An Open Letter To Occupiers of Mother Earth

Dr Leonie Pihama

E ngā reo, e ngā karanga, e ngā whanaunga, e ngā iwi o te ao. Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko Te Wharepora Hou tēnei e mihi atu ana ki a koutou katoa. E tika ana me mihi ki a rātou mā kua wehe atu ki tua o te arai, haere haere haere, moe mai ra. Ka huri ki a tātou te hunga ora. Tēnā tātou.
He karanga tēnei ki ngā iwi e noho porotehe ana kite ao. He inoi hoki tēnei ki ngā kaiporotehe kia tautoko i ngā iwi taketake o te ao me o mātou whawhai mo te tino rangatiratanga. No reira, tēnā koutou tēnā koutou tēnā tātou katoa.

As the anti-capitalist movement builds the many ‘Occupy’ actions grow in number and intensity around the world. On this day, October 15th, we celebrate that non-Indigenous populations have begun to ‘see’ what Indigenous Nations have known for many hundreds of years; that the western capitalist structure is not only corrupt but is grounded in a colonial imperialism. This imperialism has at its roots the oppression and genocide of Native Peoples around the world.

In supporting the call for the dismantling of capitalist and corporate greed we, Te Wharepora Hou, call for the dismantling of colonial imperialism that imposes injustice and ethnocidal actions on our people in Aotearoa. There has been some debate on sites around the world as to the ‘intent’, ‘aims’ and ‘goals’ of the Occupy movement. Here in Aotearoa many articulate those as a ‘99%’ movement, that we are all in this movement together, that we challenge the privilege and greed of the ‘1%’ . The groups “Anonymous” and “Occupy” articulate their voice for ‘the’ 99%. We support this movement of the people. But the movement must not continue to reproduce the oppression of Indigenous Peoples. It must instead embrace the experiences of those that have been occupied for many generations and who have fought against colonial oppression. The greed of capitalism is the greed of colonialism. The benefits of those who accumulate wealth far in excess of their needs whilst many of our people live in abject poverty is fundamental to that system. Capitalism and colonial imperialism are ‘brothers in arms’. They feed each others greed. They support each others destruction of Papatūānuku, this great Grandmother Earth.

Te Wharepora Hou call to all Occupy groups in Aotearoa to know and affirm the tribal lands upon which they protest. To contact hapū and iwi directly. To provide support to those hapū and iwi that struggle with this system for the acknowledgement of past and ongoing injustices. To support hapū and iwi in the return of stolen lands, or stolen language. To support the call for Tino Rangatiratanga, for honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. To remember the past. To remember the injustices that were imposed by exactly the colonial capitalist corporate oppressive system that Occupy movements protest against.

Aotearoa will never be free of this system until past injustices are addressed.  To achieve a great future that honours the 99% fully must begin by redressing the acts of injustice upon which this system is based.  For some in the Occupy movement this has been referred to as divisive.  It is not.  If foundations for movements are not set from a solid and just foundation then they will flounder and will never be sustainable on this land.  To achieve justice for Indigenous Nations is to achieve justice for all. This is the call.  This is the vision.  This is what is needed for the 99% to achieve justice.  This is what Te Wharepora Hou support.

Author: Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

15 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Occupiers of Mother Earth”

