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Redefining Indigenous

BOP Times cartoon (republished under the fair use terms of international copyright law)

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.

What the…?

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:-

  1. Article 1 puts all of New Zealand under the rule of the British crown.
  2. 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.
  3. 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…

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of: indigenous is:-

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 smile

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6 Comments for: Redefining Indigenous

  1. Visitor Comment # 1

    My family hails from the Chatham Islands, which is home to the handful of remaining Moriori people – a people slaughtered and all but wiped out by the Taranaki Maori about 150 years ago. I don’t spend all my time whinging like a milk-sop pommie about it. I just get on with it.

  2. Author Comment # 2

    The Wikipedia Article on the Moriori people has more information on this incident.

    This is also precisely my point; This terrible event is also in the distant past. I’m not saying it should be forgotten, but just like the wrongs done to the Maori by some European settlers (who in turn had probably been wronged in some way – it wasn’t lords and ladies that emigrated here after all) it has to be forgiven if we are to move on as a nation.

    Until we can put this stuff behind us, we will never find our true identity as New Zealanders.

  3. Visitor Comment # 3
    piripi : (Visitor)

    Different day same arguments plagiarised from elsewhere. Nothing new with anything you say. 35 chiefs signed the bullshit treaty you allude to written in English – which was[nt] worth the paper it was written on like other fraudulent documents; the other written in Maori signed by over 500 chiefs and backed by international law.

    Moriori were conquered; Maori were not. Do Moriori still own their land? I think they do.

    If the UN says Maori are indigenous and someone who has just ‘come back into the country’ doesn’t like it, then hard shit. Seriously, you’d be happier staying away but my guess is you’d transfer your problems with other races to the other country. Such is the nature of bigots. Paora FTW!

  4. Visitor Comment # 4
    Jeff Rawlins : (Visitor)


    Different idiot, same bullshit strategy. Every time anyone dares to question the treaty status quo, the race card gets played with the use of words like racist and bigot. Whats bigoted about their opinion? As far as I can see all the guy(?) has done is point out a few inconsistencies in the UN argument and lampoon some some silly bugger who gets his face slapped on TV.

  5. Author Comment # 5

    Piripi / Jeff

    I merely pointed out that no other country that I am aware of makes the speaking of the language of it’s ‘indigenous’ people compulsory, including the United States, where the UN is based. If the basis of making Te Reo Māori compulsory in schools is because it is an ‘official’ language, then we should also apply the same rule to making the learning of sign language compulsory. It too is an official language in New Zealand. Do you support making learning sign language compulsory at school too?

    I’m not sure where the plagiarism accusation comes from; Just because it’s been said before doesn’t mean it’s been plagiarized. I certainly quoted and linked to all points of reference in the article. The Moriori were ‘conquered’? All but obliterated appears to be closer to the truth. These days we have a word for that; genocide.

    I do rather resent the accusation that I have a problem with “races”. What I have a problem with (and I’m pretty sure I’m far from alone here) is the culture of ongoing victim hood. I understand that there are inconsistencies in the English and Māori versions of the treaty and as a result, there have been real issues which needed to be addressed.

    But even a rough count of the financial compensation paid since the first publicly acknowledged land claims raised after the Bastion point protests, pretty quickly gets measured in billions. A nation of around 4 million people simply can’t afford to keep stumping up this volume of cash, to assuage some outmoded sense of post-colonial guilt. Furthermore, ongoing compensation does nothing to settle grievances, promote national harmony or even move us any closer to any form of mutually acceptable settlement.

    Aside from financial compensation issues, New Zealand as a country has made a greater effort to preserve the culture of the Māori people, than pretty much any other nation has made to preserve the cultures of it’s own indigenous peoples. It’s far from perfect and mistakes have undeniably been made, but I’ve traveled to virtually every continent on the planet and nowhere else have I seen the living culture of a distinct indigenous minority so actively integrated into the mainstream of the majority culture and society. In almost every other country, the indigenous minority have been marginalized to a far greater extent, sometimes to the point where the general population don’t even know they exist (an example would be the Ainu people of Japan).

    And finally, whether I’ve lived here or abroad, this is my country as much as anyone else who was born here. I will therefore continue to express my opinions and if you don’t like it, then ‘hard shit’ yourself!

  6. Visitor Comment # 6

    Is this the same bloke do you think?

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