Open Letter – The Surveillance Bill must be stopped!

Open Letter to Leaders of all Political Parties

The surveillance bill must be stopped!

22 September 2011
Te Wharepora Hou is a wāhine Māori collective who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based. We also have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We wish to ensure a stronger kaupapa Māori voice from a wāhine Māori perspective. Our concern is primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

We are outraged that the Government plans to urgently progress a bill next week to enable police use of video surveillance while investigating crimes. We consider both the approach by Government and the subject of the law change, to be direct assaults that will target Māori unfairly. We deem this move to be an attack on the fundamental freedoms and civil liberties of all New Zealanders.
We note with huge concern the lack of clear information and avenues available for the New Zealand public to engage in such an important issue. We also note the current distraction provided by the Ruby World Cup tournament happening around the country and pose that a more appropriate time-frame be given to such matters. We oppose retrospective and rushed law changes as they are a profound affront to parliamentary rule let alone the rule of law.

We totally reject the scaremongering notion that existing cases would be jeopardised if this bill does not proceed with haste. We demand that a full and transparent analysis of those current cases be presented to New Zealanders before a conclusion is made around the relevance of this bill and its urgency.

The proposed bill is also a short sighted move lacking sustainable vision and true leadership. It is a proposal that will go no distance towards the fundamental issues of real criminal activity. We instead propose that Government seek urgent measures to address the drivers of crime. More haste should be given to tackle our shameful child poverty rates and the unemployment of our nation’s young people.

We insist that police continue to be accountable to the law as it stands. We remind Government that common law itself has historically protected territorial privacy and reputation. We ask where is the security and protection against unreasonable intrusion into personal freedoms when such a fundamental change is to be made with undue haste?

Historically such arbitrary lawmaking has unfairly targeted Māori such as the Tohunga Suppression Act 1907 and the Suppression of Rebellion Act 1863. Typically it is marginalised, poor and disaffected groups who will display disdain towards the governance that is ruling their society. Māori as indigenous people are highly represented in these disaffected groups.
With the Urewera situation we have already seen how police surveillance has impeded both on a citizen’s right to their own property and also their reputation. We do not wish for further powers to be given to police so they can tarnish a group with a ‘terrorist’ stigma on every occasion of political dissent.

It is vital that this bill not be progressed any further until due consideration has been given.
We look forward to your early response.

Te Wharepora Hou

Dr Leonie Pihama
Spokesperson for Te Wharepora Hou

Rugby World Cup(a Haka) 2011

Precious Clark delivers a karanga for the RWC opening ceremony

11 September 2011

What about when the world isn’t watching?

It was essential that tāngata whenua featured at the Rugby World Cup opening events last Friday night. Immediately after the shows people around the country, and indeed the world, were heralding the RWC opening ceremonies. Due credit has been given to the awesome array of tikanga Māori that played a big part in our global introduction to this international tournament.

Build-up events have included flash mob haka which have been superbly executed around the country. This display of pride and ownership in a tāngata whenua identity has tickled the nation’s spine with its excellence.

New Zealanders have so much to be proud of in acknowledging the unique place of our iwi and hapū as hosts of this land. Friday night’s offerings lead by Ngāti Whātua included a feast of our traditions such as our karanga, our waiata, our haka, our moko, our waka, our reo and through all that our people and our pride.

The inclusion of Te Reo by Frenchman and International Rugby Board President Bernard Lapasset in his speech was sharply contrasted by the lack of any from our own Prime Minister in the preceding welcome speech. Far from being a tokenistic offering by Lapasset, most of us were instead grateful to him for making an effort to acknowledge the importance of our language in this land.

I come from a long line of avid rugby supporters. My father, brother and sister have all played to respectable levels and my three and five year old sons play every Saturday morning. A love for theatre and performance also courses through my veins thanks to being born into ‘the industry’ and lastly I claim lineage to the longest line of Ngāpuhi/Te Rarawa and Ngāti Porou upstarts. On Friday night I watched gloriously as my rugby fanatic, drama loving, tāngata whenua staked backgrounds all melded effortlessly. Let me be clear – I was a proud Kiwi that night.

