catherine delahunty with greens at waitangi

Waitangi 2017 – in the strong light

This year the North was bathed in heat and light, the hills dry and creeks low. On the 5th of February I arrived with the Green Party ope at Waitangi and we went on to Te Tii with Labour, it was different without the media but not necessarily worse as the kōrero was more ceremonial than political. The marae sets the protocol and that is their right, the secret to enjoying this experience is listening and accepting the unpredictable dynamics.

It was a hot afternoon punctuated by meeting many old friends and Te Tiriti activists. This included meeting West Papuan leader Rev Socratez Yoman and local West Papua supporters Te Rana Porter from Te Tai Tokerau and Brian Turner from Christchurch.

Jan Logie and I were lucky enough to hear Dr Margaret Mutu speak on the issue of constitutional transformation, the flawed nature of Te Tiriti settlements and her people’s bottom lines. It was also great to hear the younger leaders speak about their rejection of the Westminster political system and their passion for a transformed world based on indigenous rangatiratanga.

Catherine at Waitangi
Catherine Delahunty at Waitangi

The saddest part of the day was listening to some of the people from the hīkoi against P, kōrero about its hideous impact on whānau.

Meanwhile the hard working Northland Greens and some of our great younger Greens from all over the motu were promoting our petition calling for universal te reo Māori in schools to the visitors to the stall in the camp ground.

Later on we had a beer and lay down in the sun by the bay, where the navy frigate was hanging out next to the cruise ship ‘Pacific Princess’, whose captain had warned passengers not to risk visiting Waitangi because of rumoured protests. These two ships looked like the prophecy of the tupuna that great vessels would come from the ocean and the world would never be the same. Hence the discussions at Waitangi since 1807 about how to deal with lawless Pākehā coming with their own agendas.

We got up at 4am on February 6 and joined the Dawn Service to support our Co-leader James Shaw participate in the karakia. The dawn was cool and starry and the sheer beauty of Waitangi revealed itself gently. I was inspired by the karakia for Te Tiriti by people like Judge Joe Williams who told us bluntly that Hobson was wrong, we are not one people, we are tangata whenua and tangata tiriti, in a relationship not a merger. I was not inspired by the police claiming that Te Tiriti is a core value for them, it’s not credible at this point of our history. Nor was I inspired by Jenny Shipley speaking because I remember what she did to beneficiary whānau.

Later we returned to the Treaty grounds on the hīkoi supporting various kaupapa relating to the wellbeing of whanau, decolonisation and justice.

The heat was blazing and the challenges were hardly threatening, Waitangi is a smaller crowd than it used to be with less people engaged in political protest. But in the strong light it was clear that the Crown is still desperately holding on to power that the rangatira in 1840 never ceded. This story cannot be full and final.

To be continued….