Most of the racist semi-abusive letters and emails that we receive at the Greens seem to be from older people. How can I tell? Possibly it’s the handwritten letters, usually from Tauranga or Canterbury, in the formal style we were taught at school many years ago. I answer these politely as the Pākehā Te Tiriti spokesperson, under no illusion that my arguments will be well received. I comfort myself that these views will die out with an older generation, but then along comes Mike Hosking and we are right back were we started. We are back in the John Key la-la land of “peaceful settlement”.
In this fantasy country, colonisation via violence never happened and a grateful indigenous population signed away its sovereignty to a tiny group of foreigners. Majority rules, but of course anybody who works hard and wants to can get elected into local democratic institutions. Those Māori communities who want Māori seats are apparently just not very good at campaigning and if they tried harder they would be elected.
Back in reality, Māori are grossly underrepresented in local government because, although some stand, those who vote in local elections do not vote for them very often, unless they shut up about tangata whenua rights. It ‘s also because iwi and hapu did not sign away their rangatiratanga and want a proper Te Tiriti based relationship with local Government.
New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd came to understand just how unfair the current system is, and he tried to take a step forward for his whole community, not just for Pākehā interests. Māori seats are not the promise of Te Tiriti but they are an interim strategy. Andrew received the toxic response of the uninformed and I have no doubt it was personal as well political. When Pākehā speak out on racism in this country we get a tiny inkling of the daily racism endured by tangata whenua. However, we need to do it and we need to use every opportunity. That is why I am in the Andrew Judd Fan Club; because challenging racism and working for a positive change in the power relationships based on Te Tiriti is the responsibility of all political leaders.