“There are dozens of such analogies between the Maori and the Welsh…”

by on March 22, 2015 at 3:46 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, Travel | Permalink

Daniel Davies reviews New Zealand.  Here is one excerpt:

The key to understanding the economy of New Zealand is that it’s an industry cluster, and the industry in question is agriculture. Or, and this might be a bit more controversial, the industry in question is agriculture marketing, the most perfect example of which being the way in which the Chinese gooseberry was renamed the “kiwifruit” and production ramped up exponentially to meet US and European demand. At some point, if they can transport them without bruising, I’d guess that they’ll have a go at doing the same thing with the Feijoa, a kind of South American guava that’s very popular domestically. Marketing isn’t looked down on as a frivolous activity for people not clever enough to do science in New Zealand, as far as I can see – farmers, if they want to enjoy middle-class incomes, have to be very aware about the difference between the stuff that comes out of the ground or off the animal, and the sort of thing that people want to see in their shops.

I liked this bit (among many others) too:

One of the things that originally got me interested in the subject of economics was asking the question “How come they’re able to send lamb and butter all the way from New Zealand and still sell it cheaper than Wales?”, and never being very satisfied with the answer.

The discussion is interesting throughout.

1 Eric March 22, 2015 at 4:19 pm

The cost of production of livestock products in NZ is much lower than many other livestock producing countries. NZ has focused on producing as much as possible with pasture while most western dairies concentrate on using harvested and stored forages and concentrates. The process of harvesting, storing, mechanical feeding, and then disposing of the manure doubles or triples the cost of the feed. Western style dairies get more milk per cow but at a substantially higher cost. NZ universities have focused their research on how to optimize this system so that an island a long ways from the populous countries can export dairy products competitively.

2 FPD March 22, 2015 at 5:27 pm

“Marketing isn’t looked down on as a frivolous activity for people not clever enough to do science in New Zealand, as far as I can see”. As far as I can see, the clever scientists of the world could indeed stand to learn a little more about marketing, as neither the issues nor the stakes involved are frivolous.

3 Sam Haysom March 22, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Where on earth is science seen as more high status than marketing. There isn’t a single procession on earth Id take in a showdown against marketting seeing as how the marketers are in the process of even taking over a supposed “scientific/technology” hot bed like Silcon Valley.

4 8 March 22, 2015 at 5:51 pm

Pretty much everywhere. Scientist get the cachet that comes from using the scientific method. Marketers are used car salesmen on steroids.

5 Ivy March 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Marketing could use some marketing-like focus on helping people understand it.
Otherwise, the perception is typically as Dilbert says: essentially alcohol and guesswork.

6 Berend de Boer March 22, 2015 at 6:00 pm

I assume the value of this post is as much as someone driving from LaGuardia Airport through Philadelphia ending up in Charleston and putting his kids at a local school and writing about all 57 states of the US…

Anyway, it was still interesting to have an outsider commenting on my country (I emigrated here 13 years ago). A couple of points:

1. Musket Wars: Maoris did a lot of fighting among themselves (might is right is ownership, no other form of property), and introducing guns into this mix was deadly. This lines up with the Treaty of Waitangi (1840), as these wars ran between 1810s to 1840s. Maoris were not a single unified tribe. But the Treaty could have worked out much better if the government hadn’t started land purchases at the late 1840s, and basically it were the English who reneged on the treaty. In the 20th century Treaty Settlement processes have done a lot to recognise the injustice done and reparations are still being made.

2. The NZ bush: “The native bush seems to be full of not much except edible plants”. Eh not really. There’s not much you want to eat there, and lots of it requires very careful processing. If the Maori hadn’t brought their Kumera (sweet potato) with them and had become farmers, they would have died. They killed the Moa (large flightless bird) quite early on. You cannot be a hunter/gatherer in NZ.

3.Seeing NZ from the car? Driving all the way down to the bottom of the South Island? I know people do it, but that’s not NZ folks. It’s like dropping into Manhattan and declare you have seen the US. It’s enjoyable in a sense, but I suggest you drive less, and walk/sail more. But yeah, it takes time before you have learned to see NZ.

4. As in England national radio here is hard-core socialist, no dissenting voices. He may like Kim Hill, but it says probably more about him than about NZ talk radio. But he makes good points here I presume (don’t know much about talk radio, but years ago I enjoyed listening to conservative talk radio in the US, which is easily consumed here).

5. On disadvantaged Maori: there are more Maori in parliament then their share of population. So their political representation is good, although in my opinion their contribution to what NZ is what much more important in the past (giants like Te Heuheu Tukino IV or Sir Apirana Ngata).

I think it’s more helpful to compare the Maori to “blacks” in the US: the biggest problem IMO is dysfunctional familes: 70% or so does not live with their biological father, low marriage rates, that kind of thing. It’s politically incorrect to say not living with your mum and dad is a problem, so solutions won’t be found until then I suspect.

PS: like “blacks” using the word “Maori” to identify a very diverse group is probably not very helpful.

6. Feijoa export: YES!

7. Did this article just put Eketahuna on the map? LOL.

7 FC March 22, 2015 at 6:33 pm

All of this.

The postulated production vs. marketing dichotomy could be applied just as uselessly to any industry. Really, this piece seems less insightful than some “what I did on my summer vacation” essays I heard in my school days.

Mere socialism doesn’t quite explain the (state-owned) media’s obsession with race relations in the USA and polite silence about race relations in New Zealand. Ferguson one day, something or other in Los Angeles the next. That kerfuffle at the University of Oklahoma actually made the TV news in NZ.

8 PD Shaw March 22, 2015 at 6:43 pm

1. I think his focus on the 1840 treaty obscures how and when population changes took place in the Anglo-World. Per James Belich, the operative time period of change for New Zealand would have been with the 1855-1867 and 1870-1886 population booms. From 1851 to 1886, the population increased from 26,000 to 580,000. The Anglo pattern could be quite peaceful with indigenous populations whether it was in the eighteenth century or early nineteenth century, and were frequently deadly once a lot of settlers arrived usually without concerted government action. A peace treaty entered in 1840 does not reflect the demographic and popular pressures that existed a generation later.

9 PD Shaw March 22, 2015 at 6:54 pm

oops: Early nineteenth century = early twentieth century

(This is in reference to the suggestion in the linked piece to a heightened state of humanitarian consciousness in the British people only up to the 1840s. I think the British were fairly consistent moralizers that would compromise when financially prudent.)

10 dearieme March 22, 2015 at 9:29 pm

“If the Maori hadn’t brought their Kumera (sweet potato) with them and had become farmers, they would have died.”
They arrived as farmers. The trouble was that all their crops and livestock failed – even the pigs and chickens – except the sweet potato. Tropical crops and animals don’t do well in a temperate climate. So they needed to hunt and gather. After they’d eaten all the big birds, they made inroads into the fish, dolphins, seals and so on. And into each other: humans were a source of protein. In the best spots, e.g. the Banks Peninsula, you could get village-sized groups of hunter gatherers living off the sea food. But terrified of war canoes arriving from the North Island, come to eat ’em. Names such as “Cannibal Beach” ain’t kidding.

11 Ray Lopez March 23, 2015 at 1:44 am

@bdb- “PS: like “blacks” using the word “Maori” to identify a very diverse group is probably not very helpful.” – this looks like a Politically Correct afterthought. It’s quite helpful to identify a group by skin color, since everybody does it, even in the target group. If you are talking about genetic diversity, there’s very little difference between different ‘races’, save for tiny things like blacks have more sickle-cell anemia and Greeks have more varicose veins, statistically, blacks have more black skin, etc. Genetically those differences are minor. I once saw an interesting DNA fingerprint analysis, using an old FBI standard that was supposed to be accurate to one in several dozen million, that showed a white prisoner having the identical DNA fingerprint as a black prisoner (in this DNA standard). The author did some more digging and found several more such examples, all in the Arizona prison system. The FBI later upgraded their DNA fingerprint standard to a higher standard, accurate to the billions (it is said). Diversity is overrated. Most of the time the fellow from the different race is the same as you, he just looks funny.

12 Steve Sailer March 23, 2015 at 4:56 am

They were only looking at 13 genetic markers. The LA Times had a good expose in the mid-2000s on how pathetic that was.

13 Berend de Boer March 23, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Ray Lopez, as someone who believes we all came from the same Ark not too long ago, I surely do not believe much in race!

I actually referred to culture, not genes which are basically the same. For example: in NZ we have two electoral rolls: the general and the Maori one. This is for historical reasons, as the general one used to be only for property owners, and Maori only had communal property. So even today, if you’re Maori, you can register for the Maori roll. But 40% of Maori have elected not to be on this rol, and are on the general role. You hear little about them, as they tend to be more successful, as they have different cultural beliefs.

You also had Maori who didn’t sign the Treaty (most probably because they were to far away IMO, else they may have), but they believe that gives them a status aparte, and that they can run their own state.

14 Ronald Brak March 23, 2015 at 9:54 pm

The hunter gatherers of the Chatham islands show that a hunting and gathering existance is possible in more hospitable New Zealand. Right up until agriculturalists come and kill you, of course.

15 PhoenicianRomans March 24, 2015 at 12:00 am

Did this article just put Eketahuna on the map? LOL

And yet Dargaville still languishes in obscurity…

16 Steve Sailer March 22, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Polynesian cultures had fairly advanced political organizations and technological aptitude, so they tended to be in positions to get less one-sided deals from white colonizers than, say, the extremely backward Australian aborigines and Tasmanians (who had even lost fire).

17 Ronald Brak March 23, 2015 at 4:23 am

Tasmanians had fire. And they not only used fire but were quite capable of making it from scratch: http://press.anu.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/ch0155.pdf

18 Cooper March 23, 2015 at 12:34 pm

OK, so they had fire. Homo Erectus had fire. It’s not saying much about their technological development that whether or not they had mastered fire is up for debate. By the time of European “discovery” the Tasmanians had forgotten how to use bone tools and fish. They were living in a sone age until the late 18th Century…

In fairness to the Tasmanians, they were completely cut off from the rest of humanity and had a tiny population. It’s a miracle they survived the population bottleneck at all.

19 Ronald Brak March 24, 2015 at 12:29 am

The idea that Tasmanians did not have fire is a myth. The idea that Tasmania has a tiny population is probably also a myth. For the early European arrivals it was a land that had been devastated by smallpox and probably other epidemics and the remaining Tasmanians were a small group of survivors. But the limited amount of genetic drift from the mainland suggests that the population was substantial, possibly even as high as 100,000. At any rate, much higher than earlier estimates of 3,000-15,000.

20 freethinker March 22, 2015 at 9:57 pm

“Marketing isn’t looked down on as a frivolous activity for people not clever enough to do science in New Zealand, as far as I can see”. where I come from people who failed to become physicians, engineers or government administrators go into sciences as researchers. They are not considered “clever” people . They are looked upon as losers

21 Dismalist March 22, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Comparative advantage! Hoid of it? Bestowed by endowments, and of course, agglomeration. So what?

22 Ray Lopez March 22, 2015 at 11:26 pm

This poster at CrookedTimber is idealistic, see here: “I don’t think I’m ever going to fall for a country as hard as I fell for Greece, but man, New Zealand is very nice.” Why did he ‘fall hard’ for Greece? People? They are old but sometimes kind towards tourists since 20% of the GDP comes from this ‘export’. On the other hand, they can be quite cold towards strangers, even fellow Greeks. French are the same way. Weather? It’s Mediterranean climate, found in south Europe, South Africa, California, parts of Chile, and many other areas. Cost? Greece, on the euro, is expensive. Food? Yes it’s good tasting to me, but I was raised on it; some Asians find Greek food too sour (very common complaint). The ancient ruins? Like Byron, he fell hard on some old stones (Byron did not just break his leg, he lost his life from malaria in the dismal swamps of Missolonghi), said old stones being ‘restored’ incorrectly–painted or bleached to make them more white for example–see the excellent book by Mary Beard on the Acropolis. The museums? It’s generally agreed they suck. That’s why I don’t mind the Brits keeping the Elgin Marbles safe, nor the Germans with whatever they looted, though they favored the Middle East artworks more. The beaches? Greece does have some Top Ten beaches but in the summer they are overcrowded and packed with those Italian pizza delivery boys, lower middle class, on a cheap promo ticket vacation spoiling for a fight with fellow lumpen proletariat Greeks (and I’ve seen some interesting fistfights over the years, of course they kiss and make up as the police arrive to avoid jail time; often it’s the Greeks fault as much as the Italians). Maybe he got laid there? That’s the only thing I can think of. Examine your priors, Mr. Economist!

23 Ronald Brak March 23, 2015 at 1:51 am

Apparently there are more patents filed per capita in New Zealand than the UK or Norway. So clearly they are sciencing hard in the land of the long while cloud. They are sciencing so hard.

And with regards to engineering I’ll mention that Adelaide’s Tindo electric bus was made in New Zealand. While they don’t seem poised to take on China’s BYD in electric bus manufacture, they are quite capable of doing decent engineering work for export whenever the Australian dollar or other currency is high and the NZ dollar is low. New Zealand is the industrial powerhouse of a vast expanse of ocean.

24 widmerpool March 23, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Sticking to the coastal roads is crazy talk, especially on South Island. There’s some epic drives in the mountains. Some of them are unsurfaced, but they’re not hard to drive.

25 FC March 23, 2015 at 10:38 pm

If Sir Peter Jackson were still making low-budget horror comedies, South Islanders’ well-known hatred of foreign drivers would be the perfect first act. The climax would involve being chased up Mt. Cook by ferocious wallabies.

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