This is timely.
One of the “Urewera 17“, Emily Bailey has just posted an article on Indymedia.
Why Reject the Treaty? A Maori-Pakeha Viewpoint
She describes herself as a
“film-maker, writer, gardener, aunty and an environmental and social activist from Wellington. She is now living on bail in Taranaki, awaiting trial after the recent state ‘terror raids’”
Emily Bailey also reveals she is part Ngatiawa, which probably means she is related to my wife.
Here it is in full.
When you learn about the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand schools or on the street (if you manage to hear any of our hushed-up history), you are told how all the Maori chiefs signed the Treaty and how it became the founding document of this country, making us all ‘one people’.
People speak romantically of Maori wanting to ‘share their country’ or of Maori having to sign because of being outnumbered and ‘losing the war’. It is all lies of course. A convenient lie repeated by those who continue to deny our past and the injustices that happened and continue to happen.
These lies were created by a self-imposed government with no true mandate, set up by an Imperialist British ruling class to rule the working classes and natives of another new ‘commonwealth’ nation. A nation that never did and probably never will exist except in the minds of sportsfans, bureaucrats and pseudo-egalitarian, racist nationalists (who are sick of hearing Maori ‘whinge’ as they block their ears again and again).
Let me go back to the Treaty.
There were many versions of the Treaty of Waitangi. One in english which only twenty-something Maori chiefs signed and then more than six other copies hastily and incorrectly translated into maori and sent around the country by various different people with various different motives.
Many ‘chiefs’ who signed were infact not so, often to the full knowledge of or by coercion of the Treaty bearers. Some Treaty bearers got ‘creative’ about the contents of the Treaty or had to make it up as they were not given copies to go by. Many women chiefs were denied the right to sign. Many places were deemed too difficult to reach or declared ‘terra nullis’ (without people) such as the South Island.
In all, 500 ‘chiefs’ signed a treaty, estimated to have been representational of only one third of all Maori at that time.
Many other chiefs refused to sign, such as those in Tuhoe country and in the Taranaki region. But we won’t talk about that, will we.
Those that signed did so because there was suddenly a bunch of new settlers running around with no cops or community processes keeping them in check. Dodgy land deals were rife and accountability low. The maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi promised full sovereignty to Maori and control of their lands and resources while The Crown could govern their people and offer protection to Maori as equal British citizens.
The english version of the Treaty (which under international law is now considered defunct) claimed that The Crown would attain sovereignty. This gave them control over all New Zealanders and first right of purchase of lands from Maori – soon to become confiscation when their imposed laws were disobeyed.
Refuting the ‘majority rule’ history some New Zealanders like to tell each other, at the time of the Treaty signings there were far more Maori than settlers in the country. The settlers soon came flooding in though, after the signings, especially in towns like Wellington, which was much to the surprise of the local chiefs. (Many settlers too became surprised when they realised the land they had bought from their dealers was not quite as large or cleared as they had been told or did not even exist.)
As for losing the war, this also happened after the signings once Maori were being forced to sell land against their will, by the government and settlers. This is fairly well documented, albeit ‘creatively’, as every good history book likes a bloody battle and the historians were of course white.
So why reject the Treaty now? Because for many Maori there never was an agreement to give up sovereignty over ourselves. There was never an agreement to sell our lands against our will. There was never an agreement to pay council rates or otherwise forfeit our lands. And there was never an agreement to give up our tohunga, our reo, our carved meeting houses or our right to rebel against those who raped, beat, murdered and stole from us if we didn’t.
This is not something Maori forget. It is passed down from generation to generation in our stories, our behaviour and our pain. (This too is common amongst settler families from countries such as Scotland and Ireland.)
Some Maori now, struggling to find a way out of the cycles of depression, poverty and self-abuse which are so dominant in Maori society post-colonisation, are trying to use the Treaty to secure lands, resources and money. Many Maori have been well assimilated into the dominant hegemonic culture found across most of the world now, with several becoming for example entertainment stars or capitalist business entrepreneurs, just as the colonisers engineered. These achievements may help in the short term but they have longterm adverse effects such as changes in values towards materialism and individualism.
Maori are also more than over-represented in the NZ army and police force, institutions that oppress their own people and other indigenous peoples across the world. It’s like convincing the kids you don’t like, to fight each other while you steal their lunches. Ironically at least, it keeps food on some of their tables, be it at home or in the prisons – another place Maori are more than over-represented in.
So what’s the alternative and how will rejection of the Treaty help us all? Well let me first state that I am a third-generation pakeha and a Te Atiawa Maori. Roughly 50:50. I am also an anarchist, believing in the ability of people to rule themselves while living egalitarianly with others. I honestly believe that human beings still have the capacity to share and not eat themselves out of house and home. We managed it for a few hundred thousand years so why not now?
It’s only in the last few hundred years that we’ve been forced to believe the ‘survival of the fittest’ idiocy. Aren’t we tired of the competition and petty fighting just to keep our heads up? Isn’t it time for some justice to go with those superficial, romantic words of peace and love and kotahitanga/’one people’, man?
Well I think so and that is why I find the Tino Rangatiratanga, Mana Motuhake and Anarchist movements so inspiring. It’s people who are prepared to stand up and say they want their mana back, their self-control back, their lives back. Not to rule a so-called nation but just to rule themselves and their communities. This is my idea of true sustainability and self-sufficiency, down on the ground, where we know who’s taking too much of something and we can do something about it constructively, fairly and openly.
It doesn’t mean a Maori-run nation either. Past stolen and confiscated lands and resources need to be returned or compensated for and past human rights breaches need to be attoned for. The government needs to step aside though (yeah right) so that there might be communities governed under Maori tikanga which pakeha could be a part of.
There might also be self-governed pakeha communities that Maori could be a part of too or a bit of an ethnic jumble. That we would have to sort out as we went. It might be hard sorting all that out but at least everyone would finally have a say on how they want to live in a land that finally has a history of justice and peace (unless of course some of those communities choose to continue being totalitarian, which is on their heads I guess).
The first step though is making the decision to want something better than this state government and corporation controlled nation.
The next step is organising to make it happen.
Thanks cousin Emily.