Tapu Misa on Haden

May 31st, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

So far the best analysis around what said comes from Tapu Misa, in my opinion:

My eldest son wanted me to leap to Andy Haden’s defence this week because he thinks there may have been some truth to what he said; that he was just being cynical when he uttered the nasty “darkies” word; and that Haden has a point about the physicality of players dictating their style of play.

“If you’re strong, maybe you are more likely to go through the wall than around,” he says.

Her son is quite perceptive, in my opinion.

It sounds reasonable. My son is a smart 17-year-old, a history and politics buff who has never played . He’s doing his best to resist the stereotypes, but he slips too easily into the generalisations being peddled by Haden and others in the fraternity – that New Zealand is being ruined by the dominance of Pacific Island players: big, dim-witted oafs who aren’t capable of playing intelligently.

As with any race-based theory, there’s always a grain of truth. Everybody knows, don’t they, that the island boys are explosive, physical and instinctive, rather than tactical and strategic like the white players.

Almost all stereotypes are based on an element of truth. Otherwise they don’t become stereotypes.

Ergo, the browning of New Zealand rugby is bad. Thanks to Pacific Island players we will never be great again.

Or so the thesis goes. The problem is it lumps Pacific Islanders into a one-size-fits-all problem, as if all players of Pacific descent are cast in the same mould. It ignores the enormous differences between Pacific people, and the range of talents, strengths and weaknesses each individual brings to the game. And that’s short-sighted as well as racist.

And this is the key point. Stereotypes and generalisations can have a place in discussing trends and issues, but it is offensive when you use it to define a group of people in a way which ignores their individuality.

Who exactly is the quintessential Pacific Island player, anyway?

Is it the religious, never-on-a-Sunday Michael Jones, who in his heyday was ranked the best flanker in the world?

Or Sione Lauaki, who seems to get into trouble every time he goes out?

What about Bryan Williams, Joe Stanley, Olo Brown, Jonah Lomu, Tana Umaga, Rodney So’oialo, Mils Muliaina, Keven Mealamu, or George Smith in Australia? Where do they fit on the continuum?

The idea that these players share some kind of inherent mental inadequacy based on their Pacific heritage is ridiculous and wrong. It’s as ridiculous and wrong as the corollary that every Pakeha rugby player is an intellectual giant.

Heh, far far from it.Just think about some of those who are now rugby commentators :-)

It goes without saying that rugby requires different kinds of physical and mental abilities.

Let’s by all means talk about the need for balance in our rugby sides. But if players are being picked for the wrong skills, whose fault is that?

For my 2c, good rugby teams need both instinctive and tactical players. A team of 15 instinctive players will never follow any sort of game strategy while a team of 15 tactical players might never score a try :-)

And one can recognise that players from different races tend to be more one sort, than another, but that is as far as it goes. The merits and skills of the individual is what decisions should always be based on.

And if New Zealand rugby hasn’t worked out how to get the best out of the Pacific players it selects, then maybe it needs to spend more time finding out what makes its players tick and how it can take advantage of the diverse talents on offer in this country. …

Canterbury seems to be on to something – and if we’re to believe the denials, it’s not what Haden and others seem to believe.

The franchise seems to pick the best individuals based on nothing more mysterious than the skills and qualities its selectors think they’ll bring to the game and the team.

And then it puts time and effort into making them better.

That’s what works – not some real or imagined racist quota.

Absolutely.

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27 Responses to “Tapu Misa on Haden”

  1. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    I agree.
    Haden was speaking in an open forum about the “browning ” of NZ Rugby, he was being open and honest as he saw it.

    As was The Maori party’s Honi when he spoke disparagingly of us whities.

    We must resist the PC brigade as forcefully as we are able in this regard.

    Haden was calling a spade a spade simple as that, good on him.

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  2. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    OK, so we can have a race based quota for law school & medicine but not for rugby….. Yes yes of course you can have it both ways…

    [DPF: Not that I like those quotas, but there is a difference between a quota to ensure minimum representation from a race and a quota to cap representation from a race]

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  3. ben (2,386 comments) says:

    While I appreciate Tapu’s appeal to reason here, I think in this case she is wrong about the source of offense.

    Would any less of a furore occurred had Haden prefaced his comment by acknowledging diversity? No.

    Would stereotyping white players, with equal lack of respect for diversity, have caused a furore? No.

    Something else is going on. It is not the lack of acknowledgement of diversity that is why people are offended. What it is I don’t know, but I’m afraid Tapu’s theory here is probably wrong.

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  4. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    We must resist the PC brigade..

    Yes… but not on the world stage.

    Haydon staying as a ambassador to Rugby… not a smart move… with local and World media about looking for a story.

    Maybe McCully keeped him on to keep Haden silent.

