Rush, rush rush... if only the protagonists in the Maori Party squabble could taiho they may find a way to reconcile. But the political timetable is pushing them towards division

Patience. Funny how it runs out when it comes to elections. The Maori Party could do with a healthy dose of it right now, and that should come naturally, given the emphasis in kaupapa Maori of taking the long view. But the impatience shown by Hone Harawira and his caucus colleagues is very modern and, for me, the spade they're currently using to dig themselves a real hole.

Of course the heart of the problem is that politics is overcoming ethnicity; Harawira's concern for the working classes are jamming hard up against Tariana Turia's and the corporate-minded iwi leadership. Yes, class still matters. The differing views of partial privatisation is a clear example of that.

A smidgen more patience, though, would go a long way to buying some time for these debates to be had, assuming (perhaps wrongly) that the party leaders want to find a resolution with Harawira.

For all of the talk around the coalition with National, many of this very public tenions in the party seems to stem form the foreshore and seabed, and the inability of politicians to taiho. It's hard when voters and critics are shooting from the hip and the 24/7 media want instant answers. But from Labour's first rushed decision to intervene in the court process back in 2003 to the Maori Party's determination to repeal and replace the existing law in its first term of coalition, speed has been the enemy of an enduring solution.

I still see the logic of the foreshore and seabed being held in public hands – and I suspect most New Zealanders in their guts feel that the coastline should belong to us all and would be happiest if it was held in common.

I also see how iwi and hapu must feel about their right to own – and go to court over – something claimed as first arrivals and never sold or surrendered. And as I've written before, I can't see any fair and final determination on the foreshore and seabed until ownership and control of the entirety is considered and debated, including the 12,500 private titles.

Which is why the ministerial review panel that considered the issue and reported back in July 2009 was right when it said:

As the Waitangi Tribunal noted in 2004, the issues underlying the Act required
“a longer conversati on” than that which had previously occurred. That
necessary conversation did not fully occur during our inquiry... What we propose should not be seen as an end but as a beginning; a catalyst to further dialogue before the optimum design is sett led and final decisions are made.

Instead, National is repeating Labour's mistake by wanting the bomb buried rather than properly diffused. And the Maori Party wants to show its chops by simply getting a new bill passed, and locked in.

Harawira gets all this, kind of, but can't take the plank out of his own eye. He damns his own party for not achieving immediate results in government. He's right that neither his party nor National are doing squat to address inequality and unemployment. But he needs to stop yelling, slow down and think through a strategy if he wants that to change.

Insisting, for example, as he does in his statement today that National should "cancel any further bailouts for big business" and spend that money on Maori education, promising to have Maori kids under 10 reading, writing and counting "well" by 2014 is just ridiculous. Which bailouts? How much money? What does well mean? And how exactly are you going to rectify ingrained underachievement in three years, sir?

That sort of panicked statement just undermines his credibility.

He needs to figure out exactly what he wants. Heck, maybe he knows already. Maybe it's martyrdom; the sort Winston Peters gained in 1993 when he left National. His actions are so at odds with his words about wanting to stay, that you have to wonder.

Is he asking his party to withdraw from the coalition? Or to refuse to back National again? Either would undermine its influence. Would have them commit to Labour? Then it would be better to stay and win the internal fight.

As for the party's MPs, suspending your colleague two days before he's due to appear before your own disciplinary hearing is like passing sentence before the trial; it's like a cabinet minister saying a criminal is guilty as hell just before the jury go out to deliberate. It's blatantly unjust and, again, looks rushed. Or, as if the decision has already been made, perhaps weeks ago.

As Andrew so perceptively wrote last month, the hiring of Mai Chen and eagerness to do the disciplinary process by the (pakeha) book prompts the question as to whether expulsion was always the intended outcome.

Indeed, the timing of all this, well before the election, suggests that both sides want this brought to a head now, well before the election, so there's time to cool down and soothe voters in the intervening months.

The Maori Party, for all their remarkable success in so few years, can't take anything for granted. Shane Jones is looking to stand against Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau, Rino Tirikatene is challenging Rahui Katene in Te Tai Tonga (following two generations of previous Tirikatene's who held the seat), Harawira vs the Maori Party vs Labour could split the northern seat in a way that's hard to predict... There are risks all around, and the last thing it wants is to find itself a two-MP party.

