Theme 5 “Good Māori/Bad Māori”

Māori who are seen as happy with their lot, “fitting in” or achieving in settler society are described as good, while Māori who resist, seek restitution, demand recognition or do not achieve are bad. The same person or group can be described as “good” or “bad” depending on the speaker’s needs and the audience. The theme works most flexibly when the user does not specify who or how many are “bad Māori”; they can then dismiss protesters as a minority, estranged from their people.

  • “Good”: law-abiding, polite, happy, rural, older, hard-working, dignified, co-operative, punctual, clean and tidy, footing it with the rest of us.
  • “Bad”: poor, sick, lazy, urban, young, criminal, aggressive, complaining/protesting, bludgers, stupid/dumb, greedy, dishonest.
  • “Two protestors who tried to make their point were quickly escorted out of the Whare by Maori wardens…” Hawkes Bay Today, February 6 2007.
  • “The average colonist regards a Mongolian with repulsion, a Negro with contempt, and looks on an Australian Black as very near to a wild beast; but he likes the Maori, and is sorry that they are dying out.” William Pember Reeves, The Long White Cloud, 1899, p 57.
  • “It’s time to knuckle down, Hone. Go look at your colleague, Te Ururoa Flavell, as an example of someone who does the hard yards and is mightily respected for it.” John Armstrong, column New Zealand Herald, 23 October 2010.
  • “No longer is Harawira the fire-wielding, foul-mouthed attack-dog, but the considered, studious critic seeking cross-party support.” Otago Daily Times Online News, July 31 2010
  • Pākehā have the right to judge Māori.
  • Good Māori don’t make a fuss.
  • There are always “bad” Māori; Māori don’t have occasional bad apples as Pākehā do.
  • Good Māori fit quietly into Pākehā society.
  • Bad Māori make poor decisions that reduce their life chances and outcomes.
  • Good Māori don’t require ‘special treatment’.
  • Makes it normal for Pākehā to judge Māori in a way Pākehā do not apply to themselves.
  • The existence of “good” Māori means it is possible for all Māori to “fit in”.
  • Blames Māori for experiencing negative outcomes.
  • Represents problems and protest as arising from a minority of Māori.
  • Encourages Māori to discipline and judge each other.
  • Māori are diverse, like any group, with a range of opinions.
  • Judge Pākehā by the same criteria as Māori are judged.
  • Passing judgements on indigenous and minority groups is a privilege taken by the dominant group.
  • “Good” and “bad” are defined by Pākehā and serve their interests.
  • Is being Māori relevant to telling this particular story?
Download all 14 themes in a booklet (landscape A4 pages)