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Women Speak Out! A Report of the Pacific Women's Conference. October 27 – November 2

On the law

page 56Black and white photograph of a group of lawyers dressed in regalia being addressed by another lawyer.
Black and white photograph two lawyers standing outside the courthouse.

The law, Western and imported, not always suited to the needs of our countries, sometimes for the benefit of only a certain sector…

page 57 On the law

Solomon Islands

It is only fifteen years ago that we natives of the Solomon Islands have started to involve ourselves in the making of our laws and during these fifteen years only one woman served for two years in our legislature. Solomon Islands law, as I see it today, relates to our women in our society in two ways:

1) traditional and modern practices and attitudes which affect us in our daily lives and dealings. These are enforced by local courts applying customary law which of course, like English Common Law is susceptible to change and may be invented anew.

2) written laws which derive from British laws and which can be modified by our legislature.

The traditional and customary practices and attitudes

Ninety percent of our female population still live in the rural areas. These women suffer much from these traditional customary practices and attitudes of our men, as shown by our politicians when debating laws which relate to women - women come second to land in the value of property to men.

In some of the islands this is very true especially in the patriarchal societies. In Ysabel, my home island, the women have a much higher position in our society and they enjoy a much more powerful influence in land dealings and the guardianship of children. But the modern and foreign influences are somehow shadowing our women in some good customs, for example those on land dealing. This is due to lack of education, the dominance of men in our dealings with foreigners, and the lack of presence of our women in the legislature. So, although by custom women should have these powers, we seem to be losing them, although our menfolk keep telling us that they are trying to strengthen custom.

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A simple example of the practices and attitudes which are brought in by foreigners is shown in our urban areas and even written in simple rules like General Orders, which govern public servants. Married women officers are denied the official housing, even if they are senior, because their husbands, however limited their resources, must house them, unless government posts the women away from their husband's home. There are other provisions denying them such privileges which would encourage our women's position and role in the modern society. I think provisions should have been made in the rules for our progress.

Black and white photograph of farmers.

Papua New Guinea is attempting to make the laws more suitable to the conditions and needs of the country

Papua New Guinea


The Law Reform Commission was established in April 1975 to review all the Laws of Papua New Guinea and suggest reforms page 59 that will make the laws more suitable to the conditions and needs of this country. The Commission reports to the Minister for Justice. There are five Commissioners, all Papua New Guineans:

  • Chairman: Bernard Narakobi, a lawyer, from Sepik; Deputy Chairman: Francis Iramu, a magistrate, from Port Moresby;

  • Nahau Rooney, a social welfare worker, from Manus; Charles Lepani, Director of the Central Planning Office, from the Trobiand Islands;

  • Meg Taylor, a lawyer working in the Prime Minister's Office, from the Waghi Valley.

The varied occupations and backgrounds of the Members express the Minister's intention that the Commission should not be composed just of lawyers from the capital city, but should represent many different professions and regions in Papua New Guinea.

In order to make the law more suitable to Papua New Guinea, the Commission must look at two things – (1) the traditions of the people as expressed in their customary law, and (2) the aims and needs of the people as expressed in their new Constitution. Sometimes, these two sources of the law oonflict. This is especially true in the field of women's rights.

For example, the Constitution makes it clear that women should be treated equally. The first clause of the Constitution reads:

“We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others.”

and the second clause:

“We declare our second goal to be for all citizens to have an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the development of our country.”

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The Parliament explained that this second goal specifically referred to equal opportunities for women. To implement the second goal, they called for:

“recognition of the principle that a complete relationship in marriage rests on equality of rights and duties of the partners, and that responsible parenthood is based on that equality.”

Thus, in the Constitution, the Law Reform Commission find a clear directive to propose laws that help women become equal. But, when the Commission looks to customary law, our other major source for law reform, we find many laws and practices that go against equality for women.

