Friday, January 23, 2015

Turei Ratana Speech Justified


Andrea Vance's claim that Metiria Turei's planned speech had soured Ratana proceedings was a bit rich and hypocritical given the context. Bill English even had the audacity to say in response that the Greens were "a bit nasty when they can be" and "barking mad on Treaty settlements."

For Maori woman like Turei, Key's comments last year were hugely arrogant and an insensitive slap in the face of tangata whenua. The Prime Minister displayed unbelievable ignorance in claiming, "In my view New Zealand was one of the few countries in the world that were settled peacefully." This ignored the 3,000 who died in the New Zealand Land Wars, the 1,600 people violently displaced from their home in Parihaka (many consequently dying while in forced labour and imprisonment) and the many other violent injustices occurring under early British rule. It isn't even as though the violent colonisation was old history, the violence against Maori has continued with the likes of Bastion Point and the 2007 terror raids on a Maori community. The colonisation of Aotearoa could never be described as peaceful!

To rub salt into an already raw wound, Key followed his first comment with, "Maori probably acknowledge that settlers had a place to play and brought with them a lot of skills and a lot of capital." This implies that it was a very one sided relationship and that the Maori had the most to gain from European settlement and ignores the skills and local knowledge that Maori provided. Maori benefited little from any influx of capital as they were deliberately shut out of the new economy (that they had initially thrived in) and quickly lost their land, their ships and their flour mills.

Turei had first hand experience of how Maori were excluded from the economy through the difficulties her family suffered and which she describes in her speech about her father:

"My dad was a labourer all his short life. He worked on farms and orchards, he worked shooting deer, he worked in a bread factory. But in the 80s the work dried up, there were 300,000 people unemployed. As time went on it became harder and harder for a 40 year old working class Maori man to find work. Poverty took everything from him including his home."

Metiria's own treatment from National MPs, who questioned how a Maori female MP could wear expensive clothes in Parliament while advocating for those living in poverty, was another example of the arrogance and blatant racism that permeates this National Government.

For a Maori woman to express disappointment, in a Maori setting, regarding the negative effects that the Prime Minister's comments will have on the relationship between Pakeha and Maori was fully justified. Te Ururoa Flavell was a bit perplexed about the fuss, "...to suggest that people don't talk about politics here seems to be a huge contradiction - the whole day is taken up with political discussion on behalf of the parties."

It seems this was just another example of putting a Maori woman back in her place.

No comments: