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Race disproven in modern biology

Opinion Piece

by Tanith Wirihana Te Waitohioterangi

Te Whanganui a Tara/Wellington

Tanith Te Waitohioterangi

Race was used to stratify humanity into a social Darwinian hierarchy, thus justifying the engines and frameworks of white supremacy. Europe is an incredibly diverse continent, there is no homogenous white race, no white homeland, no white nation and no room for racism. The white race is an artificial political identity, a weapon forged in the fires of Mount Doom. Into this weapon was poured cruelty, malice, and the will to dominate all life.

Mounting scientific evidence has shown that humans are fundamentally more similar than different from each other. Race is disproven in modern biology; there are no allele distinctions or genetic features which characterise distinctions between individual groups. Two people of European descent may be more genetically similar to an Asian person than they are to each other. Take that Bembridge scholars!

However, racism is fun; it’s like two tall kids throwing a ball over the short one. It provides a means to justify why children living in poverty or abusive homes do worse at school than children who have never known the meaning of deprivation and will use their families’ networks and wealth safety nets to push themselves up the socio-economic chain.

Back when the United States was still great, their tactic was to create racialised silos of poverty. Because poverty and deprivation correlate with crime, this in turn justified greater police presence in those communities. In turn this provided a convenient excuse of differentially targeting those communities. White people didn’t care because higher crime rates of non-white people justified why they were better than everybody else, and the fiction that coloured people must have been born bad. Robbing communities of equitable access to education and wondering why they aren’t at the same levels as those that do have equitable access? Having disproportionate police presence in impoverished neighbourhoods and wondering why crime is so high? Using criminal history to discriminate and create a convenient underclass of minimum-wage workers? Sound familiar?

Tina Ngata has previously asserted in “Resisting Colonial Fictions”, that the podium has been dominated by the same stale voices who attempt to tell us what our experience at the colonial café was like. They argue fictions with such zealous authority, that they become fact through intergenerational argumentum ad nauseum. Fallacies that we “were discovered”, colonial experiences are only “historical”, or “benevolent and non-violent”, that it was “invited” and was “overall beneficial”.

To quote Moana Jackson, “Like all of the ideas that have been used to justify colonisation, racism developed over time through a complex and uniquely European history, in which the normal curiosity people have about the different and unknown was morphed into a patronising determination to equate difference with inferiority. At its most perverse, it corrupted reason to seek proof of the inferiority — and at its most dangerous, it stripped away human dignity with no thought for the hurt that it caused. The origins of many of those ideas are well known and are often rejected with embarrassment or a smug claim that things are different now.”

Colonialism is a complex issue and as people living in a modern context, we can all agree that it was gruesome. It has and continues to strip us of our dignity. Never forget that the clitoris has over 8000 nerve endings and it is still not as sensitive as old white people asked to confront their participation in systematic racism.

  1. John Fricker, Masterton says:

    What a wanker.
    I’ve read some crap in the GH lately but this takes the biscuit.

    1. John Porter says:

      Takes a wanker to use the word and understand its meaning.
      Fricker’n wanker!

    2. Martin Hanson, Nelson says:

      As the author of ‘Apes and Ancestors’, a senior high school textbook on human evolution, I agree with Tanith Wirihana Te Waitohioterangi; there is more genetic variation within populations, commonly referred to as ‘races’ than there is genetic variation between such groups. For people who need to be purged of a belief in ‘white supremacy’, I heartily recommend ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’ by best-selling author Jared Diamond.
      John Fricker hasn’t changed, has he? If he knew anything about the subject, he would be able to produce an evidence-based argument, but it seems that vacuous, school yard is all he has in his toolbox.

    3. Martin Hanson says:

      Eloquent and articulate as ever, John

  2. Aimee Milne says:

    “Never forget that the clitoris has over 8000 nerve endings and it is still not as sensitive as old white people asked to confront their participation in systematic racism.”

    Best line I’ve read in the Gisborne Herald yet! How refreshing! Love your mahi Tanith.