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  5. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    ben

    He didn’t use the right words. If he had said we have a “white guy quota” to ensure that we have a team that roughly represents the racial mix of society and called it ‘affirmative action’ then there would not need to be any justification or apology.

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  6. RRM (8,997 comments) says:

    That’s hardly an “analysis” by Misa. That’s a whitewash based on “there are all sorts of harmless/true things he COULD have meant, therefore there’s clearly nothing to see here.”

    And that is nothing more sinister/false the presumption of innocence, mind you.
    But it is nevertheless a bit lame IMHO…

    [Misa]: As with any race-based theory, there’s always a grain of truth. Everybody knows, don’t they, that the island boys are explosive, physical and instinctive, rather than tactical and strategic like the white players.
    [DPF]: Almost all stereotypes are based on an element of truth. Otherwise they don’t become stereotypes.
    [/nested quotes]

    Hmmm, not wanting to Godwin the thread but I wonder whether the stereotype circulating in Germany in the 1930s that Jews were to blame for German poverty (and then, later, that they were responsible for the war) is consistent with this, or whether that was “just different okay”?

    [DPF: Don't be a dick. If you don't know the difference between scapegoating and stereotypes, then thank God the rest of us do. I can tell an Irish joke without blaming the Irish for our low level of education achievement - as an example]

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  7. GPT1 (2,043 comments) says:

    I am about as PC as, well, DPF. But, almost to my surprise, I found myself quite offended by Haden’s comments for the following reasons:
    1. The reference to “Darkies” – it is bad enough when one’s 80+ Grandmother uses the term innocently in the privacy of their own home but on national TV? Grow up.
    2. The shifting story – first of all it was any non-white player and then only PI players, it was a policy chiseled in stone and now its someone told him
    3. It’s just bloody stupid – even if you think there is something to the ‘different cultures, different attributes’ theory that seems to float around from time to time why the bloody hell would you have a quota for such small numbers? The Crusaders had 4 imports this year and it seldom (if ever) go beyond double figures. No one is going to bother with arbitrary quotas for such small numbers – you just pick the best players that are available for the slots you have. Colour is not going to have anything to do with it.

    In short Haden made a deliberate, racist, baseless remark. Not the kind of person I want as an ambassodor for the RWC.

    Then again, hardly any wonder, he was the doofus who took the deliberate fall to milk (cheat) a penalty against Wales. Instead of a deserved loss to Wales that’s the AB team that cheated. Pathetic.

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  8. itamer (3 comments) says:

    At the beginning of last season there were radio ads promoting junior rugby that featured a Mum & Dad talking. No biggie but the language and “accent” were clearly targeted towards white, middle class parents. This tells me that NZ Rugby is well aware that rugby has a grass roots recruitment issue where player stats are out of sync with our population stats.

    That year as I bought my son his (soccer) boots I chatted with another Mum in the store. Turned out her boy, inches taller than mine, was actually 2 years younger. You work out the racial mix!

    Should we be fighting it? Is it not a case of matching the player to sport?

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  9. burt (7,096 comments) says:

    itamer

    Of course we should be fighting it; I want a quota for Asian players in the AB’s. Oh and a quota for skinny white guys in the Olympic 100m sprints.

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  10. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    The franchise seems to pick the best individuals based on nothing more mysterious than the skills and qualities its selectors think they’ll bring to the game and the team.

    What? Misa arguing that selection should be based on merit, and not on affirmative action?

    What is the world coming to.

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  11. nickb (3,629 comments) says:

    Haha. My thoughts as well Gooner

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  12. ben (2,386 comments) says:

    Here’s a question: what isn’t stereotyping? We naturally put everything in the world into containers, and all the complexity inside the container is necessarily simplified in our minds so that relationships between things and understanding can be drawn. Out of necessity, diversity is ignored because there is too much of it to comprehend.

    It just seems odd to me that it is not possible to have a conversation about how good/bad Google or the All Whites or a movie or your favourite song without gross generalisation, yet point the very same mechanism at some people and all hell can break loose.

    Yes Tapu, we all simplify and generalise. Be consistent explain why such a useful thing should be so unoffensive everywhere else. Or just talk about what’s really going on.

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  13. JiveKitty (869 comments) says:

    I am not offended by his comments, but I do have problems with them. He said “”Once they’ve recruited three, that’s it. That’s their ceiling. Three darkies… no more. In the Crusaders manual, there it is, it’s enshrined in their articles, and they’ve stuck by that. And they know damn well that that’s the case. And it’s worked.”

    1) He has not offered convincing evidence for his assertions. (Contrary to what Big Bruv may believe, the raw numbers prove nothing as there are so many other variables as to why a side has the players it does.)
    2) He implied that it is the Crusaders lack of Pacific Islanders that has led to their success, and in doing so failed to give credit to how the Crusaders outfit functions with regard to player development and strategy.

