Māori Party leaders aspire to transform Aotearoa for better

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said parliament must not forget the impact of racist legislation. Image: NZ...
Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said parliament must not forget the impact of racist legislation. Image: NZ Parliament
The Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has pulled no punches in her maiden speech, describing early New Zealand governments as "monsters, murderers and rapists".

The party has returned to Parliament after dropping out in 2017, with hundreds of supporters travelling to Wellington for the speeches of Ngarewa-Packer and her fellow co-leader, Rawiri Waititi.

Rawiri Waititi at the swearing in ceremony last week. Photo: RNZ
Rawiri Waititi at the swearing in ceremony last week. Photo: RNZ
Waititi paid tribute to party founder Dame Tariana Turia, and called for the Crown to apologise for the wrongs of the past.

"Her courage has inspired a whole generation and her bravery continues to inspire me today."

Ngarewa-Packer accused former MPs of being responsible for the murder and rape of women and children, the imprisonment of Māori without trial and the confiscation of their land.

"I stand here as a descendant of a people who survived a Holocaust, a genocide, sponsored by this House and members of Parliament whose portraits still hang from the walls. Members of Parliament who sought our extermination and created legislation to achieve it."

The trauma of those days still stayed with her Taranaki whakapapa despite the resolve they had shown to survive, she said.

Her great grandfather was the only survivor of the whānau to return home after being sentenced to life imprisonment in 1869 for fighting to stop the confiscation of land. He was just 16 at the time. Later, after his release from Dunedin Prison he helped build three churches on sites of huge significance to mark where their land had been taken.

Now 150 years later, she said it was important for her to be elected to Parliament to represent her tīpuna and ensure "this place never ever forgets the impact of racist legislation" and she also wanted to help ensure a future for her mokopuna.

Ngarewa-Packer said both her parents instilled the value of education in all the whānau with her mum going from cleaner at the Pātea Primary School to being its principal. She also praised her husband, Neil, who had always encouraged her to further her education overseas and supported her involvement in issues such as the uptake of Māori babies and the foreshore and seabed.

She said she wanted to repay the support of her whānau and to ensure their voice is heard.

"Too many of our whānau are struggling, out of work and unable to survive on benefits set deliberately below the poverty line or working two or three jobs on low wages and still not being able to pay their bills..."

She said they were still suffering from institutional racism and the failure to undertake constitutional reforms, including in the education sector.

Ngarewa-Packer said she had embarked on many David and Goliath battles during her lifetime and was committed to continuing the fight for her people.

"In this House we have the power not to repeat the mistakes of the past that caused so much suffering for our people ... and to transform Aotearoa for the better."

As other MPs congratulated Ngarewa-Packer, many of her whānau who sang on the original Pātea Māori club hit Poi E broke into a rousing version of the classic song from the gallery.

Crown should admit failings - Waititi

Waititi said 180 years after the signing of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi Māori were still struggling to keep their identity and language alive in the face of land theft, denial of their tangata whenua status, monocultural institutions and many other slights.

He praised media outlet Stuff for its wide-ranging admissions of racism this week and asked when the Crown would own up to its many failings and commit to doing better.

"It is time to transform how we do politics in Aotearoa; it is time for Māori to look after Māori as we know what is best for us."

The Covid-19 pandemic had shown that Māori could do this successfully without government intervention, he said.

He promised to be a change agent for his people "like a pebble in a shoe" and would be "a constant annoyance" to those hanging on to colonial ways.

He said he wanted a Māori Parliament, the right for Māori to switch between the Māori and general rolls at any time, a Māori-run replacement for Oranga Tamariki, better funding for Whānau Ora, more water rights and an end to deep sea oil drilling.

"Māori have had enough of being assimilated, and forced to do and look like everyone else. We are not like everyone else, we are unique ... there's no one else in the world like us and we need to maintain who we are."

Comments

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"The Covid-19 pandemic had shown that Māori could do this successfully without government intervention, he said." Are you absolutely certain about the veracity of that statement Rawiri?

If you always live in the past you will never move on. Nothing that happened in NZ compares with the harrying of the north. Just get over it.

Unforgiveness can do much damage as well.

Tying a country to its historic failings denies that country the chance of a future.
The grievance industry is huge it will never be over and it will always paint the worst portrait possible for the exclusive nurturing and advancement of guilt. No one in NZ today is required to make any apology to anyone, anymore than Maori who kept slaves in times of inter tribal conflict need to apologize to other tribes. Our collective history is known, It cannot be amended or changed, it should never be used to advance political agenda in more enlightened contemporary times. or wielded as a weapon to continually divide a country along racial lines. My ancestors were no more "rapists murderers and monsters" than any other cultural group present upon the earth who fought battles between their own people or against others from afar. A dose of historical self awareness is good for ALL cultures.