    1. Ken Ovenden says:

      Hi Aimee and Maree, to refer to another race of humans as resembling a private part of a female’s anatomy clearly shows a complete lack of any humanity towards other human beings. For the two of you to find Tanith’s writings funny or worthy of feelings of love puts you both in the gutter with him as very sick people. This clearly shows just where the true racism in NZ is coming from. People like Tanith need to be on Meng Foon’s watch list.

      1. Maree Conaglen says:

        Ring ring
        Meng: kia ora this is race relations commissioner Meng Foon.
        Ken: I’d like to make a complaint.
        Meng: what is your complaint?
        Ken: this young Māori guy referred to us old white guys as resembling a private part of a female’s anatomy.
        Meng: I think if you read what Tanith ACTUALLY wrote, he didnt ACTUALLY say that.
        Ken: but he hurt my feelings. He needs to be on your watch list
        Meng: just go away you old fool. (Meng wouldn’t say this last line, as he is way too professional BUT we all know he would want to say this!
        Racism is about power and old white guys have had the power for so long, it feels like injustice when their beliefs about their own cultural superiority are challenged.
        Get used to it Ken. There are more challenges coming.

        1. Ken Ovenden says:

          Hi Maree, ha ha ha, all you are doing is proving exactly where racism is coming from today, at this very point in time. And a rather weak effort from you Maree at that, LOL

    2. Maree Conaglen says:

      Yes Aimee that was the best laugh I’ve had from the Gisborne Herald for a while. And if people are wondering if it’s TRUE or not about the sensitive old, white people….have a read of what John Fricker just wrote!!! Lol.
      Keep these articles coming Tanith, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

      1. Tony says:

        Aimee, Maree, I must confess to finding Tanith’s writings funny and worthy of feelings of love putting me in the gutter with you and him as a very sick person.
        Are folks trying to cancel Tanith – that’s not woke, is it?

  3. Mark Peters says:

    When next exploring his sensitive clitoris, Tanith might consider racism is racism, no matter how dressed up in risible rhetoric.

  4. Stacey Trompf says:

    Jeremy what are you doing? Why publish such utter rubbish.
    Tanith needs to get a life and hang out with real people who work, live and love our town. Together, no matter who they are.
    Sounds like he’s got too much time on his hands and needs to be busier.

    1. Aimee Milne says:

      Read it again Stacey. You might learn something

      1. Stacey says:

        I live and work in the real world, with real people. From all walks of life. It’s nicer there.

        1. Aimee Milne says:

          We are real people Stacey.

          1. Stacey says:

            Worryingly yes.

        2. Aimee Milne says:

          Stacey, whatever bubble you live in, it’s a sheltered one. I believe reading some Catherine Delahunty, Tina Ngata might benefit you. Maybe watch some of Andrew Judd’s videos. You’re so offended by anything that differs from your world view. Why are you so upset about anti-racist korero? That anger you feel is a good place to start looking. Worry less about those who fight racism and more about why you’re so upset by it. Or was it the word clitoris that upset you? Either way, that’s your problem . . . not ours.

          1. Stacey Trompf says:

            Haha what a weird reply. No I won’t read more stories about how I must tell you I am racist. What a load of rubbish. I’ll just keep living and working alongside people from all walks of life who just get on with it, instead of wallowing in some perceived injustice.
            You can keep on with your toxic negativity but I won’t join you, and neither will most people I know.

    2. Maree Conaglen says:

      Hi Stacey
      Are you aware that fighting racism is born out of a love for all people? That’s real people. You personally may find the truth in this opinion piece uncomfortable at this time in your life. But it is important for all people in this country to confront their own personal racism.
      Have a listen to Andrew Judd on YouTube. He will explain it so you can understand.
      Then when you and your friends get together, you could discuss what the term “racism’ means. It would be a start of a meaningful conversation. One that you would never regret having.

    3. Aimee Milne says:

      I’m glad I don’t know those people. When responding to a well written piece in the paper, you respond with personal insults and words like ‘weird.’ It’s only weird because clearly you struggle to understand it. I hope you come equipped with more educated arguments next time. Preferably accompanied with evidence, rather than the usual outrage at perceived insults and words like ‘weird.’

