Iwi and asset sales – taihoa!

Rotokākahi (Green Lake) – Te Arawa


Whānau Māori – we have the potential power to stop the asset sales from happening. But we need to act now!


Government asset sales cannot go ahead yet because of our water rights.

The Waitangi Tribunal says that the Government must halt its asset sales programme until water rights can be sorted out. This is annoying for the Government because they want to get the asset sales programme off the ground now.


Government now need the approval of Iwi.
To quickly sort out water rights the Government may approach certain Iwi with a deal. Iwi with water interests that our Government are likely to approach include Waikato, Tūwharetoa/Te Arawa and Ngāi Tahu. But decisions made by any one Iwi will impact on all other Iwi and hapū.


The Government wants to move fast.
In exchange for letting the asset sales go through, those Iwi may be offered cash and/or shares following any asset sale.



These are the things for whānau and hapū to consider:

  • That we have the responsibility to protect and sustain our environment.
  • That no one can own water (least of all the government) but we as hapū declare our responsibility to be kaitiaki.
  • That the importance and value of water is far beyond any cash or share value.
  • That Iwi representatives do not make decisions until whānau and hapū are clear what any deal might involve.
  • That it is local hapū who are the custodians of rivers, springs, lakes and wetlands. Hapū should make the decisions.
  • That we reject any timeframe or process that does not allow all of the above.


We need to do the following in the first week of September 2012:

1. Contact your Iwi representatives as soon as possible to ask what their plans are with any potential deals.

2. Get this message out to all whānau and raise it wherever you can. Use social media, ask to speak on your local Iwi radio stations, raise it at any other hui.

3. Show up in force to any ‘consultation’ hui and ask all the questions so we are absolutely clear what is being given up and what is being gained in any deal.

Iwi contact details:

Whānau can email any of the authorities below and ask them to forward this question directly to the Iwi representative.

“What are the plans for involving whānau and hapū in any deals around water rights and asset sales?”

Te Arawa Lakes Trust – http://www.tearawa.iwi.nz/contact

Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust  – info@tst.maori.nz

Te Rūnanga O Ngāi Tahu – info@ngaitahu.iwi.nz


Waikato River Authority – enquiries@waikatoriver.org.nz

 Kia ora whānau

From Te Wharepora Hou

Marama Davidson

021 025 88302

Vision: An Aotearoa governed according to tikanga and kawa

(Original article posted Dec 2010, updated Jan 2012)
How can we help push a constitutional review towards this vision?

We hope whānau will have a say in what rules and guidelines this country should be governed by. We urge people to find out what the current constitutional review process is all about. 

Te Wharepora Hou would like to offer the following information to start kōrero among whānau.

What is a ‘constitutional review’ and why should I care?
Starting in 2011, the government will take a step back and look at the ‘bigger picture’ of how we run this whole country. This is the ‘constitutional review’ that you will hear about.

This could be very important for Māori, but it certainly won’t fix everything. The government’s laws and policies have always impacted on our right to live as Māori. Politics affect our day to day living; what education our tamariki can receive, what sort of healthcare is available, whether your whānau still own your tūpuna land, what support is available for you when you are jobless and homeless or struggling to access basic needs, whether your land will be mined or fracked, whether your seas will be drilled for oil and many many more situations in life. As Māori, political power has often played a big part in our right to our identity and our unique place as Tangata Whenua of Aotearoa.

What do we have currently?
At the moment we do not have a single document that is ‘our Constitution’.  We have a collection of different documents and laws that guide how we make laws and policies. The  Treaty of Waitangi is considered to be one of those documents. This review will consider the place of the Treaty of Waitangi. The review may have an impact on how we assert ourselves as the Tangata Whenua of this land.

What is at stake?
Together as Māori we could seize this opportunity to design a set of rules according to tikanga and kawa. Our collective wisdom could offer an improved system of political power. Positive change for whānau is good for the future of all New Zealanders.

Who should keep me informed?
The government have called for this review. There is a government panel who will lead the public discussion. They are called the Constitutional Review Panel.

There is also an iwi group lead by iwi representatives Moana Jackson and Margaret Mutu. They are called the Constitutional Transformation Working Group.

How can I take part?
Both the government panel and the iwi group will be asking for your whakaaro and ideas. There will be hui held around the country in 2012.

It is important that whānau understand that this korero is not just for academics, lawyers, politicians and iwi leaders. As Māori, we have a right and also a responsibility to have our say. Our experiences in our every day lives and our ideas for how to improve our right to live as Māori is the information that we should be asking the government to value.

Your iwi are not the only way to have a say, make sure you know how to be involved no matter where you live or who you are connected to.

Who is putting out this article?
Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tamaki 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 all those who are too often silenced. We are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

We want to ensure that whānau are well informed of important issues so you could contact us if you would like further information.

Te Wharepora Hou


Marama Davidson

021 025 88302


Pondering 2012……

Marama Davidson - pondering 2012

31 December 2011

Actually before I start on next year I better look at 2011 first. Woah – freaky year!

Around the end of 2010 I decided to pitch in with a few other like-minded wāhine and add our voice to the mix a bit more. Leading into 2011 I took life-long inspiration from those amazing fighters at all levels around me including; the kuia/kaumātua at home keeping it real, the whānau back at our marae burning the home fires, the people on the ground in our communities, our young people ‘halleluiah rangatahi’ who continue to inspire me, our academics, politicians, artists, gardeners, te reo warriors, teachers and especially our whānau raising our tamariki. There are so many people doing amazing work to strengthen our most precious resource that is whānau. There are so many people to thank for being brave enough to speak out for our right to live as Māori. There are so many people taking up our collective responsibility to care for each other and the environment around us.

My puku was telling me I could do more, so I tried. Facebook became a hugely important tool to start circulating my whakaaro via blog articles, press releases, Op Eds, radio and television interviews, community speaking and other engagements.

And I got shot down LOL! More than once. And it will happen again of that I am most certain.

But just today someone who I consider a stalwart fighter of our people reminded me that we need to do more of it – we must not stop. And as always, the other stalwarts of my life will support my need to keep contributing. I cannot contribute to my community without the tautoko of my family, and without having first assured their wellbeing.

This brings me to 2012.

I have huge hope for our future as whānau, hapū and iwi. Our strength and vigilance to maintain our identity on our own lands has not faltered. We have proved time and time again that we are born with what we need to keep ourselves alive – no one can remove whakapapa.

“And we will need more of the same” says our stalwart fighter (who shall remain nameless because a private facebook chat does not a public speech make).

I agree with him. It is nothing new but we are facing even tougher far right agendas which threaten our collective integrity and wisdom as Tangata Whenua. We need to be steadfast in keeping our waters clean, our whenua un-mined and un-fracked and our moana deeply undrilled. We need to be determined to keep our whānau out of poverty and safe from abuse. We need to keep sacrosanct our ability to grow, hunt and fish for kai. There is much to protect.

So I stand in awe of all of us as we continue to be resolute together and support each other. We fight in many ways. We should continue to sing waiata, write poetry, learn to reo, speak te reo, hīkoi in protest, grow gardens (so I can buy your organic veggies cos my gardening sux right now), care for our earth, write submissions, and press releases, and Op Eds, and blogs, speak out, stand up, speak out and stand up.

If we feel hurt enough, we may also need to think of other ways to resist. So let us think….. 

But mostly, take care of our own whānau. Be kind to each other. Thanks to my ever wise mother who reminds me “Sometimes it is easier to save the world than to look after those around you.” Check myself.

Thank you to my husband and children for your ongoing tolerance and support.

Happy (Gregorian Calendar) New Year everyone!

Ngā mihi


Hei oranga mā te whānau

Dr Leonie Pihama, Māori And Indigenous Analysis Ltd., Te Kotahi Institute, University of Waikato

Dr Leonie Pihama

Over the past few days I have been participating in the NZ Association for Research in Education annual conference. NZARE is a time when educational researchers and practitioners come together to discuss a range of research and intervention initiatives happening within the education sector.    Just a few weeks ago I attended a Māori Health research hui that also included a range of health researchers and practitioners.  At both gatherings it was clear that many Māori work well beyond the boundaries of what is considered to be a part of what is done in those sectors.  The focus of whānau ora and hauora go across and beyond the ways in which society segments sectors.  It is no surprise then that for Māori in those sectors the need to work collaboratively and across areas is clearly acknowledged.

There has been another burst of focus on child abuse within Māori whānau.  We see that public outburst generally on the death or murder of one of our tamariki/mokopuna.  We are then inundated with images of past abuses, of Māori babies and children beaten often at the hands of our own.  We are all overcome then with disgust and sadness and often anger.  And then there is nothing… virtually no media attention, no media discussion, no media information, no media contribution to education.  Nothing.  Until the next baby or child is beaten and killed.  And so it continues…

The point is not that the media should not inform us of these things, or that they are not newsworthy as clearly they are.  But that we rarely see any attempt in the media to provide an educational or informative role outside of social service ads.  Other than Māori Television, primarily through the many profile programmes that they provide us with, there is little attempt or commitment to give any real time to how we turn around issues of abuse or violence within our homes.

The child poverty documentary was a long awaited one, and was timed perfectly for broadcast at the height of the elections and where many commented on how disturbing and disgusting and even how wrong it was to see families and whānau living in such conditions.. and many of those conditions were in fact state owned housing,  such programmes that inform and challenge us are a rarity.  They are programmes that show the complexity of child poverty, that don’t give easy answers or advocate a quick fix, nor do they provide the general ‘public’ with the easy way of seeing things through blaming the victims or announcing this is all about the deficiencies of those whānau.  That complexity is shown in child mortality rates where key causes of child mortality are: Medical 38%, Unintentional injury 32.7 %, Intentional injury 19.6%, Unexplained 8.7 %, Missing data .9%

Table 1.1: Mortality (number of deaths) in children and young people aged 28 days to 24 years by cause of death and age group, New Zealand 2006–2010 combined (n=3356 deaths)

Category                     <1 year*         1–4     5–9     10–14 15–19 20–24 (%) Total         Percentage

Medical                       371                  209     95        126      233     242           1276                    38

Unintentional injury  15                     112     59        85        419     409          1099                      32.7

Intentional injury       8                       22        3          32        274     320           659                                       19.6

Unexplained              275                  17        –           –           –           –                 292                                       8.7

Missingdata                14                    3          –           1          6          6                     30                    0.9

Total                       683                   363        157       244  932        977               3356             100.0

The Children’s Social Health Monitoring group highlight that Māori and Pacific children live within lower living standards at disproportionate rates.   All of the indicators that are presented related to notions of poverty are based within a taken for granted assumption that all poverty is related to monetary terms.

I am not in any way questioning or challenging such an assumption. However it is limited in regards to Māori children.  The direct output of such an assumption is that throughout the election process and in particular in the last couple of weeks of the campaign, when the documentary aired, there was a preoccupation with the advocating of the minimum wage, excluding National of course who advocate minimal taxing of the wealthy and not minimum wage for those in poverty, there was much talk of increased access for children to health care, some labour candidates advocated a Minister of Children, The Māori Party a Minister of Whānau.

Without doubt all of these things are useful. However they are not the whole picture.  As with the child poverty programme that highlighted the direct impact of poverty on tamariki and whānau there was very little comment that the majority of children living in poverty are Māori and Pacific children.  There was very little comment on colonization, there was virtually no comment on systemic and institutional racism.  And why are those things important? Because they provide the underpinning reasons for why we have such a large proportion of tamariki who would be considered to be in that group that is being referred to as ‘vulnerable children’.

Our whānau have been under constant attack and threat since colonization.   Where much of the focus of economic development has been at an Iwi level it was in fact the whānau that was the first structure actively attacked through colonization. It was a deliberate and planned attack.  We see that through the development and operation of Mission and Native schooling.

Notions of civilizing and christianising Māori were focus on the whānau.  The foci of attack were multiple, in terms of te reo and tikanga Māori.  Linda Smith wrote that the Native schools were the equivalent of  ‘trojan horses’ amongst our people. They were placed at the centre of communities to actively promote an way of life that up until that time was essentially foreign to our people.

At the heart of all interactions was the notion of individuality as opposed to collectivity.  Where multiple generations in whānau supported collective obligation, accountability and reciprocity, the notion of the individual promoted individual rights, individual ownership of property, to be accountable only to one self etc. These notions are all actively a part of western pedagogy.

Notions of privatization and private homes, private ownership, private property, all undermine cultural constructs within tikanga of whanaungatanga and collective responsibility.  The private domestic space is enabling of family violence, it is enabling in that it is grounded upon the nuclear family structure, which we often refer to as whānau but in fact the nuclear family is not whānau, it is a structure based on private ownership and individual private actions.  Which enables unhealthy relationships on many levels to go undetected and with little hope of intervention.

What I am positing is that the idea of ‘working with vulnerable children’ is itself problematic and that perhaps this forum could redefine what is a critical area within the lives of our whānau. It locates a sense of ‘being without protection’ or being ‘extremely susceptible’ or ‘weak’ or ‘helpless’, yet many of our whānau are none of these things, in fact even the Child Poverty documentary showed the ways in which whānau negotiated and sought ways to protect and care for their tamariki, however within a systemic context where state systems of provision are dysfunctional, as opposed to the notion that whānau are dysfunctional, then it is easier to locate the problem in the home.

There seems to be an obsession with creating terminology that serves to act as a smoke screen to what is actually happening for our people.  Our children, our whānau are faced with systems of economic elitism, cultural oppression, gender inequalities and racism. Rather than refer to our tamariki as vulnerable children we should be continuing to talk about the dysfunctional system that works with our children, and the need for us to gain an ability for economic and ongoing sustainable resources to put things in place that actually work for our people. 

Yes we must have access to health care for all children, but we must also have that care be appropriate to our people, as the disparities work from Māori Public Health specialists indicates that racism pervades both our access to Primary care and the forms of treatment we receive.

Last night Ngaropi and I spoke about the ways in which ideas of poverty dominate the discussions and whilst, as I said earlier we both agree with the notion that poverty creates a range of circumstances that have been created through ongoing political neglect and colonial capitalist systems that are again about individual benefit and gain over the wellbeing of all.  What we spoke about is that as a direct result of colonization in Taranaki our people have been dispossessed of access to all those things that have in the past mitigated against economic poverty.  We had access to kai and even in the context of economic depression we could feed ourselves, our whānau, our hapū, our iwi, and we did that collectively.   In a korero from Aunty Marj reflecting on rongoa she spoke of seeing her father bring a cart load of piharau, lamprey eels, to the marae to share with the people.

Those ways of being are significant. They are about whanaungatanga.  They are the essence of whānau ora.  Yet for the past 30 years since the pollution of the seabeds at Waitara and the earlier pollution of the river that is not a sight that would be seen.  In fact my tamariki have never eaten kai moana from the Waitara coast.  Then earlier this week the NPDC were granted a further 30 years extension to the use of the pipeline.  Why? Because its more economic than developing a landbased treatment plant.

So we ask, is it solely an economic or monetary explanation for why many can not feed their whānau? As I  have said previously, that is one part of the picture. And in many ways it is the most pallitable part of the picture.  But underpinning the ability of many of our people to feed ourselves and our tamariki is the dispossession of access to those resources that could and did provide for us in times where this dysfunctional system created contexts of vulnerability.

Why the fear of Māori representation?

02 December 2011

Responses to the issue of Māori representation suggest some deeply rooted fear amongst opponents.

Marama Davidson

Last Friday it was reported that the Whangarei District Council voted against Māori seats. Over the past month councils around the country have voted similarly except for Waikato Regional and Nelson City Councils.

In a Gisborne Herald column (16 Nov) Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie addressed the most common concerns in relation to Māori wards.

Gisborne District Council and all local authorities around the country would do well to engage in more informed and meaningful dialogue around this issue. Robust conversations among communities, iwi leaders, hapū members and councils would result in better understanding of what Māori wards could deliver.

One example of where better Māori representation could benefit everyone is in the area of waste water and sewerage. Currently around the country Māori groups (often alongside Pākehā groups) are fighting to uphold their responsibilities as guardians over natural resources.  Hapū are concerned with the long term well-being of rivers, lakes and harbours. Accountability to whānau requires hapū to protect that resource as a taonga, a source of food and spiritual nourishment. Yet hapū are battling short term planning that often favours cost-cutting and ‘developers’. At the core of these struggles is a reluctance to share power. There is a refusal to acknowledge expertise held by local Māori over hundreds of years of care for that resource. There have been ‘economic’ waste-water decisions made over 30 years ago that have done nothing but explode wider costs by ruining waters and ecosystems, eventually ending up in expensive litigation. Having proper hapū representation at the decision table 30 years ago may well have saved the natural resource and public finances. This would have been good for ALL of the community.

A letter to the editor in The Star (Dunedin) from Peter Aitken refers to Māori representation as ‘racist’. He further aligns the concept of Māori wards to the oppressive regime of South African apartheid. That apartheid system treated black people as subservient on the principle that they were lesser human beings. In fact through the ongoing denial of human rights, inhumane denigration, disgusting humiliation and outright murder, black people were treated as barely human at all. Affirming Māori rights in relation to natural resources guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi will not diminish any human rights for non-Māori. Māori representation will not subjugate non-Māori as lesser human beings. It does not deny non-Māori their dignity and existence, nor exclude their active participation in decision-making.
 Another flawed line is that Māori should reject ‘special treatment’ as patronising. It is that argument in itself which is patronising. It comes from a level of ignorance and prejudice that uses the term ‘special treatment’ in the first place. The issue is instead about rectifying the systemic structures that have denied Māori having real input into resource management issues that they have always been entitled to under the Treaty.

The current democratic process has failed to deliver Māori representation. Whatever the arguments, we are still left with the fact that Māori are not recognised as sovereign stakeholders. This sovereignty was guaranteed under the Whakaputanga Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Waitangi and endorsed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is the basis upon which Tangata Whenua agreed to welcome other peoples to our lands.

Whatever the model, it is Māori upholding their rights and responsibilities as hosts of this land which has to be the outcome. Māori representation is not an outcome in itself.

Māori cultural values and worldviews offer this country a rich source for planning and development. At the heart of these values are notions of kaitiaki and manaaki – to look after, care for, and treat with respect. Those are the endeavours of tino rangatiratanga/sovereignty and sustainable economic development.

 Those opponents of Māori representation need to come to an understanding that at the heart of the Treaty – is not what you think it is.

Marama Davidson

(Te Rarawa/Ngāpuhi/Ngāti Porou)


Thinking about voting……………some reflections on Elections 2011

Dr Leonie Pihama

Tonight the final of the seven Māori electorate debates screened on Māori Television. It was filmed live at Māori Television and one of our wahine from Te Wharepora Hou, Marama Davidson, was given the opportunity to ask a question from the floor. I must congratulate Māori Television for taking the debates to the electorates, it was a creative and thoughtful process that enabled our people to see candidates in action in their areas. Having whānau reflect on their views of not only candidates but on participation within the electoral system raised a range of views of access, participation and the relevance of the so-called ‘democratic system’ to many of our whānau who are struggling on a daily way to put food on the table, to ensure a home, to earn a living, to survive on benefits, to have the realities of youth reflected in party policies and actions. The questions from each electorate were grounded in what the people of each area saw as priorities, and they were asked from the voices of those of the regions. Questions from the floor were to the point and covered issues of child abuse, directions for Māori health, Māori educational access and options, the position of Māori women in leadership, and the impact of poverty on children and whānau. The line up of whānau, Sid and Karlos Diamond and fellow musician Pieter T, from South Auckland brought the relevance of the political system to the fore, with the emphasis on the need for parties to basically ‘mahia te mahi’, to do as they say they will do, ‘to practice what they preach’ and to promote their messages in ways that reach into our communities and speak directly to our whānau that are currently not engaged with the system. And in line with those thoughts, it really was no surprise that Sid opened the debate with a clear, direct question as to what the parties were going to do about child abuse within our communities. And so the scene was set for a debate that was to focus primarily on issues of whānau ora, the impact of poverty, Māori health, the ability to provide educational choices and options for whānau and tamariki, and the fundamental rights of Māori women to participate in decision making. All issues of social justice, all issues of collective rights, all issues of wellbeing for whānau, hapū, iwi and communities. Some would ask ‘who was the winner’, in fact there is an ongoing obsession with naming ‘a’ winner after political debates, and interestingly it is generally the exact media outlets that broadcast the debates that then define who the winner is. The Decision 11 Leaders Debate on TV3 was a prime example, with conservative, and racist, broadcaster Paul Henry declaring the Prime Minister John Key the winner of that debate, after declaring himself an objective commentator. Now that’s Tui Ad material! So I am not interested in the idea that after every Māori electorate debate that a winner has to be declared, what is more important and significant is that we now have a Māori broadcaster that will get out amongst our people and take the political process to the regions and engage with whānau and bring to the fore both the best and the worst of Māori politicians views. If we are to increase our collective political participation as a people then we need more active ‘taking it to the streets’ and not just during election year, but in the next three years there needs to be ways in which those who are elected are held accountable and where Māori politicians work across parties to ensure the overall wellbeing of our people. Perhaps, one of the most poignant statements tonight came from political commentator, Sandra Lee, who brought her many years of experience within parliament and left wing political parties to play when she stated quite emphatically that there is a ‘natural’ coalition that could be forged on the left with Labour, Greens, Māori Party and Mana, and that the debate tonight highlighted that. In fact, if we put personalities aside then that is clearly a view that can be taken not only from the seven Māori Television debates, but also from the TVNZ Minor Party Leaders debate. What the TVNZ debate showed was that within the six minor parties (Māori Party, Mana Party, Greens, Act, United and New Zealand First) all but two are led by Māori! That is a powerful sight to see, and I mean that in a very visual sense, as to see a line up of the five Maori leaders (Greens and Māori Party have co-leaders) of those parties is to see a very powerful line up of seasoned and articulate and passionate Māori political leaders. On that level alone we can as a people be incredibly inspired. So the question is then, how do we get the best of all of our people in ‘the house’. It seems highly likely that we will see at least four of these party leader, Tariana, Pita, Metiria and Hone return to parliament. Winston Peters is making his ‘Phoenix Rising From the Ashes’ return to the political scene, that is if we have any faith in political polls, or what are now referred to as (flawed) ‘landline’ polls. As is the case in election year, there are predictions galore however even just a few months ago there was little indication through the polling that there would be such a gradual move to the left. But then some would say ‘no one could predict the Rena oil spill’ – well no one except for iwi, environmentalists, greenpeace, anti-drilling movements, anti-mining activists and many others… and then few would have expected that the many manipulations, which some would call ‘lies’ from the Prime Minister on all kinds of things, including his privileged position in the 1% and his personal financial gains and his statements from meetings (which he never actually attended) about the downgrading of the countries economic status, would provide great material for a range of you tube downloads and facebook creations. And so here we are, 5 days out from a general election and things are not looking as definitively National as some predicted just a few weeks ago. So what does that mean for Māori. It means there is a potential and need for deeper strategic thinking in terms of where we put our ‘two ticks’. It means looking across all of the seven Māori electorates and the party votes associated with the Māori rolls and the potential for party votes from the General rolls that may go the way of Māori parties. In the 2008 election our people voted for their preferred candidate but gave the bulk of their party vote to Labour, even when their preferred candidate was from the Māori Party. Labour received on average around 45-57% of the party vote. What that shows is that our people clearly hedge our bets when it comes to the Māori seats and that on the whole the votes are split. It also means that we are still not getting the full value of the two votes that we have available to us. In some ways this is a reflection on the limited information being provided in terms of the party vote and its actual impact. So lets look at two examples of how the party vote could make an impact. If Hone Harawira wins the Tai Tokerau seat, which is highly likely in my view, then around a 1.5% party vote could see Annette Sykes in parliament irrespective of whether she wins Waiariki. If the Māori Party return four members into parliament then around a 3.6% party vote could see the inclusion of Kaapua Smith. So a conscious party voting process would see at least two more Māori women in parliament, and that has to be good for us all! Similarly, if we look at the Labour Party list we will see that there are a range of Māori politicians on the list who, even on current polling numbers, would be returned to Parliament. So there appear to be some strategic options for our people, they are just not clearly voiced. What we need are some political strategists to give us a clear overview of those numbers and the possibilities for our people and we need that before next Saturday!! For me, Sandra Lee’s comment that there is a potential left-wing coalition right here, right now is critical and we need to see that as a real possibility and use it to inspire and motivate our people to the polls. And it will all be finally dependent on where we chose to put our votes, and whether we are willing to move away from the idea that we vote for a party because it’s the party we have always voted for… or if we vote in ways that will mean we have MMP not only retained but increased to reflect its true meaning for us as a people … More Māori in Parliament. Nga mihi!!

