On the road to Paris #COP21 Milañ Loeak Republic of the Marshall Islands

DSC_0029

Where are you from, who are you representing, and why are you passionate about climate change in the Pacific ?

I represent my people of the Marshalls and share a voice for others across the Pacific and the rest of the world who struggle with impacts of climate change. My passion for climate action is stemmed from the love I have for my family, my fellow Marshallese people, our islands and our culture.

What are you expecting from the climate change negotiations in Paris year?

Ideally, I would like to see a positive outcome agreement for our people and for those whose lives have also been impacted from the effects of climate change. At this point, my focus is on helping to ensure that we do everything within our power to create a strong voice in Paris and continue this resilience well beyond COP21.

How do you think people can best support the Pacific and our fight against climate change?

Reduce carbon emissions at all levels
Transition into and invest in renewable energies
Continue to create strong climate action movements
Continue to lobby and advocate for the rights of those victimized by impacts of climate change
Increase support to developing nations
Utilize social media and other mediums to inform, involve and mobilize
Share our stories

Any final words of encouragement and inspiration you would like to share, with pacific peoples facing the frontline impacts of climate change?

Continue to tell your stories. Do not give up because we are with you and we stand with you in solidarity. And most importantly, share your stories with the children. Teach them. Educate them. People say we need to create a better world for our children, but I believe we should be creating better children for the world that God has already blessed us with. Through our children, we will see the fruition of our work.

DSC_0028

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Anne Tolley : Hands off Te Whare Tangata ! Guest Blog by Te Ao Pritchard Te Awhi Paa Trust

TeAo

“Ka Ora te wahine Puapua Ka ora te Whānau – Pūāwai Ka ora te Hapū – Pūāwānanga Ka ora te Hapū – Pūāwānanga.”

If the woman is cherished, then the family will have wellness –  In turn the communities will be strong, thus the beauty of the tribe will be seen.  na Ngatai Huata

In 1988 the groundbreaking report, PUAO-TE-ATA-TU, into the Institutional racism of the the Social welfare Department noted “ At the heart of the issue is a profound misunderstanding or ignorance of the place of the child in Maori society and its relationship with whanau, hapu, iwi structures.”This was in response to the deprivation that Maori whanau face and the mass removal of our children from whanau into the ‘care of the state’. (1)

Twenty seven years later Anne Tolley the  Minister for Social Development wants to find a way of stopping the most at-risk beneficiaries from having more children.

The purpose of this vicious campaign has been to avoid any probing of the deeper social causes . Anne Tolley’s ‘final solution’ for our struggling whanau is aimed at directing any real examination away from where the real responsibility lies—with successive governments of all stripes and their social agendas.

This is offensive and racist social engineering.  35 % of all children taken into the ‘care of the state are Maori. Maori are easy to be forgotten as the rubbish of structural adjustment. Maori still haven’t recovered from the extremist economic “reforms” of the eighties when an entire generation of Maori & Pacific Island children and youth has suffered under those reforms, and to this very day remain stigmatised, marginalised and brutalised by harsh economic conditions.

Anne Tolley’s attack on Maori women, and our ability to control our own fertility and decide when we want to have children is a return to the assimilation agenda of the 1950’s.

Māori culture aligns women with the land, because the land gives birth to humankind just as women do. As the world was born from Papatūānuku, so humankind is born from women. A woman’s womb, called te whare tangata (the house of humanity), is seen as the same as the womb of the earth.

As te whare tangata and te whare o aituā Māori were (and are) clearly engaged in the production of culture.  Our reproductive bodies represent the continuation of whakapapa, and the survival of whanau, hapu, and iwi. (2)

‘Whereas the woman’s body is a sacred place and in protection of sacred places, the woman’s body, the woman’s womb and the birthing places of all the female nations, must also be protected, and this is the first step to protect the child, to protect the future’ . In the waiata, the purakau, the whakatauaki o Aotearoa, we are familiar with the notion that ‘Ko te wahine te kaitiaki o te whare tangata’ (women are the guardians of the house of humanity).

