Happy Waitangi Day?


This is my own personal start to visioning what we are aiming for. It is not exhaustive or structured. Perhaps it will rouse debate or if people don’t like it they could write their own.

Happy Waitangi Day?

When our sovereign authority over our lands and resources is truly honoured;

When a handful of protestors have to take to the streets begging for deep sea oil drilling, fracking and mining to go ahead because our default position starts with protecting our earth Mama Papatūānuku from harm;

When Te Reo our native language is so mainstream that once a year we need an English Language Week;

When all public broadcasters fall over themselves to ensure they pronounce Māori words correctly;

When every learning institution can truly honour the identity of our Māori children;

When our iwi and hapū no longer have to fight to be considered an entity;

When we have stopped killing our babies and are truly living by “He taonga te mokopuna”;

When our young people are deeply rooted in love, identity and belonging that we do not need to launch Marae Youth Courts everywhere;

When if our own people do transgress, we are able to restore justice effectively with our own processes;

When our kids count down the sleeps to celebrate Parihaka Day on the 5th November;

When hapū are the default authority for their foreshore and seabed;

When we all know what Iwi and hapū we belong to, and can call our marae our home;

When local hapū are the permit authority for fishing, hunting, growing and all development on their lands;

When we have a “Crown Seeking Forgiveness” process instead of a Treaty Settlement process;

When we have to dig out our Pakeha elders and Pakeha performance groups because our public ceremonies are lacking without their flavour and authenticity;

When all our primetime broadcasters and morning tv hosts are not racist, at all, to anyone, and actually have talent;

When everyone in Aotearoa is warmly housed, fully fed, truly educated, gainfully employed, holistically healthy and ultimately honoured;

When it is normal habit to go into our bush and make our medicines to heal our own whānau and community;

When we have a Prime Minister who can honour our history of resistance and knows our nation is indebted;

When women are at every decision making cornerstone of this nation, from the speaking platforms and paepae of our marae to the ruling roosts in Parliament;

When our mainstream healthcare funding prioritises our traditional healing experts and approaches;

When our poor neighbourhoods have less prisons and more universities;

When all our people are uplifted and strong and powerful enough that we do not need to abuse alcohol, or drugs, or each other;

When no one would dare make a complaint about their local supermarket airing Te Reo over its loudspeaker;

When the percentage of Māori in jail is way down, and the percentage of Māori gaining Doctorate Degrees is way up;

When we are living our potential as healthy, strong, fit, longer living Maori;

When all our men are stronger and can truly embrace us all as warrior women;

When we have decolonised ourselves to the point where we can embrace love, sexuality, sensuality and passion the way we were all born to do;

……..only then might we truthfully be able to say “Happy Waitangi Day”.

Until that time indigenous resistance and solidarity around the world must continue.
Until then, I will keep the candle burning……………

Marama Davidson
(Te Rarawa/Ngapuhi/Ngati Porou)

Reflections from Great Turtle Island II

Dr Leonie Pihama
Dr Leonie Pihama
The Idle No More movement continues to gather momentum and Waitangi Day provided opportunities to join with Veronica Tawhai here, on Great Turtle Island, to share some thoughts and reflections on our experiences in Aotearoa.  The Idle No More movement grew from the desire of four Native women, Jessica Gordon, Sylvia McAdams, Sheelah McLean, and Nina Wilson to highlight the implications and impact of the Omnibus Bill C 45 on First Nations Peoples and its consequences more broadly for Papatuanuku.  The movement gained further inspiration and momentum though the courageous hunger strike of Chief of the Attawapiskat, Theresa Spence.  It has been clear that First Nations women have taken their role as protectors of this great Mother Earth and future generations and forged a movement that is now inspiring tens of thousands of people across Great Turtle Island.

Within Aotearoa groups of our people have worked to draw attention to the issues that underpin the Idle No More movement, and to raise awareness as to the implications of those issues for our people.  In doing so Maori women’s group ‘Te Wharepora Hou’ worked tirelessly for weeks to bring the issues to the attention of  media outlets both Māori and non-Māori.  It took nearly three weeks before Māori media began to give some coverage to the kaupapa.  There remains limited access to information and stories related to the movement.  That is not surprising, after all this is an Indigenous issue, and our experience tells us that such issues are relegated to places of insignificance within mainstream media.  That however does not explain why Māori media have not provided more coverage or critical reflection on the issues.  We are thankful for those such as Claudette Hauiti who by virtue of having a talkback show was able to give some depth discussion to the movement recently, however most other Māori news outlets have yet to give any depth analysis, rather it has been accorded the 30 second news bulletin approach. That raises questions of the serious lack of investigative journalism within Aotearoa.    But that is a topic for another blog.

There are clear links between the actions of the Harper government in Canada and the actions of the right wing National government coalition in Aotearoa.  Firstly, the Omnibus Bill process has proven to be a mechanism by which legislation may be moved quickly through government with very little discussion, information or engagement with it content.  This is a red flag moment.  As we know the tendency of conservative governments in Aotearoa to mimic the actions of other like minded governments we must watch carefully that such a process is not imposed upon us.  A critical danger of such legislative processes is that within the hundreds of pages that make up omnibus bills is the ability to ‘hide’ clauses that make significant changes, and reduce existing rights.