Dr Leonie Pihama

What a real revolution would look like!

Marama Davidson

Around the world many are rising against oppressive neo-liberal policies that benefit only 1% of all people. An “occupation” on Wall Street in New York has inspired other cities and countries to take action against this repression. A slogan borne from this protest has been”We are the 99%”. Aotearoa (New Zealand) now joins this movement in solidarity.

This is what I wish our country would say.

“We are with you now Tangata Whenua (People of the Land). We are now ALL fighting what you have been fighting since we arrived on your shores. We join with you to say that this system does not treat people or the earth kindly. We echo your call that this way of treading on people is not of Aotearoa. It is not our way. We stand in solidarity with the world against a regime where only  1% are the lucky ones. We are 85% who realise that we must join with indigenous people who have long fought these issues. Then our number will truly reflect 99%. We remember that your responsibility as guardians of these lands was stripped from you under this system we now oppose. We acknowledge that to this day you fight for the status of authority and caretaker that you lost on your lands of ancestral origin. We ask for your blessing that we may all become better caretakers together. We understand we can only gain STRENGTH from standing with you, from the outset. We realise that we will ALL benefit when we collectively affirm your unique responsibility as hosts of this land. We understand that we need not fear your voice anymore.  We are with you now Tangata Whenua. Let us fight this fight together.”

Marama Davidson (Te Rarawa, Ngaapuhi, Ngaatiporou)

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 )