TE REO O TE TAI TOKERAU ARTICLE Thursday 2 Nov 2017, Northland Age
Nā Hone Harawira
Been an interesting couple of weeks …
Jacinda Adern dragged the Labour Party out of the morgue, slapped some life into them, and with a youthful smile and bundles of energy blew away the old and tired National government, to become Prime Minister and leader of a brand spanking new coalition government with Winston Peters as deputy PM and the Greens on board as well.
Hilda and I attended the Ngā Tamatoa Reunion down in Hamilton. Ngā Tamatoa (the Young Warriors) was the original Māori activist group that operated throughout the 1970s to fight racism and promote Māori rights.
Nuki Aldridge, a great advocate for tino rangatiratanga, a staunch defender of Te Whakaminenga (United Tribes of New Zealand), and the long serving secretary of the Taumata Kaumatua o Ngāpuhi, died in Kawakawa Hospital and was buried in Pupuke this morning. Nuki was greatly involved in the affairs of the north, setting up Maori organisations around Whaingaroa, and being a key speaker at many of the Waitangi Tribunal hearings in the north.
And Dennis Banks,
a Native American activist who co-founded the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1968 to fight for the rights of Native Americans, has died at 80. Dennis is from the Ojibwe people. He is lying in state at the Minneapolis American Indian Centre and will be given a traditional burial at Battle Point, Leech Lake on Saturday.
The American Indian Movement and Nga Tamatoa are icons of a time of dynamic and powerful change across the world. The Vietnam War was being exposed as a war of lies and deceit, women’s rights movement were gathering strength, the Black Panthers took up arms in defence of black communities, and indigenous movements were being established by leaders like Dennis Banks in America and Syd Jackson here in Aotearoa.
The Black Panther Party set up armed patrols to monitor racist police in California, and added community social programs like Free Breakfast for Children, Community Health Clinics, and Legal Aid programmes. The patrols spread to black communities across the United States as BPP chapters took up arms in defence of their communities and to confront police racism brutality.
The American Indian Movement advocated for Native American rights and against racist federal policies and practices. AIM occupied Alcatraz to protest inhumane treatment of Native American inmates and as a statement of their intention to reclaim their lands. AIM also led the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee to draw attention to the US government’s failure to honour treaties that grabbed the world’s attention.
Ngā Tamatoa led marches to Waitangi to challenge the government to honour the treaty, organised the nationwide petition to
have Māori language in schools, supported the Polynesian Panthers action to stop the ‘Dawn Raids’ on Pacific overstayers, and provided the critical leadership behind the 1975 Land March and the 1979 action by He Taua to fight racism at Auckland University.
Which makes my winning the inaugural Dame Tariana Turia Award for “significant contribution to reducing the impact of tobacco use in indigenous communities within Oceania” at a conference in Australia, pale into insignificance …