Pacific Housing and Overcrowding

“Overcrowding of houses in New Zealand’s Pacific communities is likely to be worse than the latest research suggests.”

One of the many ways the real housing crisis manifests is in the overcrowding of homes, and Pacific people have the highest rates in New Zealand. Important work has come out about this but is based on 2006 data, and since then the situation and has gotten much worse. I offered a working through of the data and these broader challenges on Breakfast on OneNews. The story and video can be found here.

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 11.10.23 AM

White Supremacy in New Zealand

The tragic recent events in Christchurch have led to a need for New Zealanders to think carefully and contextually around New Zealand’s broader set of experiences. I was a part of a radio documentary that sought to do this, and I think succeeded in exploring this in a probing but respectful, way.

Listen to Radio New Zealand’s ‘The Story of White Supremacy’, directed by William Ray.

Pacific Potential and Sport

Its been exciting to be part of the conversations that Island Time produced, both within Pacific communities, and outside of them. I’m working on my next couple of projects but some of the stuff from last year I haven’t properly reflected on. I appreciated the interview from Dale Husband and eTangata which, going into another rugby season, offers a particular lesson.

What concerns me today is that we might be in a position where we have qualified Pacific people — often very gifted people — who aren’t being put in the places, or given opportunities, where they can make the most of those talents.

That’s a loss to the Pacific community — but one of the arguments in my book is that the biggest loss is actually for New Zealand, because these talents are being wasted.

I use sport as an example. A multibillion-dollar New Zealand industry is significantly built around Pacific talent on the field. If you have a gift for playing rugby or league, someone in the industry will find you, whether you’re in school, in Samoa or Tonga, or even in prison.


Povi Masima, Glen Innes

But off the field, Pacific business nous, leadership, entrepreneurship — which is abundant — finds no opportunity, appointment, or recognition in the same industry.

Pacific people labour on the rugby field, but don’t get to lead in the franchise board rooms, or the other places where decisions are made. The game of rugby ensures that the playing fields are level, but this is very far from the case in the wider industry.

So sport is a metaphor for the many parts of our world where Pacific people are prevented from the full expression and recognition of their abilities, talents, and innovation.

Guam: an Al Jazeera Series

Friend and colleague Keith Camacho, at UCLA, sent me these links for an interesting and very teachable series about Guam that was recently done by Al Jazeera.  I wanted to park them both where I, and others, could easily find them.

Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 9.50.03 am

Still from AJ+ Piece on Decolonizing Guam’s Diet.

How The U.S. Territory Of Guam Became An American Colony

Should U.S. Territories Like Guam Be Independent?

From SPAM To Spearfishing: Decolonizing A U.S. Territory’s Diet

What’s it Mean to Be Indigenous and From a U.S. Territory?

Remembering War

For NZ the First World War began and ended in the Pacific, with New Zealand’s invasion of Samoa (1914-1962). Let us keep this colonial legacy in mind as we enter our week of intensive remembering. A new clip has been aired in time for ANZAC day, but which I hope encourages to remember not just a few canonical–military–events, but a wider and fuller range.  It is currently on NewsHub, but will shortly be available elsewhere.

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 11.38.13 am

New Zealand and Australia concentrate their remembering of war around the day that we as ‘nations’ (then Dominions) invaded Gallipoli.  Though over a hundred years has since passed it still proves a challenge to remember in a way that ethically brings to mind the fullness and consequences of our wartime acts.  In particular, New Zealand has had trouble remembering its First World War history in the Pacific.

At the opening of the exhibition “Entangled Islands: Sāmoa, New Zealand and the First World War” I offered some remarks on how we might go about new kinds of remembering, rather than restrict ourselves to just a few narrow horizons of memory.

The horrific war we now remember was fought from 1914-1918 and which led to over 16 million deaths. This legacy of death, and the warnings and weight that we carry because of those deaths, dominate both our memory, and our commemorations, of the First World War. This legacy has often meant that we have forgotten that this great Ocean of ours was also part of that terrible conflict: it was not, after all, known as the Great European War, but the First World War, and battles were fought not only in Europe, but in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

Still, it is battles like Gallipoli, the Somme, Passchendaele, and Mesopotamia that resonate in New Zealanders’ memories for the lives they took.

But alongside this legacy of death, stand the stories of Sāmoa and New Zealand in the First World War. This is a living legacy. Is there any legacy quite as strong, today, one hundred years after the war? Imagine a New Zealand without nearly 150,000 Sāmoans. Imagine how different this history would be. Imagine if, in 1939, a German Pacific Fleet was still sailing between China and Apia. Or imagine the Auckland Blues, or Auckland culture or the All Black backline or the Silver Ferns, or New Zealand music, or this museum if it was not enriched by generations of Sāmoa, a shared history that has tied together Sāmoa and New Zealand for a hundred years.

On August 29th 1914 New Zealand forces landed in Sāmoa, and New Zealand would not leave for nearly fifty years. The end of the war brought the horror of mass death to Sāmoa, with the outbreak of the 1918 Influenza epidemic (which killed perhaps more than one in five Sāmoans). New Zealand stayed on through the epidemic, through a massive Sāmoan rebellion, through another World War, through a part of the Cold War. By the time New Zealand left Sāmoa, thousands of Sāmoans had made New Zealand—and especially Auckland—their home. New Zealand may have left Sāmoa; but Sāmoa did not leave New Zealand.

Lest We Forget.

Screen Shot 2018-04-21 at 11.33.48 am

New book: Island Time

My new book, Island Time (Bridget Williams Books, $14.99NZD, paper) came out on Friday.  It is available at bookstores, as well as electronically.  Check out Bridget Williams’ Books page for more information. I’ve been talking about it in the media. Paperboy ran a long conversation between Finlay MacDonald and I. Wallace Chapman had me on Radio New Zealand’s Sunday Morning to talk about it as well.

That Māori, Pacific and Asian peoples will form an increasing proportion of the population, especially in New Zealand’s largest cities, is obvious; but, having known this for two decades, it is less obvious what we have done to make our future happen. Knowing the future will be profoundly different has not led to our working differently.

In New Zealand, Pacific people and communities are now defining, rather than secondary. In education, for instance, we face the simple truth that if you can’t teach Pacific students, you can no longer effectively teach in half of Auckland, Tokoroa, and large parts of Wellington, Christchurch and Ōamaru.

In health, if you cannot care effectively for Pacific people, you are of limited use in three of New Zealand’s four largest district health boards. This is happening now, and the centrality of Pacific competency will only grow.

If you want to read some of the book, the online Maori/Pacific Sunday magazine e-Tangata is carrying a long excerpt from the conclusion.