Saturday 6 February 2010

Waitangi Day discussion: Potaua Biasiny-Tule

Potaua Biasiny-Tule 1) After almost three decades of Treaty of Waitangi settlements, of “biculturalism” and “partnership” between Maori and the Crown, Maori remain at the bottom of all social statistics, such as income, employment and life expectancy. Why is this? And what can be done about it? Why? Because the system of European invasion and colonisation shifted the fundamental way of living for Maori and the continued occupation of Aotearoa by New Zealand means that many Maori will unduly carry the burdens of history at least until the day that some things are made right. Many do see the Settlement process as unfair and my experience within that system says that political expediency, legal over-extension and inter-tribal out-maneuvering errs dangerously on the side of continued grievances but the story must be told, the hurt expressed and some amount of sorrow let out. This is all a part of letting go of the pain and the hurt and then looking back, as a community and as a nation, to assess where things are today. Idiots like Michael Laws aside, there is a genuine want to bring compassion and understanding to the injustices of the past and like those who fell in the World Wars, there is usually a feeling to forgive and in some instance, not to forget. But this shouldn’t stop us from opening the past, today. The Waitangi Tribunal is one of the few places where the many sides do come together to air out our nations dirty laundry – what better place – so that all might help with the clean up. And we must remember – it is not just Maori at the bottom of our society. I have met many Pakeha, Samoan, South African and Indian families who just survive week to week. The cost of things in New Zealand are high, compared to the amount of money many of us earn. One emergency, like a family bout of flu, has the ability to knock everything out – the bills pile up, the red notices arrive, anxiety soars. This is a condition that all live with and everyone should be thinking more about. We are here in this land of plenty, this land of milk and honey, yet poverty still plagues hundreds and thousands of our communities. I don’;t know the answer and look forward to others suggesting what we can do to lift the entire level. As for the the relationship between Maori and the Crown. Many Maori flocked to catch a glimpse of Prince William recently; it seemed ironic that he was here to open the Supreme Court but the Royals still find followers in some Maori households. Hospitality aside, I think it is time for our own statement of autonomy and independence, positioning Aotearoa-New Zealand outside of the Crowns grasp and more responsive to the population who live here. There should be less and less old school, colonial defenses for the NZ Govt to hide behind and more reasons for a local Constitution to determine how we control ourselves and more importantly, how we can control our own Government. It does seem tyrannical to think that successive Governments can ignore their own Commissions and Legal Recommendations. Perhaps the campaign for binding citizens referendum should be picked up again? The Iwi Leaders Forum is attempting to match this National Government, especially on matters pertaining to the ownership of water (here in Rotorua, it is still strange to hear that Te Arawa own the lakes but not the water) but are catching criticism for channeling information arouind the review of the Seabed and Foreshore Act. Wasn’t the SB & FS Hikoi a response by whanau, hapu AND iwi to stop the Government from stealing Maori coastal lands and to ensure legal mechanisms for challenge remained open? I guess this is all a part of the criticism around iwi entities that utilise settlement money’s to control feedback and voice. My 5 cents worth is that Labour were wrong in passing the Act and a full repeal is required - start again rather than trying to fix a shonky ship. The future needs first to agree on language, as this Government/Crown dichotomy is false and perpetuates the framework many of us examine. 2) A huge amount of land stolen from Maori is now in private hands, but Treaty settlements only involve Crown land. Despite this, both National and Labour MPs have condemned the on-going occupation of privately owned land by members of Ngati Kahu in Taipa, Northland. What are your views on this protest? Should privately owned land be part of Treaty settlements? Tautoko. For me, stolen land is stolen land, no matter who lives on there now. This is tough as Maori desperately want to return home, to be reconnected with the land beneath our feet and to feel the sky upon our shoulders. It has been a tough 170 years, and for some, even longer. My people of Tuhoe lament the confiscation of our tribal lands everyday and to us, it does not matter that the Urewera National Park is a national treasure – first and foremost it was our home and was illegally and immorally stolen from our people. We treasure its place as a world heritage site but the world must respect the fact that these lands were dispossessed and it is these lands, not huge sums of money, that must be returned. It might not be comfortable but it is only right. I tautoko Ngati Kahu and all those hapu who are forced to noho whenua in the face of private property issues and historical ignorance. The minute we give up is the second FOR SALE signs go up across all Maori land. Many want us to sell or give up our rights as private property forms the basis of western capitalism. The property crash only highlighted that fact. We have to keep fioghting just to ensure our whanau continue to have a place to stand in this land. My view for Waitangi Day is always mixed – it is a day to celebrate, to openly come together and to show we can live up to the talk of tolerance, inclusiveness and living in this country as one, yet uniquely ourselves. What continues to piss me off is the inability to feel the change that so many of our leaders talk about. I want the past to be addressed and remembered for what it was but also want to imagine what a better tomorrow might look like. As a whanau, we want to be able to find work that is good for us and that we are good at, to earn what our whanau in Oz earn but with all the benefits of staying home in this beautifully clean and fresh land, We want to be able to swim in clean waters, to have access to affordable health care and to be respected when practicing my beliefs (which is about respecting nga atua). I’ve tried to say that this year I will spend more time with my wife and kids and will try to be positive, to keep my head up and remain focused. Sure, it’s a bit ideal but way better than being bitter and spiteful. Besides, we can still smile as we fight the good fight.


Unknown said...

Good article. All the best in solidarity with your just cause,forward to the Republic.

Anonymous said...

I am Maori. I was born in the 80's, which if I remember, was the same civilization we have today, the same life all maori's of today were bought up in. As a maori, I don't feel like things "Changed" when europeans arrived and now life is hard, because obviously I was born into the current way of life. How do these racist maori's go around saying that life is hard because of the arrival of Europeans? To be honest I would rather the life I live now, compared to living in the bush, life is amazing the way it is and I don't feel disadvantaged compared to europeans, anyone that does has other issues. I understand that we are native blood, our ancestors were not used to the current society, therefore the adaption may take hundreds of years, but we gotta start somewhere, we're all getting more and more intelligent through multicultural integration, we should be happy the europeans came, and gave us everything we have in this country. Please Maori, don't hold us back now.