The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Monday, October 18, 2004

hikoi II - the return

Well very interesting this was - I missed the first one (shame, i've always wanted to walk across the harbour bridge) so even though I was feeling moderately poorly i was up and at 'em at a disgustingly early hour for Saturday (9am).

What was basically a first for me was being a white face in a mostly brown protest. My activist history has mainly been around student stuff - free education campaigning etc. It took a little while to adjust, not so much to being one of a small number of honkies, but to knowing that this meant more to most of the other protesters than it did to me. And that they knew a lot more about it than i did. I went with other PC white breads - one was even a Brit - and there was absolutely no hostility towards us. Our Maori friends were just stoked to see us.

It was a cheerful march - singing, chanting, chatting. If you accidentally walked into someone or stepped on their heel you would apologise and they would apologise back. Lots of kids, some really great placards - my favourite, which unfortunately I didn't get a shot of, simply said "Whakarongo" and was carried by a young boy, probably about 10.

The media coverage of this hikoi has been much diminished, and with Tamihere in the news I guess the quota for covering "maori" politics is already met each day. But this foreshore and seabed issue is not just one for the tangata whenua - those of us who are tau iwi are only able to be here because of the Treaty - we have no rights without it. We have had generations of ignoring and dishonouring the Treaty and if we continue in my generation then we are only creating yet more grievances for our children to (try to) solve.


Jordan said...

"those of us who are tau iwi are only able to be here because of the Treaty - we have no rights without it."

I think this is a fascinating statement, and it's not one I am quite in agreement with, I don't think. If there had been no Treaty, we would still be here. If it had not been, we would have the rights we do now probably.

How do you explain the apparent impossibility of your words?

Don't take this the wrong way. The Treaty is to me the foundation of the nation, but the nation it is founding needs to be quite different from what we have, or from what extremists on both sides of the debate would like to see. If the Treaty proves inadequate to building a just and durable settlement between tangata whenua and tauiwi - and it doesn't have a good track record so far - the only way to achieve justice is going to be through a new covenant. That will be a challenge for our generation, alright...

On the foreshore legislation, my basic view is that it should be withdrawn. The matter should have been allowed to follow through the courts to its conclusion.

span said...

Mallard's point when he said perhaps we should use the term "tangata tiriti" was that those who are not Maori have effectively been able to settle here because of the Treaty (Te Tiriti). If you think about the way that things probably should work, if we honoured the Treaty, it would be a matter of negotiation between Maori (in fact between hapu, not iwi, as it was hapu who signed, not iwi) and the Government, and all the different ethnicities that are now living in NZ should feed into the Govt, rather than interacting directly with Maori, in terms of decision-making. (This makes more sense if you can draw it.)

i agree that without the Treaty things might be as they are now for people like you and me. but they would probably be worse for Maori, as they would effectively have been treated as the Aboriginals in Australia were, ie their title and existence largely ignored. While there have been many grievances over the years which have treated Maori as lesser citizens the Treaty ought to have ensured that this didn't happen. It hasn't been honoured but it has probably acted as something of a brake. Without the Treaty Maori may well have fought back and expelled settlers, or come to hapu by hapu arrangements with individual groups. Certainly when the Treaty was signed Maori were in the position of power to do these things.

i'm not quite sure why my words are so impossible - i'm just pointing out that from an international law perspective we would have no legal right to be here without the Treaty. whether that would make any difference beyond legal niceties and the morality of the situation is another matter. But for me it's important to know that i'm here legally. (Although whether my property title is ultimately legal is something i can't bear to investigate yet).

Lewis said...

Well, I disagree. In my view the Treaty is an affirmation of rights, not a confirmation of them. Europeans where legally able to settle in Aotearoa prior to 1840, so long as the hapu (or iwi) agreed to it - the case of Ngati Toa here in Wellington is one example of this. Of course, after 1840, the only document of legal standing was the Treaty.