I’ve only been back in New Zealand for a few weeks and already I’m sick of hearing about “the principles of the treaty“.
A typical example is today’s visit by a UN representative on indigenous peoples James Anaya, who said from what he has observed during his visit to New Zealand, treaty principles are too vulnerable to political discretion. Mr Anaya used the example of Te Reo Māori being made an official language, yet not made compulsory in schools.
Is learning the Aboriginal language compulsory in Australia? Are the Swedes all learning Sami? Are any of the native American languages compulsory in the US? I don’t see the Chinese making Tibetan a compulsory language or the Northern Iraqi’s making Kurdish compulsory. Who is this bozo and what medication is he being prescribed?
Of course this prompted yet another solo protest. A chap named Ropata Paora parked a beaten up old Isuzu 4×4 across the only road leading to and from One tree hill in Auckland. The 4×4 had been hastily painted up to resemble a UN vehicle and Paora stated: “Without the treaty, they’d be illegal aliens. So unless they acknowledge the treaty, my korero [speech] to them is ‘I’m not the trespasser, you are.’”.
Amusingly, the police cited Paora as the 4×4 had at least one deflated/unsafe tyre and no warrant of fitness (the NZ version of an MOT) since 2007.
While clowns like Paora are at least entertaining, it’s ironic to see how time and political fashion have turned on the treaty of Waitangi. When I emigrated from New Zealand almost 20 years ago, Māori activists were loudly proclaiming the treaty to be “a fraud”. Two decades later, protesters like Paora are complaining that it isn’t being acknowledged.
What exactly is not being acknowledged?
The Treaty of Waitangi is actually a very simple document and contains only three articles:-
- Article 1 puts all of New Zealand under the rule of the British crown.
- Article 2 guarantees the Māori chiefs their existing lands and prevents them being sold to anyone but the crown. This was intended to protect Māori from the kinds of shady land purchases which had alienated indigenous people in other parts of the world from their land with minimal compensation.
- Article 3 guarantees to all Māori the same rights as all other British subjects.
While it’s true that complications arose (the most major one being the differences between the English and Māori versions of the treaty) and that some Māori got the shitty end of the stick in a handful of dodgy real estate deals, the fact is that this all happened over 170 years ago. Decades of discussion and billions of dollars have changed hands. From the Iwi Trust to Tāngata whenua, a huge range of social initiatives have been funded, all designed to redress the wrongs done to the self-proclaimed “indigenous” people of this land.
I have 3 words for the likes of Paora; boo fecking hoo!
It’s way past the time to put this ancient crap to bed, stop thinking of ourselves as members of this ethnic group or that tribe/part of society, class and what not, stop playing the race card or waving the flag of victim-hood and start thinking of ourselves as New Zealanders first and foremost.
And maybe the first step, should be either re-defining the term: indigenous or re-examining it’s use in the current context…
originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native:
By that definition, anyone born here or even those who have lived here for a major portion of their lives are…indigenous.
We have real economic, social and environmental issues we should be concentrating on. We should be focusing on creating and maintaining our schools, roads, hospitals, on global economic and environmental issues and how we can play our part in making a better world for ourselves and each other. Instead, we remain focused on the things that divide us instead of those that unite us.
Let’s be the change that we want to see in the world…
Let’s ALL be indigenous