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So then, how many Maori are living in Australia?
That’s the question Paul Hamer from Victoria University’s Institute of Policy Studies is asking. Paul is studying Maori in Australia and believes there are significantly more Maori living across the ditch than are recoded and reported in the previous Census.
Paul told Waatea News he believes one in six Maori now live across the Tasman.
“Maori migrants have a low language retention rate compared with other ethnic groups who settle in Australia”.
With a Census currently being organised for 2011, there will be lots of coordinated effort to reach back out into our communities.
To this, we’d also like to raise a korero put forward by Brent Reihana in his latest panui ‘Aromai’:
Interesting to note was the comparison of the Australian diaspora with New Zealand’s. New Zealand has a greater percentage of emigrating population, yet provides far less support activity for those living overseas. For example, the New Zealand expatriate group KEA was compared to the Australian equivalent Southern Cross Sons, who provide a far greater focus on delivering value to expatriate associations than KEA does. Out of all this, mind you, Maori receive none.
Kea recently distributed a job vacancy advertisement for the position of Australian co-ordinator for its membership base. One of the activities listed was to liaise with Maori groups – don’t make me laugh –When researching the idea of Maori Business Network, I met with NZTE staff and was given the KEA representative to liaise with.
When asked to provide information about a Waitangi Day event, the reply was that they thought it better to stay away from the politics… so KEA organised and promoted a BAREFOOT BOWLS DAY.
Our own Dr. Pita Sharples doesn’t escape my notice either: he campaigned in Sydney with other members from the Maori Party (Labours Nanaia Mahuta was another who also made the journey), knowing that the population in Australia could change the vote in their favour. After making office the next visit made by Mr. Sharples was unannounced in Sydney, and no meetings were held with those same loyal supporters.
Prior to that, Parekura Horomia attended a meeting here, listened and made the appropriate faces and noises when told of our desires of building a marae. Letters requesting support have been sent with nil result, whether answered or not.
The most devastating aspect of the colonial land grab, be it under the guise of the Asset Company, the New Zealand Company, the New Zealand Government or the Crown, the effect is the same, is disenfranchising a nation from its most powerful asset – land. Land holdings brought about tenancy, which bought about wealth. Wealth could be borrowed against to produce more wealth, and while all the landholders became wealthy, Maori were left to dig the earth to exist.
Generations past and present, Maori form a queue at the door to the same office that condoned the committing of criminal act of stealing land from Maori. How can we possibly make up for the lost wealth not being able to borrow against our own land in the past? Must I make a claim to my opportunity lost before I was born?
Maori came to Australia because some of us are sick of watching our people wait in the queue to be given something that will not make up for generations of suffering and lost opportunities. We have come here to take advantage of the greater opportunities, so that we can begin to give positively to our next generation and to our ahii kaa.
Sadly, another aspect of living in Australia is that we are viewed in a better light than Aboriginals.
It is quite empowering to know that there is actually someone else beneath you in the socioeconomic and social hierarchy of a country. Living in New Zealand, Maori know quite well that they are the lowest of all. That is not to say that we have abandoned our tikanga, or that our wairua is lacking or waning. Most Maori still call New Zealand home, similar to second and third generation Italians living in Australia calling themselves Italian Australians. How?
Please don’t patronise and pass off rhetoric gestures about providing assistance to Youth to Business or to anyone else for that matter – as Alan Gamlen and Paul Hamer both have reported, we have been here for a long time, we are increasing in numbers and thus far we have survived without funding from any government office in New Zealand. Church groups, whanau and community groups have made thedifference for Maori here, for which we pay our dues.
If there is going to be help offered, why not start by kicking those organisations that are already here, off their fat backsides and get them to answer the calls that have been coming to them from the cousins of the poor bottom feeders in New Zealand society, from those who made their way here for a better start in life. They are the greatgrandchildren of men and women who had their land confiscated, and so had the possibility of wealth stolen from them with it.
Now how do we go about getting that back?
Channel that support through the government offices established here, such as NZTE, and support the organisations that support the people.
We have Maori in Oz, the largest search engine on New Zealand outside of New Zealand, who endeavour to connect, provide advice and support for Maori. There is Maori Women’s Welfare League, our churches, our business groups, our kapa haka groups, the list goes on and on. We have built this ourselves. We have a strategic plan and though not having the valuable assets that our ancestors once owned, we are beginning the re-education process of how to own and why should we own – it’s such a foreign concept to this generation living in Australia.
It is said that a nation is judged not by the achievements of the elite but by the way in which it cares for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. This in itself is a sad, sad indictment on the New Zealand government, those organisations that it chooses to support and in turn whom they fail to support.
So then whanau – despite the geographic distance, how can we keep our connections tight? How do we maintain ties to traditions yet still feel secure enough to follow opportunities around the World??
If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear from you.
Many thanks to Paul Hamer, Waatea News, Radio NZ, Brent Reihana, Aromai panui and the Maori Business Network in Australia for this timely korero.