Bodies in the Market and the Market in Bodies: Trafficking In Māori Corpses and Queer Pride in the Settler-Colony

Emilie Rākete


In a colonial pride parade, who is capable of doing an intelligible queerness? How is access to this regime of intelligibility11 Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London: Continuum, 2004). mediated? Neoliberal capitalism proposes that market logics enable or foreclose an individual’s agentic capacities based on their economic situation. Within this commerce-oriented framework, we might consider the pride parade as a market and query how it enables or forecloses coherent queer subjectivities. This essay will develop an analytic whakapapa of capital in Aotearoa and consider whether market logics can ever circumscribe the power relations that spring from it.

Like all Māori issues, to consider how takatāpui negotiate the marketplace of the queer pride parade, we must first examine a period of history from which our present social formations are derived. It might be tempting to believe that hatred is our primary unit of consideration: that Māori have suffered greatly, and it is due to Pākehā animus towards us that this is so. I propose that instead, we must understand not interpersonal and irrational motivations for racial violence, but the structural and rational motivations for genocide that emerge under specific political-economic conditions. Pākehā did not sit in Europe, decide they hate brown people, and set out to find some of us to terrorise. Rather, capitalism required the endless appropriation of resources to sustain its expansion. ‘Treasures captured outside Europe by undisguised looting, enslavement and murder flowed back to the mother-country and were turned into capital there.'22 Karl Marx, Capital Volume I (London: Penguin, 1990), 918. I reject the possibility for an analysis of takatāpuitanga under colonialism that does not fundamentally concern itself with an assessment of capitalism as a whole. The functions of the market system, and how they operate on both Māori and non-Māori bodies, are what we want to understand. This essay therefore begins by analysing the roots of capitalism in Aotearoa, to see what fundamental relationship is established in that period between Māori bodies, mass killing, and capital.

1 Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London: Continuum, 2004). 2 Karl Marx, Capital Volume I (London: Penguin, 1990), 918.

Te Whakapapa o Haupū Rawa — The Genealogy of Capital

The second-ever Europeans to come to Aotearoa trafficked in human remains when Joseph Banks, naturalist aboard the Endeavour, purchased the mummified body of a young boy in 1770.33 Horatio Gordon Robley, Māori Tattooing (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2003), 167. Robley himself was a perpetrator of the trade in mokomokai.

4 Ibid., 169.
This exchange constituted the first transformation of mokomokai into commodity forms. By 1820, mokomokai were plentiful enough as trade goods to have their own entry among the record tables of Sydney customs.4 1820 was also the year in which Hongi Hika returned from England with a vast quantity of muskets, which he used to aggressively expand Ngāpuhi territory into the south.55 Te Rangi Hīroa, The Coming of the Māori (Wellington: Māori Purposes Fund Board, 1950), 523.

The presence of firearms completely changed the face of Māori warfare. New kinds of killing became possible in the transition from hand-to-hand fighting to slaughter conflicts in which only the aggressors might be armed with guns. Tribes without access to firearms had to scramble to acquire them, regardless of the cost. One musket might cost several tonnes of potatoes or flax, or two mokomokai.66 David Lewis and Werner Forman, The Maori: Heirs of Tane (London: Orbis, 1982), 93. Increasingly, trading the dead bodies of enemies killed in raids became the only way to maintain supplies of firearms, gunpowder, and shot. A tribe’s failure to maintain these supplies might mean facing extermination when their enemies came to replenish their own supplies of mokomokai. In the period between 1820 and 1840, a conservative estimate of the decline in Māori population puts the death toll at around 20,000 people.77 Ian Pool, Te Iwi Maori: A New Zealand Population, Past, Present and Projected (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2013), 58. Depending on one’s estimate of the precolonial Māori population, the true figure might be much higher. The mass killing of this period aligned with Britain’s imperial interests in Aotearoa. Simply put, by the time Britain pursued full military deployment in Aotearoa, there were too few Māori to effectively resist. The Musket Wars were, essentially, acts of British proxy-warfare against the Māori population.

