(Photo: “Pro-democracy” spokesperson, Ray Macpherson, Rotorua Lakes Councilors, Mike McVicker and Rob Kent – all have voiced their strong opposition to partnering with Te Arawa)
With the Te Arawa Partnership Proposal verbal submission stage over, the Rotorua Lakes Council are now deliberating on whether to agree to Te Arawa’s proposal, go with the status quo or provide a mix of the two.
During the 5 days of submission hearings, those in attendance couldn’t help but notice a general trend, those who were against partnership with Te Arawa, in large part were male, 60-75 and Pākehā.
So when a young Pākehā woman by the name of Samantha White rose to speak, we waited, interested to know what her kōrero would be.
This woman, while being a tauiwi from the UK, who has lived her for 8 years, she quickly showed herself to have a robust understanding of the issues and one by one, lay waste to the default arguments of the Pro-democracy group.
Here is her submission in full:
Tēnā koutou katoa, ngā mihi nui ki nga tupuna hoki. Ko Samantha White toku ingao, i whanau mai ahau I ingarangi, he uri ahau no te iwi hurai me te iwi airihi, engari, kei te rohe o Te Arawa toku kainga inaianei.
Greetings to you all, acknowledgments to those who have gone before us also, I was born in England but now my home is in the region of Te Arawa.
From reading through the submissions online, those who have submitted “no” make me fear for the society I am bringing my children up in. I put to you that the no’s are showing a lack of basic understanding of the history of this country that many say we are all one of. Reality is that we are not all equal in this country.
[quote_center]We only have to look at the disengagement of Māori with politics and voting, the disproportionate numbers in the judicial system and the unemployment stats. The widening educational gap between Māori and non Māori. The educational system – one size fits all? No. [/quote_center]
Russell Bishop’s extensive research project has proved that Māori and non Māori benefit equally from a kaupapa Māori approach whereas a westernised educational system sees the achievement gap widen. The judicial system is incorporating marae based hearings for rangatahi with success. New Zealand tourism benefits from the unique position it has with Māori.
As a relatively new citizen of Aotearoa despite understanding the negative effect of the miss history taught in schools for decades post colonisation and the westernised norm which is pushed within the media I still do not understand why when anything to do with the indigenous population is raised it appears to invite such negativity and horror from certain areas, and yet there is no bias in decision making, no racism going on… no special measures needed here thank you very much, the privileged white declare! What does the Environment Court know!
[quote_center]White Privilege now there’s a term that causes uncomfortable feelings amongst many …but it is just a term to cover the set of assumptions about what is regarded as neutral, normal and universally accessible.[/quote_center]
James Baldwin in the 2012 Consedine book said: “the biggest problem with white privilege is the invisibility it maintains to those who benefit from it the most.” And the book goes on to say: In New Zealand white privilege evolved in colonial times where structures were put in place that were designed to meet the needs of Pākehā settlers… [and] marginalised Māori, yet these systematic structural benefits remain invisible to Pākehā.”
[pull_quote_left]Despite a promise of tino Rangatiratanga in 1840 this never eventuated, 175 years on the idea of power sharing is still anathema for many who have been victim of a miss education by the State.[/pull_quote_left]Despite a promise of tino Rangatiratanga in 1840 this never eventuated, 175 years on the idea of power sharing is still anathema for many who have been victim of a miss education by the State.
This leads to the lack of a considered “no” being offered. The no’s appear to have missed the point that the proposal is a considered one and probably have not even considered it is far from what tino rangatiratanga promised their tupuna all those years ago.
Those in the no camp appear to be ignoring the legal obligations that are placed on Council, their elected representatives. I also get the impression that these no’s seem to have little confidence in the full council’s ability to ratify decisions of committees, which have always been able to co-opt non elected people.
The proposal is not one sided, it takes into account all parties rather than just pushing forward with just the needs of 13 individual iwi in mind.
I also hope that the council’s legal obligations will be the driving force behind the decision made, as if we look to these obligations, the recognised founding document of this country and white privilege I should not be able to say to tangata whenua, those with mana whenua in this rohe: what’s wrong with the Eurocentric format we have now, your proposal is not acceptable; because we in our position of white privilege have to trust we might not have the perspective to see things from the indigenous perspective.
[quote_center]That is the trust and respect we need to show in order to move forward as one.[/quote_center]
Mana whenua have said it is the one they consider to be the most workable and that is why I implore on our elected body to do the same and continue to work towards partnership and a better, more connected society for the next generations by doing what is right and accepting the proposal; as there is no risk to democracy.
Full Council, still has the final say in this model.
[quote_center]The UN declaration of human rights promotes indigenous people’s full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.[/quote_center]
Strong New Zealand evidence is out there that one size does not fit all, and a Eurocentric approach is not the only approach. Change can cause discomfort but the discomfort doesn’t mean the change is wrong or the needs of all cannot be met. The treaty is relevant today, it is a document which allows for both the indigenous population and the non indigenous population’s needs to be acknowledged and incorporated to work together. I hope for future generations 2015 sees the Council make the right decision in the midst of a strong non indigenous majority wish for the status quo not to change, to listen to the statute they are bound by and accept what mana whenua are suggesting. To accept is to enhance democracy
Tēnā koutou Tēnā koutou Tēnā koutou katoa