Women are therefore imbued with a status which requires care, protection and respect in honour of the expectation that in protecting the child, we are indeed protecting the future. (3)

Maori women’s place in their whanau, culture and society shows the impact of  colonisation, assimilation and urbanisation which had resulted in the loss of Maori culture and the low socio-economic position of many of the women and their whanau find themselves in today.

Even though great stress often placed on whanau, against the odds the strength and maturity of the Maori women, has overcome the hardship and difficult circumstances they experience.

Our wahine require protection and our whanau need to be uplifted, they need to be supported not judged. Maori must be empowered and resourced to care for and look after our women, our children and our whanau.

Let us give the support our mothers,  babies and whanau need and keep these vultures away from their mission to destroy and assimilate us. Haere atu Anne Tolley Hands off our Whare Tangata !

By Te Ao Pritchard

Ngāti Kahu, Ngā Kuri, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Vaigaga, Aleisa

Te Awhi Paa Trust

For comment please contact : 0274578326

References :

(1) PUAO-TE-ATA-TU (day break)

THE REPORT OF THE MINISTERIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON A MAORI PERSPECTIVE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL WELFARE 1988

(2) Ngāhuia Murphy, 2013, Te Awa Atua: menstruation in the pre-colonial Māori world.  He Puna Manawa Ltd

(3) http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0411/S00362.htm

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reflections on our Pacific regional consultation for COP 21 #roadtoparis #cop21

“Against all the odds, and the threats we face to our lands, our cultures, and our ways of life in the Pacific, we have survived and we continue to resist. The time has come for us to reach out across the vast ocean that binds us to support each other’s’ struggles and start to organise against the climate crises that we as Pacific peoples are facing”

Indigenous peoples of the Pacific have called Te Moana Nui a Kiwa our spiritual and cultural home for thousands years. We lived in harmony with our environment and each other; we were self-sufficient and had 100% of our lands, culture, custom and language.

Climate change is a clear and present danger to the Pacific peoples, land, lives; culture and peoples are at risk. Climate change is not a distant threat it is happening now. Rising sea levels are eating up our islands and the resulting salination means more and more arable lands for cultivation become untenable.

Preparing to build a strong Pacific presence at the climate change conference in Paris later this year we met for a  preparatory meeting at Te Piringatahi o te Maungarongo Marae. We had Indigenous activists from Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Hawai‘i, Kiribati, The Federated States of the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and of course Aotearoa.

12020032_10153000679076876_8176857290538528430_n

We spent our days planning different strategies to ensure that the Pacific will have a strong, visible and vibrant presence both inside the formal climate change negotiations but also out on the streets of Paris.

12009624_1009877779033630_6400823298741990508_n

Keeping with that theme on Friday morning we collaborated with 350.org in a street theatre action.This action was to highlight and put pressure on the ANZ to divest from their investments in fossil fuels. The Pacific faces prospect of future climate change refugee camps if the ANZ continues to invest billions of dollars in fossil fuel industries and that this is “literally sinking the Pacific”.

11864932_10156107695610331_3140526288366231053_o  12033067_1010198985668176_7756302200771850468_n

The highlight for many of our delegates was our solidarity night. We got to share our culture and frontline stories about climate change and its impacts on us as peoples.  We have built our strength and unity to represent our peoples to the best of our abilities while being mindful of our obligations to the values of our ancestors.

11041167_1010304755657599_7454211645244691330_n 12036516_1010304648990943_3176419502625945023_n

Together we can ensure those most responsible for climate change are held responsible and that those most impacted are supported. In defence of our land rights we are indigenous pacific peoples standing together for our collective self determination our tino rangatiratanga.

I for one am certainly strengthened by the time we have spent together. Building our friendships and unity as we stand up together to fight for our beloved Pacific. My thanks and appreciation to the organisers, to the wonderful people at Te Piringatahi o te Maungarongo Marae and their amazing manakitanga.  My respect and deepest regards to my fellow Pacific Climate Warriors, even though this kaupapa is a heavy one we lessen our heavy load by sharing our struggles and supporting each other with our strong and loving Pacific hearts

One heart, one ocean, one home. – Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.

