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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 22. 14th September 1972


This article was taken from a Maori Organisation on Human Rights newsletter and was written by Poata Entera of Nga Tamatoa Council.

The Maori has finally realised that his identity as a Maori is in jeopardy. His once sacred culture has been commercialised, the land of his ancestors has been taken away from him and his native tongue has just about been torn out of his mouth. The Maori is quickly realising that very soon, unless severe measures are taken his identity as a Maori will be as extinct as the Moa.

The Maori just wants to be what he was and is, a Maori! He doesn't want to be a brown skinned New Zealander. He is proud of his ancestors and ancestral background, and he is proud of his customs and traditions. He is very hurt and disgusted when he sees that his customs and his culture are being used by the Pakeha as nothing more than a "tourist gimmick"! How do you think he feels when he sees the haka - Ka Mate Ka Mate Ka Ora Ka Ora, Ka Mate Ka Mate Ka Ora Ka Ora, Kia Kaha E Tai Tamariki Ma - and when it has finished the Pakehas applaud. They applaud the people who have just issued them with a war challenge!

The Maori doesn't want, and won't let his customs, traditions, beliefs and land be degraded, commercialised and taken away from him. Do you believe that Maui fished up the North Island of New Zealand with a flax line and bone hook? You find that a bit hard to believe? Well, I find it a bit hard to believe that Moses opened up the Red Sea with a walking stick.

If the Maoris took away something that you and your ancestors believed in, how would you feel?

The Pakeha is now in possession of 66 million acres of land, leaving the Maori, or tangata when-ua - people of the land - with a mere 4.7 million acres. These figures alone, without any other examples, show just how much the letter and the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi, referred to as the foundation of New Zealand, has been observed or honoured.

The Maoris know that if the foundations of anything are not stable, there is little or no hope for whatever is built on those foundations, unless those foundations are repaired or replaced.

Throughout New Zealand history will be found misdealings and raw deals from the Pakehas towards the Maori. But don't think that the Maori took these lying down! Maoris like (to name but a few) Hone Heke, Rewi Maniopoto and T.W. Ratana had fought for the rights of the Maori. But, inevitably, the Pakeha has turned the Maori heroes into villains. The Pakeha has recorded in history books and through other means that Hone Heke was a villain, Rewi Maniapoto was insane, and T.W. Ratana was an alcoholic and a fake. But to me, as a Maori, these three men were heroes. Heroes in every sense of the word! Men who fought for the rights of their people, men who fought for the equality promised, who fought for their people's land and men who tried to get the best for their people.

Drawing of Maori designs

The voice of the Maori has never been acknowledged throughout New Zealand's history. The Maori has been completely ignored by the European. Taking a few examples:

1843 - Three years after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, there was discontent expressed amongst the Maori people, which in turn led to the 52 Chiefs of the North, who had, only three years ago, signed the Treaty, approaching the Governor and demanding that a committee be set up to inquire into the misdealings of land which were a direct violation of the Treaty.

The committee, needless to say, was never set up, therefore nothing was done for the Maori people.

1932 - T.W. Ratana presented to Parliament a petition with 40,000 Maori signatures on it, for the ratification of the Treaty of Waitangi. This petition was completely rejected.

1967 - When the 1967 Maori Affairs Amendment (LandGrab) Act was presented to Parliament, hundreds of Maori individuals - including the four Maori Parliamentary representatives and the Maori King - and Maori groups and councils, objected strongly against the Act. Again the voice of the Maori was disregarded and the Act was passed.

1971 - Still a feeling of discontent amongst the Maori. At Waitangi a protest was held against the most insincere document in the history of New Zealand, Again, the Pakehas looked on these people as they did on Hone Heke.

The Tamatoa Council, who participated in the protest, asked Duncan MacIntyre, "Do you really expect the Maoris to have faith and trust in you and the Maori Affairs Department when at the top of the power structure sits Mr. Jock McEwen, who was one of the authors of the 1967 Maori Affairs Amendment Act, and yourself, who was one of the people in Parliament who voted for the passing of the Act?"

In May 1971 Nga Tamatoa Council published a two-page Newsletter "The Fly", dealing further with Maori identity, education and details of Polynesian gangs.