In the field of succession: Under customary law, it is men who inherit property, not women - even in matrilineal societies, the land passes through the women's line, but goes to men in that line. In most PNG socieities, when a man dies, his sons or nephews inherit his land. His daughters may receive some fruit trees or personal property, but they do not get parts of their father's land. And, when a man dies, his wife does not expect to inherit anything - even the children, who stay with their father's line. In fact, in many PNG societies, wives themselves can be inherited. When a man dies, his brothers inherit his wife or wives.

In family law: Under customary law, the men of the clan “own” the women. A girl does not choose whom she will marry - her father and uncles, and sometimes her brothers, choose for her. They do not make the choice based on her happiness. They choose a husband for her according to what will be good for the clan. Thus, if they wish to form an alliance with the men of another clan, they will marry her into that clan. If they have killed a person in another clan, they will marry her as part of the compensation payments to that clan, so that she can produce a child for that clan to replace the person who was killed. Women often found themselves, in the days when clans frequently went to war, married into a clan that had become enemies of her own clan. Sometimes, when the two clans went to war, the woman's husband killed her because she was a representative of the hated enemy.

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Marriage involved an exchange of valuables - pigs, shells, and (today) money. This was called the “Bride Price”, but none of it ever went to the bride. It went from her husband's family, who were buying her and the children she would have, to her father's family.

Black and white photograph of a woman.

Men in Papua New Guinea could have many wives, and rich men did have more than one wife. Women were not expected to love their husbands - or to be loved by them. They were expected to work long hours in the gardens, then walk home carrying huge loads of firewood and food, then go to the river for water, then cook dinner - and through it all, tend the children. While they did all this work, the men occassionally hunted or fished - or mostly sat under the trees and “protected” the women from enemy attacks.

In divorce law: This was probably the only area of family law where women had any equality. A woman could, if things got too unbearable, leave her husband and return to her own page 62 family. However, women found it difficult to do this for two reasons: (1) her family would have to return the bride price they had received for her, if the divorce turned out to be her fault and not her husband's. Her family might therefore be unwilling to welcome her back; (2) if she came from a patrilineal society, she would not be able to take her children with her when she leaves her husband - they belong to his clan.

In property law: In a few areas of PNG, women could and did own land or other important valuables. But, in most societies, although women did most of the work in the gardens, it was men who owned the land on which the gardens were made and the houses built. Men also owned the shells and other valuables used in trade and prestige ceremonies. Women did all the work of caring for pigs - even breast-feeding sick piglets - but their husbands owned them and decided when they would be traded, killed for a feast or given to someone else.

Black and white photograph of a woman holding a pig.

Women care for the pigs but their husbands own them.

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And, in most societies, men built sacred houses where they kept masks, drums, flutes and other ritual objects; women were not even allowed in the houses, let alone to own anything in them.

In criminal law: Adultery law is a good example of the way that customary law considered women to be the property of men - of their fathers and brothers before they were married, and of their husbands afterwards. A married man could, in most societies, have intercourse with whomever he wished. Men frequently raped the women of a conquered village. But it was considered a great crime for a married woman - or even a single girl - to have intercourse with someone other than her husband. She would be punished severely for it, and the man who had intercourse with her would have to pay compensation to her family. This is because a woman's sexual ability - particularly her ability to bear children – was “owned” by her father and his clan. It was the commodity they sold when they married her to someone. After her marriage, it was owned by her husband and his clan.

This is a very one-sided picture of Papua New Guinea customary law. There was much in our customary life that was good for both men and women. But I have presented this side of things in order to emphasise the difficulty that our Law Reform Commission has faced in creating laws that will, at the same time, promote equality for women and preserve customary law.

Aims of Law Reform Commission:

The Law Reform Commission has attempted to solve this problem - of a conflict between customary law and the Constitution - in several ways:

(1) Recognising that the Constitution is now the basic law of our country and that the Parliament considered all the demands of custom in formulating the Constitution, we choose the Constitution over the customary law whenever we are forced to make a choice.

