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Kīngitanga: ‘We’re going to go to Waitangi in force’

Merewai Durutalo

Calling Māori kotahitanga for challenging times ahead

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

“Yesterday Coalition minister Shane Jones challenged us to go to Waitangi. We’re going to take him up on his challenge,” Kīngitanga spokesperson Rahui Papa told Te Ao News today.

“We’re going to go to Waitangi in force because, when Kīngi Tuheitia lit the fires at Rangiriri, that mauri is within the hearts and minds of the people, of the King and of his people.”

Papa is adamant that this is just the beginning of further meetings across the motu that will take place soon.

“We’ve come to Rātana in force. We will be at Waitangi in force then, progressively, over the year, we want to hear from all facets, from the flax roots right to the board tables of te iwi Māori and so there are going to be a number of engagements across the country in times to come.”

He says ‘”the more we talk about it, the more it becomes ingrained in the mind, and the more it becomes ingrained in the mind of the government of the day”.

“We’ve been a few times to Waitangi but mainly at the call of people like (the late) Hector Busby who asked for the waka tauā especially in 1990. We went to Waitangi in force with our four waka and then in the times of Kīngi Tuheitia.

It’s not like an annual cycle type thing but it’s really important because of the kotahitanga (unity) that was shown at te hui ā-motu, the kotahitanga that was shown at Rātana and the kotahitanga that will be shown at Waitangi.”

Reassured by prime minister

Papa says he was glad to hear the commitment from Prime Minister Chris Luxon at Rātana yesterday that his government was not going to meddle with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“The thing for me though is that they need to be reminded that, when the tiriti was signed 184 years ago, there was no colonial government. It was a relationship with te ao Māori and the Crown that means some real specific rights for te ao Māori.”

“If we’re going to go down the track of equal everything, then it minimises the tiriti relationship between te ao Māori and the Crown.”

He said the tribunal was really a recommendation sort of entity when the late Matiu Rata put the bill forward in 1975 and then Koro Wētere extended it back to 1840. There were some real things, people could go and air their grievances.”

“I think the Taraipiunara (Waitangi Tribunal) should be left alone. The Taraipiunara has the power to investigate all of the historical occurrences, the breaches to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and then to come forward with their report.”

“I don’t think that it should be bound to any government. I think the taraipiunara is doing a bloody great job, so don’t try to fix what isn’t broken.”

‘Pathway to mana motuhake’

“In 1926 Te Puea Hērangi (then known as Princess Te Puea) put the case forward to the government of the time that we needed a Māori hospital, in her view and the argument still stands strong today. If Māori can see themselves in the medical system then they will engage a little bit better.”

He shed light on the longstanding historical issues between te iwi Māori (the Māori people) and the health sector.

“In that time in the 1920s there was a whole lot of mistrust and people didn’t want to go to the Pākehā hospitals because they felt there were some underlying things, racism.”

Officials at the department of health of the time declined Te Puea’s request and were reported to have actually laughed at the kaupapa but he said “the argument is still as strong as it was in 1926 then it is today”.

“If Māori can feel comfortable engaging with the medical system, then they will engage even more.”

Papa said this was a pathway to mana motuhake (self-determination).

“If we want our people to be healthy and wealthy, then we need to start designing these sorts of things for ourselves. What we need to do is to get together to complete the vision and the strategy and then seek the support of the government of the day to be able to support better health outcomes for Māori.”

He said that had to be part of it, just like the education sector. “You have to build the teaching fraternity to be able to deliver better education outcomes.”

“The same thing with health, we need our own doctors, our own nurses, we need our own medical school to be able to fulfil these kaupapa rather than bringing people in from overseas.”

Hero image: Kīngitanga spokesman Rahui Papa Photo / Aka Creative Ltd

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