by Catherine Delahunty
Waitangi this year had many highlights overlooked by the media. Metiria, Kennedy, Denise, David, myself and other young Greens and local volunteers spent two days in the sun, meeting all kinds of people and listening to the flaxroots and grassroots voices of our nation.
David Clendon spoke extremely well in the powhiri for the Greens and Labour. Metiria was one of the party leaders contributing a prayer for the nation at the dawn service and did us proud.
She was the only woman to do this and she did not forget women, children and our planet. We all spent time collecting signatures for the “Keep Our Assets” petition. It was an easy task.
I listened to some brilliant korero from younger people in the Forum tent talking about their housing issues in Glen Innes, the scourge of pokies, and a positive plan for the future based on Te Tiriti.
Water was a hot topic led by the Maori Council as are the constitutional review issues. The Greens were helping with the sale of a remarkable book “Ngapuhi Speaks” which is an independent report on the Ngapuhi Nui Tonu claim.
The reason “Ngapuhi Speaks” was written was because kuia and kaumatua were not satisfied with the Crown defined Waitangi Tribunal process
This collective effort takes us back to the 17th century when Ngapuhi first began to discuss a response to Pakeha and clear establishes that “sovereignty” however you define it has never been ceded by this iwi. There are many stories clearly told in this fascinating report.
I also had many great conversations with young people on their gardening projects, their youth work and their passion for the environment. The Greens marched on the short hikoi against domestic and sexual violence saddened by the banners with photographs of murdered young women of the north.
Waitangi is a place for reunion and learning, I met the Cuban embassy, saw Inuit people from the Arctic and many other visitors taking the opportunity to participate in the festivities. From the waka events to the sports and food it is a unique atmosphere. Perhaps the most powerful moment for me was listening to a spoken poem by Antonio Te Maioha about the Crown hanging his Tupuna Maketu aged 14 years in a jail in what is now Queen St .
I don’t know what the Iwi Leaders Forum discussed. I don’t think the issues around protocol at Te Tii marae are my business but I love Waitangi.
Open to all the good, the bad and the ugly issues are highlighted. The promise of “He Wakaputanga” ( the Declaration of Independence by the United Tribes of Aotearoa) and Te Tiriti o Waitangi continues for those willing to listen and engage.