Discrimination, 1930s Style

I read a lot of evidence about the harmful impacts of colonisation and government policy on Maori and a lot of it is processed, assessed for relevancy to the particular claimant file that I am working on, and then stored for future use.  The sheer volume of evidence of discrimination and prejudice towards Maori over the past 170 years can be overwhelming if not treated in this way. But every now and then I come across something which is so shocking in its portrayal of the discrimination Maori experienced that it takes some time for the mind to fully process it.

I came across the following in my day’s readings.  It is a simple statistic, it is a shocking statistic and, what’s worse, is that it arises out of a period of perhaps the most social welfare-oriented administration of our nations history.

In 1949, of the 30,000 state houses built by the Government nationwide – less than 100 had been rented to Maori.

(Claudia Orange, ‘A Kind of Equity: Labour and the Maori Party 1935-1939′, p 207)

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2 Responses to Discrimination, 1930s Style

  1. jh says:

    “But every now and then I come across something which is so shocking in its portrayal of the discrimination Maori experienced that it takes some time for the mind to fully process it.”
    ….
    you mean every so often you come across a live shell?

    I’m not saying it isn’t true but lets consider the timing:
    State Housing:
    The first Labour government, elected in 1935, promised to build thousands of affordable houses. By March 1939, 5,000 had been constructed, mostly at Miramar in Wellington and in the Hutt Valley nearby, and at Ōrākei in Auckland.

    Urban Migration:
    Before the Second World War, over 80% of Māori were living in rural areas, primarily within their own tribal districts. From the 1920s there had been a trickle of people moving to the cities, but that was largely checked by the economic depression of the 1930s.
    During the war, however, young Māori not eligible for military service were ‘manpowered’ into industries to support the war effort. Thus began a visible movement of Māori to the larger provincial centres.
    The post-war wave

    This so-called ‘urban drift’ increased after the war. New Zealand, like many other countries, was experiencing prosperity and there was a growing demand for labour in the towns and cities. Rural growth, on the other hand, had slowed and employment prospects for young Māori in the countryside were limited. Despite efforts to develop Māori land holdings, family farmlets were too few to support a rapidly growing Māori population.

    I don’t suppose that today more than a the 100 would identify as Maori? Were there no liberals in those departments at that time?

  2. jh says:

    I vaguely remember that people thought that Maori were undesirable tenants as they wouldn’t look after a house. However I would be surprised if a government department descriminated and if so when did that culture change?

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