  5. Michael Sunderland, Brisbane says:

    Way to go young man

  6. Lloyd Gretton, Auckland says:

    So the white race are all devils, even if unintentionally. That led in China to the Boxer rebellion. I am still waiting for a formal apology from the Chinese Government for that. Perhaps Meng Foon could explain.

  7. H Hannam says:

    Tanith, you seem to be under the impression that the Maori race is the only one that has been hard done by . . . well, look into the past you will see that white people have also been taken over. Look at Scotland and Ireland, not allowed to speak their own language or dress in their own way – and they did not have a treaty like the Maori in NZ (which every taxpayer is still paying for).

    1. R Whelan, Wellington says:

      Hi H. Hannam, please explain why we can’t talk about the trauma experienced by Māori because the Irish also experienced trauma? It’s a bit like saying to someone who has been punched in the face, don’t dare mention you got punched as someone in the next town was also punched in the face. And by the way, the broken nose you have or the pain in your eyes doesn’t matter because there have been other people who have also felt that pain.
      I’m just not following the logic. Maybe there is something I am missing.

  8. Doug Smith says:


    Few Europeans object to being called “white” because, for all intents and purposes, “white” has meant “better than”. They don’t mind being considered “better” and think “what’s the big deal, get over it”.

    This is a big deal. Words embody ideas and values, so let’s stop the thoughtless use of “white” to describe ourselves or others.

    The term “white race” or “white people” entered the major European languages in the later 17th century, in the context of racialized slavery and unequal status in European colonies.

    “White” literally meant purity and privilege, especially in America where laws enshrined racialized inequality for over two centuries via the One-Drop Rule and the Jim Crow system in Southern States.

    Today, most folks still think that “white” means that if someone is mostly European ancestry, but has a “drop” of Polynesian, Asian or African heritage, then they are not “white” unless they can “pass” by looking “pure white” and keeping the “impurity” secret.

    In a muted form, “white” continues to echo the same meanings today. This is why Barak Obama is considered black when actually his ancestry is half-European and half-African, and his upbringing and family life in Hawaii was primarily European-American. As his biography conveys, he was forced to conform to an African-American identity when he went to the US mainland, even though he was more “white” than “black” by any objective binary measure.

    In the same way, many Polynesians have been forced into the “black” half of the inequitable black/white racial dichotomy, including many with majority European ancestry.

    The W-word is a mirror image of the N-word, and should be just as odious to those who truly value equality.

    Before concluding any honest discussion of discrimination (racial or otherwise), it should be acknowledged that most humans the world over suffer from in-group bias – we give the most trust, credit and favour to those who are most like us (“we”, “us”, “my people”), and we mistrust, discredit and withhold the most from those who are most different from us (“others”, “them”, “those people”). Humans the world over also tend to seek power over adversaries and those who are different, often by force for both advantage and defence. This has been a key survival strategy as the kōrero and pūrākau in Tanith’s blog will attest.

    Europeans don’t seem to be particularly worse in this regard, but their collective experience has been different in one key way. Through accidents of geography and history, Europeans stumbled upon the path to harnessing the power of ever greater destructive technologies, culminating in post-Renaissance technological “advancement”, imperial culture and colonial expansion by force of arms. They became powerful and wealthy as a result.

    The power-imbalance grew further when infectious diseases killed off 70-90% of the colonized others, and when destructive technologies were efficiently channelled into exponentially-growing global industrial capitalism. The Europeans exulted in this power and wealth and concluded their culture was superior, and it has been in terms of ability to extract resources for profit and for war-making.

    Non-Europeans the world-over have also been eager to use these same destructive technologies to wield power over enemies and outsiders. This includes the obviously destructive arms trade, as well as the many other entropic technologies at the heart of modern human civilization (resource extraction, metallurgy, mechanization, fossil-fuel combustion).

