Waitangi Day 2018- is Te Tiriti o Waitangi still relevant?

Reuben Taipari Porter

The annual Hikoi ki Waitangi leaves Rerenga Wairua Monday 29th January to arrive in Kaitaia on the 31st January, travel to Kaikohe on the 1st, Kawakawa the 2nd and arrive in Waitangi on the 3rd of February.

The kaupapa is a pilgrimage of acknowledgement for over 48 years of Protest Movements which shaped the country  today. Many initiatives that have developed today were born from acts of protest and this Hikoi is in remembrance of the importance of speaking up when an issue needs to be addressed, in order for positive change to occur.  Waitangi Day is a commemoration of Te Tiriti o Waitangi- an old banner was “A Day Off or a Rip Off”-so don’t let us succumb to just enjoying concerts, sports events & whirlwind politics- to bypass the special relevance of the day.

In 1972 the actions of Hana Jackson, a learner of Te Reo Māori, who  took the 30,000 signature Māori language petition  to the steps of parliament,  helped to create a succession of  Kohanga Reo,  Kura Kaupapa, Wharekura and Wānanga Māori.  However despite these gains, the  question is , why are our 30 year old Kohanga Reo still in tin sheds?  Why is only 3% of the Tai Tokerau student population involved in Kura Kaupapa- Kura a Iwi- the burden for the revitalisation of Te Reo rests on a minority of whānau?

The 1975 Land March led by Whina Cooper drew national awareness to halt the  alienation or sale of the remaining 5% of Māori land. Former Tai Tokerau MP,  Matiu Rata initiated The Treaty of Waitangi Act, which gave birth to the Waitangi Tribunal 1975 and later enabled  the inclusion of land claims since 1840 and the beginnings of Īwi claims and some Īwi Settlements to occur.  It was good that the recent Ture Whenua Act, was left on the back shelf.

Bastion Point 1978 celebrated its 40th commemorations in May 2017 and the Raglan Whaingaroa 1978 will also be acknowledged in April.

These events and efforts by people passionate about human and indigenous rights formed groups like Māori Organisation of Human Rights, Ngā Tamatoa, He Taua, Waitangi Action Committee, Waitangi Network and others to organise actions and protests around the country and set the pathway forward to pressure the Government to acknowledge and honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Questions during the Hikoi will be to ask if Tiriti o Waitangi is relevant today and has Te Tiriti been honoured enough that we should now move on into the sunset as one nation?

The Māori Foreshore and Seabed Hikoi 2004,  led by Hone Harawira, still bubbles under the radar as the Labour Government will be forced to grapple with the National Government’s tinkered version of the Takutai Moana Bill aka Marine and Coastal Areas Act (MACA). Former Māori Labour MPs have been haunted by their tacit support of the Takutai Moana bill.  -Now they have an opportunity to rewrite the history books by repealing MACA . The pressure is on for the new Government to deliver more than fairy stardust and a sense of wonderfulness.

The Waitangi Tribunal Claims process has been significant in bringing forward the true hapu histories of Ngāpuhi Nui Tonu. In 1840, Ngāpuhi signed only the Māori versions of Te Tiriti at Waitangi, Mangungu and Kaitaia.  The Government has always relied on the English version to assert its rule.   Kingi Taurua was right to ban John Key from Waitangi Marae after having signed  the TPPA.  We Māori are allowed to refuse pōhiri to murderers and leaders who sign away Aotearoa’s sovereignty.  Ngāpuhi never ceded sovereignty to the Crown, the Crown has no right to give it away for a pound of butter. Actually it’s time the Governments should come to terms with the 2014 edict of the Waitangi Tribunal- ie “that Ngāpuhi never ceded sovereignty” .  Ngāpuhi sovereignty is yet to be realised and requires a rangatira to rangatira relationship.

All the gains in Māoridom have never been served on a plate. Protest and claimant action has taken its toll on our people and robbed our meagre resources.. Even when Māori win a battle, there are still embittered dinosaurs who will raise the same obstacles  to prevent Aotearoa moving forward. There will always be kaki whero who will revert to Racism Hill, to espouse their disregard for Māori culture , language and customs. Boo Hoo! Hobson ‘s mokopuna are key in leading the fight for the Māori renaissance.  We have no time to waste – let our Pakeha counterparts argue with them. We have precious resources to sustain the constant battle fighting for the Wai, the spectrum, the whenua ,Te Reo Māori, the alleviation of child poverty, strengthening whānau and communities etc.

The massive gap of income between poor and rich , the future of a new TPPA deal are big threats for this generation to protest against. In order to maintain a balance of rights and power in this society…is there even a layer of activists or Toa ready to step up? Or is this generation of Government funded dependent servants, reluctant to confront the issues of today and hold the Crown to task?

These questions on our pilgrimage to Waitangi we will be asking the opinion of the people on our streets in our towns of Tai Tokerau….as usual, everybody who recognises Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of this country, are welcome to participate and contribute.


Rueben Taipari Porter

Hikoi ki Waitangi 2018