Magazine article The American Enterprise

Killing with Kindness

Magazine article The American Enterprise

Killing with Kindness

Article excerpt

Indigenous people in most developed nations get good press, more often than not portrayed as victims of colonizing cultures. Until recently, New Zealand's Maoris were no exception.

This changed when two prominent Maoris made headlines disputing the prevailing P.C. view. Operatic diva Kiri Te Kanawa said that her Maori people were often lazy. "I see too many living on benefits. When they come to Australia they are completely different, they actually have to work. But when they're in New Zealand ... it just drives me crazy. I've known ... a Maori who's been on a benefit for 37 years. Now what sort of pride is that?"

Perhaps Te Kanawa was emboldened by John Tamihere, an associate minister for Maori Affairs in New Zealand's Labor government. In blunt language, he argued that "old Left" Social Services Minister Steve Maharey should "get away from statism" and reform New Zealand's welfare system. He echoed the fears of Sir Apirana Ngata, who long ago criticized the Labor government for introducing the welfare state, predicting it would destroy Maori initiative and create widespread dependence.

Though he is a cabinet member of a left-wing government, Tamihere essentially called for privatization of New Zealand's welfare system--on the grounds that it would be more beneficial to Maoris. Describing third and fourth generations of families on the dole, Tamihere expressed his shame at these statistics, and noted that a generation ago Maoris had one of the nation's highest rates of employment. …

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