(2) Before we drafted any new laws, we talked about page 64 them at great length amongst ourselves, and then sent out working papers to many members of the public - including women's groups, local government councils, Members of Parliament, leaders in government and business and religious groups. The responses we received from the public did two things:

(a) they let us know what issues people feel very strongly about, and how they would like the law to be; (b) they helped - as do our meetings with people - to educate people about new laws. We realised that, much as we wanted to preserve our traditions, some changes will be necessary in order for PNG to develop. But these changes will be impossible or useless, unless the people see the need for them and agree to them. So we go to the people with every new law we propose.

(3) I should point out that, in many areas, the Constitution and the customary law are in agreement, so there are many new laws we can propose that will be much closer to the people's traditional ways of doing things than were the laws introduced by the Australian colonialists. For example, we have recommended that the imported crime, vagrancy, be abolished. Under the colonialists, people without a job could be arrested, even though they were living with their relatives who were supporting them. We recognised that it is the PNG way to support one's kin, so we recommend that this law be abolished.

Changes which will benefit Women:

Areas in which the Law Reform Commission has recommended changes that will benefit women or make them equal to men:

  1. Prostitution: we have recommended that prostitution be legalized, but that men who keep houses of prostitution still be liable to a fine or jail. This will, we hope, curb the kinds of men who live off prostitutes, and at the same time permit women who are prostitutes to avoid the shame of frequent meaningless arrests. We have also recommended that V.D. Clinics be established. Once prostitution is legal, more prostitutes will make use of V.D. Clinics because they will not be afraid of arrests at them.

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  2. Adultery: we will probably recommend that adultery cease to be a criminal offence. Currently under the Native Regulations, adulteres can be fined or jailed – but only Papua New Guinea adulterers. The current law specifically applied only to “natives” of our country and not to expatriates. We will probably recommend that adultery be treated not as a criminal offence but as a civil matter in the village courts. We will also recommend that compensation be available not only to men whose wives commit adultery but also to women whose husbands commit adultery.

  3. Drunkness: in the towns, especially, drunkness bas become a great problem. Working men spend their entire fortnight's paycheck at the bar, often get into fights, and come home with no money for their wives to use for food and clothing and school fees. The law as it now stands, knows only one way to handle the problem – drunks are arrested and thrown into jail, making it even harder for their wives to make ends meet. We have recommended that drunkness by itself no longer be a crime, but that habitual drunkards can be sent to a magistrate for treatment. We are also considering recommending that women be allowed to collect part of their husbands' salaries directly from his employer, if the husband is shown to be a person who frequently drinks up all his pay.

  4. Succession: we will probably recommend a new kind of succession law that falls somewhere in between customary law, which left no property to a man's wife, and the imported law, which leaves all a man's property to his wife, ignoring the claims of his clan and relatives. We hope to work out a formula that gives women equal rights to inherit property, but which also recognised the need to maintain strong clan structures. We shall probably do this either by reserving a certain percentage of a man's property for his wife, or by declaring that wives are full members of clans, can become heads of clans even, and therefore, should receive equal shares in whatever the clan receives.

  5. Marriage and Divorce: we are planning to begin research page 66 in the near future into the whole fied of family law, with a view of completely reworking current marriage, child welfare and divorce laws. There are many issues here that we must consider. Women's rights are, of course, a major issue in this area. But there are also questions such as: should polygamous marriages be recognised? What should be the status of illegitimate children? Should divorces be easy or difficult to obtain? We intend to go into this whole field in great depths, and to spend a lot of time talking to women's groups and to people all over the country, before we make any final recommendations.

  6. Maintenance: Currently, in PNG, a woman can receive payments from a man who has fathered her illegitimate child. And a wife can receive payments from her husband for herself and her children, if the husband actually deserted her. But a woman cannot receive payments, until the divorce is final, for herself or her children, if she left her husband – either through her fault or because he was impossible to live with. We intend to change this law.