Onward to Paris and COP21 !

Sina Brown-Davis

Te Roroa, Te Uriohau, Samoa, Tonga.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Challenging State Imposed Abuse

Over the past few days the media has been inundated with interviews and shocked responses to the release of two reports related to State agencies and issues of abuse of children who have been placed in care by the State.  Today the PM John Key responds by indicating that a part of the solution may be the partial privatisation of Child Youth and Family and associated agencies.  It is incredulous to make such a statement in the wake of the appalling record of Serco and the privatisation of prisons.  It is also predictable given the governments prioriting of neo-liberal economic policies.   I am reminded of Naomi Klein’s publication ‘Shock Doctrine’  (Documentary link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA736oK9FPg)  which highlights that neo-liberalism becomes dominant in a context of ‘shock’ or when those in power can use the notion that a ‘crisis’ exists in order to  then advocate a need for  ‘market intervention’.  That is fundamentally what John Key is promoting and we should not be fooled into believing that a market driven privatisation agenda will provide the answers to this issue.  Why? because the ‘market’ is as colonising, is as racist, is as oppressive, is as sexist, is as homophobic,  is as classist and is the tool for the privileged to maintain and increase their wealth and power.  That is why.  Serco is just one example. The wealth being generated from a number of the new Charter schools is another.  We should all be appalled by the processes being utilised by the government to entrench neo-liberal ideologies at the detriment of our children and therefore at the detriment of both current and future generations.

In the wider context of what is happening to our children that are held by the State is that of the ongoing imposition of State policies by this government which deny a fundamental right for our tamariki, mokopuna and whanau to have a standard of living that enables their wellbeing and provides opportunities for them to experience a quality of life.  So why are we surprised that a government that has difficulty accepting the existence of child poverty, who lack any motivation to put clear and active policies in  place to deal with the growing issues of child poverty  and whanau living in extremely poor and disturbing conditions  is not able to provide for children in State ‘care’? ( Link for Unicef Video https://youtu.be/gRAkIsP0fcE).  However when it comes to asset sales this same government moves with great rapidity (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/69886055/ministers-seek-power-to-bypass-housing-nz-for-state-house-sales), almost as quickly as keeping pubs open during the Rugby World club. The priorities of this government are fundamentally screwed. To put it almost politely.

The Unicef  ‘Kids Missing Out’ Report ( Kids-Missing-Out-A4-Document ) highlights the ongoing issue of Child Poverty in Aotearoa:

“Child poverty is a reality in Aotearoa New Zealand. As many as 28 per cent of New Zealand children – about 305,000 – currently live in poverty. When a child grows up in poverty they miss out on things most New Zealanders take for granted. They are living in cold, damp, over-crowded houses, they do not have warm or rain-proof clothing, their shoes are worn, and many days they go hungry. Poverty can also cause lasting damage. It can mean doing badly at school, not getting a good job, having poor health and falling into a life of crime.”

The reports of the Office of the Commissioner for Children (OCC-State-of-Care-2015 ) and the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (final-report-of-the-confidential-listening-and-assistance-service-2015 )   highlight systemic issues in regards to the wellbeing of children that are in State ‘care’.  In the light of both reports it is difficult to even justify the use of the term ‘care’ in regards to State removal of children. In an interview on The Nation, Judge Henwood stated in discussion with the interviewer:

