Tuesday, April 9, 2013

‘Free-riding defence’ Kiwis slammed by rightist Danish MP over cultural heritage

A graphic from the Danish tabloid BT featuring Marie Krarup. The headline reads:
"'Doubts cast on Māori-Marie's penis story", referring to the MP's
comments about carvings in a visit to the Navy's marae. Source: PMW
THE RIGHTWING Danish MP who stirred an upheaval Down Under with her attack on taha Māori – traditional rituals and protocols that are basic to everyday life in Aotearoa/New Zealand – barely seems to have any understanding of the country she visited last month.

But underneath all the defensive bleatings from the PC brigade this week in response to Marie Krarup’s misguided criticisms of a “grotesque” powhiri with “half-naked” men poking out their tongues published in the tabloid BT, her arguably more damaging condemnation of New Zealand’s "humanitarian" military seems to have largely gone unnoticed by mainstream media.

Only Pacific Media Watch’s Daniel Drageset, a Norwegian radio journalist who is a postgraduate student at AUT University and who has a fluent command of Danish, seems to have got the point. He took the trouble to translate Krarup’s original commentary on her blog and his story Danish MP apologises after calling Maori powhiri ‘grotesque’, mocking ‘free-ride’ defence was run in full on Pacific Media Centre Online and Pacific Scoop.

Clearly Krarup had no idea that she was being given a great honour with a cultural welcome that has a history going back centuries. And several "embarrassed" Danes have written to PMC and Pacific Scoop criticising Krarup over her views.

Although Krarup might seem a minor political player, being the defence spokesperson for the third-ranked party Danish People’s Party ( a mere 12.3 percent of the votes in the 2011 election), which has extremist views against migrants (especially Muslim), she was in fact a member of the six-strong Danish Committee on Defence visiting parliamentary group.

Krarup suggested New Zealand was “free-riding” under an “Australian defence umbrella”, claiming traditional and multicultural rituals were undermining the country’s ability to protect itself militarily. She seemed never to have heard of the Māori Battalion or past Māori military bravery and traditions in the military. She added other questions about where she thought New Zealand defence was headed:

… have they given up defending themselves? Or are there simply no threats to this distant island nation? I can hardly give the answer, but I did observe certain “giving up” traits.
Krarup cited her experiences at the Devonport Naval Base and the on-site marae in Auckland as an example of a “giving up” trait of New Zealand, which she described as “cultural annihilation or grotesque multicultural worship”.

An extract from her blog column – comparing Denmark (5.5 million people) to New Zealand (4.4 million) as small nations with similar populations - as translated by PMW editor Daniel Drageset:
New Zealand is cutting in its defence spending and is right now conducting an 18 percent reduction of its budget. It has therefore refrained from offensive capabilities – no fighter jets, no tanks and only two frigates. The Defence Force’s task is to a high degree civil, in that it is very much involved in helping out in humanitarian catastrophes, ocean rescues and control of its fisheries.

New Zealand’s policies sound very much a dream for the Radical Left Party! [A Danish party, which traditionally has been anti-military.] How can one have a defence without offensive capabilities? That was a natural question for us [the six Danish MPs from the Committee on Defence]. Because one can very well imagine situations where one will have to defend oneself from attacks.

Our fighter jets, for example, are a guarantee for us to uphold our sovereignty. A researcher at a New Zealand think tank answered very sensibly:

“It is not natural for New Zealand to spend money on something that will not be used. So we would rather spend money on other things.”

The thought of a [military] deterrent is apparently far from New Zealand!

During the visit we were repeatedly told that New Zealand trains and coordinates [militarily] with Australia. And they have plenty of fighter jets! Could one imagine that New Zealand is a kind of free-rider under an Australian defence umbrella? A little bit like Denmark in NATO under the footnote politics? [A term for Danish defence politics between 1982 and 1988, where the Danish conservative cabinet against its will had to represent the Parliament’s wishes in NATO meetings of showing resistance against the arms race.]

Or have they given up defending themselves? Or are there simply no threats to this distant island nation? I can hardly give the answer, but I did observe certain relinquishing traits.

New Zealand was colonised by the British and has not always treated its original people – the Māori well. Today they comprise 12 percent of the population [14.6 percent is the correct figure, according to the 2006 census], but receive great attention and have trumped through a politics of compensation where they can get reimbursements for the harm inflicted on them since the British-Māori deal was agreed in 1840 [Treaty of Waitangi].

In the cultural arena, they have a rising influence. Since 2000 there has been an increased focus on resurrecting their language and culture, not only among Māori, but in the entire population.
Later on during our visit, I was informed by a worried, conservative politician that between 50.000 and 80.000 New Zealanders leave the country every year. But the population is not declining. The people departing – mostly of European ancestry – are replaced by Asian immigrants.

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