I was at a Hui (meeting/gathering) a few years ago … one of those ‘this is going to change the way I think’ sort of gatherings.
The jist of it all was how best to respond to The Crown in relation to all their past, current and continued breaches of Te Tiriti O Waitangi and the Indigenous in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Te Tiriti O Waitangi is one of our founding documents in New Zealand … It’s why any and all immigrant / European peoples were able to settle here. It was also supposed to be a partnership between The Crown and the Indigenous, to enable them to reside here, and us to retain autonomy. The Crowns first breach came within months of signing and we, Tangata Whenua (indigenous/people of the land), have been talking, debating, strategizing, fighting … ever since. Each generation has done their piece … added to the history of reconciliation, reparation, justice and moving on. The Crown however, jumped from the discussions straight to the ‘moving on’ bit … and their idea of moving on entails the Indigenous shutting their mouths and getting on with being imprisoned, living in an impoverished state … generally being at the bottom of the barrel.
Anyway, at this Hui it was discussed that we had done and tried virtually everything short of revolution by violence. And while there were many that still thought this to be the only option; there was another voice that got heard that day. An old guy .. who’d obviously lived a long, enlightened life.
He started talking about the way we had always done things … the things we had done so far. That we, too, were skipping a step. He believed that our tipuna (ancestors) had carried an enormous amount of grief over the rape and pillage that had been done to us as a people and the land, that we were entrusted to care for.
He believed we had already done everything that we needed to, in response to the Crowns breaches and continued atrocities. And that the issue or the problem, didn’t lie with Us.
He said … that the issue was who we were dealing with; their lack of mana (dignity); that they continuously move the goal posts, because that is their nature. They had and have no intention of being honourable and trustworthy. Of doing the right thing. We gave them the benefit of the doubt and it cost us generations of lives and livelihood. But history should tell US that their core intentions have never changed. Colonisation was always their intention, not partnership.
None of this was said in malice, which I thought was astonishing. But in closing he said, well asked … what are we going to do differently?
By that he meant, we had tried it The Crowns way … we had let them define the boundaries in which we respond. That we needed to stop doing that and find a way to respond that is ON OUR TERMS and is in the best interests of US.
So when we marched to Parliament, this time, we did it in silence, (hikoi wahangu), with the intention of taking our tipunas maemae (grief) and laying it where it belonged … returning it to the abusers so to speak . Along with legislation that has been breached since 1840.
This was the last land march/protest I did. It was most profound and extremely hard to explain. We could feel the weight of sadness move with us; what should have taken about 20 minutes to walk, took close to 2 hours. But it didn’t feel like it. Everything went quiet … and we were in the city … all the traffic went silent; even the birds went silent. All you could hear was us walking. And the gentle weeping from the old people who were with us.
And while the mainstream media down played the whole thing, as they do .. It was one of the most memorable and life changing land marches I’ve ever done. Because our intention was different than other times.
We got to respond as we needed to, not how ‘They’ wanted us too.