All right. Judge Henwood, I want to ask you what is the price of all of this? Because how many of them end up in front of you?
Henwood: Well, we know that at the moment, of those that are 20 and under in jail at the moment, about 83% have had care and protection issues. So it’s huge. We call them the crossover children, the children that have drifted from their care placements and have been churning around in the system; their needs not met, and they go into criminal justice for a lifetime. And it is something that I really think we need to be more clear about; a deeper understanding of what is going on, so we can— We only have four-plus million people in this country, and to me, I feel passionate, and I think it’s alarming, that we haven’t done this better.
Well, that statistic indicates that the majority of people are in prison because the state didn’t care for them properly.
Henwood: Well, no, it’s a mix of things, isn’t it, but we hope that when the children are taken by the state that the state articulates a duty of care and delivers on that so that their life is improved, not that it deteriorates to such an extent, you know what I mean? I’m not saying the state alone is a factor, because obviously the background and context of that child is impacting, but the state is certainly impacting.” (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1508/S00334/interview-with-judge-carolyn-henwood-dr-russell-wills.htm)

Where finally there is some public outcry about this issue,  we need to be reminded that the raising of the State’s abuse of children is not new.  In 1988 Te Puao Te Atatu (1988-puaoteatatu) highlighted the colonial racism inherent within the States agencies and challenged the apparent lack of the then Department of Social Welfare to provide for the needs of Maori.  The report preface stated;

“Our impressions of the Department of Social Welfare are that although in general it is staffed by highly dedicated, committed people working under great pressure it is seen as being a highly centralised bureaucracy insensitive to the needs of many of its clients. The Department of Social Welfare, in our view, is not capable of meeting its goal without major changes in its policy, planning and service delivery. We expect, however, that its capability to make the necessary changes will be greatly enhanced by the initiatives advanced in the recommendations of this report.

We comment on the institutional racism reflected in this Department and indeed in society itself. We have identified a number of problem areas- policy formation, service delivery, communication, racial imbalances in the staffing, appointment, promotion and training practices. We are in no doubt that changes are essential and must be made urgently.

We have also studied policies and practices in the social work field and have commented on desirable changes in the Children and Young Persons Act. Changes are equally important in this area as well as in the operations of our courts, of our policies and practices for fostering and care of Maori children and of family case work for Maori clients. At the heart of the issue is a profound misunderstanding or ignorance of the place of the child in Maori society and its relationship with whanau, hapu, iwi structures.”

Te Puao Te Atatu was viewed by Maori as an opportunity to engage the State in line with a Crown-Maori Treaty relationship whereby whanau, hapu, iwi and Maori organisations could provide processes through which to more appropriately provide care for our tamariki and mokopuna.  The report was ignored and  there was little acknowledgement of the recommendations made.

Mereana Taki in her critical analysis of the State’s response to Te Puao Te Atatu stated: “After a hundred and fifty five years of Colonial arrogance the Ministerial report Puao-Te-Ata-Tu helped to confirm that, the Colonial welfare State had been established from the theft of Iwi territories and resources. In explicit cases Pakeha legal Imperialism had been instituted to ensure Iwi remained politically and economically excluded from participating in a growing Pakeha domination of their ancestral economic base.  The reports listed seamless Colonial policies and legal fictions; which formed a political context that drown Iwi into cycles of deprivation…  A Maori Advisory Unit within the Department of Social Welfare was established in 1984 and it its 1985 report stated the Department was institutionally racist.  This was qualified by the further claims that the bureaucratic practices reflected a privileging of Pakeha values, attitudes, beliefs and practice ‘norms’.  it argued that Maori input into policy production and decisions was  non-existant.  Maori were positioned as the ‘receivers’ of Pakeha policy decisions for them.  The report also argued that the insistence of Pakeha exclusive definitions of ‘Professional qualifications’ also reflected a monocultural assumption of superiority.  The same qualifications were proposed as a credit for ‘competence’ based in the earlier assumptions that ‘professional’ meant European Pakeha.” (p.115) (For full discussion refer M. Taki http://www.kaupapamaori.com/action/21/ ).

