Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Bob Edlin: An apology from the Crown but not from the Maori Party

In a political week distinguished by Stuff’s apology to Maoridom, the Crown was in the business of apologising to Maori, too, while the Maori Party pressed for even more apologies.

One Maori party co-leader – in his maiden speech to Parliament – pledged to be an unapologetic Maori voice while the other railed against early New Zealand governments as “monsters, murderers and rapists” and projected herself as a survivor of a “holocaust”.

A “holocaust”?

That same powerful word was bandied by the party’s founder, Dame Tariana Turia, some 20 years ago.  She later apologised for using it to describe the experience of Maori. 


The Crown’s apology was delivered as part of the deal with Ngāti Rangitihi to settle the tribe’s historical Treaty of Waitangi claims. 

The Beehive website records news of the apology along with:

  • A report that will provide a platform to build on Pacific science, technology and innovation initiatives.  It collates the findings of discussions with 140 Pacific community and sector leaders who attended the Lalanga Fou Languages and High Tech Fono held in November 2019.
  • An announcement that the Department of Conservation is targeting $3.5m of operating expenditure specifically towards popular sites to ensure conservation facilities are well maintained and people have “optimal experiences” when they are outdoors.
  • New Zealanders between the ages of 60 and 74 across greater Auckland now have access to free regular bowel health checks. Auckland DHB is the 14th DHB to join the programme.

A Deed of Settlement was signed between the Crown and Ngāti Rangitihi at the weekend to settle the tribe’s historical Treaty of Waitangi claims.

The tribe will receive financial and commercial redress valued over $11 million, including $4 million financial redress and over $7 million through of the Central North Island Forests Collective Settlement.

Cultural redress includes the vesting of 19 sites of cultural significance, including the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

Under the deal, the Crown acknowledges and apologises for failing to protect the Tarawera River from pollution associated with the Tasman Pulp and Paper mill.

And a new co-governance arrangement is being introduced – the settlement provides for the establishment of the Tarawera Awa Restoration Strategy Group, made up of tribal and local government representatives, that will support, coordinate and promote the integrated restoration of the mauri/wellbeing of the Tarawera River catchment.

A few days earlier, the Māori Party made plain it wants more apologies.

Co-leader Rawiri Waititi declared he will “ ensure our unapologetic Māori voice will be heard and that our Māori cloak is felt and is present in every piece of legislation and bill passed in this House.”

How much electoral support did his party secure at the general election?

Oh, yes.  Around 1.2% of total votes cast.

Under our MMP electoral system the party nevertheless secured two seats in Parliament where its representatives have declared their determination to be irritants while they pursue their race-focused agenda.

As Waititi put it:

 “You know what it feels like to have a pebble in your shoe?

“That will be my job here. A constant, annoying to those holding onto the colonial ways, a reminder and change agent for the recognition of our kahu Māori.”

According to TV One’s account of proceedings:

Waititi referenced’s apology for the racist portrayal of Māori, for its “mono cultural view point that had sought to oppress tangata whenua” and for the negative narrative that reinforced and kept “our people at the bottom of the heap”. 

“They have said sorry to Māori for aiding and abetting the system of racism that strips us of our spirit and our oranga, but they have taken responsibility for their failings. 

“When will the Crown do the same? When will the Crown own its failings and commit to doing better?” he asked.

Co-leader DebbieNgarewa-Packer accused former MPs of being responsible for the murder and rape of women and children, the imprisonment of Māori without trial and the confiscation of their land.

“I stand here as a descendant of a people who survived a Holocaust, a genocide, sponsored by this House and members of Parliament whose portraits still hang from the walls. Members of Parliament who sought our extermination and created legislation to achieve it.”

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the “Holocaust” was the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II.

The Germans called this “the final solution to the Jewish question.” 

When Tariana Turia was Associate Maori Affairs Minister, she apologised for offending anyone over her comparison of Maori colonisation to the holocaust.

But hey – guess whose fault her folly was?   The news media’s.

However, before making a personal statement in Parliament Mrs Turia told MPs she agreed with the description in a Waitangi Tribunal report which likened what happened to Taranaki Maori to the holocaust.    

In her statement though she blamed the media, saying her speech had been taken out of context. 

“I am saddened at how my speech has been misreported and misconstrued and as a result caused distress to a number of people including colleagues in this House and my own staff.” 

Mrs Turia told Parliament she never meant to belittle the survivors of the holocaust. 

“I was simply stating what I am sure that many New Zealanders, Maori and Pakeha, agree that Maori have been marginalised from the economic and mainstream of New Zealand life since the mid 19th century and that experience has been depressing for our people.”

So Turia meant to say no more than that Maori had been marginalised?

That’s not quite the same as the state-sponsored killing to wipe out a whole race of people.

Bob Edlin is a veteran journalist and editor for the Point of Order blog HERE.


DeeM said...

The word "racist" is used freely these days about anything and everything. That's what happens when you have a government obsessed with identity politics that actively encourages ethnic minorities to blame the majority for their perceived "marginalised" situation. Public apologies for a whole raft of alleged injustices issue forth on almost a daily basis until they become worthless.
It's like a juggernaut accelerating down a big hill with no brakes - more racial accusations and subsequent apologies, and often financial recompense, are generated like momentum.
Egged on by the woke establishment, the demands become more ridiculous and outrageous because all reasonable claims have been exhausted. The mainstream media report the claims like excited kindie kids and they get far more coverage than either the representation of the ethnic minority in parlaiment or the population at large.
We certainly have another 3 years of this to come, and who knows beyond that. Only when the truck meets an immovable object will all that momentum disappear in one big crash. The next chance of a big crash is Sept 2023. Unfortunately, we don't know how big this hill is and how windy the road is!

Anonymous said...

A bit rich that Maori are protesting a “mono cultural agenda”. That is what I am hearing from Maori.
I also note that Maori demands for different and separate treatment than other New Zealanders is perhaps racist.
I am also bemused by referencing the Treaty of Waitangi as grounds for separatist claims, when, as I understand it, the treaty confers equal rights to Maori.

I respect and encourage the Renaissance in Maori pride and identity. And I hope this will help empower and encourage Maori to take more responsibility for solving poor educational outcomes, high levels of incarceration, and disproportionate demands on our health and welfare systems.

I look forward to Maori ceasing to be an underclass and a drain on our society. Hopefully the next generation of better educated, empowered and proud young Maori will have constructive and dynamic solutions, instead of today’s narrative based on anger, blame and historical grievance.

Kiwi Dave said...

1) How many Maoris died at the hands of their fellow Maoris in the 40 years preceding 1840?
2) How many Maoris died at the hands of the colonial government in the 40 years after 1840?
3) Which of the these two sets of killing is better described as genocide?