Law Reform in Papua New Guinea:

The whole process of Law Reform will be tedious. A benevolent government can assist, but one that is ignorant of the fact that law can be the most effective instrument for social change will merely perpetuate the existing system. Government policies become mere words if law does not change to implement the goals of the present-day government.

The whole direction of our country's development can be changed if we choose for a legal system that belongs to us – where the process of law is in the hands of our people, both in rural villages in in urban communities. Papua New Guinea has made a positive step towards this with the establishment of village courts. We are fortunate in that PNG has its traditional structure of village and clan groupings to build on – not only for legal services but for every service this will fulfill our goal of self-reliance.

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The village court may not provide what remedy a village woman may want, but the fact is that she can take her complaints to a village court magistrate, litigate on the spot, get a decision. The process is one she can understand, the punishment is one that is understood by the community. There is no concept of “imprisonment” in PNG society. Dispute settlement or punishment is governed by the norm of compensation, restoration of harmony and “shame” in the eyes of one's community.

At this stage of PNG's development, only a few months after Independence, no real choice has been made as to whether the country will continue to live with a legal system that perpetuates a capitalistic society or a socialist/communalistic society. Our eight aims direct us, but the reality is we are caught up in a legal/economic system that is powerful, manipulative, and one that offers a struggle if we choose a break-out. The effect of any such decision will affect women who are the consumers of services and economic consumers in society.

One pressing problem in the field of economic law is the informal sector. Health regulations prohibit persons selling from streets – a set of values for clean Australian streets. Consequently, our people are deprived of a means of livelihood. It perpetuates the interests of a foreign businessman. Our people are then picked up by police for vagrancy. A vicious circle – the innocent person caught up in the middle of it.

The point I have been trying to make is that the legal problems, the frustrations in our country are evident because of the conflict arising between traditional norms and imported legal and economic systems and values.

The section of the community who never rise to oppose and never really challenge it are the mass of women. As the consumers of services in the country, the catalyst for entrenching foreign interests, the women can be effective if they challenge the systems we are living in.

The challenge to PNG women now is do we continue to live page 68 in this Australian-orientated society? It won't be easy to change, it will be a struggle for our economic freedom through the change of laws that manipulate our lives.

The Law Reform Commission is one channel that can be used.


Right now the laws in Hawaii are made to benefit only a certain sector of the population. It's only made to benefit very few people and mainly people with money, that control our government. We find that the laws are made only for the rich and they serve no justice for our people. People get kicked out of their houses and it's all because some guy has a piece of paper which says that he owns it, and he doesn't even live there, he's never worked on the land and its just a law that's used to serve rich people.

Black and white photograph of a house being bulldozed.

In Hawaii, people can be evicted because the law is used to serve the rich.

New Caledonia

The law is that of a society of prisons, truncheons, barbed wire, hand-cuffs, and chains. It was in the name of the law, that is, colonial law, that the land of my people was taken, under the pretext that we were savages. It was page 69 in the name of this same law, that the Kanaks were locked up on reservations to permit them to starve in peace. It is a law which is always applied in such a way that justice is on the side of the whites and never on the side of the blacks. It is a law made by whites for whites, not for people of colour. And I know something about that: last year, on the 24th of September, the day commemorating the taking of New Caledonia by the French Government, we demonstrated with several comrades. Two of us were arrested and imprisoned on the same day: Elie Poagoune and Henri Bailly. That day, I asked the prosecutor why he had not locked me up as well since I had committed the same crime as they, he answered: “Because you are a woman and you have a seven-month old baby who needs you. Besides, you don't send women, especially mothers, to jail”. I told him “Don't give me that, for if tomorrow you can arrange it, you're going to send me to prison even if I am a woman and have a seven-month old baby”.

