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

6 thoughts on “Othering Ourselves: When Maori Attack Maori

  1. Excellent explanation on “Othering” Kiri. It is so destructive to each person who engages in such a practice and subsequently to us as a people. Regretfully, most are not aware of its negative impact.


  2. Ataahua! Just like yourself, your way of writing things is articulate, you had me drawn in and I concur fully, to it all.
    It is revolting how our people are doing this.
    We need to start showing the older generation how it should be, I say to my Dad sometimes, “no way am I going to have rarus like you fellas” but in a nice way haha. They have this baggage and it is all personal stuff because once upon a time, Dad and those who oppose him now, “once were best friends”.

    I don’t understand how they do it but it needs to change.

    Thank you for your wise words as usual and you have a wonderful rest of your week Kiri. Kia pai to ra. #MaoriHARD


  3. Pedagogy of the Oppressed describes this phenomena. Its hard resisting answering criticism of this kind without becoming enmeshed in the colonisers tool-box. Read the Rena shipwreck evidence of the Hearings to see it at its most vicious.


  4. Interesting I’d never heard the term ‘Othering’ until I read this blog, but sure have been on both sides of the spectrum of it.

    As an example I admin (with others) on Matakite Maori pages and for the most part it’s great but what rears its head every now and then if one is to articulate in the sharing of ones perceptions of a situation can be taken out of context misinterpreted and invalidated as ‘oh that’s a pakeha whakāro’. I’ve learnt a lot from being directly involved or assisting others from such instances and have found for the most part the main obstacle was our timely friend the ‘misunderstood word’.

    Just try and stand in a room full everyday Joe blogs and speak on quantum physics and watch one by one as they doze off to sleep which is ‘one’ of the effects of coming up against a word a person does not fully understand. Then have the next speaker come in and speak on the same subject using words they understand and watch the sparks of understanding fly as people in the room get brighter and brighter.

    Words without an expressed emotional tone of intention behind it are just words and for words to have an affect of some kind there has to be an understanding of them otherwise we have a dimmer light at half strength at best.

    Enjoyed your blog

    Nga mihi


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