  1. I disagree with many of the comments above, however I agree with the sentiment. Things I feel important to mention:
    1. Maori are NOT the indigenous people of NZ! This has been scientifically proven – Maori arrived to this country, just as all of us current residents did, in the last thousand years.
    2. I abhor this apparent attitude of ‘we have been oppressed, you haven’t’. This is NOT a matter of race…this is a matter of powerful (whether militarily or technologically) peoples imposing their will on less powerful people. As the Occupy movement suggests, this hasn’t just happened to indigenous populations, this has also happened to nation’s peoples regardless of whether they are ‘indigenous’ or not! This same attitude still exists in Ireland to some degree, that ‘the British’ by their actions (and lack of), enabled the deaths of millions of Irish people during the famines. This is untrue. Some people – many of whom were born in Britain, but also many whom were Irish – by their ministrations, caused/allowed the deaths of millions of people. It wasn’t the British – it was some greedy people who happened to be British. Many people are ignorant to the fact that the peoples of England also suffered a famine around the same time as one of the Irish famines. For many years, this attitude has fostered violence and rascism between the Irish peoples and the British peoples, which is ridiculous! Everybody suffers at the hands of greedy powerful individuals. IT IS NOT A RACE ISSUE!
    3. It comes across as quite selfish that we are asked to fight for Indigenous people’s rights – when many other’s rights are equally ignored and trampled over. Why should ‘indigenous’ people’s rights take a premier place?! What makes indigenous people’s rights more special than anybody elses? Your arguments smack of the same attitude that Israel employs when arguing for it’s own rights and similarly seem and are often taken as being divisive. Whether this is your intent or not, this is the way it seems to those who don’t have the banner of ‘indigenous rights’ to fight under for fair treatment as a human being! We all live on this island together NOW. I didn’t steal anybody’s land, though my grandfather’s land in Wales was stolen by the govt of the time. I don’t expect it back, nor do I expect recompense for it. It’s gone, it’s past…in reality it was never even my grandfather’s land, because one can’t OWN land, one can merely OCCUPY it! So please, lets stop arguiing about who should get what and who was badly done by whom, because ALL of us have stories in our past if our family/tribes being hard done by and start occupying NZ together as human beings!

    1. Hi Elvedere. We’ve heard all those arguments so many countless times and I wish we’d move from that 1980’s ignorance. Forgive me if I would rather not waste so much time with them. I’ll leave you with this instead:

  2. I completely support this, completely! I feel anything I have said may have been incredibly misunderstood. My only problem is with a name which begins with a prefix of “Un” which by definition means “not”, and as already pointed out, many have started to ask if those using this prefix before the name “Occupy” have questioned if those movements have separated from the main movement which is attempting their best, however misguided Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples may feel, to correct current a economic crisis. And facing facts, unless something is done about the current financial crisis, nothing can be done to address the true injustices which occurred via the Imperial Colonialism of the past.

  3. Nga mihi nui ki a korua, Marama me Leonie..I support you and the roopu and think what you are doing is ataahua/beautiful for wahine thru out the motu me te Ao hoki. I have an issue, regarding the Waitangi Tribunial claims for Ngapuhi and the the division Tuhoronuku and the government has creaated amongst our Iwi, we have just been informed that the government will be hearing our Waitangi settlement claim in early February 2012. My whakaaro is why rush our grevience claims, we have been waiting for the last 100 + years and all of a sudden, tuhoronuku and government have decided to proceed with the claims, the whanau o Ngapuhi have yet to be fully informed and notified of the processes and what the agenda would look like…yet tuhoronuku spent millions of dollars going around the motu and all around Australia collecting consent for a mandate to speak on behalf of Ngapuhi desendants..The numbers dont add up, yet tuhoronuku is still moving forward with this hui assisted by the govt…there is alot of us iwi from Ngapuhi who declined for tuhoronuku to have our permission to speak for us. I hope you both would be able to awhi our Iwi, or even guide us …This falls into the capitalism arena, my whakaaro being that its another form of bully techneques used by the govt to deprive us as an iwi of what is rightfully ours plus it would set a presidence for them to do it to other smaller iwi wanting to voice their treaty greivences….Engari, I hope that you might be able to use this korero as another statement to add to the long list of capitalists acts that has dominated our history as tangata whenua …the land we whakapapa back to… …He patai tenei: is this meeting open to public and if so, where is the venue and time of start otherwise we can watch it on YOU TUBE… Kia kaha korua and good luck with the hui/meeting..arohanui Shannon White

    1. Kia ora Shannon – I need to apologise as I only just received this! I am printing your response out so that I can refer to it! Excellent korero e hoa and your support is always appreciated! Kia kaha!

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