After informing my brother I wanted to write an article on racism, he responded with *sigh* ďnot another racism article.Ē
This reason is exactly why I chose to write on this particular subject. Not only do Pakeha choose to dismiss this Ďawkward situationí of discussing such an uncomfortable topic, but even our own people have become mundane to the subject. Letís get one thing straight, racism is an ongoing situation that will never seize to exist- no matter how much we fight for equality. Skin colour has become a sugar coated curse for indigenous people. It has been sprung up in media, health, education and the judicial system. It is everywhere; from the Newmarket billboards telling woman that to be beautiful you must be American Caucasian, have blue eyes, blond hair, and be a size 0; to when the bus driver intentionally watches you throughout the bus trip just to make sure you get off the right stop and not a stage further; to browsing for perfume at Farmers then suddenly having the shop assistant follow your every trail. These all account for racist acts whether you choose to see it or not.
Okay these arenít exactly 1850ís material but two things have come to my attention and have created a huge kerfuffle between friends and family. Firstly, Maori have become mundane to the racism topic. Since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Maori have faced numerous amounts of racism in the form of land confiscation, education, health and in the judicial system. According to my many peers, Maori and Pakeha, racism exists but ďItís not as bad as it use to be, so get over itĒ ďWhy do you have to bring Ďthatí topic up?Ē ďIsnít there anything better to talk to about?Ē Seemingly, my peers have heard it all. To cut a story short, no one fancies talking about racism because itís such an awkward topic. Itís awkward because society has made it out to be awkward. Its uncomfortable because those who arenít being oppressed choose not to see it. Its even more appalling when those who have never been victims of racism say racism no longer exists. Itís almost taboo to discuss this ongoing issue. I dare not bring it up in a Ponsonby cafe.
Secondly, racism has been so Ďcakedí it is now sugar-coated through Maori scholarships, Treaty claims, Maori health organizations, Maori media, and anything given by the state to shut Maori up and out. The 1975 Land March led by Dame Whina Cooper showed a mass uproar from Maori against land confiscation, police brutality and racism. It gave Maori hope in the sense that one day Pakeha and Maori could see eye to eye without manipulation and interrogation. Backtrack thirty years ago; racism was strong and obvious to the New Zealand people. Today we are provided with tertiary scholarships for young Maori people. Although this is a benefit for most recipients this does not fix the issue of Maori in the education system. This system was never made for Maori therefore the expectations and predictions of Maori failure rate continue to increase. Iwi and hapu succeed in Treaty claims but just enough to believe the state upholds their tino rangatiratanga; Kohanga reo receive a far lower annual budget than Kindergartens, yet we should be grateful we have it in the first place. 30 years it took to establish Maori television to empower and promote te Reo Maori, yet we are still criticised for having a Maori speaking channel. New Zealand television shows such as Police Ten 7 have dedicated their air time to charging and catching Maori convicts- but there are no shows created which portrays positive outlooks for Maori achievers on TV 1 & TV 3. Even in politics Maori politicians have very little power over decisions to implement full sovereignty over their own people. I will not bore you any further about the amount of sugar coated racism in Aotearoa. The point is we are becoming more and more accepting towards these degrading practices. They may not seem like a large impact to your daily lives but needless to say they exist.
In the last 170 years of colonization, the negative impact of Maoridom and Maori health and well-being is clear. Maori have faced open warfare, land confiscation, economic loss, legislative injustice, social discrimination and racism. These assaults have resulted in the decline of Maori development, Maori cultural forms and institutions. Tangata whenua have been regarded as second-class citizens, as mirrored in our health statistics. With over four million calling New Zealand their home, Maori still have a lower life expectancy rate than non-Maori eight to nine fold. These variations include gloomy indicators such as infectious diseases, injuries and chronic diseases. Many experts found that poor health correlated to racial discrimination. This has resulted to health risk behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse.
Maori people in the education system are disadvantaged. These poor results are directed from injudicious and ineffective state policies which have sought to gain power over Maori students for many decades. Promises have been continuously made by the state to protect our taonga (education) under the Treaty of Waitangi; however they have failed to uphold these promises. We as Maori have been forced to demoralize our mana, our reo and economic status in order to live in a western society. If you donít believe me, just look at the number of Te reo Maori speakersí today- the numbers have dropped from one in four to one in five. We have unwillingly consigned to a servants rank on our own whenua by mirroring Pakeha culture, language and customs which has concurrently marginalized Te reo Maori, Matauranga Maori and Kaupapa and Tikanga Maori.
Racism is the core reason for Maori degradation today. It has broken many aspects of our sovereignty. The purpose of this article is to encourage people to speak out against racism. It is presented in the form of billboards, bus rides, size zero clothes, lectures, even a trip to the mall. Itís still here today; theyíve just made it more appealing and pretty.† So the next time someone sighs at the idea of discussing racism in Aotearoa and says ĎNot another oneí, simply tell them to read this article. Iím 60% sure thatíll keep Ďem humble for the next few days.
Merry Christmas Aotearoa
About Kiwa Huata
Kiwa Huata has just completed her Bachelor of Business degree double majoring in Economics and International Business. Being raised on the Marae she has witnessed and experienced the tragedy of Tino Rangatiratanga due to the rise of capitalism, globalization, western influence and the loss of sovereignty since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Her strengths are in Maori sovereignty, Maori Economic Development, Treaty claims and Macroeconomic frameworks. She is an advocate for Maori, students and women. She is currently in the Hawkes Bay working on behalf of the Ngati Rahuna i te Rangi hapu on the Water claim and Racism claim. She intends on beginning her Masters in Business at the University of Harvard in 2015. She is 21 years of age.