And that's why no-one seems willing to taiho. Politics, having trumped ethnicity, is now going to topple patience and commonsense as well. While reconciliation would be best aided by a cooling off period and some slow talking, the election demands another path.

Both sides want this tension to be resolved one way or another, and they want it resolved pronto.

Comments (39)

by stuart munro on February 08, 2011
stuart munro

The impatience though, reflects the severity of the situation. NZ is now a frankly terrible place for its underclasses to live. And the Key govt is doing nothing to make it better.

But do not suppose that Hone wants the tension to go away. He thrives on and in conflicts. If he is to have a credible political career it will not be reached by backroom caucus deals, but by bringing the issues out into daylight. Where all who have acquiesced in concealing them will lose mana.

by Chris Webster on February 08, 2011
Chris Webster

Tim: The die is cast. Hone has crossed the Rubicon – he knew his bluntness would cause confrontation but he chose not to withdraw – he chose to fight it out. Like Caesar he has stood centre stage and with a single purpose. He has met resistance from within his party. And like Caesar he crossed in vengeance on what he perceives to be his ‘double-dealing enemies’.

I do not accept your proposition of patience.

What has happened was calculated. And blunt. The co-leaders front-footed Hone. They are not vindictive people. They would hesitate to move so publicly against one of their own. Methinks Mai Chen would be pulling some strings – rubber bands --

Let’s look at the environment in which the Maori Party operates. Recently its strategic research manager quit after 6 years – because? She was unhappy at the party’s continuing failure to advocate for Maori rights. Helen Potter was a stalwart – a strong and organised manager – she was trusted with policy development and implementation – she fronted for the leaders and was accepted by the people – she delivered speeches on behalf of the party – her word and presence was respected. Her resignation sent shivers through people. She too was patient - but now she has gone.

Goodbye Hone Harawira? Perhaps morph into goodbye ‘Pork Pie’ outcome where Hone is metaphorically shipped across Raukawa strait into exile?

It really does not matter in which electorate he stands. The issues Hone raises in his statement have been festering for generations. Tariana Turia recalled those matters today in her reply here to the prime ministers statement. Those statistics and history ain’t pretty. The Prime Ministers’ casual acceptance of the increasing numbers of Maori children who will not gain advantage under his leadership is a continuation of the Labour Party attitude when it sacrificed, extinguished and then confiscated the last piece of customary land that was held by Maori – a resource guaranteed by te tiriti to be theirs - for evermore - amen.

And you talk of patience. Your discussions are sincere and well-intentioned and that your analysis of Hone’s bucket-list critical. As it should be in your profession. But patience?

Not one matter on Hone’s list can be silo’ed out. His bucket-list is an accumulation of years of patience – the waiting game – it is a micro-analysis of what is required to fix the long-standing problems Maori have suffered since the intervention by the colonial office 171 + years ago – to annex all of NZ and its lands - to accommodate – not Maori – but the land speculators, and the wanna-be’s – and in turn raise capital to provide finance for an administration under which Maori would be and remain subjugated.

From where Hone sits (and me) his / our / your / concerns for the working classes are ‘jamming up’ (nice turn of phrase) hard up against Tariana Turia's and the corporate-minded iwi leadership – yes - is causing tension. But if we carry on with only looking after the others – the non-others will continue to suffer.

When you read Tariana’s speech she’s also saying ‘show me the money’ as she recognises (like the colonial office) – the need to raise capital to pay for the catch-ups to which she and Hone and poor Maori refer.

Now the so-called ‘iwi leadership’ is a manifestation of people’s egos and the primping of their own identity. They are the result of boxes being ticked. There’s nothing remarkable about what those boys and girls are doing – they are mirroring their environment.

Whereas the poor and illiterate people that Hone (John A Lee disciple) is championing cannot begin to even dream about changing theirs. I support Tariana when she said today here ‘these issues represent governments who have routinely failed Maori and failed this country.

As an aside in 1993 the then Minister of Maori Affairs Doug Kidd remarked on the passing of Te Ture Maori Act 1993) after a 17-year hiatus in the House of Representatives:

What would be the social and economic status of rural New Zealand today if all landowners had been cursed with the system imposed upon Maori land and their owners? New Zealanders of European descent might have been poorly reflected in statistics if they found themselves in the same position. What indeed!

Patience –is a virtue – possess it if you can – seldom found in women - but never in a man!