What I want to point out to you in recounting this, is that I do not believe that a representative of the colonial law can have any consideration for me or the health of my child because he is part of that band of colonialists who have massacred the Kanak people like the Maori people of New Zeal and and the Aborigines of Australia. And these are the same colonialists who have oppressed the people of colour everywhere in the world: the Indians and the Blacks in the U.S.A., the Indians in Latin America, the Africans in Rhodesia and those who test their bombs on the people of the Pacific, particularly on the Polynesian people. Moreover, concerning what I said to the Prosecutor, the next day, September 25th., he gave me four months on the prison farm for having organised, with other comrades, a sit-in protest in the courtroom against the conviction of Poagoune and Bailly.


I will attempt to give you the situation as I know it in regard to Aboriginal and Island people. Perhaps I could begin by telling you a little bit about my people and something of our culture so that you will understand our situation.

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Our women have a very hard life, especially in the Northern areas they do not have any housing at all in a lot of the places, and on the reserves, settlements, compounds, many of the people who are living in those areas are under white administration very similar to South Africa. Especially in the Queensland area, our people come under what is called the Queensland and Torres Strait Islanders Act, where no one is allowed to leave the compound, their settlement, without their permission. This is only one instance I can only touch on, since it would take a long time to explain the others. They can't leave the settlement without the permission of the white Australian administration officer in charge of them. And if they had an argument with that officer or any of the white staff there, they could be shifted without any notice given to their family, to another area. This is being done to a lot of our children, not just in Queensland. In earlier days, this was done to all of our people, when children were just taken away from their families and never seen again and its caused a lot of breakup in tribes this way, where they've been lost to one another.

This is one of the reasons why in our fights for land rights and compensation for the loss of our tribal areas, now the government is saying we have to prove our descendents from the tribe before we can get compensation. It's been very hard for the people to do this.

New Zealand

I'm not an expert on Law but I am certainly an expert on how my people, the Maori people of Aotearoa, are oppressed by British Colonial Laws.

British colonialism is a reality in Aotearoa, and I speak for a minority group from Aotearoa, reminding you again that a lot of you people are the majority in your island groups, and therefore possibly don't understand things that are affecting us, the Maori people of Aotearoa.

We've been called for years to come together as one people but it's always been like this – on someone else's page 71 terms. Colonialism is something that is defined as the broad laws that is encroached upon a people by someone else. As I listened to the different delegates speaking from the island groups, I realised that you are now only beginning to realise and appreciate what is happening to yourselves. We have gone through this system and we're still being affected by it and we're trying desperately hard to find our feet in Aotearoa.

This is what is happening. This is why we marched* – for Land Retention, to hold on to the rest of our land which amounts to a measly 2,000,000 acres. You read about, today, how the Government has given back Kaupuri Mt., Mt. Egmont – big deal. Those are volcanic mountains, you can't live on them. This is why we're marching – for our identity.

This is how the law – the British law – has been administered upon my people through the years, since Captain Cook arrived; since he said: “You are now one people”, since my people signed the ‘Treaty of Waitangi’. We kept our part of the bargain, but the white man never kept his. This is what the Treaty of Waitangi is all about, and today it is not worth the paper it's written on. Because when they set that Treaty up, they had one thing in their minds – to do these people out of their land, out of their culture and out of their identity. Language class is a foreign thing in our country because it was banned through legislation. We were not allowed to speak our language in the schools. My parents were strapped for speaking Maori in the playground or speaking Maori at school. It was totally banned, so that we have almost a whole generation of Maoris who are not able to speak our own language. It is really bad, and as I look at the delegates today – this is what is happening to you.

* Te Roopu Ote Matakite, the Maori land march from the North of New Zealand to Wellington in September – October 1975, to present the Maoris; demand that not one more acre of their land be taken Unsatisfied with the government reply, many of the marchers camped outside Parliament refusing to leave. Editor.

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Why are you concerned about the system of education? Why are you concerned about the legal system? Because the systems that are being imposed on you that are breaking your family life-style, the same way as they have destroyed our Maori life-style – that we've been forced to come into the urban situation; that urban young Maori to day is a totally different Maori from the Maori when my mother was young. They are totally different Maori and yet legislation has not changed to include that different urban Maori.