Within the Omnibus C45 sits a clause that removes protections of thousands of rivers and opens those waterways to the possibility of significant abuse. It is noted that;

Among the amendments are changes to the Fisheries Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Indian Act, which will make it easier to redesignate native reserve lands and strip environmental protection from thousands of lakes and rivers.”   http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/frustration-over-omnibus-bill-c-45-leads-nationwide-185350221.html

Our experiences of the Foreshore and Seabed Act and its implications and impacts on our lands is a clear example of the actions of successive governments in Aotearoa to use any means to continue to confiscate, and steal, what remains of Māori lands to ensure exploitation.  In his speech for Waitangi Day, John Key spoke of a commission related to Māori Land to look at ways of increasing the exploitation of our lands. He stated:

“This region has a rich culture, a great climate and beautiful coastlines but unemployment is a challenge and people, particularly young people, need more job opportunities. The Government is putting in a lot of effort, including improving road links with the rest of the country and encouraging exploration for oil, gas and minerals…

To assist Maori in reaping the most from their own assets, some of you will be aware that Chris Finlayson has commissioned an expert panel to review Te Ture Whenua Maori Act. Nationally there are about 27,000 blocks of Maori land, covering about 1.42 million hectares. Together, they comprise about 5 per cent of New Zealand’s entire land mass and a higher proportion – about 10-12 per cent – of the North Island. Legislation which governs these blocks is restrictive and it’s estimated that about 80 per cent of the land is undeveloped or underperforming. If its potential could be unlocked – and if that is what its owners choose – imagine how much more wealth and how many more jobs and opportunities could be generated.”

These two statements must be viewed as inter-related.  Opening Māori Land for ‘development’ means opening our lands for increased exploitation.  It is the intent of the review that must be watched and we must all call into question any government intention, and involvement of our hapū or iwi corporations, that seeks to ‘develop’ our lands through acts that are exploitative or destructive.

The removal of protections of waterways in Canada is a move to open exploitation relates directly to our current struggle over water rights and the government push for Asset Sales and the fast tracking of legislation to somehow ‘legalise’ these actions shows us that colonial governments continue to act in ways that disregard and deny the fundamentals of the Treaties that our peoples have entered in to.   It is critical that we see the connections so that as Indigenous Peoples we can continue to support each other across Te Moana nui a Kiwa, the Great Sea of Kiwa, and know that we are not alone in these struggles.

Leonie Pihama (Te Atiawa, Ngati Mahanga, Nga Mahanga a Tairi)

Reflections from Great Turtle Island

Dr Leonie Pihama
Dr Leonie Pihama

This is the first year I have not been on our lands on Waitangi Day.  Watching from a distance can be highly frustrating.  However, finding footage Annette speak at the forum through youtube was an inspiration.  Thank goodness for hand held cameras and phones that can capture such korero, as we know that neither Pakeha or Māori media have ever made a true commitment to broadcasting those discussions that are held in the forum that has been facilitated by Te Kawariki for many years.

Reading John Key’s speech for the day was like reading some of the recent rhetoric from the Conservative Harper government in Canada.  We should be deeply concerned.  Yet this year there seemed to be an increase in people wishing each other “Happy Waitangi Day” and that is equally as disturbing.  How has that expression emerged in a context where our people are experiencing such deep hardships, where more of our people are unemployed, where people are being forcibly removed from them homes so Housing Corporation can make millions off  housing sales, where those struggling on already pitiful benefit support experience even more marginalization, where our people are disproportionately locked up, where radical activism puts you at risk of jail terms, where fracking and mining destroy our lands daily and where a right wing government is selling the basis of human existence, water, to multinational corporations… this is hardly a “Happy Waitangi Day”.

The Key speech and comments to the media over the past week raises a lot of red flags that we ignore at our own risk.  Firstly, the marginalization of critical voices continues to be a focus, as it has been for over 200 years.  The discourse of ‘troublemaking radicals’ is well worn and yet in a context of seeking a ‘Happy Waitangi Day” its power increases.  There is a colonial desire for us to be ‘one Happy people’, that’s  not new, it was what Hobson intended in 1840, ‘He Iwi Kotahi Tatou’ however as with that colonial assertion it remains that in order to be one happy family, one happy people and have one happy Waitangi Day, our people are still expected to assimilate and accept unconditionally the position and power of the government as the representation of the Crown.

The push to complete historical claims and the imposed timeframe is a push to remove the centrality of Te Tiriti o Waitangi from Māori – Crown relationships.  There remains an intent to ‘get it over and done with’, with an underlying assumption that the Treaty will then be relegated to a place in history.  We can, and must never, accept that way of thinking.  Te Tiriti o Waitangi is the basis for our relationships as Tangata whenua and the Crown.  Pakeha settlement here in Aotearoa is defined through that relationship.  It is clearly articulated within Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  The relationship was clearly defined.  The expectation of tino rangatiratanga for our people and the role of kawanatanga of the Crown over their people is clearly expressed.  Since the signing in 1840 we have held our part of the agreement, we have honoured the visions of our tupuna in our struggles to assert tino rangatiratanga, we have fought, we have resisted, we have marched, we have taken multiple pathways for justice. We have as a people, as whānau, as hapū, as iwi, survived in spite of over 200 years of colonial oppression.  We continue to seek the assertion of tino rangatiratanga as articulated by our tupuna.  Until that is fully realized there is no place for expressions such as ‘Happy Waitangi Day’.