Letters to the Editor: feathered friends and Treaty issues

Fewer possums mean more bellbirds and tūīs on Otago Peninsula.  Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Fewer possums mean more bellbirds and tūīs on Otago Peninsula. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including a boost for bellbird and tūī numbers and Treaty issues. 

Wonderful that bellbird and tūī back with us

Great to read of the increase in bellbird and tūī numbers on Otago Peninsula after 13 years of possum control.

Removing 24,269 possums from the peninsula (ODT, 10.2.24) is heartwarming to read.

Living in Central Otago we’re also enjoying increased numbers of korimako/bellbird and tūī.

We’ve trapped possums as well as ferrets stoats and feral cats.

We too have planted kōwhai and tī kōuka/cabbage trees, also plenty of harakeke and wharariki/flax.

Plant natives while trapping their predators and you too may be able to enjoy a dawn chorus sung by Aotearoa’s musical birds. It’s a great way to begin the day.

Lynne Stewart


Not ours to meddle

Thank you, D Stewart (Letters, 8.2.24) for making me laugh out loud, with disbelief.

‘‘Māorification!’’ Who knew there was such a word.

How on earth is it known that the ‘‘vast majority of ordinary New Zealanders’’ do not see the need to preserve our indigenous language? How can people be ‘‘highly annoyed’’ at the societal preference given to Māori? Several statistics illustrate that this statement is inherently untrue.

In 2011, the Act Party, with leader Don Brash, promised to ‘‘stop the continued Maorification of New Zealand.’’ Māori were gaining more rights than non-Māori, and iwi were being favoured ‘‘in every aspect of New Zealand life’’. The inclusion of Māori in advisory and governance roles was becoming too much, and Act believed all New Zealanders should be able to do what they wanted with the land, and disregard local iwi consultation concerning indigenous flora and fauna. They believed Māorification was ruining things for everyone, including Māori. Even so, the party was promising to lift Māori out of poverty and illiteracy and alleviate their high rates of unemployment and crime. According to the brief, specific strategies that would benefit Māori were not the way to do it.

The term, Māorification, is dismissive and derogatory, and this viewpoint ‘‘gaslights’’ issues affecting Māori; it ignores the importance of te reo and ongoing breaches of injustice. Where equality does not exist, and cannot ever be regained, equitable solutions are needed to acknowledge our bi-cultural heritage. All New Zealanders and people who live in Aotearoa must honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, as it stands. The Treaty is not ours to meddle with.

Dr Bronwyn Hegarty


No surprise here

It is not surprising that the Treaty is causing so much controversy.

The treaty was prepared in writing by (the English) with the other party (the Māori) having no written language. It is easy to see in hindsight how, with differences in the Māori spoken language (which would also have been affected by tribal dialect), confusion could arise over the intentions and expectations of those who signed the Treaty.

The Treaty, however, is the legally signed recorded version of those intentions and expectations.

We should not add or subtract items to it simply because some of the descendants of the original parties constantly question whether the original recorded wording accurately express and record the intentions and expectations.

For instance, the unlikely scenario that the Treaty is a partnership agreement.

It would appear that from the results of the last general election the majority of New Zealanders may feel it is time the Treaty was revised or perhaps even revoked and replaced with a constitution more applicable and fair to all present-day New Zealanders irrespective of race or creed. — Abridged.

Allan Baxter

A shared history

Jenny McNamara’s letter (ODT, 8.2.94) argues against complexity in the Israel-Palestinian situation by claiming: ‘‘The conflict between imported Jewish Israelis and indigenous Palestinians continues because the indigenous Palestinians have been oppressed for decades.’’

As we consider our own colonial history and relations between indigenous Tangata Whenua and imported Pakeha this phrase echoes others who perceive Israel-Palestine to be a simple case of Jewish colonisation and oppression of indigenous Palestinians.

There has been a continuous presence of Jewish people in the land of Israel for over three millennia.

This is attested by archaeology and historic documentation. From the mid-19th century numerous surveys counted more Jews in Jerusalem than Muslims. In the first decades of the 20th century the long impoverished and lightly populated region of Palestine saw an influx of Arabs drawn by economic opportunities generated by Jewish settlers as they brought land into production and under the British Mandate that also stimulated economic activity.

The typically Egyptian form of many Arab names in Palestine attests to that recent migration.

Among the many Israelis who came from outside Palestine, 800,000 of them came in the late 1940s not from Europe, but from surrounding Muslim majority nations as they expelled their longstanding Jewish populations. These Jews from across the Arab world and Iran were accepted by the new state of Israel.

Jews and Arabs both have a history of presence in the land named Palestine.

At the same time, numbers of both Jews and Arabs came from outside Palestine.

Perhaps the categories of indigenous and imported are complex here and do not account for the difficulties involved.  - Abridged.

Francis Noordanus

Address Letters to the Editor to: Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, 52-56 Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Email: editor@odt.co.nz