[Marxism] Whale Rider

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Wed Mar 3 05:55:47 MST 2004

Phil wrote:

"I think they are Ngati Porou.  I've never heard of a Ngati Kanoahi, unless
it is a made-up name.  (I haven't read the novel and I'm not sure the
tribe's name is used in the film.)"

I don't know Nga Kanaohi either - a ex-colleague of mine, Janet
Briggs-Sinclair (a novelist and statistician), was involved with the
standard statistical classification of Maori tribes. For most Europeans, New
Zealand and Australia are all the same thing, and they think Maori and
Aboriginal is the same.

Keisha Castle-Hughes was born in Donnybrook, Western Australia, 210
kilometres south of Perth (on March 24, 1990). Her mother, Desrae Hughes is
New Zealand Maori, apparently of Ngati Pourou, Tainui and Ngapuhi descent.

Her father, Tim Castle (age 34 as of Feb 2004) is an Australian who worked
as sheet-metal worker and now lives in New Plymouth, New Zealand. He is now
separated from Keisha's mother. They also have two sons, Rhys, 11, and Liam,

Tim Castle is apparently a former Aussie rules football player originally
from Fremantle.  At age of 4, Keisha's family moved from Australia to New

She was selected for Whale Rider by Diana Rowan and her casting assistant at
a primary school in Mt. Wellington. Rowan had earlier found Anna Paquin for
"The Piano". To find Keisha, Rowan considered about 10,000 other possible

Phil writes:

"Instead of having to repress poor urban Maori youth with police batons, you
entrap them within what you tell them is their culture."

This is to än extent true, in fact around the time of Springbok Tour
protests in 1981 a government report was released called "Race against Time"
which projected a spectre of racial warfare and urged a containment
strategy. However, what Phil disregards is how government authorities could
co-opt Maori culture in this way in the first place, beyond the traditional
ties existing between the Labour party and Maori organisations.

In order for that co-optation to happen, there first of all had to be a real
social problem (primarily fast-rising unemployment), a real struggle and a
campaign to reclaim Maori culture, and a real validation of historic
grievances which were previously ignored more or less altogether.

In this sense, the NZ Government was politically much smarter than the
Marxists, because the NZ Government validated the real experience of real
Maori people, while the Marxists thought Maori should think about something
else, such as class struggle or Marxist-Leninist ideology.

That was already really clear at the Three Nations Conference, and at the
4th Marxian Political Economy Conference at the beginning of the 1980s
(which Donna Awatere and Ripeka Evans attended as well as Bruce Jesson). I
remember that, because Donna was rather bitchy at the time and I couldn't
get much sense out of her.

As regards myself, you'd never catch me acting or being involved with a
Hollywood movie though, never in a million years, and I've never wanted to


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