A Tale of Two National Holidays

April 26, 2012

Two nations stood side by side in remembrance yesterday in honour of all those men and women who have fought and died in armed conflict.  It was, as always, a somber reflection of the tragedy of war and our coming together should be seen as a strong statement that we shall never again let such tragedies befall us.  ANZAC Day does not glorify war, rather it provides us space, as a nation, to reflect on the enormity of war.  It is a day steeped in tradition and in respect for what the day represents.  Every ANZAC Day, we can be truly proud to be a New Zealander – not because we have fought and died in foreign wars, but because we stand together on this day, united in our respect for everything ANZAC Day stands for.

Which is in direct contrast to how our other national day of remembrance is perceived.  February 6 marks the yearly anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Waitangi Day should command the same respect as ANZAC Day in the New Zealand psyche.  The fact that it does not speaks volumes as to the priorities of New Zealanders.  We value our participation in a worthless war, and an unwise invasion that ended as an unmitigated disaster, more than we do the very formation of our nation.

What makes ANZAC day special to a lot of New Zealanders is that we all have relatives who fought and died in World War I or World War II.  It is a deeply personal day of remembrance, a day to remember ancestors who fought and died to protect the British Empire from the forces of evil.  For Māori, this is precisely what Waitangi Day is also about.  Waitangi Day is our day of remembrance.  It is our day to remember our ancestors who fought and died to protect our homeland from the forces of evil.  Just as ANZAC Day reminds us of the horrors of war and provides hope for a peaceful future, Waitangi Day reminds Māori of the both the tragedy of colonisation and the possibility of a more peaceful future in our own lands.

I live in hope that New Zealand will one day come to value Waitangi Day in much the same way that it does ANZAC day.


Campaign Donations Revealed

April 10, 2012

The Electoral Commission has recently released the campaign donation records for the 2011 General Election.  These releases raise several important questions that should be put to our Māori members of parliament.

First, why did Sealord Group donate $10,000 to Shane Jones’ failed Tamaki Makaurau campaign?  Shane Jones is the former Chair of Te Ohu Kai Moana, the same organisation which owns 50% of Sealord and is responsible for managing Māori fisheries on behalf of, and in conjunction with, Iwi.   It is not a good look for the commercial arm of Te Ohu Kai Moana to be getting involved in Māori politics.  The Labour Party have been busy accusing the Government of cronyism these past few months, it is an inconsistent argument to run when Shane Jones is taking money from his former commercial and professional mates running Sealord and Te Ohu Kai Moana.

Second, some big money was also donated to Dr. Peter Sharples during the campaign.  I am interested to know the link between the Minister and Fletcher Constuction ($20,000); Richard and Tina Yam ($10,000); and Bruce Plested ($25,000).  These are significant campaign contributions and represent the single biggest donations made to individual electorate campaigns.   Such donations are very unusual in individual campaigns in New Zealand and will raise the inevitable questions as to what connections Dr. Sharples has with these individuals/companies and what specific advantages, if any, were sought by the contributors?  If anyone can shed some light into these connections, and the reason for the sizeable contributions to Dr. Sharples campaign, I would appreciate it.

And finally, special mention must also go to the Mana Party, with both Hone Harawira and Annette Sykes brining in numerous, and sizeable, contributions from party members and supporters. Hone Harawira received a grand total of $22,743 solely from donations from the regional branches of Te Mana Party.  His campaign was clearly one for the people, funded by the people.  Annette Sykes received $8,239.30 in campaign donations, again primarily from individual supporters. Professor Jane Kelsey was the single biggest individual contributor to the Sykes campaign ($500), while specialist Māori Law Firm Kathy Ertel Law contributed $2800.  Incidentally, Sykes’ own firm, Aurere Law, did not make a contribution to her campaign.


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