I’m Writing A Book

May 18, 2012

Yes, you read that right, I am indeed writing a book.  Over the past few months I have engaged in a number of conversations about Māori achievement, or lack thereof, and it has got me thinking about everything that my whānau have overcome to get to where we are today.  It was not an easy road for my tupuna,  my Mother, and her brothers and sisters, yet they have all worked hard to create a life which is an inspiration to myself, my siblings, and my cousins.  Our paths in life were made easier by all the hard work that they put in to get to where they are today.

It is these kinds of stories that I want to collate in order to create a book which can serve as inspiration to our rangatahi.  The stories of ordinary Māori who have fought hard to overcome racism and prejudice to achieve success in their chosen field.  I do not intend for this to be another book detailing the lives of our leaders – the politicians, the esteemed academics, the tribal leaders.  Rather, I want to focus on the unsung heroes of Māori society.  Those who work tirelessly to maintain their Marae, the office worker who goes home every weekend to support his or her whānau, the entrepreneur who has created a thriving business grounded in Tikanga Māori, people who can serve as role models outside of the sporting and political arena.

While I have no doubt that socio-economic factors harm the prospects of Māori achievement, I strongly believe that academic, business, and career success can be achieved regardless of background.  My whānau never had a lot of money, but my Grandparents installed in my Mother and her siblings the importance of their education.  Education created the pathway to a more prosperous future for my whānau, as it did for many other Māori whānau throughout the country.  That is why I am writing this book.  I want to bring together these inspiration stories and create a framework on which we can work to create a more prosperous future for our rangatahi, one that does not involve them fleeing to Australia.

So my request for my readers today is this, if there is anyone you know who serves as an inspiration, put them in touch with me.  I want to talk to as many successful people as possible about this project and I want to share as many stories as I can.

Once More On The Urewera 4

May 16, 2012

Stephen Franks has written on the excellent Native Affairs discussion of the Urewera 4 trial on Monday Night, and he raises a few points that should be discussed in the Māori context.  I have previously written articles on the trial, and you can find these here, and here.

Franks opens his article with the following comment on the decision of the four defendants to appear on national television:

It was odd that defendants awaiting sentencing were not persuaded by their lawyers out of appearing. What a dilemma they present for the judge, having publicly shown an absence of remorse in the case of the Tuhoe two, and defiance in the case of the Parihaka pair.

The collective decision of the Urewera 4 could well prove to be poorly made.  No Judge is going to look to kindly on their actions, and comments on Monday night.  And while jail sentences will no doubt harden their core support and prove to be a rallying point against the Crown, to think that this is what some people within Te Ao Māori consider to be martyrdom is deeply disturbing.  To what end were these people seeking to achieve deep in the heart of the Urewera’s?  There convictions did not arise because they were protesting some grand social cause, or occupying land that should rightfully return to Māori.

Which brings me to Parihaka.  While I do not doubt the veracity of the claims made by Bailey and Signer that they have the support of some of the people of Parihaka, I find such support to be an insult to the memory of Te Whiti and Tohu and everything they stood for.  Parihaka was founded as a bastion of peaceful resistance following a period of unprecedented bloodshed in Taranaki.  Violence of any kind towards the Crown was strictly forbidden and even when the Crown marched on Parihaka on 5 November 1881, the people of Parihaka remained steadfast in their adherence to peace.  Guns and molotov cocktails do not fit with the history, teachings, and traditions of Parihaka.

Ultimately, we appear to be forgetting the main cause of the grievance of the “terror raids” carried out by the New Zealand Police.  It was not the arrest, trial, and ultimate conviction of the Urewera 4; but rather the callous, brutal, and insulting manner in which the Police conducted themselves on that fateful day. Insult upon insult was forced upon the people of Tuhoe, those completely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever.  From setting up a cordon on the confiscation line, to the full commando gear worn by the police, to the intimidation of whanau, and the complete isolation of a community, this was no ordinary police action.  It was the misguided actions of a State enforcing its power and dominance over a community that had done no wrong.

Franks asks why no Māori lawyer could be found to argue the Crown’s case.  It is not because we all believe that those convicted were correct in what they did.  Far from it.  He is correct in his assertion that many Māori were affronted by the actions and excuses of the defendants, but that does not change our utter contempt towards the Police and the State for their actions at Ruatoki.

Time For An Inquiry

With the legal proceedings almost at an end, it is time for an official inquiry.  The reality is that a massive controversy has been simmering in this country for 5 years over what has amounted to a few convictions for firearm offences.  What we have witnessed is a massive structural failure in our legal system.  Poorly drafted legislation, an inefficient and secretive Court system, poor legal advice and advocacy, and an ill-informed and legally-inept legislature has eroded public confidence in the legal system.  Both Crown and Defence Counsel exploited numerous technicalities to drag this case through four years of hearings; the Government has yet to repeal the Suppression of Terrorism Act despite being told by the Solicitor-General that it is simply unworkable in its current form; and the powers of the police to interfere in, and monitor the lives of, citizens continue to expand.

Franks believes that unless we can assemble a team as proficient as the one that designed ACC then any inquiry is doomed to failure.  There is, however, at least one person still around who was instrumental in designing the world-class ACC system.  Perhaps it is time for the Prime Minister to call Sir Geoffrey Palmer and ask him to serve his country one last time.

Another Short Hiatus

May 7, 2012

Apologies for the lack of new articles of late, I am hard at work on a number of fronts at the moment.  One of the amazing things about actively engaging with the kind of issues that I do here on this site is that new opportunities will continually present themselves and I am actively pursuing these, alongside my regular work programme and LLM studies.  New content and legal and political discussions will be infrequent between now and early July as I take a much needed holiday in June and then travel to Singapore to attend the Legal Histories of the British Empire Conference.

Not that there is not plenty of issues in Māori law and politics at the moment.  The debate over the partial sale of state-owned enterprises drags on, in Taranaki a local Iwi have lost the vast majority of their Crown settlement through a poor investment strategy, and the Government is facing heavy criticism for under-resourcing the Waitangi Tribunal to such an extent that long-awaited District Inquires in Te Paparahi O Te Raki and Te Rohe Pōtae have been delayed once again.

And finally, as my focus shifts much more towards the completion of my LLM thesis, I will be sharing a lot of my research on this site over the coming months.   There is a wealth of information and ideas coming through in my research in relation to indigenous sovereignty which will be of interest to many  readers.


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