About Me

Malcolm Pullan was born in 1967 in Auckland to a second-generation Pākehā father and English-born mother. He grew up in close contact with many Māori, both within and without the family.  In the first place, when Malcolm was six his parents adopted a Māori baby girl who soon became very much part of the family. In the second place, Malcolm grew up in Māngere East, South Auckland (home to a large urban Māori population), and went to Primary, Intermediate and Secondary schools locally.

Following on from school, Malcolm went to the University of Auckland, graduating in 1989 with a BSc(Hons) majoring in mathematics. He was then awarded the Rutherford Research Studentship from Trinity College, Cambridge, UK to undertake a PhD in engineering mathematics. After completing this degree in 1992 he became a college research fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, a position he held for three years. By the end of this Malcolm had several publications in various international journals. He then took the next step on what seemed like a certain academic career by becoming a university lecturer at Loughborough University, UK.

However it was not to be. Soon afterwards Malcolm had to leave work because of ME. Over the period of more than ten years since then he has developed a passion for arts in all its various forms, e.g. music, literature, and history. This period has given him an opportunity to observe and reflect on many issues in a way that is often not possible in the busy modern world.

Although still living in Loughborough, Malcolm returns regularly to New Zealand with his British wife and two young daughters.

I believe there are many points from the above worth highlighting to emphasise the unique viewpoint I bring to a discussion of Māori/Pākehā issues.

  • Growing up in close contact with Māori—especially within the family—means that racial concerns have been part of my make-up from a very early age. They are part of my subconscious thought.
  • Living in the UK now gives me the space to consider the Māori/Pākehā debate away from day-to-day wrangling in the media. It also gives me another cultural base from which to make comparisons and observations. In a sense, by leaving home (i.e. New Zealand), I have been able to see home more clearly. (A similar comment was made my Matthew Palmer in his recent book, The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand’s Law and Constitution.)
  • Living in the UK has also given me first-hand insight into what it is like to live within an alien culture. This has given me some practical clues as to the difficulties faced by Māori living as a minority in an alien Pākehā culture.
  • Having a strong academic background has equipped me with the necessary tools to undertake the research needed for Guilty as Charged?. It has also given me the mind and the curiosity to go beyond the popular rhetoric in the Māori/Pākehā debate to the issues underneath.
  • The combination of mathematical training and more recent passion for the arts (not to mention years of ill health) has taught me the importance of including both head and heart in learning. It has taught me both the power and limitations of objective reasoning, and given me a broad base from which to explore many different topics.
  • My lack of formal training in the academic disciplines concerned with Māori/Pākehā issues allows me to enter into the debate within these disciplines with fresh eyes. In other words, I am able to enter into the culture of these disciplines without becoming part of that culture. This also teaches me what needs to be passed onto the reader who also has no training in these disciplines (and what need not).
  • Having M.E. has given me some unique, or uncommon, advantages (for the purposes of the book, that is!). The first of these was mentioned above, namely that it has given me both the time and the opportunity to observe and think about the world in a way that most people are not able to. More practically, it has given me the time necessary to address the Māori/Pākehā debate in a thorough manner (Guilty as Charged? is the product of over two-years more or less full-time, uninterrupted work). The other advantages of having M.E. stem from the nature of the illness itself. In a nutshell, M.E. is a poorly understood and largely misunderstood illness that leaves the patient with minimal energy and very vulnerable both emotionally and physically. For this reason, I know first-hand what it is like to suffer at the hands of callous ‘experts’ (i.e. doctors; cf. with Māori at the hands of government ‘experts’ or even academics wishing to study them). I also know first-hand what it is like to have difficulties fitting into ‘normal’ life, and what it is like to have these difficulties either ignored or scoffed at (cf. Māori struggling to fit into Pākehā culture). And I know first-hand what it is like simply to lack the words to describe these problems in the first place (cf. with the struggle many Māori face—including academics, e.g. Linda Tuhiwai Smith—in describing their situation to Pākehā and the world at large). Incidentally, I should point out that Guilty as Charged? is not full of self-indulgence or self-pitying about M.E. On the contrary, M.E. is hardly mentioned at all. The point I am trying to make here is simply that having M.E. has given me a modicum of underlying sensitivity, appreciation, and affinity with many of the concerns faced by Māori.

In summary, then, my background allows me to combine both head and heart to give a thorough inside/outside view of the issues involved in the Māori/Pākehā debate:

  • inside/outside New Zealand (growing up in New Zealand versus living in the UK);
  • inside/outside Māori culture and Māori issues (growing up in South Auckland with a Māori sister versus being a Pākehā);
  • inside/outside the academic issues involved (general academic training versus no formal training in the specific disciplines);
  • inside/outside modern life (being alive now versus having M.E. and being restricted in the activities I can do).