British merchant capitalists produced conditions for Māori in which life was contingent on killing, mediated through a market in which the unit of trade was itself death. Musket Wars-era Māori had to kill other Māori to satisfy Pākehā economic interests or be killed in turn by those who would. Where this analysis becomes interesting for us is in considering the relationship between killing and those economic interests—what we might understand as a “market”. It is my contention that, rather than a marketplace in which killing is a parameter, the trade in mokomokai is an example of how market logics themselves operate in the service of killing. What we find is not a political economy of genocide but political economy as genocide.

3 Horatio Gordon Robley, Māori Tattooing (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2003), 167. Robley himself was a perpetrator of the trade in mokomokai. 4 Ibid., 169. 5 Te Rangi Hīroa, The Coming of the Māori (Wellington: Māori Purposes Fund Board, 1950), 523. 6 David Lewis and Werner Forman, The Maori: Heirs of Tane (London: Orbis, 1982), 93. 7 Ian Pool, Te Iwi Maori: A New Zealand Population, Past, Present and Projected (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2013), 58.

Whakahuamoni-mate — Necrocommodification

Debra Satz’s consideration of the ethics of free-market capitalism founds its analysis of noxious and non-noxious markets on whether or not a given market precludes the possibility for ‘parties… to be equals… as citizens in a democracy.’88 Debra Satz, Why Some Things Should not be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 93.

9 Ibid.,103.

10 Ibid.,103.
Satz returns again to the notion of citizenship, defining democracy (and implicitly, the sovereignty on which it is based) as stemming from ‘acts of political co-deliberation.’9 The ideal market, to Satz, is one that does not interfere with this reasoned, ‘common cooperative project of governing themselves [as citizens] together.’10 I find that Satz’s conception of sovereignty is insufficient to describe the structures of power that operate in the settler colony. I therefore turn to Mbembe’s analysis of colonial warfare, and of murder as the basis of sovereign power.

The notion of a market logic is premised on a distinction between reason and unreason, peacetime and warfare. It is not possible, for example, to trade with someone with whom you are at war. If two parties are to trade, they must in some sense be capable of meeting as equals. Satz states that a ‘market exchange based in desperation, humiliation or begging… is not an exchange between equals.’1111 Ibid., 93. However, in the settler-colony, all relations between occupier and occupied are mediated precisely by desperation, humiliation, begging, and worse. Of course, any market in the settler-colony is noxious—any social relation between coloniser and colonised is one of extreme power asymmetry. Where Satz sees this power asymmetry as a disruption to the ordinary functioning of a democratic state, however, Mbembe recognises it as constitutive of the functioning of the colony:

Peace is not necessarily the natural outcome of a colonial war. In fact, the distinction between war and peace does not avail. Colonial wars are conceived of as the expression of an absolute hostility that sets the conqueror against an absolute enemy.1212 Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003): 25.



It is this fundamental unity of conditions of warfare and conditions of peace that precludes the use of the market to describe conditions in Aotearoa. Market sovereignty depends on ‘modern conditions of interdependence and diversity,’1313 Satz, 91. which in the settler colony are mere pretences for a state of immanent warfare. Acts of systematic killing are not departures from the intended operation of a system that would ideally maintain power equilibrium between racialised classes. The colony is a system ‘where sovereignty consists fundamentally in the exercise of a power outside of the law… and where “peace” is more likely to take on the face of a “war without end”.’1414 Mbembe, 23.

Satz argues that markets exist to regulate free exchange between equal citizens in a democracy. Her analysis is useless to us, because the colony has no citizens: only combatants. The exchange of mokomokai for firearms does have the appearance of a market. However, understanding the colony as an eternal military occupation allows us to recognise its oblique violences. Satz’s analysis would understand the trade in mokomokai as a tragically noxious market which, unfortunately, led to a regrettable period of mass killings. Rather than abstracting the vicious cycle of killing and commerce into a market exchange, Mbembe’s analysis allows us to recognise that the two are fundamentally coterminous. Commodification and killing in the colonies fuse into one machine, which operates in the service of capital: necrocommodification.

8 Debra Satz, Why Some Things Should not be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 93. 9 Ibid.,103. 10 Ibid.,103. 11 Ibid., 93. 12 Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003): 25. 13 Satz, 91. 14 Mbembe, 23.