I wish with all my heart that John Key and this government turn away from its ‘fatal necessity’ policies and to accommodate the Maori Party and Hone and begin the process of restoration. Otherwise I fear Key’s plans for 2011 could well represent a continuation albeit refined of Dickensian policies which originated last century.

Your column is balanced and I enjoyed reading it and responding to it.

by Matthew Percival on February 08, 2011
Matthew Percival

Stuart, can you provide any evidence to support your assertion that NZ is a terrible place for the underclass to live?

by stuart munro on February 08, 2011
stuart munro

Well I left. It wasn't because of a surfeit of opportunity. & I have a degree, a coastal master's ticket & twenty years of working experience.

But look at the social indicators, and consider that the 20-25% decline in home ownersip has happened in a single generation. This is not trivial, and it was not voluntary, but no party has dared to confront it head on, not even the Greens. Or you could look at age at marriage, from 23 to 33 in 20 years, again, an indicator of enormous and negative social change. No one who routinely looks at any of NZ's major socioeconomic indicators needs to be told. 

There was a UK based prof put out a study a few weeks ago, if you must have academic evidence.

by Flat Eric on February 08, 2011
Flat Eric

Let me guess - all it will take is a bit more tax on high-income earners...

by Bruce Thorpe on February 08, 2011
Bruce Thorpe

Chris is pretty spot on.

Harawira wants a revolution within the Maori Party.The membership support what he is saying.

But the people sitting in the party top roles seem determined to take the conservative option, once more.

by Pat on February 09, 2011

Hone wants a revolution?  The maori party, as part of the government, was revoluntionary.

Nah, Hone just likes being outside thowing stones at the tent, rather than being inside the tent where the decisions get made.  The maori party have had only 2 years inside the tent, but Hone wants all those stats changed now, recession or no recession.

The maori party can remain a long term political force, but sometimes the team are better off without the self-annointed star player.

And where can Hone Harawera best acheive the real political gains for his constituents - a new left party?  NZF?   No, surely he can acheive the most as part of a strong and united maori party, inside the tent.




by stuart munro on February 09, 2011
stuart munro

Let me guess - all it will take is a bit more tax on high-income earners...

No. There are no such easy solutions - Polyanna fixes like selling state assets are also doomed to fail. It will take a great deal more, hard work and assiduous planning, and quite a lot of it to simply reverse the pernicious trend. The shocking irresponsibility of both major parties will be a legend to future generations, if NZ doesn't actually fail from cumulative gross neglect.

We need significant action now merely to halt the decline at New Zealand's present miserable state.

by Tim Watkin on February 09, 2011
Tim Watkin

Chris...That's the second comment in a couple of days when you're quoting the classics... Definitely raising the tone around here!

I'm reluctant to jump to conclusions about the leadership's intent. As I wrote, it does look like this may be a calculated, pre-determined move to dump Harawira, as you believe, but without talking to those inside, neither of us can be certain.

I believe Sharples to be a decent man, and not a plotter, which causes me pause.

Re patience... if the parties at odds drew breath I'm sure they could reconcile. It seems they may not want  to.

I take your point that these issues he's raising go back years... decades. So why bring it to a head now? And issues that take so long to create, also take a long time to fix. Hence the need for patience.

Maori stats are by-and-large improving – have been over the past generation, taking away the blip under Richardson. But she's a long road back.

What I'd like to know, if I was in a position to ask questions now, is what discussions have been had inside the Maori Party caucus. Has Hone fought and lost a push to the left? Has he got a clear signal his party is going to go with National again?



by NiuZila on February 09, 2011

Yes, I agree with your last comment Tim.  What conversations have taken place behind doors within the Maori Party, with National, within cabinet?  Tariana has come out saying the issues Hone is on about are the same issues they've argued about in Govt.  Well what were the results?

by Tim Watkin on February 09, 2011
Tim Watkin

Q+A is back on air in March... maybe we'll get some answers then!

I'd also like to ask Flavell what made him act now. Did he get the word from his leaders? What's his motivation?

by Matthew Percival on February 09, 2011
Matthew Percival

Stuart, I'm unconvinced with the evidence provided. Yes home ownership has decreased but surely to be defined as poor these people were renting prior to home ownership decreasing? I also fail to see the relevancy to the poor who would surely be better off renting than having a mortgage pay on a house that's depreciating in value.

As for the marriage age there is so much more opportunity now than there was even a generation ago. Being in that age bracket I have friends spread all over the world which indicates to me that the opportunities have never been greated for our youth (and some of us who are slightly older) who are prepared to do the hard yards.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

I'm surprised Hone's appearance with John Tamihere and Willie Jackson didn't get a few more tongues wagging. That's an interesting combination.