The education system still has nothing in it that a Maori child can identify with. That we, even today, can learn more about Captain Cook, Henry VIII, than about my ancestors. You'd think that my ancestors in Aotearoa grew up under a stone. There is nothing that is acceptable that has been written by white people about my people. We are the experts on us and yet time and time again we are trying desperately today to pressure to be allowed to be part of the regulations, to be part of the laws that affect us, before they are implemented. We are playing an ambulance service to the system twenty-four hours a day – legal service, legal aid, social welfare, the lot – for playing the ambulance service at the bottom of a cliff, and as far as I'm concerned, it's not goo enough. And this is why we're sitting on Parliament steps. Two hundred of my people are sitting there and are still there because we're fed up.

We're trying to be a part of the system that take no recognition – no, it does not recognise our culture. But if it's bringing in the mighty dollar, then the Maoris are terrific. That's what we're us ed for – as tourist attractions. The few of our people who make it to the top are again left out. Overseas people are brought in to be our bosses – people from England, people from Holland, the Dutch people and the Poms, they're brought in to be our executives; they are brought in to be our teachers; they are brought in to be the top people. But we have the expertise here, we have them, but we don't have the training programmes so that our people are trained from top to bottom.

We have the Maori Affairs - big deal. It's all headed by Europeans. We've got nine Maori Affairs districts in page 73 Aotearoa but not one Maori at the top. Yet we have the expertise… There is no way that the system is allowing our people to get to the top and I want to say these things to you people because this is how it is at Aotearoa, for our people. That is the struggle - that we have the expertise and we are not being allowed to come through.

But when the island people - your people - come to Aotearoa, and I was pleased about Ms Kingstone's report*, this morning, because it was a good picture that she painted, for that is really what is happening when your people come to Aotearoa. For the first time, possibly, you're being made a minority in a country. You've come from a country where you're the majority, you come to Aotearoa and for the first time you're being made a minority in that country. And our laws, let's face it, the British Laws, have no respect for you or for us, the Maoris.

The British law that is being used in Aotearoa is Victorian and is totally irrelevant to us, the Maori People, and our particular make-up. Time and time again, I have said to the Minister of Justice: “Why don't we throw it out and rewrite our laws for New Zealand? Re-write them to include not only the Maori people but also the ethnic groups that we have here. Why do we have to continually implement old Victorian British laws? Why is it necessary?

Within the prisons themselves – our people are the majority in the prisons. Our people make up 10% of the population and yet within those prisons there, 75% are Maori women and over 50% men in the prison. Why? Because the whole system – from the education system right through – is totally irrelevant to my people. We're always trying desperately to fit in, to fit in. And today, thank goodness, our younger people have a better education, are more politically aware of what is going on around them, and they are not afraid.

* Ms Kingstone, outlined some of the cultural and social difficulties Polynesian women face when they go to New Zealand. Editor.

page 74 They are not afraid, and I am not afraid to stand up and fight today. And I really mean to stand up and fight. We have to.

People talk about violence – I don't mean violence where one person is hitting another – when I talk about violence in our society (and we live in a violent society), it is racism, the institutional racism, that is imposed upon us, that is used on our people against one another. It is the old British-designed divide-and-rule system used continuously.

Through the whole length of the march, it wasn't the Europeans or the Island people who were against us. It was our own people. They have been so brain-washed into believing that they had such a good deal. A lot of people say and we are told continuously: “But you are better off than those people; you're better off than the South African blacks; you're better off than the Aborigines; you're better educated”. And a lot of our people believe it! This is the old system of divide and rule: “Don't let the coloured people - the non-white people – come together. Keep them apart as much as you can”. This is the playing of one against the other, and this is why I welcome this sort of conference. Because the power comes from the women. Logical thinking will come from the women.

