Maoris are severely disadvantaged by the laws around recreational drugs for biological reasons. The Pakeha that introduced these laws knew about these biological reasons, and so they created a set of drug laws specifically designed to keep Maoris down. This essay looks at how.
Human use of alcohol dates back into prehistory. It is believed that civilisations in the Fertile Crescent were brewing a simple form of mead as far back as 8,000 B.C., and we’ve never stopped brewing it. After all, the effects of alcohol make some of the unpleasant aspects of life much easier to deal with.
Not every culture adopted alcohol at the same time, however. Use of it spread from the Fertile Crescent to nearby cultures, and then further afield, until it was introduced to Maoris in the late 18th century.
Alcohol is everywhere now, but, as any cosmopolitan worthy of the name could tell you, the various people of the world behave in different ways to the drug.
The basic rule is this: the greater the length of time that an individual’s ancestors have been exposed to alcohol, the greater the opportunity there has been for genes that lead to poor outcomes from alcohol use (in particular, violence and/or physically reckless behaviour, and alcoholism) to have been eliminated from that individual’s gene pool.
Middle Easterners tend to behave the best on alcohol, for the reason that they have been exposed to it for maybe 10,000 years. This means that, for a hundred centuries, anyone carrying genes that led them to go crazy on alcohol would have died at a significantly higher rate than their fellows.
Southern Europeans and Northern Africans are the next best behaved, because they were next to be introduced to the drug, and Northern Europeans, especially the British from which the majority of Kiwis descend, have themselves had between 2,500 and 5,000 years of exposure.
The Maoris, by contrast, have had 200 years of exposure to alcohol. Although trading rum for various goods and services was basically how interracial relations began in New Zealand, two centuries is not very long in evolutionary terms.
What that means, in practice, is that Maoris carrying genes that lead them to go crazy on alcohol, although they certainly die at a significantly higher rate than their fellows, have not done so for long enough for Maoris as a whole to have built up the genetic resistance to the drug that Kiwis of British ancestry have.
This explains why, if you put half a dozen standard drinks into 100 Maoris and 100 Pakeha, the Maoris would have significantly worse outcomes. It’s not a question of willpower or lack of mental discipline or fortitude, any more than the higher rate of skin cancer among Pakeha is a question of those things. Both are matters of explicable biology.
The fact is that alcohol has literally been used as a bioweapon against Maoris.
The logic about genetic resistance was understood by British colonialists well before anyone was aware of such things as genes. By the time the Empire had made it as far as New Zealand, it had had two hundred years of observing the effects of the drug on the natives of Africa, the Americas and Australia, and it had noted that in almost every case the social structure of those natives was obliterated by exposure to it.
They therefore knew full well what was going to happen when they introduced the Maoris to rum, and outcomes like Kororareka – “The Hellhole of the South Pacific” – were inevitable.
It was known that exposure to alcohol was going to cause the Maoris to fight each other and kill themselves, because there had been ample opportunity to see that happen elsewhere.
This genetic vulnerability to alcohol explains why Maori culture has taken so eagerly to cannabis. The majority of Maoris have tried cannabis at some point in their lives, and many of those prefer it to alcohol, for the straightforward biological reasons explained above.
For many Maoris, smoking cannabis is a way of getting the benefits of easy sociability and euphoria that one would get from alcohol, but without the drastically negative consequences that naturally befall anyone without an ancestral exposure to the drug. So cannabis prohibition has a massively disproportionate effect on Maoris.
Understood like this, it appears almost sadistic that a Parliament full of people of European descent would forbid, on pain of time spent locked in a prison cage, a recreational alternative to a drug that only they can safely use.
This could fairly said to be terrorism in the form of bioweapons.