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Are we there yet?  'Widening the Gulf in the land of milk and honey!' by Whaitiri Mikaere

Are we there yet? ‘Widening the Gulf in the land of milk and honey!’ by Whaitiri Mikaere

‘The source of our rights is that, like the Kauri, we are grounded here. We were nurtured here, we are the people of the land … and we know that the Treaty protected our place, covenanted our rights’ … Te Ataria 1886 …

As Te Ataria, one of our earlier Rangatira illustrated in 1886, our status as Tangata Whenua as people of the land of Aotearoa New Zealand is inseparable and Te Tiriti o Waitangi recognised and guaranteed that status.

Yet within several generations there is a gulf that exists between Maori and our treaty partners with the most precious of our resources the land almost gone and our people scattered to the four winds both here and overseas.  In addition major indicators of health and social wellbeing, educational standard and economic status continue to point to an indigenous people who although living in a first world country continue to experience third world conditions and deprivation.

In New Zealand in 2011 and in direct contradiction to the concept of human rights conveyed by Te Ataria in 1886, some of us now live on an Island within an island of milk and honey.  If you’re Maori and not part of the iwi led discourse or even non Maori and poor you will undoubtedly fall into this analogy.

Our island shrinks day by day. Year after year the island becomes smaller and smaller.  The distance between our island and the island in which we used to live has become a gulf.  In time the island that used to surround us has become the mainland.  Between us and the mainlanders, the gulf is widening and the mainland is becoming increasingly inaccessible for our people to reach and participate in.  The gulf becomes an ocean and is now devouring our island, soon I will be left standing on a rock.  Eventually the tide will swallow up what’s left of the island and us.

The island and what’s happening to it is a metaphor for dispossession and alienation resulting in a profound inability to participate in mainstream culture and society.  Till eventually we are overcome or assailed by it or made refugees in our own country because of it.  The continued increasing gap between rich and poor, the continued browning of the gap and the impact of rightist policies of the last thirty years have had on Maori and the inextricable impact these policies have had on Maori women, our youth and now our most precious resource of all our children and babies.

Yet we live in the land of milk and honey, there should be money for jam, laughter and light for our people in their years.  For certain sectors of society and for a number of generations there has, indeed been a lot of enjoyment and benefit.  But there should be jobs and a sense of ‘Ahi Kaa’ cultivated here instead of an environment hell bent on fleecing its people of Mana and dignity.  The cost to maintain health, home, family and income should not be at the expense of one’s individual and whanau mental and spiritual wellbeing.

In the current economic climate Iwi led consortiums and businesses are major players in the New Zealand economy.  For instance it’s outrageous to observe that the most likely to be employed in the Maori fishing industry worth conservatively over a billion dollars in cash and assets are non Maori.  So while the Maori elite go fishing with their new mates their people hit the streets or leave these shores in droves.  As this example bears out attempts by previous Crown regimes to empower Iwi groups exclusively via the ‘devolution’ process in the late eighties and early nineties worked as a divide and rule strategy designed to disempower the more aware and politically astute young and older Maori radicals of the Maori renaissance.  In essence the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

None of this is new, but it does suggest why those including myself who may have all or part of the narrative might feel disillusioned in the current field of political representation dominated by rightwing governments for the last thirty years. A third political space has been created in the left by Hone Harawira and Mana and rightly so.

My hope is that Hone and Mana can stem the flow of the metaphorical tide against us the ‘have nots’ and build a tidal wave of ground breaking change!

There Is No Revolution.

There is no revolution

Without the people

Without people

There is no movement

Without movement

There is no rhythm

Without rhythm

There is no soul

Without soul

There is no conscience

Without conscience

There is no consciousness

Without consciousness

There are no tenacious

Arms and feet

To hold up and onto

That which feeds

Hearts and minds

To act

And an unapologetic tongue

To deliver

The obvious message

Fuck Off!

Kia ora koutou katoa

Naku na, Whaitiri Mikaere
BSc, PGDipSci.


Dedicated to one of Maoridom’s finest heroes Syd Jackson (Whaitiri Mikaere)

“Ode to a son of Ahikaa”

The voice of Syd Jackson
Radiates and warms
I hear him quite clearly despite
The gathering storm!
He’s calling me, he’s calling you
He’s calling all sons and daughters
Fathers and mothers
Kaumatua and Kuia too!

His voice is heard from dust road village
To sprawling urban rail
‘Not one more acre of Maori land for sale’
From the Kumara pit, to the paepae,
To the factories and to those power hungry halls
Tino Rangatiratanga called.
This ‘Tamatoa’ inspired, challenged
And enthralled!

For not only did Syd talk the talk
But he walked it too!
This man had nurtured
Remained steadfast and true!

Is it any wonder he served
The fledgling nation
With integrity and devotion
A collective
Conscience trademarked Maori
And true.

Proud and honoured I am
To be of that generation
Who witnessed the gentle giant!
Of Nga Tamatoa stand up for
Our people, our language, our land
Our rights sowed the seeds for
Generations to come
Liberation, freedom!

I soar high over Tikapa
To Moehau where it’s light
The whole day round
I set me down on ancient ground
To eagerly await
Once more
The Kakatarahae sound!

Instead a giant Totara appears
Wearied and battered
Trunk splitting, arms ravaged
The fortressed home
Of Tui no longer!

Far above clouds
Sweep and swirl
Revealing a moon
Like no other
Ranginui’s greatest pixt
For an audience

Springtide rises
With this red moon
Sending fat silver shards
Darting through
Pounamu glass!
Waves are sent crashing
But there’s no sound
Of any breaking!

Lightning flashes
Her Paaua shelled eyes
While rolling thunder
Roars through Obsidian skies!

Between Papa and Rangi
As if paused at the edge
Of a tremendous precipice
The giant, sap rising and falling
To the pull of this insurgent
Red moon, with heavy bearded
Totara arms wraps and braces
His massive sapped girth!

From this mortal chaos
Once uncertain now
No longer
Poised, he for flight.

Is it day, is it night
Red moon eclipses white,
Black, yellow, orange,

Day break wakens
With Tama Nui Te Ra
And Tui on Kowhai
And Clematis blossom!

I gaze out over
Our beautiful land
Where Totara is growing thick
But there’s nay the giant to be seen
Was it all a Patupaiarehe dream?

I come down from those ancient grounds
Where its spring and Kahawai fattened
Will be harvested on king tide soon.
But like all sons and daughters
Of Ahikaa

This longing for freedom
Won’t leave me alone
Not even for a silent high tide
Nor a rising by a strange
Ecliptic red moon!

E Te Rangatira Syd
Ka whawhai tonu matou
Ake, ake, ake tonu atu

M. Whaitiri Mikaere (c) Sept 2007






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