Othering Ourselves: When Maori Attack Maori

Politics and its commentary can be a platform of the most immature and puerile expressions of human behaviour. It is dominated with huge amounts of energy towards bringing ‘other’ parties and people down. It is rife with ‘othering’. Othering is the process of casting people into the role of the ‘other’. They mentally classify – in their mind individuals or groups as “not being one of us’. Fueled by a need to feel superior, over others, they seek to become separate and distinct from the other.

It is really sad to read social media threads of Maori that personally attack our Maori politicians. There are many words used, but I especially abhor and detest the words ‘ballhead’ and ‘house nigger’ being used to describe our Maori politicians. These are such heavily loaded words, attached to horrific histories and unimaginable past horrors. These are shaming words, used to bring the ‘Maori-ness’ of a person down, reducing them to the ‘other’.

Every human deserves to be treated with dignity – including Maori politicians.

I’ve never actually met an evil person,

I’ve met good people, who do bad things,

I’ve met ignorant people who don’t know any better.

I’ve met lost people who can’t find the way.

But, there are very few people on this earth who are purely evil.

Every person is a complex bundle of emotions, ideas, motivations, and priorities, shaped by their past experiences and histories. I believe that everybody is born with a good heart.

My experience with most Maori politicians is they work pretty damn hard for their beliefs in what they think will make a better society. I don’t always agree with what they prioritize or their tactics to get positions and attention. But that is where the debate should start, not personal attacks that tries to reduce them as a person. I’ve said this before in other blogs, words have power.

“Othering”, is a well-known term by Indigenous people. Extreme othering has been the psychological foundations of slavery, colonisation and ethnic genocide. It is the dehumanising of another. Be very careful Maori ma, that we do not ‘other’ each ‘other’.


Photo Credit: Maori group (at a country horse racing meeting?). Ref: 1/1-001882-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23168988