To me Hone can't be a party leader. If he ever became a party leader he would be unable to implement his policy because his party will only ever be a minor player. He would come to realise what his leaders in the Maori Party are realising - they wield a small stick.

Like Pat suggests Hone is best at throwing the stones so perhaps the best way forward for he and the Maori Party is for Hone to be a dissenting voice from time to time within the party. 

by Save Happy Valley on February 09, 2011
Save Happy Valley

I think the Iwi Leadership Group wants him out so it can do more corporate deals with National that do not benefit Maori, or Pakeha in general.

The Maori Party was elected on a mandate, Hone holds true to that. The Iwi Leadership Group was not elected, yet holds the power. Turiana said it was they who decided the Maori Party support the uselss National ETS (polluter subsidy scheme) for example.

So I agree with what Chris said. The Iwi Leadership group does not represent maori, and the National Party is not looking to improve the conditions of maori here in Aotearoa, or look after the best intetrsts of Kiwis. That is the problem, the Maori Party, in the same way that if the greens went into coalition with National is in a bind.


Privatisation, low wages, education cuts and rising GST, plus the ETS.... and now free trade are not what maori voted for in the maori party. So Hone stands like the greens for supporting communities, in his case communities across Te Tai Tokerau, and elsewhere.

It may be that all these problems lead to a new hikoi and new strategies to improve the lot of maori. The Iwi Leadership group and corporate maori to not benefit New Zealand or most maori, in the same way that privatisation does not benefit everyday New Zealanders.


Kia Kaha Hone.


by Tim Watkin on February 09, 2011
Tim Watkin

Matthew/SHV: You both lead me to the same thought... I don't believe Harawira imagines leading a new party/hikoi/movement. And if I'm wrong, I can't imagine that 'Other Maori Party' ever being anything but marginal.

He's declared his hand – he doesn't like deals with National. That means his new party would be Labour-dependent, with no negotiating power. Ask the Greens how that feels. Powerless, is the answer. And Labour really wants the Maori vote for itself, so while it would hardly encourage or accommodate him.

Really, it's a doomed path. Better to change the system from within – as the left of the Labour party did (to some extent) after the Alliance split.

Where Sharples, and more so Turia, have failed is by falling into the same old trap as so many other minor coalition partners, and that's not keeping their own voice independent enough. Heck, no small party's figured that one out yet. Example: the Maori Party MPs had to vote for the Budget as a supply and confidence measure, even though it included policies at odds with their own manifesto.

It's really a weakness of MMP that probably deserves its own post (and probably by Andrew) – the system seems to be developing a habit of eating minor parties.

But there's no doubt that going with National first time up was strategically the right thing to do for the Maori Party in the first instance – it established its independent bonafides. It's just got too close to National now and needs to wriggle out of its grasp.

As with NZ's foreign policy, there's only one way to any sort of power and self-determination – independent thought and keeping yourself relevant.


by stuart munro on February 09, 2011
stuart munro

@ Matthew - home ownership is the traditional divsion between the middle and lower class. If you are unaware of the significance of the change in age at marriage, that is not my problem. Look at a few other figures - suicide is pretty clear cut, but you need to be medical to see current figures.

by Chris Webster on February 09, 2011
Chris Webster one fell swoop ... I shall respond

by Chris Webster on February 09, 2011
Chris Webster

Tim: the generosity and consideration expressed by Pita towards Hone – come home – all will be forgiven – but on our terms – will be an anathema to Hone.

Evolution or revolution: I believe Hone is seeking an evolution inside the Maori Party based on a much more strategic and aggressive approach. He even admits his desire for a relationship with the Greens but says he wants to remain with the Maori Party. Given this I do not accept he wants a revolution.

Why do I say that? Because Hone has been the vanguard for the poor and dispossessed – a pedigree of which he is proud and I could not do him justice to say any more agree with Gordon Campbell’s views hone-here. Hone understands the need for collective thinking and bloc voting.

But what will provoke his position even further is the resulting report back from the Maori Affairs Select Committee on the Takutai Moana bill – and which remains unchanged. The minority report of the Labour Party is disparaging of the committee that ignored the submissions seeking amendments. It can hardly now take the high ground now it was the author of this controversy.