Now, I see this response as racist.
If I steal your car, at what point in the future do I get to keep it scot free.
If your ancestors voted for politicians who promoted the land wars, and land grabbing laws and any of the many other suppression laws, or volunteered to serve in the militia/army through the period 1840 -1920's, (and some would argue beyond that), then they were among the 'rapists, murderers and monsters' that these Maori MP's were referring too. The number of NZ citizens who publicly opposed these laws and the subsequent actions at the time was extremely small and they were ostracized for their troubles.
You say it yourself, "A dose of historical self awareness is good for ALL cultures". Don't exclude your own culture from that out of convenience.

"A dose of historical self awareness is good for ALL cultures". Indeed it is but just as important for healthy relationships (between people and cultures) is the ability to not constantly bring up past indiscretions. Surely it is better to for us all to acknowledge the past (as the Waitangi Tribunal has been doing for 45 years) and move forward without constantly calling for division. The use of a historically loaded word such as 'Holocaust' is hardly going to achieve a healthy outcome.

I don't exclude my own culture from my comment, the point is that all cultures and ethnicities at some point in our collective pasts participated in brutality in one form or another against their own people or others. No one black or white has clean hands. No one culture can claim the purity of innocence that stems from never having raised a fist to a fellow being. But when do the claims end? When is it completed, or finished...? When is it resolved in a manner suitable for both parties? If it is never over, then what is the point.? And if it can never be resolved, if their is no hope for a "team of five million" then what are our options...?

The car has a legal owner. I'd call the fuzz, and only you would be punished. Not generations of descendants even if they put the car to far better use than I could ever conceive.

I don't think you get Voll's point. Most people in New Zealand today have no connection whatsoever to New Zealand's past, being relatively recent immigrants. Also, as humans, Maori have committed their own "crimes against humanity" but like Voll I don't hold people alive today responsible for the crimes of their ancestors. For instance, Maori from Taranaki attacked the Chatham Islands. They enslaved many Moriori, killed and cannibalised others. The Maori invaders informed the inhabitants that their land had been taken and the Moriori living there were now slaves. Further, many of my Jewish ancestors were killed by Germans. I don't hold Germans alive today responsible for this. I don't forget what happened and I winced at the use of the word Holocaust by the Maori Party MPs, but then moved on.

Bravo! I congratulate these two on their courage to speak out. They are not wrong. The Crown gave them the rights of British citizens and made guarantees over their resources and religion and then, through the greed of NZ settler Govt's proceeded to tramp all over those promises. There were some in the Parliaments of the day who stood up against this piracy but they did not last long, the racism and avarice of the settler population and press saw to that.
As a NZer of pure pakeha lineage going back to the 1850's I offer my support to these two MP's. I hope they have endurance and energy, they'll need it.

"These two" want a separate Maori parliament with a $20 billion a year annual budget.

I'm pleased to have raised so much interest.
I reject all of the arguments that have been raised as irrelevant and largely racist based because I know all of you would be arguing the other side if you were affected.
The principal counter I would offer is that justice is served when the victims of the wrongdoing are satisfied, not when the perpetrator decides.
As for the descendants of the Jews not continuing to hate Germans. Well perhaps because the perpetrators were brought to justice at the end of the war and executed helped with that process. Indeed the Jews are still bringing Nazis to justice. If the perpetrators of the crimes against the Maori had been dealt with similarly then perhaps they might have a different point of view now.
As to the stolen car analogy, well Maori had legal title to their land and resources, maybe not in the form that was recognized by colonial powers but they owned it nevertheless. As to calling the police, well the criminals in this case controlled the law enforcement and used them corruptly to protect themselves. And your descendants would be livid as they watched my descendants ride around in your car giving them the finger.

”In pre-Treaty days was the land Maori occupied theirs by right of descent OR right of conquest?”

Yes, they owned it.

So does my point about using the word 'holocaust' stand or do you know for sure, as you claim, that I wouldn't take the same view if I were affected. In fact I have Irish ancestors who were affected by the Irish potatoe famine. Millions died but the word holocaust would still be inappropriate.

What is clear, as fact from the written records, Is that the Crown Read (NZ pioneer Govts) saw Maori as a dying, inferior race and they decided to help them on their way. Some Maori have chosen the word holocaust to describe it, personally I would have used genocide as being more appropriate to describe it, but then I didn't suffer it, I can empathize with them, those Maori, but if they want to use the word holocaust to fitting their emotions than I'm fine with that.

And now I would like to address your baseless claims of racism, A convenient and lazy term of abuse, simply posing an alternate viewpoint or alternate avenue of discussion concerning Maori or any other ethnic group, where one may challenge or oppose their views or opinions does not a racist make. All people who walk this planet of all and every identity are potential subjects of general discussion and debate, in much the same way that in 10 minutes time I may decide to discuss the origin of the universe or the history of Italian glassware. its the great variety of subject matter both animate and inanimate, that makes life on earth so very interesting.

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