(by MATT RILKOFF) A Taranaki Maori academic has compared colonisation of New Zealand to the extermination of six million Jews.
Language lecturer Keri Opai told a Radio New Zealand panel discussion yesterday that Maori were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder following the “holocaust” of colonisation.
Hosted by Radio NZ’s Kim Hill, the discussion at Puke Ariki on our national identity will be broadcast from 8am today as part of a four-hour Waitangi Day special.
Mr Opai told the panel and an audience of about 100 that what had happened to Maori during colonisation could be forgiven but not forgotten.
“If you really knew what went on, all the awful stuff, that really does break down to a holocaust. I know we might get in trouble for saying those words but it is absolutely true. That is what happened, we are still recovering from that,” he said.
“I would hope that the average Pakeha New Zealander would perhaps throw their hands up with dismay and go `wow, sorry guys, we really messed up with that one. How can we help you out?’ and perhaps the Government would be on board.”
Progress to healing those wounds could only be made if Maori and its Treaty partners worked together, he said.
Treaty teacher and self-described Pakeha Margaret Smith caused a stir when she talked about the personal impact of a number of oil and gas wells drilled near her Waitara property.
“And I have been told there are plans for 25 more around my area. This makes me cry because, I am not a scientist, I don’t do a lot of scientific analysis, but I feel papatuanuku (land) crying. I know that sounds flaky but I feel it inside. I feel the pain. For me it is like papatuanuku has been raped,” she said.
Panelist Kura Denness said she experienced devastating racism against Maori every day, but expressed optimism for the future of Taranaki.
“In the future I see us side by side we are achieving some fantastic things that are specific to Taranaki, that recognises who we are in Taranaki.
“While Maori aren’t doing well there is all this funding and resources that go to sorting it. If that didn’t have to be there, imagine how much resources would be there to push us all forward,” she said.
The one-hour panel discussion broadcast today will be followed by a three-hour Waitangi Day Special programme to be broadcast live from New Plymouth’s Puke Ariki.