But what happens when the world is no longer watching?

We will still be left questioning the partnership and sovereignty guaranteed under the Treaty of Waitangi and further advocated for in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Where is that sovereignty given the loud and clear opposition from members of Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Taranaki and Taitokerau Iwi to fracking, mining and deep sea oil drilling? I am not proud of my country for this.

That same partnership can be called into question around the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. There is not much to be proud of either in the final Act that was passed or in the race relations damage that fell out of the discourse around the Bill before it was passed.

We will still be left with the questions around justice and a damaged Crown/Tuhoe relationship thanks to the Urewera raids of 2007. I am not proud of our country for that.

We will still be left with the questions around the recent WAI262 claim findings. Māori have always stated that we never surrendered our claim to indigenous flora, fauna and knowledge. Yet the report fails to uphold mechanisms for iwi to have real input into making decisions around those resources. I am not proud of my country for this.

In the East my relations are trying to make the best of the situation we find ourselves in with a rushed settlement and new governance entity election process. I am not proud of this.

And in the North, my people are currently at loggerheads over a process for Treaty settlement that is not a tikanga process in the first place. I do not believe this fighting is what my tupuna envisioned for my North and yet here we are playing a Crown forced game and not our own. I am certainly not proud of this.

We will still be left with glaring inequalities that see the indigenous people of this land disproportionately represented in unemployment, poverty, child abuse, poor health and poor education outcomes. We should all be hanging our heads in shame at this.

These are a few of the many issues facing the country that were here long before the RWC spectacular fireworks – which I thoroughly enjoyed. I love to party like anyone else. But we must not drop the ball on issues of social justice and human rights lest we leave nothing for the descendents of our mokopuna to party about.

How do we get to that place where we can all be proud of the terrific karanga sent out by our magnificent wahine not only because she does it with pride and honour and represents us astonishingly, but because our country has truly honoured us as tāngata whenua of this nation?
As it is already we are proud to roll ourselves out and take up the privilege and responsibility of welcoming visitors to our whenua. All around the country marae and communities have been opening their hearts to RWC teams and visitors. I look forward to a time when we are truly acknowledged as tāngata whenua of this land and that is manifested in our day to day lives and not just on show for visitors. There is much work to do and creating places for profound dialogue at all levels would be a great start.

For the rest of us, there is Constitutional transformation and review to debate and the Treaty of Waitangi to remember. Let the RWC be a motivation rather than a distraction.

And go the mighty All Blacks!

Marama Davidson (Ngāpuhi/Te Rarawa/Ngāti Porou )

Māori Women support issues raised by Professor Margaret Mutu

Professor Margaret Mutu

06 September 2011

Auckland based Maori women’s group Te Wharepora Hou regret the media polarising of the issues that Professor Margaret Mutu is bringing to the fore. They agree that sharp analysis and critique is required following the recent release of the Department of Labour’s report on ethnic perceptions.

Spokesperson Mera Penehira says “The call to have Professor Mutu sacked from her position at Auckland university is ludicrous. She has a role as an academic to bring about informed and critical thinking into this important and timely conversation about immigration and racism in Aotearoa.”

The group support the call for a more in depth focus on how racism is manifested throughout the political systems, institutions and communities of Aotearoa New Zealand. Te Wharepora Hou suggests that the recently formed constitutional review panel and review process should be a clear opportunity for New Zealanders to discuss these issues.

“We would welcome the opportunity to talk further about the issues of immigration and racism. Māori women are often excluded from having a voice yet we know that many solutions and pathways forward reside among the hearts and minds of these women in our Māori communities. Professor Mutu has suggested the Treaty of Waitangi as a good starting point and we agree. These are the sorts of things the review panel need to be brave enough to address when they come to our people.” says Mera Penehira.

Te Wharepora Hou wants to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and is concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi (family and community). The group well understands the multiple effects of racism particularly on Māori women and families. Te Wharepora Hou urges New Zealanders to be astute at a time when the whole world is watching us, stating, “we need to acknowledge racism and participate in constructive debates to develop solutions.”

Mera Penehira – 021 478 194