A mihi to our allies.
I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge those who are honest allies of the Tangata Whenua of this land. There have always been tauiwi/non-Māori who are doing essential work in striving for a better nation. They are people who themselves recognise the unique status of iwi and hapū in Aotearoa. Some of these people are from our Chinese communities.
In acknowledging the courageous stand that comes from others, I recognise their whole histories and their whole communities. This is regardless of where some individuals might be on the continuum of supporting self-determination for Māori. Even some of my own people are held hostage by misguided fear and misunderstanding of people from a different place – yet the collaborative work of honouring each others’ peoples and drawing strength from common ground must continue.
The lunar New Year started on 23 January which is when the Chinese calendar commences. As with Matariki and the stars for the traditional Māori New Year in June, starting the new lunar year is more important to the Chinese than the Gregorian calendar date of 01 January.
2012 is particularly auspicious as it heralds the Year of the Dragon – the water dragon to be exact – so symbolises good fortune, happiness, power and strength. My Chinese friend and her Indian husband are having their child next month in February. She insists she is giving birth to a Chindian dictator. As her voice is one of those very ones calling for all New Zealanders to honour the Treaty, one can only hope.
Chinese New Year celebrations are happening around the country as we speak and I hope to take my children to the Auckland Lantern festival that grows bigger every year.
With all that must be celebrated, a New Year is also a good time to reinforce vigilance. The Chinese and different Asian communities have remained strong in the face of outright racism they have sometimes had to confront. There have been disgusting attacks and taunts towards these groups of people that all New Zealanders should revolt at.
Agreeing to a baseline set of principles and guidelines to improve the way we live together – is where I highlight again the value of working collaboratively. The country this year will embark on discussions around a New Zealand constitution. There is an iwi led group who are determining a framework and a timeframe that rejects the narrow one set by the government. I am told that Māori should not aim for the stars in taking forward a vision – we must aim for the heavens and beyond. We spend the time going back to our core collective wisdoms so we can relearn and reshape them for our future.
And to do this – we need our allies.
Māori do not have majority status in Aotearoa. We would do well to strengthen our ties to those people and groups who are sharing the workload that aligns with our visions. There are many tauiwi who have been doing deconstructing work and decolonising work to uphold our Mana Motuhake as Tangata Whenua.
As hosts of this land, are we also upholding the mana and dignity of those who deserve our respect? Do we remain ignorant of the histories and traditions of our tauiwi communities and therefore neglect the common ground that exists? Are we lending our voice to their causes as we harp on about injustice?
I would encourage people to get along to this workshop “Decolonise Your Mind” pulled together by Meng Zhu, Wai Ho, Giang (tauiwi) and Rouge (tangata whenua). It is an example of the comradeship that we must capitalise on if we are serious about gathering collective strength.
Ngā mihi and Chūnjié kuàilè to you all.