This issue of Maori having real and meaningful engagement in terms of the care of tamariki and mokopuna is also raised in the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service report and highlighted by Judge Henwood:

“Well, I think that it is something around this lack of clarity of what they’re actually doing and how it could be done well, and you have to realise that Maori are caught up and entangled in the care system. A lot of Maori children have floated into care, and I don’t think the engagement with iwi is as strong as it could be to try and get less damaging solutions. Because every time a child goes into care, they get alienated, lose identity, swirl around in many, many placements and don’t go to school and then sort of drift on into crime. And so I think— That’s an area I’ve been focusing on for a number of years, and we need to do better.” (The Nation Interview)

Nearly 30 years after Puao-Te-Ata-Tu we have a raft of reports, primarily by Pakeha organisations, highlighting again not only the inability of the State to commit to providing care and services to children within this country, but that also highlight that there are broader systemic issues at play which not only deny the needs of children in State ‘care’ but also set those children up for longer term issues as a result of the trauma imposed upon them by the State.  Report after report highlight State imposed abuse upon children and whanau in Aotearoa and  again affirm the view that the State is itself recidivist in its role as the ultimate perpetuator of Family violence upon many families and whanau in this country.

There have been some views expressed that the current review of CYFS will provide remedies, however for Maori that is highly unlikely given there is no Maori representation on the panel.  Paora Moyle has highlighted more recently the denial of Maori voices on the current CYFS review panel.  This is essential viewing if we are to seek meaningful outcomes of the review (Link here  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCHU67sQCqk)

Denying Maori involvement in seeking pathways for the wellbeing of our tamariki is not the answer.  After 200 years of colonial occupation and denial of our fundamental rights to be Maori we know that to continue to maintain monocultural institutions is not the answer. More privatisation is not the answer, it has never been shown to be the answer.  Having people’s wellbeing at the centre is the answer, and having a government that will action that is critical.  It is time for change.  When Aotearoa are we as a collective society going to make the decision to put values of wellbeing, of care, of healing, of manaaki tangata, as the priority over and above the market driven approach that this government continues to entrench?  How many children abused and dying of poverty related diseases is enough for us to stand up and say that the most important thing to us as a society is ‘he tangata, he tangata, he tangata – people, people, people’.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

No Profit In Prisons – Sina Brown-Davis speaks against the prison industry

*Te Wharepora Hou member Sina Brown-Davis speaks at the NO TO SERCO rally at Mt Eden Prison on Saturday 01 August 2015*

Photo courtesy of Jos Wheeler.

Photo courtesy of Jos Wheeler.

Tēnā koutou ki ngā iwi kua huihui mai nei. Kei konei ahau ki te taha o te rōpu Te Wharepora Hou. Kei konei ahau me te hunga e whakahē ana ki ngā whareherehere. Ko Sina Brown-Davis ahau nō Ngāti Whātua ki Kaipara.

I am like many gathered here today, the family of a loved one inside. I refused to be ashamed of having a father as a prisoner, even though my dad is incarcerated, I will stand by him and love him unconditionally always. Prisoners are human beings, with human rights, I am sick of the sadistic and vengeful attitude that this country has towards prisoners. I am sick of a racist and punitive system that has resulted in the mass incarceration of Māori, of Pacific Islanders and of working class Pākehā.

I am sick of a government that chose to do a deal with Serco, despite their serial human rights abuses, and fraudulent mis-management. Serco have a disgraceful record world wide of neglecting their duty of care, to make money off the backs of the oppression of prisoners, refugees and those seeking asylum. We warned you that serco were nasty pricks only interested in making money. We warned you that Serco’s management of this prison would be a shambles We warned you that privatisation would be a complete and utter failure.

Last week prisoner Arthur Taylor and others had their case for the voting rights of prisoners upheld by the high court. This was a watershed moment in the fight for the human rights of prisoners. Prisoners and their families are fighting for the right to be treated like human beings with human rights and are winning!