    Of course, if he’d done the second, he probably wouldn’t have commented as he did.

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  14. Bob R (1,254 comments) says:

    ***2. The shifting story – first of all it was any non-white player and then only PI players, it was a policy chiseled in stone and now its someone told him***

    It seems pretty clear that the “chiseled in stone” remark was tongue in cheek. Bernie Fraser apparently also claims to have been told of this unofficial approach.

    http://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/article.aspx?id=115275&fm=newsmain,nrhl

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  15. Sean (295 comments) says:

    New Zealand grappling with the big issues once again. Its a fascinating discussion; please, do go on…

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  16. Thomas the Unbeliever (141 comments) says:

    It will be interesting to observe how his various clients react. Ultimately any sanction (regardless of whether sanction is justified) is more likely to come via his business. There are signals that some of his key clients are not happy to be represented by someone who is so unmindful of consequences.

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  17. mawm (211 comments) says:

    yawn…. so Haden claims a bit of hearsay as evidence, uses a word that no one can honestly say is offensive in any realistic manner ….yawn… Did we not have something in a similar vein about Tuffey being too dark to play test cricket?..yawn..

    These sort of things will keep on coming up. One can’t stop them, so I would suggest that we should be less sensitive and begin to laugh at ourselves a bit more.

    But first I want to know who told Hone that we f**k our mothers. C’mon…own up, who let the cat out of the bag?

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  18. PaulL (5,776 comments) says:

    1. Rugby is a business. They need to get fans along. It is possible that the Crusaders have a policy that panders to their constituency – and Chch isn’t exactly a dark sort of town.

    2. Christian Cullen used to be known as beer bottle didn’t he – empty from the neck up. Not exactly a poster child for the smartness of causcasian rugby – the opposite I’d argue.

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  19. Sonny Blount (1,829 comments) says:

    Nobody seems to be bothered by Chris Laidlaw agreeing with him when he made the remarks. Maybe this is because Andy Haden fits peoples stereotype of a redneck.

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  20. dad4justice (7,406 comments) says:

    Haden is a disgusting insult to every New Zealander with a brain cell. The creep deserves a good red and black rucking.
    Fuck off big blouse!

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  21. GPT1 (2,043 comments) says:

    It seems pretty clear that the “chiseled in stone” remark was tongue in cheek. Bernie Fraser apparently also claims to have been told of this unofficial approach.
    No, I disagree.
    Haden said multiple times that it was in the Crusaders manuals. When he was challenged on it he said it was chiseled in stone. He can’t now claim it was all some tongue in cheek carry on. He was adamant that this policy was written down and now it is some half ass conversation with Bernie Fraser?

    Sonny Blount – Chris Laidlaw did not make the same remarks. I am not sure I agree with laidlaw either but he was trying to explore whether there was a cultural link between different skills – not referring to a darkie quota.

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  22. grumpyoldhori (2,410 comments) says:

    Strange how Olo Brown was one of our brighter All Blacks.
    Of course he did play tight head where one does need a few clues unlike that bunch who call themselves backs.

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  23. Michael (880 comments) says:

    PaulL – Christian Cullen is Samoan.
    Grumpyoldhori – Tightheads are the smartest players on the park! And the best looking.

    The Crusaders have a no meat-head policy. How many of them have been arrested since Professional Rugby began?

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  24. Sonny Blount (1,829 comments) says:

    Sonny Blount – Chris Laidlaw did not make the same remarks.

    When Haden said that the Crusaders have a 3 darkie policy, Chris immediately said. “Yes, I’ve heard that too” or words to that effect.

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  25. V (660 comments) says:

    @PaulL
    1. Rugby is a business. They need to get fans along. It is possible that the Crusaders have a policy that panders to their constituency – and Chch isn’t exactly a dark sort of town.

    Complete rubbish. Despite your idea of Chch being not ‘exactly a dark sort of town’, how does it then follow that the Crusaders have a policy that panders to this?
    If you’ve actually followed the successful Crusaders franchise you would realise that some of the Pacific Island players have been favourites over the years. Why do you have to resort to cheap slurs?

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  26. wikiriwhis business (3,302 comments) says:

    In my considered and authoratitive analysis, Tapu Misa is a journalistic goddess and looks like one

    End of story.

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  27. angie stone (53 comments) says:

    Mention racism and the whole country comes out in full force to defend their positions.

    If you want to upset a racist call him/her a racist and they will tell you about all the brown(or white) friends they have blah blah.

    where there’s smoke there’s fire. Most of NZ is just fooling itself.

    http://www.angel-charlene.com

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