Caucus rumblings. Tim as you know – they are sacrosanct to the attendees. I have never attended the Maori Party caucus. I am not a member of it or any other political party. The article that tipped Flavell into complaint was in my view unremarkable. For Flavell - who is a gentle soul by nature – to get into a froth – may be explained by your question – that the complaint was "drama-queened".

Hell even Derek Fox yesterday – who was privy to caucus goings-on – comments on the internal ructions - hone-disunity – and he is embarrassed that the raruraru have taken centre stage and the critical issues have been sidelined.

Iwi leadership group: I dismiss the notion it has any power if at all. The only power that resides in them is through the people they represent. And I can tell you that Waikato people have not given a mandate to Tuku Morgan to promote his personal views on investments and infrastructure and or asset sales purchases. He simply has no mandate to do any of these things. Why?

Motivation to act: Flavell – methinks the wider bigger picture. The long-sustainable health and growth and stickability of the Maori Party; 2011 elections. His electorate has not received too many gains since he got the nod. Competition from Labour and elsewhere in his electorate? More of the same? Is Hone’s behavior a downer for him and the Maori Party?

Other Maori electorates: If Nanaia stands down from Waikato-Tainui, it is unlikely the Maori Party will win the seat. Their candidate (ex-military man – gentle and genuine) – is not a fighter – hell he gets nervous when I am around (Smirk). If Parekura stands down will Fox put his hand up again – will he receive the nomination?

The motivation: in a word - Survival.

The Westies:  I'm surprised Hone's appearance with John Tamihere and Willie Jackson didn't get a few more tongues wagging. That's an interesting combination.

No surprise there - this trio -- is triple trouble -- all hail from the same neighbourhood -- west auckland - which forms part of Hone's electorate: JT and Willie co-host talk-back on Waatea Radio - which is part of the FM radio network - an industry in which Hone has expertise and experience at the mike.

PS: Thanks.

by Petone on February 09, 2011

@ stuart
Home ownership declined due to unaffordability, largely due to the real estate bubble, which which was fueled by the lack of a capital gains tax.  Addressing that economic distortion is a Green policy so I think it is unfair to say the Green Party is not addressing it.

The increasing age of marriage is correlated with increasing education, wealth, travel/emigration opportunities, and secularism.  Personally I don't think any of them are negative social indicators, though others may differ of course.

Has home ownership increased, and average age of marriage decreased, whereever you are now?

by stuart munro on February 09, 2011
stuart munro

@ Petone - the CGT will not fix housing overnight, but over several decades. Care to assure a low-income family growing up in substandard housing that this will not effect their lives?

The shortage and aging of NZ's housing stock are also matters of urgency - the Greens at least know this. The Nats of course have no idea, they don't want to know.

It is not satisfactory, something needs to be done. The Greens don't have a policy for all this yet, that I have seen. They are way ahead of the others, but the others are irredeemably useless.

by stuart munro on February 09, 2011
stuart munro

The massive shifts in age at marriage in NZ are economic, not cultural. NZ's culture didn't change overnight - but our economy did, when Douglas and Prebble killed it and sold it.

by Andrew Geddis on February 09, 2011
Andrew Geddis


And yet New Zealanders appear to still marry at a younger age than Australia. Odd, no? In fact, as this paper demonstrates, the average age of marriage has risen in Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand pretty much in lockstep with each other. Again ... odd.

by stuart munro on February 09, 2011
stuart munro

Soft data.


by Andrew Geddis on February 09, 2011
Andrew Geddis

As opposed to ... no data at all. Or, just making up an explanation that happens to coincide with your particular worldview. For myself, I think the massive shifts in the age of marriage are caused by shifts in Venus' orbit around the sun. See - we can all make up explanations when we don't have to back them up with annoying things like facts!

by stuart munro on February 10, 2011
stuart munro

Indeed - this is after all the principal occupation of lawyers. But you have confessed the greater part of my claim already, you may dispute the cause, but the massive change in age at marriage happens to be a fact - It's not made up. And your astrological explanation is on the whole not very credible, one might even think disingenuous. So you haven't really mustered a very strong counterargument.

But rebut the housing malaise then, or show any other evidence of New Zealand prospering from the point of view of the underclass - you have none.

Nor if we credit your wikidata does it refute the proposition, that the massive shift in age at marriage is indicative of a significant erosion of quality of life among New Zealanders - they no longer enjoy the quality of life of their predecessors. Sudden significant demographic shifts are rarely voluntary and generally painful.