For those who say that Iwi should be running prisons, I strongly disagree. Iwi-run prisons just transfer the punitive functions of the state to Māori. Running prisons is leveraging off the oppression of our people. Iwi have no ethical or cultural standing in investing in the ongoing oppression of our people. The investment needs to be in changing the lock-down mentality of the existing system. Dress it up any way you like the mass incarceration and locking up of our people in cages is not a solution for anything, Māori run or otherwise. I would like to end with a quote from prison abolitionist Angela Davis:

“Imprisonment has become the response of first resort of far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems often are veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category “crime” and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business. It ought to be possible to build movements in defense of prisoners’ human rights and movements that persuasively argue that what we need is not new prisons, but new health care, housing, education, drug programs, and jobs. To safeguard a democratic future, it is possible and necessary to weave together the many and increasing strands of resistance to the prison industrial complex into a powerful movement for social transformation.”

Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Dr Mera Lee-Penehira on Radio Waatea: US commits war crimes in Hawai’i

Dr Mera Lee-Penehira

Dr Mera Lee-Penehira

Dr Mera Lee-Penehira has lodged a formal complaint to the Attorney General of New Zealand Hon Christopher Finlayson. She alleges that Hawai’i have had war crimes committed against them and that it is now time for the New Zealand government to right this wrong. Yesterday Dr Mera Lee-Penehira spoke with Dale Husband on Radio Waatea in this interview.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Zealand Citizen Reports War Crimes In Hawai’i

New Zealand Citizen Reports War Crimes In Hawai’i

Dr Mera Lee-Penehira

Dr Mera Lee-Penehira


Dr Mera Lee-Penehira, from the University of Auckland, has this week lodged a criminal complaint with Attorney General Christopher Finlayson QC, under the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000.

“The U.S. unilaterally seized the islands of Hawai‘i back in 1898 for military interests during the Spanish-American war, and have remained there as illegal occupiers ever since. This is about acknowledging and righting the wrongdoings of the U.S. in Hawai’i”, says Dr Lee-Penehira.

A recent visit from leading political scientist Dr Keanu Sai of the University of Hawai’i who met with tribal and political leaders, has brought to the fore the illegal occupation of Hawai’i, and the implications for New Zealand. He states that, “In 2001, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, acknowledged that, in the nineteenth century the Hawaiian Kingdom existed as an independent State recognized as such by the United States of America, the United Kingdom and various other States. By virtue of the 1851 treaty between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the British Crown, as well as our connection as peoples of the Pacific, New Zealand citizens have a special relationship with Hawai‘i.”

Dr Lee-Penehira, has been to Hawai’i on a number of occasions in recent years, and last month visited Mauna a Wakea, a sacred site at the centre of contention between the U.S. government and Native Hawaiians. The planned construction of the world’s largest telescope, the TMT project, on this sacred site, has received much media attention of late and many New Zealand citizens are concerned about this issue.

Marama Davidson, member of Maori women’s political advocacy group Te Wharepora Hou states, “Protectors of Mauna a Wakea have been occupying the sacred ancestral mountain on the island of Hawai‘i for over 120 days now, to prevent the construction of this telescope. We stand in solidarity with the protectors in efforts to stop this destruction. This is a direct attack on the physical, spiritual and cultural integrity of the maunga, and the wellbeing of both the environment and people.”

In lodging the complaint Dr Lee-Penehira is invoking her right as a New Zealand citizen under the 1851 treaty, “We need to challenge everything the U.S. government does in Hawai‘i, because on the basis of law, it is quite simply wrong. The historical documentation is clear, that the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist under an illegal occupation by the U.S. and that the laws of occupation must be complied with. As a victim of war crimes committed in Hawai‘i, this cannot be allowed to continue to take place with impunity.”

The alleged war crimes at the centre of the complaint include both unlawful taxation by the State of Hawai‘i, and the destruction of property by the State of Hawai’i for allowing the construction of telescopes on the summit of Mauna a Wakea.

Ms Davidson supports the complaint saying, “These allegations of war crimes committed in Hawai‘i are very serious, and if true will have a profound effect on all New Zealanders as well as the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations that are ironically taking place this week in Hawai‘i. It is now incumbent on New Zealand authorities to either prove that the Hawaiian Kingdom does not exist under international law and that there is no Hawaiian-British treaty, or initiate a criminal investigation into the allegations of war crimes committed against a New Zealand citizen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments