Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day (Bikini Day) 01 March 2013

33822-apNo te parau tia, no te parau mau, no te tiamaraa, e tu, e tu – For justice, for truth and for independence, wake up, stand up !

Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day (‘Bikini’ Day), 1 March, marks the anniversary of the US ‘Bravo’ nuclear bomb detonation at Bikini Atoll in 1954. The explosion gouged out a crater more than 200 feet deep and a mile across, melting huge quantities of coral which were sucked up into the atmosphere together with vast volumes of seawater. The resulting fallout caused widespread contamination in the Pacific.

The people in the Marshall Islands, and elsewhere in the Pacific, were used as human guinea pigs in an obscene racist experiment to ‘progress’ the insane pursuit of nuclear weapons supremacy.

Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day is a day to remember that the arrogant colonialist mindset which allowed, indeed encouraged, the horror mentioned above continues today and that the Pacific remains neither nuclear free nor independent. Today we acknowledge and remember those who have suffered and died in the struggle for independence around the Pacific; those who have opposed colonisation in its many forms and paid for their opposition with their health and life; and those who have suffered and died as a result of the nuclear weapons states’ use of the Pacific for nuclear experimentation, uranium mining, nuclear weapons testing and nuclear waste dumping.

We remember  France  as a brutal coloniser of Te Ao Maohi (Tahiti) carried out a total of 193 nuclear tests  from 1966 to 1996. On  Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day we remember that the arrogant colonialist mindset which allowed and, indeed encouraged, the horror mentioned above . Today  the Pacific remains neither nuclear free nor independent.

Earlier this month the Pacific governments of Tuvalu, Nauru and the Solomon Islands supported moves to re-inscribe Maohi Nui into the United Nations’ decolonization list.This followed a resolution of the Melanesian Spearhead group in Nadi last year to support self-determination in the French territory.

France, Australia and New Zealand are opposed to the move.  Today we ask  the government of New Zealand why did they endorse the Declaration of the rights of Indigenous Peoples when they are opposed to the Self determination of the Indigenous peoples of Tahiti ? The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clearly states and affirms that Indigenous Peoples have the to self-determination, to  their lands and territories, to  their cultural identities, to self-representation and to their unique values and beliefs ‘

For too long Maohi Nui ( Tahiti)  has been fighting for her freedom and it’s time we, as a Pacific family, stand up with a united voice to offer our support.”It is critical that we see the connections so that we  as Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific  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.

(Te Wharepora Hou wahine collective.)

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

Marama

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)