And much of this can be fairly laid at the feet of that hebephrenic troupe of buffoons that purport to represent us, and the ludicrous and persistantly disasterous policies they pursue, in spite of the well known public preference for moderation, prosperity, and the retention of the wealth that the parliaments of more provident and sapient generations laid up to support the construction of a better and more enlightened society.



by Andrew Geddis on February 10, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Those are a lot of words, Stuart. But where's the beef?

The average age of first marriage has risen in NZ since (at least) the early 1970s. This predates Rogernomics. The average age of first marriage in Australia has risen since (at least) the early 1970s. They didn't have Rogernomics. Ergo, blaming Rogernomics for the rising age of marriage looks a bit ... odd.

None of this is to defend Rogernomics, mind you, or to deny that life is shit for poor people. But, like I say, claiming Rogernomics "must" be responsible for this social phonemonon is like an astrologist saying it "must" be caused by Venus' orbital shift. Why? Because it must, that is why.

by Chris Webster on February 10, 2011
Chris Webster

‘Love and marriage goes together like horse and carriage’- or does it?

C: Andrew: the paper you provided does not discuss the emancipation of women, the vote, the Pill, the rise and rise of femme fatale; the right and actions of women to have children without being married and at later ages, the changes to property legislation –all of which I consider are tangible indicators for early/late/changes to when and at what age of marriage (and length) ages and housing -- and are credible reasons to support some aspects of Stuart’s thesis.

Some of the above indicators may be seen/interpreted/viewed/argued as being of a ‘cultural’ basis they were dictated by economic and social changes/demands/pressures/sheer bloody-minded-ness and victory.

Whilst the UVIC paper (and yes I accept it had its provenance in 1997) focuses its discussions of arranged marriages in other cultures –the authors do not discuss why arranged marriages occurred for instance - in Maori society - for strategic, economic (resource sharing) alliances and political reasons.

C: Stuart Monroe: The massive shifts in age at marriage in NZ are economic, not cultural. NZ's culture didn't change overnight - but our economy did, when Douglas and Prebble killed it and sold it.

See-saw politics: I will argue however that our economy changed long before Douglas and Prebble killed it and sold it and created uncertainty and despair – the results of which emanate today. But did it affect the age of marriage?

‘King’ Dick Seddon (Liberals) front-footed the housing issue in 1905 because the hoi polloi were paying extortionate rents and living in squalid living conditions - and he introduced the Workers' Dwellers Act – the intention being to stimulate local industry and provide work for those left jobless by the great depression  -here-.

In 1937 Labour’s (John A Lee) implemented the Liberals policy and brought the largest housing construction scheme in the nation's history to fruition.

But in 1950 National provided for state tenants to buy their houses, arguing private home ownership provided greater personal freedom than renting. And we all know what happened afterwards – in 1990 National introduced market rents – ‘ a level playing field’ and make the rental market more equitable and of course – ‘encourage state tenants to become less dependent on the state’ for their accommodation needs.

Labour on its return in 1999 scrapped that policy and reinstated income-related rentals.

So yes --massive shifts in age at marriage in NZ are economic, not cultural. But the drivers for marriage were changing long before Douglas and Prebble did their dastardly deeds. .

by Andrew Geddis on February 10, 2011
Andrew Geddis


At risk of further derailing this discussion thread ... you claim that "massive shifts in age at marriage in NZ are economic, not cultural." I just don't think this is a tenable distinction. Yes, our economic conditions have changed (worsened?) over the last 30-40 years. But intertwined with those changes have been massive shifts in views of what "the family" should look like. Remember, it isn't "NZ society" that has to change as a whole in order for the marriage age to rise - it is the mindset/expectations/beliefs of those considering marriage for the first time. So oldies can keep on believing what they like without affecting the age of first marriage, provided the kids start thinking differently.

Also, you began your post by pointing to "the emancipation of women, the vote, the Pill, the rise and rise of femme fatale; the right and actions of women to have children without being married and at later ages, the changes to property legislation" as being key factors in the later age of first marriage. Had you forgotten this claim by the time you came to the end of your post?

Finally, there's little point us uninformed guessers tossing this around. Let's leave it to the experts.

by stuart munro on February 10, 2011
stuart munro

Experts are of course a wonderful thing - when they adhere to the standards of the discipline.

Through comparing changes in living arrangements, Pool et al. point out that it is unlikely that the propensity of men and women to live together has changed significantly, even though marriage is no longer a significant milestone for most.

Census data exists that ought to make speculation like this superfluous.

But returning to the miserable lot of NZ underclasses: some years ago I devoted the majority of my time to teaching refugees. Many of them needed IELTs passes to break out of immigration limbo - a trap that often caused depressive illnesses in those not already suffering from PTSD. What did these people do upon obtaining residency or citizenship?

After a few years in the NZ job market it was perfectly clear to them that the better life for which they had risked life and limb or lost family members, was not going to happen to them here. They departed for Australia, where with their enviable work ethic they rapidly became comfortably off.

It's a shame they couldn't have had that experience here. And it's a shame that New Zealand's poorer folk are also denied the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. And that shame belongs principally to the worthless rogues who wrote our contemptible contemporary economic policy - the Douglases and Brashes and Keys and nameless Treasury idealogues who daily consign their countrymen to a life of squalor.

by Andrew Geddis on February 10, 2011
Andrew Geddis

The only point to me making this comment is to see if stuart can bear to let anyone else have the final word.

by stuart munro on February 10, 2011
stuart munro

Really? It looks like an off topic kill to me.

Is the lot of NZ underclasses not urgent? It seems that, cultural constructions of marriage data notwithstanding, that it is. Which goes a long way to validating Hone's impatience.

by Andrew Geddis on February 10, 2011
Andrew Geddis

And evidence for the link between the increasing age of first marriage and "the underclass" is to be found ...?

by stuart munro on February 10, 2011
stuart munro

Sooner or later Andrew, you need to be able to read your own statistics. It is reasonable to infer that a population with a rising suicide rate, for instance, is less happy than one with a stable or falling one - though of course some attention must be paid to volume.

Populations that delay marriage are typically stressed, in Korea, for example, marriage is not only on the cusp of infertility, but one child families vastly outnumber others - the economics of education being perhaps no less tyrannical than the dictates of a certain Mao. When you see a population make a massive shift in a single generation this is usually not a mere cultural shift - culture is somewhat malleable, but not so rapidly after all.

But probably the best indicator of the lot of the underclass is the degree to which they can realize the traditional aspirations of their culture. In Japan, for example, most young adults still enjoy a superior quality of life to what they recall growing up, so that in spite of decades of declarations from economists of Japan's fundamental unsoundness, the current consensus is that things are not so bad.

Contrast that with NZ, where a house and a job are non-negotiable cultural minimums, and you might be able to extrapolate the priorities of our underclass with some accuracy. Assuming that accuracy and not palatability was your aim.

by Andrew Geddis on February 10, 2011
Andrew Geddis

And evidence (as opposed to assertion) for the link between the increasing age of first marriage and "the underclass" is to be found ...?

by stuart munro on February 10, 2011
stuart munro

I don't owe you it Andrew - you are scarcely an arbiter of propriety in any case - if people ask you for evidence you just say "that's the way we do things here"

In fact, the details came from a conversation with someone in the field about four years ago, not that it's any of your business. You may regard it as apocryphal, or not regard it at all for all I care.

by Petone on February 11, 2011

The details I have about marriage age correlations came from my pet parrot, Wallis. She's getting a bit long in the claw and admittedly isn't 100% reliable now, but learnt everything she knows from her old owner, Margaret Mead.

by stuart munro on February 11, 2011
stuart munro

Nor are the cultural constructions of marriage shift 100% reliable, they are merely suppositions. A supposition of sudden cultural shift that accounts for dramatic changes in ways of life is pretty suspect.

But of course you are still stuck in the authority fallacy - as one might expect.

by stuart munro on February 12, 2011
stuart munro

Which you can find here:

by Petone on February 14, 2011


Wallis' feathers were a bit ruffled by the accusation, implied by your reference, that she is either not an authority or is an authority who doesn't know what she is squawking about.

She pointed me at a site called Gapminder for some numbers.  Gapminder has a goal of "Fighting the most devastating myths by building a fact-based world view that everyone understands", and does this by allowing users to build their own views of census and other data. So users can find their own trends rather than relying on authorities, which I note you did also with your "someone in the field about four years ago".

Eg, here is a Gapminder graph I did showing GDP Per Capita vs Marriage Age.
Here is another , Human Development Index vs Marriage Age
I couldn't find any religious measures in Gapminder, I guess it just sticks to facts!

by on September 26, 2011
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