On the ground in Waitangi

I am always astonished by the contrast between the media reporting on Waitangi and the experience on the ground. This year was no exception. There has been a lot of media talk about Hone Harawira’s “State of the Maori Nation” speech. Actually, he was a member of a panel which included Metiria Turei and Parekura Horomia as well Maori leaders outside of Parliament and they were all asked to talk about the state of the Maori nation.

There were many interesting events in the political tent at the camping ground next to Te Tii Marae including discussion on constitutional change, rangatahi leadership, mining and oil drilling, the Trans-Pacific partnership and the role of the iwi leaders group. A book called “The State of Maori Rights” by Professor Margaret Mutu was launched and Metiria did us proud in these discussions.

It was also the 40th anniversary of the founding of Nga Tamatoa, the activist group which changed our nation for the better forever, but who would know from listening to the Pakeha news?

As a Pakeha for whom Waitangi is about our side of the bargain and the responsibility of the citizen under the Crown commitments to Te Tiriti I looked around to see who else had come to Waitangi to support our role. It was great to catch up with John Minto over the two days and he was warmly acknowledged by people from the last forty years of Nga Tamatoa for his commitment to justice.

I had the chance to network with that courageous woman Louise Nicholas who comes to Waitangi out of her commitment to a better country as well as to support the kaupapa of an end to rape and violence against women. Her position is not easy given that some tangata whenua media commentators have supported Clint Rickards and denied the validity of her experience with the police force in Rotorua under his watch.

It was great to see veteran photographer Gil Hanly still in the front line of recording activism and Te Tiriti issues.  One of “Literacy Aotearoa’s” Pakeha leaders Peter Isaacs and I had a quick chat about the parlous state of adult literacy and the continual stress as funding is cut by this Government.

The hikoi to the Treaty Grounds this year was focused on stopping the oil drilling and mining of the coast, the seabed and the mountains, with the foreshore and seabed debacle at the heart of the issues. The Greens were part of this and many other events. Our stall was very well attended. Very few National and Labour MPs hung around after the powhiri, and the National Party seemed to have offended manawhenua protocol by not eating with hosts in their anxiety to be somewhere else.

But we were there and we will be there. As Russel said in his speech at Te Tii the Greens had four principles like the fingers on a hand, but the thumb we grew was placing Te Tiriti in our constitution in 2002. He said that without a thumb the hand cannot grasp anything very well. Good work the team!

21 thoughts on “On the ground in Waitangi

  1. If you look back through my writing you will see that I have been criticizing unelected dictators, including those like Suharto, Mubarak and Standard and Poors for many years.

  2. “I am not a right-winger.”

    Fair enough – ‘right’ and ‘left’ are terms of limited value anyway. So where do you stand on political violence? Are you actually opposed to it on principle, or only when you disagree with the particular instance? You seemed pretty positive aboput the use of political violence in Afghanistan.

    “I brought up Labour because you’re keen to damn Key, but not Labour”

    Actually, I damn Labour every chance I get. I used Key as an example because he’s currently prime minister. Labour was just as willing to employ political violence and snuggle up to dictatorships when they were in power.

    “Yet I wonder why the left in NZ attacks the PM, but for a very long time ignored Egypt, ignored Labour’s friendship with its ruling party?”

    I don’t think the ‘left’ ignored Egypt anymore than the ‘right’.

  3. Sam: I am not a right-winger. I brought up Labour because you’re keen to damn Key, but not Labour when it had a cozier relationship with Mubarak than the Nats. I don’t think Key should express a view on Egypt’s government other than to support greater political and civil liberties for Egyptian citizens. Yet I wonder why the left in NZ attacks the PM, but for a very long time ignored Egypt, ignored Labour’s friendship with its ruling party? Egypt is now convenient and trendy as a human rights cause when Egyptians stand up, not when they spend decades being tortured and abused whilst Labour dines at the same table as its ruling party. The Greens are not the main culprits of this of course.

    Keith: No, dictatorship is not ok, ever. I wrote on Pinochet when he died, that he was not to be mourned. The Western support for dictatorships in the Cold War was a very dark blot on their records. It doesn’t excuse the China and Russian support for regimes that were similarly evil over that entire period. My point on this thread is that Nga Tamatoa warmly embraced the latter, which was simply evil.

