If you are ignorant, and content to remain that way, don’t read this column. It might upset you by blatantly contradicting a host of beliefs that inevitably underpin your view of the world around you.
But if you, like myself, have come to university hoping to better yourself, expand your mind, gain some sense of things, then accept my challenge. Don’t just read this column – dwell on it, dissect it, identify counter-arguments. Do the same with the views and beliefs that you currently hold. Do they stack up? Could you hold your own in an intense intellectual debate? I think I can. That’s why I’m writing this and you’re reading it.
It’s alarming to see the kind of garbage that people will quite happily swallow. Take, for example, the idea that Maori are afforded special privileges in our society. Do you consider it a privilege to be able to communicate in your native tongue, be it English, Chinese, German or whatever else? Is it a privilege to have your spiritual beliefs and cultural practices recognised and respected? If you were to enter into a contract, and the other party not only failed to fulfil their obligations but royally f#*ked you over and caused you an enormous loss, would compensation be a right or a privilege?
I am no more qualified to preach about Maori issues than a middle-aged NZ European former Governor of the Reserve Bank turned politician still in his nappies. However, not only do I write my own speeches but I also make sure that they are researched, based on sound principles, and, above all, that they are in no way deceptive.
The speech that Don Brash delivered at Orewa was extremely deceptive. It is not just what was said, but what was implied – a spectacular example of highly sophisticated and manipulative political theatrics. Take every event that has inflamed race relations in this country over the last year, throw in fancy words like ‘democracy’ and ‘separatism’, make wild accusations without any supporting evidence, distract from the enormous leaps of logic and inherent contradictions by playing on people’s fears, and then neglect to provide any real solution to the “problems” that have been identified. Fortunately some of us are not so easily deceived.
I intend to go through Brash’s speech, which I have read (unlike Trevor Mallard as of last Wednesday), identify the key statements and inferences that have so deceived the NZ public, and demonstrate why a lot of what he asserts is just plainly false. I can’t deal with every falsity in just one column, so I’ll deal with the different parts of his speech over the course of several weeks.
Let me start with his claim that we are moving towards a “racially divided nation, with two sets of laws, and two standards of citizenship”. What two sets of laws is he referring to? He identifies legislative references to the “principles of the Treaty” as “the thin end of a wedge leading to a racially divided state”. But such legislation applies equally to Mäori and non-Mäori. Furthermore, most legislative references require little more than that a public institution has regard to the principles of the Treaty when making decisions. In some instances it secures Mäori involvement in decision-making processes that may impact on their existing rights and resources. Most clauses are directed towards ensuring that Mäori are not prejudiced by decisions of public institutions, thereby creating new potential grievances under the Treaty of Waitangi.
Brash infers that “this 19th century treaty” has nothing to say about “today’s SOEs and national parks, today’s schools and universities, how we go about approving or declining building permits, what science we should study, what art we should look at, and even how we should regard the new frontier of genetic science”. This is because Brash takes a 19th century view of the Treaty. Like the earliest colonial governments in Aotearoa, he sees the Treaty simply as a treaty of cession, creating no obligation on the Crown (or the government) to ensure that “democracy” in New Zealand does not result in tyranny of the majority.
True democracy would ensure that all minority viewpoints are taken into account when making decisions. Fortunately the Treaty of Waitangi is a constitutional safeguard that ensures that one of the minorities in New Zealand, our indigenous minority, are always given a chance to participate. This is because the key essence of the Treaty was partnership and co-operation – without such co-operation the European settlement of New Zealand would have been a far bloodier affair than it was. What Brash identifies as “separatism” is in fact exactly the opposite. In our modern society surely even the most conservative among us can recognise that robust decision-making processes in which all factions of our society are given the opportunity to participate are wholly desirable, even if they can be a little more time-consuming.
Contrary to what Brash says, Mäori do not get more than one vote per individual or a “power of veto” in any decision-making processes. I would really like to know about these other “special privileges” that Mäori are afforded. It could be the specially targeted funding for Mäori health and education, which incidentally only makes up about two percent of the total spending in these areas. But if you think that Brash is going to ensure that these so-called “special privileges” are done away with, think again, because he clearly states: “a National Government will continue to fund Te Kohanga Reo, Kaupapa Mäori, Wananga and Mäori primary health providers – not because we have been conned into believing that it is somehow a special right enjoyed by Mäori under the Treaty, but rather because National believes that all New Zealanders have a right to choice in education and health.” Very, very flaky.
