23 Sep 2015

Research says Maori think connections, luck make you wealthy

8:22 pm on 23 September 2015

New research has found Māori are more likely than others to think that becoming wealthy has more to do with connections and luck than hard work.

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research used data from three world value surveys, of which 7.7 percent of participants were Maori, to compare their beliefs about wealth and poverty to non-Maori.

The research showed Māori were 12 percent more likely to believe that the causes of wealth come from luck and connections over individual effort.

It found Māori were also 18 percent more likely to believe that the poor had been unfairly treated.

An author of the study, Professor Robert MacCulloch, said cultures who hold these types of beliefs tend to achieve less material prosperity.

"Māori seem to somewhat less likely believe in the power of the individual and less likely to believe in a meritocracy and be less materialistic," he said.

However, the report was slammed by researcher Dr Leonie Pihama who said the three Pākehā authors had perceived Māori thinking through their eyes.

"There's a whole lot of experiences that our people have in a day-to-day way that really highlights to us that a lot of what happens in employment and a lot that what happens in a financial success component is to do with the 'white boys network', it's to do with wealth, it's to do with a right-wing government, and that those things mitigate against you even when you do work hard."

Dr Pihama said the responses Māori gave were being read as a deficiency in them, rather than what Māori see a deficiency in the system.

Professor MacCulloch conceded the research's interpretation of Māori values may not have been spot on.

He said they were wrong about some things, such as Māori generally being against abortions due to religion, instead of concepts such as whakapapa or geneology and whāngai or adoption.

He said there were more qualified people who could interpret the reasons behind the numbers. But, he said he stood by the statistics and the data was still interesting.