    SPC: My point on power was in response to the comment that racism is about power. It appeared to excuse Maori acting in a racist fashion because they lack power, my response being that a Maori MP has significant power relative to almost all other citizens.

  4. libertyscott you claimed that the thread whitewashed out the history of Hone. But Hone is not the topic, and your version of his political history is simply irrelevant to it.

    As to the power of an individual MP to impose on others in any fashion, racist or otherwise, what power? Fear of an individuals power to use a platform to advocate is fear of liberty/free speech etc.

  5. Libertyscott : with regard to “murderous dictatorships committed to overthrowing (an) elected government” – is it ok to have your elected government overthrown by a “democracy” which then installs a murderous dictator ? (to name but one e.g. general pinochet)

  6. “You can’t deflect attention from that by pointing out that others made mistakes too…”

    “John Key wasn’t in politics when Hosni Mubarak became Egyptian President, but Labour was in Socialist International with the Egyptian ruling party until this year.”

    Are you bringing up the Labour party to deflect attention from Key’s mistakes? If not, why bring up the Labour party?

  7. “Sam: Moral equivalency between seeking to overthrow an elected government in a liberal democracy and fighting against a totalitarian theocratic movement that engages in international terrorism. ”

    I never suggested thse things were morally equivalent. You criticised Harawira because he “talked of political violence”. If your position is that you agree with some political violence, but disagree with the particular political violence you claim Harawira supports, you should have said so.

    Like many right-wingers you support political violence (but don’t call it violence) when you agree with it, but claim moral opposition to violence when you don’t.

  8. SPC: A “version” of history? So which part of supporting political violence is wrong?

    Of course a lone MP has more power than the average person. With access to publicity, power to influence future laws, to vote for and against them. Even not being an MP he is a public figure, who gets listened to and is influential. 99% of the population do not have any of that.

    Sam: Moral equivalency between seeking to overthrow an elected government in a liberal democracy and fighting against a totalitarian theocratic movement that engages in international terrorism.

    Catherine: I think you’ll find John Key wasn’t in politics when Hosni Mubarak became Egyptian President, but Labour was in Socialist International with the Egyptian ruling party until this year. Nga Tamatoa backed brutal torturing dictatorships before Mubarak and Hussein were in power, and the USSR backed Saddam Hussein extensively as well.

    You are cheering on Nga Tamatoa, which sided itself with murderous dictatorships committed to overthrowing New Zealand’s elected government and instituting one-party state Marxist-Leninist dictatorship. You can’t deflect attention from that by pointing out that others made mistakes too, yet somehow claim moral highground on human rights.

  9. A lot of Hone’s support base is youth in Auckland it had been said, alongside his support across Northland.

    Hone is against free trade, supports unions and the minimum wage rising and has stood up for environmental issues, as the maori party was ment to do before it got to close to Act, National and the corporate influences that dominate the unaccountable Iwi Leadership Group that pushed the maori party into signing National’s useless ETS.

    The more maori and environmmentalists, and unions and small business etc work together the healthier our land and people will be.

    Kia kaha Hone, and good on the greens for their mahi in Aotearoa.

  10. I agree with Sam and if you note today’s media release Hone’s says he hasn’t always said the right things in the right way and has made mistakes. It would be great to debate content of the speeches because content is at the heart of this current difficulty and for all small parties a coalition arrangement is fraught with contradictions and vulnerabilities. We could bandy around who has supported murderous regimes in their time starting with John Key and Mubarak and the US Govt support for Sadaam Hussein while convenient.

  11. Oddly for me, I saw the TV news coverage of Waitangi and was struck that, amidst all the analysis of the rift between Sharples and Harawira, and discussion of whether Harawira’s ‘State of the Maori Nation’ speech was a deliberate affront to Sharples, and blah de blah blah, there wasn’t a single word on the content of either Harawira’s or Sharples speech.

    Why aren’t the views of a couple of high profile politicians on the state of Maoridom considered newsworthy? Doesn’t this have some significance for the future of this country – rather more so than a political spat?

