The Treaty is a worn and tattered document from 182 years ago – nearly ten generations - and it’s relevance is long since gone. We – all of us – live in a completely different world now – and instead of two races living in this country – there are perhaps as many as a hundred. We all have to remember - there was a time when we cared so little about that Treaty document - that it was lost – and then found water damaged.
Yes I know – not politically correct to say stuff like that – but certainly factually correct.
If it was a War - who would have won that war – if the Maori side was united - and they didn't see any value in what was happening?
Look at the reasons why they would have liked it:- Metals, Glass Ceramics, Pottery, and Fabric to name a few – all the things to make life easier - and longer - plus all the other benefits of civilisation/colonisation. A treaty with promises must have seemed pretty good when you had no clothes and no axe or knife or chisel to cut and shape things and cut down some wood to light a fire and build a house.
Not to mention no law to protect you from the survival of the fittest.
But we are so far past all that. We live in the modern age - and we can get the stuff we need from a shop.
We live in a totally different world now. There is at large in the world this highly evolved and developed and rapidly advancing civilisation and culture – that encompasses the entire planet.
They can see us from Mars - and we know now what and where Mars is. And that culture and technological civilisation emanated out of Europe. Yes – Europe – where the European New Zealanders came from - and their cultural and technological values and advances have been adopted by all the great Nations on the planet – including such ancient cultures as China, Japan and India.
They just have.
It’s true – don’t believe me – go and look. Their world is like ours - ruled by the motor car and Electricity and traffic lights and the computer and the TV - just like ours is – and go look up where all that stuff was invented.
That's right! Europe – and then the USA.
But we in New Zealand are choosing to live to the drumbeat of a distant and savage past – where they lived a life of tribal wars and cannibalism. They were interested in the right now when they signed that Treaty – not trying to anticipate what people alive in a future time thought or needed. Think about how they understood things to be - before Modern Western Technology changed everything.
Today’s Maori and today’s Europeans live in the same society as each other. There's no difference – and there are poor ones and rich ones - and stupid ones and smart ones - with all the advances and advantages of the Great Modern Global Society and Culture at their disposal – and here we are trying to debate what relatively uneducated men in 1840 meant by a few words on a water damaged scrap of paper.
This battered and outmoded piece of parchment is an anachronism. It is the cause of all the worsts divisions in New Zealand society – and has been interpreted and reinterpreted by so many people of debatable integrity over so many years and in so many ways – that the sheer simplicity of it had been turned into a great National Conundrum.
Surely it’s time to put it in a glass case – give it a blessing - and learn to ignore it.
We have to remember that many of the Maori who signed the Treaty were new to the concept of placing gravitas on a mark on a document – a simple piece of paper - and most could neither read nor write - and few could speak English.
They needed to take their understanding of what they were scratching their mark on - from the verbal discussions around its contents – rather than being able to read it for themselves – and we have to remember – that few of the people of both sides in attendance were by-lingual anyway. If it comes to that – the reading and writing abilities of some of the Europeans discussing and reacting to it might have been questionable by today’s standards as well.
The lives of all of us - as in every Race of us in New Zealand - be they white, brown, black, or brindle - alive in this Nation of ours today - are lived in a society that prides itself in some kind of mythical adherence to the indefinable 'principals' of the Treaty of Waitangi – while with great clarity ignoring the simple principals of fair play - free speech - and equality.
And we do that just as we use the Treaty to legislate against all of those principals every day.
Our governmental and political racism is being enshrined in legislation every day – and our future will have to live by it – while remembering our distinct lack of logic and integrity in this.
It is illogical to enact legislation that enables one race over another – and justifies it because the race receiving all the benefits have – or used to have - brown skin. It seems that racism is the enemy of all – accept if it can be found in the Treaty with the great and cumbersome magnifying glass of deception - while raking over the bones of long dead arguments – that have no relevance in the time and nationhood that we all live in - and thrive in – today.
It is time for New Zealand to grow up – and become adult about this. We all of us - live in a modern society – and there is nothing of the lives of today’s Maori or European – Chinese or Indian - South American – or Russian – or middle Eastern – all of whom live here among us - that even vaguely resembles the Maori way of life at the time the Treaty was conceived – written and signed.
All of these people from all over the world - are living their lives and raising their children here – so why should they be subjected to the tired old arguments among the group of people who brought that civilisation here – and the people they found here - who then came to live in and thrive in that civilisation.
Enough people – it’s gone on long enough. Time to grow up and join the rest of the civilised world.
Denis Hall describes himself as an old man and an artist - a thinker - a writer - and a commentator. He does what he does - for the love of it.