We could not do any work with the system that we live in, being run by the men for too long, and I've believed in this for a long, long time and so I welcome this conference. But don't get carried away, ladies, and think that you're better off than the other guys, because slowly it is happening here. Slowly, it is happening everywhere. Tourism is moving in, colonialism is here: it's here. Whoever is administering it is beside the point. Recognise it. Recognise it within Fiji itself. Tourism is moving in and your contribution or your benefits from tourism will be to wash the linen, set the table, and wait on those tourists. New Zealand and Australia, we benefit from tourism here in Fiji. We own those hotels and motels.

This is what our Land March is about. To stop the tourists from coming in and taking our coastal areas. This page 75 year, alone, $33,000,000 worth of coastal areas is designated for tourists. It is happening today. It happened in 1875 when the Taranaki people lost all their land when their mountain was taken. They used passive resistance, and what happened? The people were killed and they were locked up. And today we are doing exactly the same thing again. Marching for our land, using passive resistance.

But is the Government going to take any notice? Is there any justice for the non-white people throughout the world? The only justice for us is when we get up and fight and pressure for it. That is the only time, I believe, that we're going to bring about real justice for our people. The way the French people are testing in the Pacific – you can't divorce that from women's problems, from the racism, because I believe that if the Pacific was populated by white people, they wouldn't do the testing here. I believe that. Why can't they test somewhere else? You cannot divorce these things – they all interact with one another. As women we have one thousand and one things to do, we really have. We've got to be on watch the whole time, twenty-four hours of the day, not only for our own immediate family, how they react within the education system, how they are housed… My People, a whole lot of them, are not only landless, they are homeless.

In Auckland where we have the urban renewal system, where my people live in the city area, the Government comes up with a big renewal programme to ship them all out to the suburb so that you have one huge problem out in the suburban areas and the city itself becomes something for the businessman. But once they built the townhouses, and things in those city-areas where my people live, the prices are so high that those people cannot move back into it again.

These are the things that are happening in Aotearoa and if people tell you that the race-relationship out there is good and everything is fine, I'm here to tell you that that's a load of rubbish. There is no justice unless we fight for it. In the prisons themselves, there is no rehabilitation for our prisoners, none at all. They go in that door, they are stripped naked, they are given a number, they're marched page 76 into their cells and when they're ready to come out, they're marched out again. This is what is happening. More English people are coming in as wardens, more white South Africans as wardens, and what do you think they are coming in with? What sort of attitude do you think the white South Africans are coming in with to our prisons?

So many of our people who have made it to the top have gone through this foreign system that I hear you people have been talking about today. They become so far-removed from the people because there is nothing in that system to identify them. They are not able to come back readily to the grass-roots level. They 've spent years and years and years in a foreign system and it's time they came back again just as Maoris, just to talk at our level.

The legal system if you have looked at what I've been saying about the education system, is it any wonder that in the legal system we have few Maoris to make it to the top to try and make any change within that system? But as I said before, when they do get to the top they are so committed to the system they don't want to rock the boat either.

The majority of our people today are under twenty-five. This is a beautiful thing and this is why I love working with young people because the majority of Maoridom are under twenty-five. And if we're going to affect a change for our people, then it must come from the young ones; from those people who have been frowned upon, told that they're lazy, dirty Maoris; from the young ones who have been through the prison system and are so political - they're beautiful - and who know what it is. They know what the score is, they know that they must stand up to fight for an identity. And they're beautiful to work with. This is how our young people are today - turning their backs completely on everything that is supposed to make you a “nice” person. And of the 200 who are camped on Parliament ground, the majority belong to the gang that our young people get into or form themselves into to form an identity.

“Youth problems” - I don't call it “youth problems” - I call it “the system problem”.

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I would ask all the delegates here if they would support our people who are camped on Parliament grounds by sending perhaps a telegram of support, of encouragement, because, to me, this is the best thing that has happened to Maoridom, the best thing that has happened to Aotearoa, for us to get together 2,000 in number, and to arrive on Paliament grounds to try to determine a course to include us, rather than an identity that we have to continuously try to fight to be part of.

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