Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nah Mate

In a continuation kinda sorta of the post on Ka Mate - to add to the confusion of middle new zild - the saffers don't want the Maori rugby team to tour?

They did that once before when they stopped the AB's bringing any Maori in 1956 (and we agreed to our shame). By 1967 NZ was prepared to take a stand - we cancelled the tour when Maori were banned again. It's vaguely amusing and offensive that in 1971 Maori were allowed to tour but it took them being named as "honorary whites" for that to happen. On the other hand, some would say this tour played a small role in highlighting racial issues, especially when the black population came out in force to support the AB's.

And so out of the woodwork come the usual crazies, unable to distinguish between the apartheid selections of the former SA regime and the celebration of indigenous identity that is the Maori team.

The delicious irony, of course, is that the current Japie team IS selected using racial criteria! It used to be called positive discrimination - I think its called affirmative action these days. So, you've got at least 4 different situations in play here, each with a nuanced rationale:

  • The All Black team - open to all New Zealanders including (controversially) some Pacific Island players who qualify for our multicultural team by residency (thus denying these players to their country of birth);
  • The current South African team selected in part using affirmative action policies to advance the development of black and coloured rugby players, one imagines to the point where the policies are no longer required;
  • The former South African team selected using the apartheid principle and thus barring people from a national team;
  • The Maori team which operates as a third tier team and is selected from indigenous Maori as a celebration of ethnic identity.

When you can't play for your national team on the basis of your race that's called racial discrimination. When you have other (non national) teams selected from a community of interest that's called ethnic diversity. When you deny someone a legitimate expression of their cultural and ethnic diversity, I'm pretty sure there's a word for it...


Rhett said...

I agree with you that it was pretty darn amusing. For me not so much because of the policies of the past (most of those running SA rugby now had nothing to do with those policies and this current thing is more a reaction against that) but because of the affirmitive action you mentioned. Cultural teams are great as long as the selection of the national team is not influenced one way or another on the basis of race.

I think that 2008 presented a bit of a sticky one regarding the Maori team, because there was no Junior AB's program, which sort of made the Maori the default next teir team and gave players of Maori heritage an undeniable opportunity to make the AB side when the inevitible injuries occured. And of course that happened, with Elliot and Braid.

Both good players, but that situation all felt a bit wrong to me, so I'm glad we have a Junior AB program again this year.

Anyway, if the Maori DO go, I wonder who the African population will support? I remember the Cape Town test last year and the "Cape Coloured" as they call themselves, were truly behind the All Blacks.

Rhett said...

Have you seen in the news that the Saffas are pushing for an all Africa Super 14 (Super 15?) team?

Ah, the irony.