Whawhai Mutunga Kore – War Without End

We come, finally, to discussing how the trade in mokomokai is relevant to the pride parade. The answer is in the tactics by which the colony maintains its racial and spatial order. Aotearoa in 2015 looks vastly different to how it did in 1820—it is crossed by a thousand roads cut by surveyors whom our fences could not delay. This division of Aotearoa into manageable units is part of what Mbembe calls the ‘territorial fragmentation,’1515 Mbembe, 27. which informs the layout of the colony. This fragmentation allows for the dissection of the colonised body politic before it is able to act in resistance.

The colonial warfare at Parihaka in 1881, for instance, saw 5% of the total surviving Māori population rendered homeless, about a quarter of that number taken and incarcerated throughout Te Wai Pounamu.1616 Waitangi Tribunal, The Taranaki Report: Kaupapa Tuatahi (Wai 143) (Wellington: GP Publications, 1996), 199. The conditions of incarceration were brutal enough that many died. Pool’s estimates of the casualties in this period of explicit, open colonial warfare between 1840 and 1881 puts the death toll at a further 40,000 people.1717 Pool, 54. The use of unsurvivable incarceration, scorched-earth starvation, and outright mass military deployment typify ‘the first syntheses between massacre and bureaucracy,’1818 Mbembe, 23.

19 New Zealand Department of Corrections, Prison Facts and Statistics - September 2016, 2016, http://www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/
research_and_statistics/quarterly_prison_
statistics/prison_stats_september_2016.html.

20 Statistics New Zealand, Annual Apprehensions for the Latest Calendar Years (ANZSOC), 2014. nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=TABLECODE7407#.

21 Mbembe, 29.
which characterise the necropolitical society. Moving into the modern era, we see a prison population that is more than half Māori,19 and a police force that apprehends Māori at five times the rate it does Pākehā.20In short: conditions of absolute racial warfare metastasised into the operation of a society in a state of ‘war without end.’

Combining this bureaucratic genocide with territorial fragmentation allows for techniques of population management akin to medieval siege warfare. This is ‘infrastructural warfare,’21 practices of sabotage, which preclude the operation of a society. We see it in Palestine with the colonial practice of bulldozing: ‘demolishing houses and cities… bombing and jamming electronic communications… digging up roads... ransacking cultural and politicobureaucratic symbols of the proto-Palestinian state….’2222 Ibid. I quote from Mbembe's list of violences quite selectively, to highlight the two levels on which infrastructural warfare is active. There are physical, material structures, which the colonial state destroys. These are easy enough to understand; destroying houses, digging up roads, makes life difficult if not impossible to conduct. But there is a discursive element to infrastructural warfare. Destroying discursive, epistemic constructs makes the emotional and cultural life of a population impossible to conduct. It is this epistemic infrastructural warfare that I wish to highlight, and which I believe the necrocommodification of both mokomokai and takatāpui subjectivities exemplifies.

The trade in mokomokai is a quintessential example of the colonial repartitioning of the sensible. On a discursive plane, what a mokomokai ‘meant’ was made to change utterly. Prior to 1770, they were tapu—not even objects but semi-living reminders of the mana of the dead.2323 Christian Palmer and Mervyn L. Tano, Mokomokai: Commercialization and Desacralization (Denver, CO: International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management, 2004), http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-PalMoko.html, 252.

24 Robley, 134–35.
As well as maintaining a community’s ties with its ancestral members, mokomokai were vitally important components in the formation of social relations within and between Māori communities. The reciprocal exchange of the mokomokai of defeated warriors was a part of peacemaking ceremonies, which their sale made impossible.24 As mokomokai became increasingly enmeshed in necrocommodifying processes, these social functions ceased to exist within Māori society. It was no longer possible to commune with our dead or for our dead to participate in the ending of conflicts—they all slept on museum shelves throughout Europe. Mokomokai lost their social personhood—a specific kind of person whom it was once possible to be (a living tūpuna embodied in their preserved head) ceased to be coherent. Mokomokai stopped being people and started being commodities.

