May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Gareth Morgan, Wairua and the Challenge of Love

4 min read


My initial concern with the articles written by Gareth Morgan was that he never seemed to appreciate or comprehend the complexities faced by Maori. With very few references to the past, it appeared that the future depended on starting again, creating a blank state and moving forward as one.
With an assertion that Maori had gained far too many unfair advantages from the Treaty process, his analysis split the conversation between then and now, between us and them, which to my mind felt like an oversimplification.

Im not sure if it was intentional but I found myself agreeing with one sentence, only to shake my head in disbelief at the next.

To say that the Treaty process (pushed) beyond its natural limitations…spawning unintended consequences for our constitution…as it (was) encroaching on equal citizenship seemed laughable, especially knowing that Gareth represents part of the wealthy 10% of our society, is a male, and has education & wealth behind him.

But then he wrote this:

[pull_quote_center]The Treaty is a sharing relationship that requires all New Zealanders to acknowledge Maori as a unique and distinctive social group within our society. Some would go so far as to say Maori are even a distinct “nation”. The challenge is to listen to and respect the Maori voice, while protecting the equal rights of citizenship for all New Zealanders as per Article 3 in both versions of the Treaty. [/pull_quote_center]

Amazing. And so right.

To listen.

For 4 generations, that is all I have heard my tupuna, kaumatua, koroua, kuia say. That Pakeha never really listened, which was why institutions like the Waitangi Tribunal were important to them. It opened up a platform for New Zealand to hear and listen, and for our people to speak, cry and unburden their souls. That paragraph was powerful.

So after reading that paragraph in particular, it seemed better to provide my own whakaaro rather than attack everything Gareth had put forward in his fourth column.

Gareth-Morgan (1)The Treaty of Waitangi has a wairua that has been largely unrecognised, lost in the words, the agendas and the interpretations. There is aroha in the spirit of the document, a love in the actions of proceeding generations. If the idea is to make our nation stronger, it would be to recognise and respect the collective wairua and aroha in the Treaty of Waitangi, in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, in He Wakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga.

I loved that Gareth said that te reo Maori should be taught in every school and be made visible throughout our entire country. I love that he recommends the changing of our countrys name to Aotearoa New Zealand. Previous leaders have said the exact same thing and have been met with hostility and hate, so today, I would love to see that positive and proactive happen.

Korero. The food of a chief is talk, and his recommendation to host community events to discuss issues is a good one. There are so many man-made problems that split our community – poverty, suicide, crime, hopelessness, violence, illiteracy – and for any society to move forward, it takes open dialogue to address, to discuss and to act.

Manaaki. My kuia used to say always make enough kai so that if someone unexpected turned up, that you can feed them, if they are tired, give them rest, if they are lonely, sit with them. In this self-centred world, the simple act of caring for one another goes a long way. I mean, how can we create shared goals or create a common path if we have lost the ability to care for one another?

Kaitiakitanga. Ok Im arrogant enough to say it – Aotearoa New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world. In the universe even lol. And with that simple belief, I try to look after the taonga of life, our whenua, our wai, our moana, our trees, our maunga, our whanau because it will be our tamariki who pick up this example and make sure this nation is better for their children.

Whakapono for me, is the key. To act correctly. Rather than talk of devolution, we should be more focused on inclusion and participation. Instead of talking about adding an Upper House to Parliament (been there, done that), we should be trying to regain the one House we already have. Whakapono is about recognising that our country has been out of balance for a long, long time.

What I have appreciated about all 4 articles from Gareth is his genuine search for a new alternative, an open-hearted attempt to create a fresh new charter of consensus.

Yes, we do need to turn a new page but we simply cant do it by ignoring the important parts of the book that came before it. We all know that the status quo is not working, and that a bit of honest reflection is timely.

My analysis has been a bit harsh, I admit, but there are far too many people telling Maori what to do without sitting down to actually listen. The release of Gareths book Are We There Yet? might provide that opportunity.

In conclusion, if someone were to ask me if I thought we were there yet, my response would be yes. We must surely be mature enough by now to now have this conversation. With so many crazy things happening in the world today, we owe it to our tamariki and mokopuna to find peaceful resolutions that empower and enhance, that reflect and respect, that commemorate the pains of the past and then celebrate the potential of what is to come.

Im pretty sure that I will never meet Gareth Morgan personally, so would like to offer this – kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui e te tuakana.

He Toa Taumata Rau


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