Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mike Butler: Waitangi up close and personal

The melodramas of Waitangi Day 2013 are fading fast, thankfully, but since I was there to witness this year’s storm in a Tiriti-cup, I can offer some observations. For instance, why should a prime minister, any prime minister, feel obligated to spend 1hr40mins to travel 861km to Waitangi, perhaps stay overnight, and spend another 1hr40mins traveling 1km from the Copthorne or the Kingsgate to face all manner of insults from the ragtag bunch of revellers at the rickety Te Tiriti o Waitangi marae?

If the current prime minister believes he is fronting up to “Maoridom”, the term windbag so-called Maori so-called leaders pompously pronounce, then he is clearly mistaken. Te Tiriti o Waitangi marae no more represents Maoridom than the Havelock North Bowling Club represents “Pakeha-dom”.

The Waitangi marae is that of the primary sub-tribe Ngati Rahiri, which belongs to Nga Puhi, the most populous tribe in New Zealand with 123,000 people. The Nga Puhi of the early 19th century were the first to use guns against other tribes, and became the pre-eminent mass murderers of that time, killing thousands upon thousands of non-Nga Puhi.

Those were the days of perpetual warfare, cannibalism, and slavery. Nga Puhi chiefs also signed the treaty, ceded their sovereignty, and sold their land.

Some of the people at Waitangi marae this week could trace their ancestry to the 19th century chiefs who did all that stuff, but many would also descend from other tribes, some would have great-grandparents who were slaves, and the appearance of names like Hadfield and Rankin indicate extensive ngati pakeha ancestry as well.

Therefore, the elected prime minister, who supposedly represents everyone in New Zealand, including the people gathered at the Waitangi marae, is visiting the motley Nga Puhi and ngati-everything-else crew at that marae under the illusion that they represent Maori. If the prime minister is under the illusion he is fronting up to a “treaty partner”, he is clearly mistaken.

Next, the Harawira hijinks.

What country in the world would let an obstinate, 81-year-old woman superannuitant make the prime minister of the government that pays for her every need wait for 40 minutes? The silence from any Waitangi marae chief or governing body proves that the marae is either dysfunctional or complicit.

A faintly rational explanation is that it could be aimed at catching votes for the dimwits who support her son’s Mana Party. More likely, the stunt was simply about intimidation, manipulation, and control – the defining characteristics of treaty politics.

Why did Prime Minister John Key not say: “we are here, we can come in now, if access is denied we are gone.” By failing to do that, Key is perhaps single-handedly destroying the dignity that should accompany the prime minister, so that any subsequent person in that role who fawns less will be accused of delivering a rebuff.

The news media can take a bit of bollocking on this point. They seized upon “grannygate” as the point of difference in this otherwise quiet and boring Waitangi Day build-up. That created the environment for the mad cow mayhem.

News editors could argue that it was news and therefore needed to be reported. But the news media, for whatever reason, is selective. During the entire wait outside the Waitangi marae, while the Harawira matriarch was plying her trade, Treatygate protester John Ansell was chatting with reporters who knew who he was and what he represented.

When Key finally arrived, Ansell held up a Treatygate banner and shouted out “When are you going to treat New Zealand as a democracy, John?” Cameras were rolling, and microphones were on. Patrick Gower from TV3 was one metre away and had seen Ansell behind him. There was complete silence. Whether the banner was visible to many was questionable, but Ansell’s shouted question was all that was to be heard. The only reporter to cover any of this was from Fairfax. Every other reporter ignored it.

One would have thought that the first non-Maori protest against treaty politics at Waitangi in the presence of the prime minister would have been newsworthy.

The annual February 5 fawning and protest is an opportunity for everyone who wants to further their ambitions to make a pitch. Key was there to be popular, Labour leader David Shearer was there to become visible, John Tamihere was there to get back in as a Labour MP, Willie Jackson was there helping his mate “JT”, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples was there to keep his hold on leadership, and challenger Te Ureroa Flavell was there to build support to grab the leadership, and on it goes.

Amid the neo-neolithic primitive cool of tattooed wannabe “Once Were Warriors” types swaggering along the seafront, one reporter said: “I need to go to the bathroom”. “Portaloos are over there,” he was told. “I’m not talking about that”, he said. “I’m talking about the day.”


Dave Hill said...

Once again an excellent article Mike, thought about running for PM?..
John Key should realise that if he grew some of the proverbial and put an end to this racist insulting behaviour his own, and Nationals 'mana' would grow hugely. Maybe he's out of touch with what ordinary kiwi's are saying (to quietly)or he really believes in this pandering insulting nonsense.
Either way you are right, to have our PM sitting in a car while a deranged old woman fights and intimidates the right to 'walk' the man she despises onto a supposed sacred and special Maori place beggers belief. We must be the laughing stock of the entire Western world. Only in some African states or perhaps the Taliban would come close to this behaviour.
Coming from a media background I'm not at all surprised about the media ignoring the Ansell protest after all our journalists are trained or should I say brainwashed all the way through their training that the Treaty is 'God' and only to believe the radical Maori version of what transpired, besides what makes a better picture, a crazy bitter old Maori woman with the possibility of violence or the peaceful protest of a white man.

Anonymous said...

How disgraceful it is to allow a single family of poisonous radical racist haters to hijack our national day.

One question nobody seems to have yet asked of Titewhai Harawira: How does a convicted felon, jailed in 1989 for assaulting a helpless mental patient under her care, qualify as a person of mana to escort even a dog onto the Waitangi Marae, let alone the Prime Minister?

Surely Ngapuhi can find any number of people with genuine mana to do this!

Anonymous said...

ststylThe debacle re Mrs Harawira just shows how weak the elders of her tribe really are to let an 81 year old woman rule the roost. The PM is bonkers for choosing to visit the marae on Waitangi Day. This used to be called NZ Day and was celebrated by all New Zealanders. It is now Waitangi Day and is a day for grievance, not celebration

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that John Key, in having his arrival delayed in such a riduculous manner, didn't instantly recognise the insult dealt to him.
I suggest that in the event that such an action repeats itself in future, he would be wise to walk away and show some backbone in dealing with these racists.
How on earth do we get through to the PM that he's on the wrong track and that the vast majority of ordinary New Zealanders, of all ethnic backgrounds, are heartily sick of his pandering to an elite group of people of mixed blood who seek to prolong the so called settlement process.
Put the Treaty where it belongs - in the history books - and get on with governing a truly integrated society with the common aim of progress for the good of everyone.

Mike Wiggins said...

Mike Butler has presented what I believe is the majority view of this nation. The politcal process is held hostage by the Maori view that the Treaty is a partnership, granting Maori a half share of everything, when it can only practically be viewed as a Treaty replacing a broken bullied stone age status quo, with citizenship in a democratic state.

atrout said...

Unfortunately Mike Wiggins is only partially right. The phony Treaty Partnership nonsense is racist enough but the half ownership is made a further joke in that any consultation process with Maori Kaitiaki also has a veto right granted to Maori. In other words, the so called partnership is totally skewed by the veto provision. If on any issue Maori do not agree with an outcome, the default position is a non-negotiable rejection. An compromise involves compensation of a form which makes intital negotiating point start inevitably far on the side of Maori. The partnership concept is corrupt, prejudiced and based on a fiction.