The general public have been deceived, not just into believing that there are terrible injustices here, but into believing that National can offer any solutions. Brash has a lot of work to do to ensure that National’s increased polling is not as short-lived as his predecessor’s career as leader.
He paku akoranga reo (A short te reo Mäori lesson)
Learning another language is a fantastic way to gain perspective on the world around you. Te reo Mäori is a beautiful language, and not too difficult to learn. Take some time out each week to go through this lesson and who knows what you might learn over the year!
Te reo Maori is comprised of five main vowel sounds:
“a” as in far. Avoid saying as in fat.
“e” as in leather. Avoid saying as in stay.
“i” as in me or he.
“o” as in foreshore. Avoid saying as in foe.
“u” as in spoon. Avoid saying as in few.
When vowels appear together their sounds should run together. Practice the individual sounds, and then run them together as a smooth sound
Consonants roughly follow the English
pronunciation, however some sounds are unique. Generally these rules should be
“r” is soft, and is said with the tongue at the front of the mouth, like the English “l”.
“p” is not explosive like in English.
“wh” is close to the English “f”, but there are some variations in dialect.
“ng” should be treated as a single sound as in “singing”, and is softer than in English. The “n” should never merge with the preceding syllable. Say “ma – tau – ra – nga”, never
“ma – tau – ran – ga”
Tënë [koe / körua / koutou].
Hello [to one / two / three or more people].
Ko [Hori Püihi] töku ingoa.
My name is [George Bush.].
Nö [Amerika] ahau.
I’m from [America].
Hello / Thank you (literally, “be well”)
Ata märie / Morena
Good night / Good evening
Ka kite anö
See you again
Ko töku mihimihi ä te mutunga (My introduction at the end)
Ko Kohukohunui te maunga
(Kohukohunui is the mountain)
Ko Tikapa te moana
(Tikapa is the moana)
Ko Waihou te awa
(Waihou is the river)
Ko Tainui te waka
(Tainui is the waka)
Ko Ngäti Whanaunga te iwi
(Ngäti Whanaunga is the tribe)
Ko Rochelle Francis töku ingoa
(Rochelle Francis is my name)
Hutia te rito o te harakeke,
(Pull out the heart of the flax bush)
Kei hea te kömako e ko,
(Where is the bellbird)
Kï mai ki ahau,
(A voice calls out to me)
He aha te mea nui o te ao,
(What is the greatest thing in this world)
Mäku e kï atu,
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
(It is people, it is people, it is people)
He mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa e mätakitaki ana ki tënei, “He Whakaaro Noa”. Ahakoa te ähua pukuriri o töku körero kei runga, nä te aroha tënei tuhinga i whakatau. I runga anö i te tikanga o te ingoa nei, nöku noa ngä whakaaro kei roto. I tuhia kia whakawhiti whakaaro, kia whakamärama atu i ëtahi ätauranga o ngä raruraru e pä ana ki te Mäori.
My warmest greetings to all of you that are reading this, “He Whakaaro Noa”. Despite the angry tone of the first part of this column, this piece of writing was prepared out of love. In accordance with its title, the views expressed in this column are merely my own opinions. They are written to prompt discussion, and to convey some information about the issues facing Mäori.
Ko te nuinga o koutou käore pea e whakaae ki öku körero. Engari, kaua e wareware, tika tonu te mätauranga e takoto ana kei raro. Käore he rahurahu kei raro i öku körero. I kohia tënei mätauranga i öku karaehe, i öku kaiwhakaako, i ngä pukapuka i kitea e au i tënei whare wananga. I tënei tau, ka tïmata t_ku tau tuawha o te whäinga o te tohu BA i te Mäoritanga, me te tohu LLB (Honours).
Most of you may not agree with what I say. However, don’t forget that it is always based on a solid foundation of fact. There is no mischief underlying my words. I have drawn my information from my classes and lecturers, and from the books that I have read while at this university. This year I embark on my fourth year of study towards a BA in Mäori Studies and an LLB (Honours).
Mehemea ka hiahia koe ki te körero ki a au e pä ana ki ngä mea kei roto, karangatia mai. Ka taea te tuku mai i ëtahi e-mail ki: Rochelle.Francis [at] vuw.ac.nz.
If you would like to talk to me about the contents of this column, please feel free to contact me. You can e-mail me at: Rochelle.Francis [at] vuw.ac.nz.