15 Mbembe, 27. 16 Waitangi Tribunal, The Taranaki Report: Kaupapa Tuatahi (Wai 143) (Wellington: GP Publications, 1996), 199. 17 Pool, 54. 18 Mbembe, 23. 19 New Zealand Department of Corrections, Prison Facts and Statistics - September 2016, 2016, http://www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/
research_and_statistics/quarterly_prison_
statistics/prison_stats_september_2016.html.
20 Statistics New Zealand, Annual Apprehensions for the Latest Calendar Years (ANZSOC), 2014. nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=TABLECODE7407#. 21 Mbembe, 29. 22 Ibid. 23 Christian Palmer and Mervyn L. Tano, Mokomokai: Commercialization and Desacralization (Denver, CO: International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management, 2004), http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-PalMoko.html, 252. 24 Robley, 134–35.

Ngārahu Takatāpui – Pride Parade / Queer Battalion

Takatāpui occupy the unenviable position once occupied by besieged Māori in the Musket Wars era. The sensible is partitioned in accordance with the colonial necrocommodified imperative to be productive. Takatāpui must negotiate a marketplace of speech acts by which it is possible to express their individual subjectivity; however, access to these regimes of intelligibility is mediated by histories of genocide and discursive warfare. The modern term “takatāpui,” encompassing Māori traditions of gender and sexuality, which are interpretable within a colonial cultural framework as ‘queer’, is itself a re-membering of tikanga exterminated by acts of discursive infrastructural violence.2525 Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, “Hinemoa: Retelling a Famous Romance,” Journal of Lesbian Studies 5, nos. 1–12 (2001): 1–11. As aspects of ngā tikanga Māori, takatāpuitanga are cultural constructs fundamental to Māori cultural survival—as McBreen asserts, ‘surviving as Māori means living according to inherited kaupapa.’2626 Kim McBreen, “Ahunga tikanga and Sexual Diversity,” in Ahunga Tikanga, ed. Kim McBreen (Otaki: Te Tākupu, Te Wānana o Raukawa, 2012), 22.

If access to these tikanga is mediated by a history of colonial violence, how do queer Māori ‘shop’ in the identity market, which reaches its highest expression in the pride parade? By understanding identity, either as ‘multicultural model minority’2727 Jasbir K. Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 27.

28 Moana Jackson, “The Constancy of Terror,” in Terror in our Midst?: Searching for Terrorism in Aotearoa New Zealand, ed. Danny Keenan (Wellington: Huia, 2008), 7.

29 Puar, 9
or as ‘Māori radical’28as commodities, we can distinguish how Māori are guided towards and away from certain practices. This guiding is an aspect of Puar’s notion of homonormativity, the process by which a sexually exceptional queer nationalist subject is constituted via the ‘policing of the boundaries of acceptable gender, racial, and class formations.’29 Pākehā queers, in this identity market, have the advantage of being in a position to be incorporated into the biopolitical national project. Pākehā dreams for Pākehā queers. For Māori, these dreams, these neoliberal market opportunities, are accessible only by a denial of tikanga and subjection to a queer principal which is both colonial and regulatory.

‘Queer’ has typically been constructed as an intrinsically transgressive identity category, yet in the pride parade we can understand some of the means by which ‘queer’ can operate in service of a normative political project. For instance, GayNZ.com ran an article in the lead-up to Auckland Pride 2015 in praise of two married Pākehā Corrections staff proud to be officers ‘in such a challenging environment.’3030 “Proud Corrections staff to join Parade,” GayNZ.com, 12 February 2015, www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/2/ article_16434.php.

31 Howard League for Penal Reform, “Prisoners Petition for a Stop to Inhumane Conditions,” Scoop Independent News, 24 April 2015, www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1504/S00221/ prisoners-petition-for-a-stop-to-inhumane-conditions.htm.
The facility they work at, Spring Hill, is accused of keeping a majority-Māori prison population in lockdown for up to nineteen hours a day.31 A contingent of uniformed and mounted police officers also marched in the parade. Māori queers wanting to participate in the parade were thus required to march in solidarity with representatives of the colonial state otherwise engaged in their violent repression. Homonormativity founds itself on ‘a normative notion of deviance, always defined in relation to normativity…. Thus deviance… is ironically cohered to and by regulatory regimes of queerness.’3232 Puar, 23. A gay prison guard or a lesbian police officer, in a homonormative framing of transgression, are coherent as radical subjects. Their role in materially reconstituting state racism does not affect their capacity to ‘purchase’ a coherent queer subjectivity.