    “And what about his comments on who his children could go out with?”

    As I recall, he pointed out that he wouldn’t feel comfortable with people who don’t understand his family’s culture and customs. Unenlightened perhaps, but not racist. Of course, lots of people don’t understand other people’s culture, but one of the difficulties of dealing with Pakeha is that they often don’t think they need to understand other cultures – assuming that the other party will adapt to the Pakeha way of doing things, or sometimes don’t even understand that the people they are dealing with do have a different culture.

    “The recent past rhetoric of Harawira, has talked of political violence in an approving way, nice that.”

    Don’t know what your referring to, but he’s in good company. I note John Key has recently extended the SAS’s operations in Afghanistan, which would seem to be a stamp of approval for political violence. Matter of fact, I can’t think of an MP who hasn’t backed political violence (in practice, rather than in theory).

  12. libertyscott – you’re the one bringing a version of the Hone and family history into the discussion, when this is not the thread topic. And are you seriously arguing that a lone MP in isolation from his own party us in a position of power?

    john-ston – you do mean would prefer his children go out with rather than could go out with. There are many parents with preferences – including someone of the same religious group etc.

  13. Toad said “Racism is about power relationship”, which of course raises the question as to why an MP, in a party, in the governing coalition is somehow less powerful than an average non-Maori citizen.

    Nga Tamatoa spent many years being sycophants to the murdering dictatorships of the communist bloc. A piece of history that Catherine conveniently whitewashes out. Hone Harawira has celebrated the Cuban dictatorship, not surprising since its treatment of mental patients is apparently not far different from how his mother treated them in Whare Paia. The recent past rhetoric of Harawira, has talked of political violence in an approving way, nice that.

  14. Just to elaborate on Kerry Thomas’ comment Hone described Mr. Key as being “The smiling assassin”.

    I have to admit that to be a very astute observation of human nature.

  15. But that does not make him racist.

    And what about his comments on who his children could go out with?

    Racism is about power relationship

    Racism is all about discriminating on the basis of race. Don’t believe me? Look up your convenient dictionary.

  16. In a way, it would be a pity if Hone stood as an independent as this would weaken the Maori party. Although Sharples has a point that remaining in a coalition with National is the only way to effectively get change to happen, I would question what change has really occurred that has benefited the Maori people through this liaison.

    It would appear that the Maori party will lose all integrity and credibility if Hone leaves or is expelled because he is speaking out against policies that are detrimental to his people (and the rest of us for that matter). One has to question the validity of a party that only stays in power for the sake of that power when for all intents and purposes it is just for show.

  17. If, as is looking more likely, there is a split in the Maori Party, the question for the Green Party is whether they can form “pre election post election” relations with one or both parties. In the case of Hone Harawira, there is the issue of whether he runs as an independent or as part of Maori electorate ticket (with a party list of these candidates or including others).

  18. @Kerry Thomas 7:06 PM

    I agree that Hone is principled, but I don’t agree he is racist. I go way back with Hone: He Taua, Bastion Point, Springbok Tour, 1980s Waitangi protests.

    I agree that Hone mistrusts Pakeha, and finds it difficult to relate to Pakeha. I think he has good reason to do that, given the way Pakeha have exertedpower over his people.

    But that does not make him racist. Racism is about power relationship, and despite his political visibility, Hone still has stuff all of it in the bigger picture. He knows that, and that is why he is now being persecuted by those in the Maori Party who fallaciously believe that tino Rangatiratanga can be achieved by snuggling up to John Key and Gerry Brownlee.

    And I think there are a small number of Pakeha, and I hope I am one of them, whom Hone does trust because of our demonstrated commitment over the years to genuinely honouring Te Tiriti.

    Sorry, Kerry, but Hone has the analysis of the Maori Party’s liaison with the Nats spot-on.

    I think we in the Greens should support him. There is more to this than ethnicity, and there is also more to this than class.

    Pity is, the likes of Chris Trotter don’t get that. But I think Hone does.

  19. It is great to see someone from a political party other than the Greens standing true to the principles their party was founded on.

    Kia kaha, Hone! Ka whawhai tonu matou. Ake, ake, ake!

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