(Not surprisingly, the Herald’s cartoonist couldn’t resist.)
Second, is this merely racism dressed up with a spurious concern for the position of women in Maori and Pasifika communities?
After all, NZ First has one of the smallest proportions of women in Parliament at 14%.
Peters knows that the answers to his rhetorical questions about the role of women are cultural. Having taught many classes of predominantly Maori and Pasifika students I am deeply aware of the influence of cultural constraints. Having just one older Pacific Island male of status in the class changed the dynamics completely, regardless of his contribution. But, inexorably, this is changing as traditional values are eroded in the New Zealand environment.
Initial reaction suggests that his comments are not perceived to be racist. Disgraced MP Phillip Field cautioned that, “New Zealand had to be careful about the perception of arrogance” and “thought such a message was better coming from a fellow Polynesian.” Indeed. What right has any NZ politician got to make such comments about what happens in other countries?
Of course he’s being racist. The comments disparage Polynesian culture. They are designed to provoke rather than contribute to measured and informed discussion, as is blindingly obvious from the language used, the tone and the forum in which the comments were made.
Nor does being Maori himself let him off the hook.