Monday, April 30, 2007

Tariana Turia's self-gratulation

30 April 07

You’d think I’d be inured to political stupidity by now. It appears I am not.

In a wonderful piece of self-gratulation, Tariana Turia (Maori Party) blamed Christianity and colonisation for the introduction of smacking to the Maori people as a form of discipline.

I’m no fan of Sue Bradford’s bill, I freely admit. But neither am I a fan of someone who appears to be placing the blame for a problem in the here and now - child abuse in some Maori families[*] - on the actions of colonising Europeans over two hundred years ago!

Let’s backtrack.

First, Sue Bradford’s intention was to make the use of violence unacceptable against children. A goal I applaud. She’s chosen to do it by attempting to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows reasonable force as a defense when under charges of ‘over-disciplining’ your children. Unfortunately, politics has got in the way, and we’re left with a big ugly mess, given incredibly bad press, very little public support, and very little public understanding.

Second, it’s true that statistically speaking, Maori families have higher reported rates of family violence. I agree that that’s a situation which needs change. I agree that the colonisation of New Zealand changed the Maori people irrevocably. It introduced the concept of Christianity. Shall we examine some Christian principles?

The Bible says that children should be disciplined. We all know “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. But child abuse was never, never, what Christianity preached. I’m not even Christian, and I have better understanding than that! Jesus himself loved children. He taught peace, taught respect for one’s fellow man. Taught that a husband and wife should love and respect each other, and in turn teach and care for their children in a loving way.

Shall we also look at historically provable things the Maori, as a people, did prior to European colonisation of them?

  • Wiped out the Moriori (historically debatable, I admit)

  • Had bloody wars between tribes

  • Drove the moa into extinction

Hardly the record of a peaceful people whose whanau were only corrupted by the heinous introduction of the European settlers.

Further, has it escaped Tariana Turia’s notice that many European families, both now and in the past, also had parents who were perfectly capable of disciplining their children without physical violence?

Read the rest of the article here

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