He wants to “overthrow” the Kingitanga, he “boycotts” Waitangi Day, and he seems to think a mythical race of Celtics arrived in New Zealand before Polynesians. He is also a self-appointed kaumātua. His name is David Rankin and he is here with a quote which, I think, is a representative sample of his, er, work:
“I am sick of academics trying to sanitise our behaviour,” he says. “We are a violent people”.
“We come from a warrior race, but colonisation has meant that we no longer have any battles to fight and we have too much time on our hands so that violent energy is not used up”.
“The Government has been throwing millions of dollars into these problems but the situation is only getting worse”.
We can leave aside the substance – mostly because there is none – but we should ask why the man was ever quoted in the first place. The answer, most likely, is that he’s a convenient excuse – just as, in the USA, black politicians have been when they’ve opposed affirmative action. Or when high profile women have opposed feminism.
For the media he represents “balance”, a kind of lazy sound bite. On one level, that may seem to be harmless enough. What harm is there in parading someone with opposing views?
Possibly not much. But, when those opposing views, however nonsensical, are embraced and applauded by anti-Māori campaigners, they are transformed from pieces of journalistic balance to racist justification.
Criticisms of Māori by Māori are often used to legitimize Pākehā critiques that we would otherwise call racist. So they are welcomed by the rednecks. That’s why the community magazine, e-local, interviews David Rankin and invites him to support the publication’s absurd anti-Maori theories. And it’s why John Ansell refers to him as an “achiever” Māori.
Thus, at its simplest, David Rankin offers political cover for rednecks. Their thinking is that “we can’t be racist because that prominent, achiever Māori thinks just like us too”.
That’s the primary reason why the media should stop quoting him. It would be different if he was an authority on any of these issues. But he’s not. He’s no more credible than the next joker on questions such as the value of Maori electorates.
Radio Waatea has caught on to that and doesn’t follow the mainstream media habit of referring to him as an elder, a kaumatua or a chief. Waatea opts for “Auckland plumber” instead. Kelvin Davis, the MP for Te Tai Tokerau, does too. That’s a much more realistic and healthy perspective.
It’s time the mainstream media stopped giving the man a status he’s never earned – and began ignoring him.
Thank you for reading E-Tangata. If you like our focus on Māori and Pasifika stories, interviews, and commentary, we need your help. Our content takes skill, long hours and hard work. But we're a small team and non-profit, so we need the support of our readers to keep going. If you support our kaupapa and want to see us continue, please consider contributing $5 or $10 a month.