    Reading Tanith’s blog, with its uncritical retelling of the deception, lies, coercion and brutal violence committed by pre-colonial Maori seeking mana and power over one another, I have wondered why he fails to give equal respect to Europeans’ vastly more “successful” efforts to gather destructive power and “triumph” over others. It gives the impression he has taken sides, and is as blindly biased in favour of his own in-group as the Europeans he seeks to criticise. This may be why his critique rings hollow to some.

    I think a more solid argument goes like this:
    (a) European superiority has been grounded in the self-reinforcing power of destructive technologies, including unfettered industrial capitalism;
    (b) At the individual and community levels, the fruits of destructive power, including concentration of excessive wealth, consumption, comfort and luxury, result in self-centeredness, lack of compassion and addictive desire for more power;
    (c) At the ecosystem and global level, any civilization founded on ever expanding destructive power, whether led by Europeans or others, will be to devour the only life-supporting habitat in all of Creation – one that took eons to evolve in all its purity, beauty and abundance; and
    (d) Any people who takes mere centuries to lead a planetary extinction event have no right to claim racial or cultural superiority. In the end, they/we have become a tragically fallen people whose clever power-seeking has been turned against all living things. We are nearly trapped by our hubris and refusal to look truth in the eye, but if we would just turn back we can glimpse something better off in the distance . . . the promised lands.

    Beyond casting blame, the only real challenge facing the living generations, including Tanith and I, is how to quickly begin the work of regenerating our ecology (mostly more photosynthesis) and restoring planetary energy balance. With all of the fossil fuel combustion and heat already in the oceans, thanks to clever Europeans, we are also likely to need enough modern technology for a century or more of transitional geoengineering (solar radiation management) until the annual CO2 fluctuation is low enough to restore a Holocene-like climate. The latter will require progressive turning away from destructive (entropic) power, and toward expanding the creative (syntropic) power of living things.

    Given the universality of in-group bias, and the addictive nature of destructive power over others (mana), the question of the hour is this: how can ALL of us be persuaded to renounce destructive power-seeking without being coerced to do so by someone else wielding destructive power?

    We will need thoughtful people like Tanith to transcend this paradox, and it will take more than casting about for whom to blame. For all our sakes, I hope the answer comes into focus as soon as possible, because right now if we want to know who is in process of killing all higher life on Earth, we just have to look in the mirror.


    1. Maree Conaglen says:

      Public service announcement:
      Do not attempt to read this load of waffle written by Doug Smith. It will rob your life of 10 mins that you won’t ever get back (and that’s not counting the minutes you will spend trying to figure out what he’s actually rambling on about). It’s like a more academic and boring version of Clive Bibby’s ramblings (with links attached, whoopee)!
      I think Doug would be better off spending more time gardening. I’ve heard he has plenty of experience in that field. Imho stick to what you’re good at Doug . . . and it ain’t writing intelligent replies to intelligent opinion pieces.

      1. Doug Smith says:

        I’m sorry, Maree, to have upset you and wasted your time, and worry you may not be the only one to feel frusrated by my long-winded tangent. This was not my intent, and I’ll try to remember that “brevity is the soul of wit”. It does not come easily to some of us, but I’ll try to coax it along.

  9. Tanith Wirihana Te Waitohioterangi says:

    let me reiterate ‘the clitoris has over 8000 nerve endings and it is still not as sensitive as old white people asked to confront their participation in systematic racism.’

    1. Jonathan Paea says:

      Tihei matā Māori . . . shot bro

  10. David Carroll, Auckland says:

    Oh, the delicious irony of the offended old white people jumping on this comments section and so willingly proving the closing line of this excellent piece! It’s like Tanith opened the door and they just couldn’t help but stroll on through without even a second thought as to how overly-sensitive they were showing themselves to be, yet again.

    1. Ken Ovenden says:

      Hi David, appears that lockdown does nothing for the intelligence of the participants – one can smell the boredom on your breath. Tanith is a young, racist, over-hormoned individual who sadly can only get worse.

    2. Tony says:

      David, delicious response