For Māori, our folding-into-life at the pride parade is contingent, as it was for our ancestors during the Musket Wars, on our willingness to side with Pākehā against other Māori. When I, along with two others, disrupted Auckland Pride 2015, we were aware that the director of the parade is himself a Māori gay man. Our protest highlighted queer complicity with state racism, but his comments denouncing our action demonstrate the choices that face Māori in a homonormative identity market. ‘[T]he Auckland Pride Parade is about our Pride as a community and as a nation…. The protest was dangerous and callous.’3333 “Parade Director Disappointed by Protest,” GayNZ.com, 22 February 2015, http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/2/ article_16498.php. Māori have to choose between ‘our’ nation and our political solidarity with other Māori. Choosing the nation allows for our commodification as productive, mainstream, homonormative subjects. However, this choice is contingent on rejecting the Other Māori, the ‘radical’ subject who cannot or will not be policed.

In making this colonial bargain, homonormative Māori are compelled by necrocommodification to sabotage the Māori discursive infrastructure. In a necrocommodified marketplace of identities, for Māori to become ‘celebratory queer liberal subjects folded into life,’ they must reify the Other Māori as ‘sexually pathological and deviant populations targeted for death.’3434 Puar, 24. The commodification of normative sexual and gendered practices, combined with the harsh disciplining of those who do not perform them, constitute the dynamic theorised by Puar as the ‘bio[political]-necro[political] collaboration,’3535 Ibid., 35. whereby the application of violence, sabotage, and killing can be used for the optimisation of life and productive capacity. In the colony, a coherent settler gender and sexuality is contingent on the violent suppression of an indigenous one. In Aotearoa this is achieved through the use of necrocommodified markets like the pride parade. The pride parade may take on the appearance of a marketplace, but it is also always-already a war zone.

25 Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, “Hinemoa: Retelling a Famous Romance,” Journal of Lesbian Studies 5, nos. 1–12 (2001): 1–11. 26 Kim McBreen, “Ahunga tikanga and Sexual Diversity,” in Ahunga Tikanga, ed. Kim McBreen (Otaki: Te Tākupu, Te Wānana o Raukawa, 2012), 22. 27 Jasbir K. Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 27. 28 Moana Jackson, “The Constancy of Terror,” in Terror in our Midst?: Searching for Terrorism in Aotearoa New Zealand, ed. Danny Keenan (Wellington: Huia, 2008), 7. 29 Puar, 9 30 “Proud Corrections staff to join Parade,” GayNZ.com, 12 February 2015, www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/2/ article_16434.php. 31 Howard League for Penal Reform, “Prisoners Petition for a Stop to Inhumane Conditions,” Scoop Independent News, 24 April 2015, www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1504/S00221/ prisoners-petition-for-a-stop-to-inhumane-conditions.htm. 32 Puar, 23. 33 “Parade Director Disappointed by Protest,” GayNZ.com, 22 February 2015, http://www.gaynz.com/articles/publish/2/ article_16498.php. 34 Puar, 24. 35 Ibid., 35.

Bibliography

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Howard League for Penal Reform. “Prisoners Petition for a Stop to Inhumane Conditions.” Scoop Independent News, 24 April 2015. www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1504/S00221/prisoners-petition-for-a-stop-to-inhumane-conditions.htm. Accessed 1 November 2016.

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Hīroa, Te Rangi. The Coming of the Māori. Wellington: Māori Purposes Fund Board, 1950.

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Credits

Text by Emilie Rākete
Animation by Sorawit Songsataya
Animation Concept by Emilie Rākete and Sorawit Songsataya
Design and development by Æsc
Copy editing by Melinda Johnston
Organized by Bridget Riggir

Emilie Rākete is a student and political organiser with No Pride in Prisons.

Sorawit Songsataya is an artist living in Tāmaki Makaurau.

This publication is presented as one outcome of the Emerging Curators Programme 2015-16 facilitated by The Physics Room and The Blue Oyster Art Project Space and funded by Creative New Zealand’s Sector Development Incentive Fund.