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 just the two races who signed this thing living in this country then – there are perhaps as many as a hundred now.
A hundred different races - and the first two can't reconcile the reality of where we began and what we have now - and more to the point - where all that stuff came from.
None of it came from Pre-European Maori Culture.
Yes I know – not politically correct to say stuff like that – but certainly factually correct. The collective difference between the cultures was as great as it could possibly be back then – but now Maori have adopted all the trappings of the Society that arrived after them - and that is the culture that they - and the rest of the world now lives in and aspires to.
Avoiding facts like that – is a dark hole for an entire population to go down.
We didn't adopt the Stone Age culture - they adopted our civilisation. Isn't it amazing that it has become cultural heresy to point out that simple cultural reality?
Look at North Korea. They know about dark cultural holes - and they live next door to three of the most advanced nations on the planet. Do we really want to be like them?
At the time when that Treaty was signed – there were at most only 2500 British in New Zealand – and 60,000 Maori. Do we ever stop to consider the dynamic of that?
Who would have won that war – if there was one? If the Maori side was united and decide they didn’t like what was happening - how could we possibly win? There were reasons- the most important being – their prospective entry into the great global civilisation – that just by emerging from the bush – they had discovered as it arrived on their doorstep. Think about the way we use the word “discovered” – and ask what would have happened if they hadn’t been discovered by us.
As with all the lost Tribes of the South Pacific - someone was always going to discover them eventually - and simply by virtue of the fact that people came to here and discovered them - and not the other way around - meant the newcomers would be more advanced and their presence would have brought Maori into the Modern World.
What is it now don't get about that simple fact?
Do some of us actually think none of them were smart enough to see that for what it was – and know – they were on the cusp of something amazing – and in their world - unprecedented?
Who would believe that?
Look at the reasons:- Metals, Glass, Ceramics, Pottery, and Fabric to name a few – including Cows and Sheep and Pigs and Chooks – and the wheel - not to even mention all the other benefits of colonisation.
That was then! We all live together in a totally different world now - and that world was created out of Western European Civilisation.
It just was - or tell me how it wasn't.
There is at large in the wider world a highly developed and rapidly advancing civilisation and culture – that encompasses the entire planet – and that culture and technological civilisation emanated out of Europe. Yes it did - yes it did - if you think it didn't - tell me where it did come from - and we can debate that.
Yes – Europe – where the European New Zealanders came from - and those cultural and technological values have been adopted by all the great Nations on the planet – including such ancient and confident cultures as China, Japan and India.
It’s true – don’t believe me – go and look. Their word is ruled by the motor car and electricity and the computer and the TV just like ours is – and go look up where they were developed. All developed in Europe – and then the USA.
The inventions and creations of the West influences every nation on the planet every single day. It just does.
The Chinese and Japanese adopted the modern civilisation as fast as they could - and without resentment – and they were both ancient and highly developed cultures already – so why can’t Maori put aside the resentment and see all the benefits they enjoy every day for what they are?
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 only interested in the right now – not trying to anticipate what people alive in a future time needed. Think about how they understood things to be - before Modern Western Technology changed everything in every country on the Planet.
Back then it was survival of the fittest - and tribal wars - and cannibalism. Nothing Co-Governance going on back then. It was a life and death struggle - and the toughest tribe wins. You all know it. It is in the folklore.
Today’s Maori and today’s Europeans live in the same society as each other – and there are poor ones and rich ones - with all the advances and advantages of the Great Modern Global Society and Culture – 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 worst 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.
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. 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 take a copy home and read it for themselves – because they couldn't read. And we have to remember – that few of the people 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 - 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 abandon ignoring the simple base line principals of fair play, truth and equality.
Our governmental and politically blatant racism is being enshrined in legislation every day – and our future will have to live by it – while remembering and lamenting our distinct lack of logic and integrity in this.
It is illogical to enact legislation that enables one race over another – and justify it because the race receiving all the benefits has – or used to have brown skin. It seems that racism is the enemy of all – except if it can be found in the Treaty with the magnifying glass of lies and deception - while raking over the bones of long dead arguments – that have no relevance in the time and nationhood that exists in the world 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 - that even vaguely resembles the Maori way of life at the time the Treaty was conceived – written and signed.
They didn't have co governance - they had constant tribal wars - and lived in forts to defend themselves from each other.
That's why they were called "Maori Warriors".
All of these other 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 turned away from what they were and the way they were living - and came to live in and thrive in that new civilisation that had arrived on their doorstep.
As for Maori Governance – it was non existent when the Europeans arrived – because all was settled by the power of the club and conquest – until a stronger group came along and settled it with yet more blood. People need to read and understand the history.
Enough people – it’s gone on long enough. Time to grow up and join the rest of the civilised world. - Enough is enough!
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.