Tau Henare, MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Minister of Maori Affairs
mea tuatahi ki a aku rangitira, tena koutou tena koutou. Ki te hemana o nga
tane, ki te hemana o nga wahine, kei a korua a tena korua ara tena koutou katoa.
and Gentlemen, I know I havenít got long, but I want to say a few quick words
about the vexed topics of multi-culturalism, bi-culturalism and Maori.
know Iíve caused a bit of flak about this recently, in my usual fashion.
Because there are very difficult issues mixed up in all this, which we
mustnít let go by default. And
there are real dangers to our race relations if we get them wrong.
agree with Mr Prasad (the Race Relations Conciliator) who has said recently that
we have to start talking about these things. I have no problems whatever with his sincerity and courage
and initiative. But what I am
saying, is that if we are going to have a race relations debate, we have to set
it up on a basis that allows the real issues of our nation to be properly dealt
me be clear. There are specific
dangers to New Zealand in setting up a race relations debate on a presumption of
multi-culturalism. The problem with that type of debate is that it begs and
excludes the very issue that has to be discussed, namely, the status of Maori.
Because it already has the answer. Maori
have no special status.
know we are all getting tired of grappling with the problems of having to cope
with the grievances of a colonised, indigenous population. So it is natural to just want to say, ďStuff
it, letís just give everyone the same, and then there canít be any fightsĒ
Letís change our bicultural nation to a multi-cultural one, and get rid of any
special Maori factor. It will be so
much easier. But someone should ask Maori about this change of plan.
Because that wasnít the original deal here. If Maori see that one side
seems to be quietly altering the original terms, they are going to have a whole
lot of reactions, from anxiety to rebellion and, everything in between, and none
of these reactions will be good for race relations.
the theme for this conference is ďIndigenous
Peoples and JusticeĒ.
In New Zealand, that means Maori and justice, doesnít it?
This is a big subject. But
why are we focusing only on one aspect of it? When you look at the programme, it
seems to be about Maori and
punishment. I would rather talk
about Maori and justice. Maybe if
Maori had more justice, they wouldnít need so much punishment.
amuses me. They are racking their
brains to know why their reforms havenít worked. Well I can tell them. They
are not working because there is too much wasted potential in our economy.
The waste of Maori potential especially is particularly shocking.
I believe we could solve a lot of problems, and create a great deal of
prosperity for all of us, by getting more Maori into our economy.
You can hardly expect to succeed as a society when half your team has
been sent to the sin bin.
can we get Maori out of the sin bin, and into our economy?
What do Maori need to participate fully and positively in society?
Well, ask yourself what you need. Because
Maori need the same. We all need
justice. And we all need fair
opportunities. But what is always
overlooked, and what I am specially talking about today is, we all need to feel
that our culture - our whole- way of life,
who we are, where we spring from -
is secure and respected, and we do not have to fight to survive in our homeland.
the Government is moving on justice for Maori.
And we are moving on social policies for Maori, though there is still a
long way to go. But Treaty settlements and better living conditions are not
going to be enough by themselves to get full Maori participation in our society.
In addition, like everyone else, Maori must be able to feel that their identity
as Maori is safe in our society before they will want to belong to
New Zealand we have many different cultures. The Pakeha culture is in a healthy
state. More recent arrivals are also eager to get stuck in and have their share.
They donít need or expect reassurance about their place in New Zealand.
Itís irrelevant, so long as they have a good standard of living.
And the reason why, is that their cultures are strong back home, and this
gives them a leg up to success. Itís
funny isnít it, how newly arriving people, plants - wildlife of all sorts ≠they
always seem to really take off in New Zealand, and crowd out the natives.
us be clear. In New Zealand at
present, the Maori culture and way of life is under threat. We are in the company, (so closely we donít even recognise
it), of an ancient culture fighting to survive.
How have we got to this state, I could tell you.
But I will not. The question of who or what is to blame for the situation
of Maori is not important for us here today.
The main thing here is that so long as
Maori see a threat to their place in New Zealand, they will be very luke-
warm about participating in our society. This
is not just a Maori thing. Every culture fights to survive, especially in its
native land. Itís what wars are
when I talk about the need to be mindful of our bicultural foundations, and not
go changing anything under the cover of an apparently fair-minded agenda, I am
not just waving a flag. I am
talking instead about a serious risk to our society with direct consequences for
race relations and the level of Maori participation in our economy.
think that publishing a Race Relations Agenda which virtually invites people to
vote for- multi-culturalism, is like changing our constitution under the covers.
Multi-culturalism is a valid issue, but itís one we need to debate
properly, with good information for people about whatís at stake.
Subjecting it to a vote by Pakeha can only increase the anxiety of Maori
people about the survival of their culture, and this will not be at all good for
course I know that in a simply
geographical sense, New Zealand is a multicultural society.
This just means that people of many cultures live and belong here, and
that is perfectly true. But sometimes when people talk about New Zealand being
multicultural, they are not just describing the facts of our population makeup.
They are using the word with a political agenda that would like to
downgrade the constitutional position of Maori.
You know that any word can be made the symbol of an agenda.
Once that happens, you are no longer free to use that word, even in a
factual way, without making a political statement,
reminded of the poor old Dominion newspaper, getting itself increasingly
out of touch with their use the word ĎMaorisĒ with an ďsĒ.
Sure, grammatically, if itís being used as a word in English, they
could be right. In fact, they are
on a hobby-horse of rightness, rocking away.
But they are missing the point. Rightly or wrongly, it pisses Maori
people off to be called Maoris, You can tell it doesnít sound right.
So when you go on using ďMaorisĒ, with an ďsĒ, it means you are
taking a position against Maori. The
Dominion knows all this, of course, but they keep doing it, so what kind of
agenda is that? What market are
they appealing to?
think the distinction between multi-cultural and bi-cultural is unfortunately
becoming loaded with a political agenda. Multiculturalism is an agenda which
says that Maori people are not special. Well,
maybe they are not. But letís
talk about that with a good understanding of all points of view, rather than
sneaking it onto an agenda for people to vote on, with no good information to
is such a cozy term, isnít it. Itís
not hard to sell an agenda of multi-culturalism, to a public that wouldnít
mind taking Maori down a few pegs. Multi-culturalism
just means giving everyone the same, doesnít it?
That seems fair. If everyone gets the same, there shouldnít be any
fights. This is the way we treat
children squabbling in the car. But I think it will take more than the crude devices of
parenthood, to sort out our constitution.
opinion, for what it is worth, is that considered as a culture, Maori people are
special in New Zealand. After all,
it was the agreement of the Maori people who were already here to share this
land with Pakeha that made New Zealand possible. Now Maori survival is under
threat. It doesnít seem quite
fair. It certainly stirs Maori
emotions up. I donít think it
would do us any harm as a nation to show a bit more consideration, and think
what it means to Maori, when they see people waving the flag of multiculturalism
right under their noses.
culture is not like any other in New Zealand.
It was here first, and then had all the others imposed on it.
When all the later arrivals came, they knew what to expect, and what they
were getting into, with Maori already in residence, but they still chose to take
their chances and come. They came
by choice, knowing what the deal was here and accepting it.
the British came, they accepted the responsibility of protecting the interests
of the people who were already here. Such protection was already regarded as a
part of justice for indigenous peoples. The
British knew that was right, so they promised it in the Treaty of Waitangi.
But no Maori would have signed the Treaty, had they known they would end
up fighting for the Maori way of life.
to multi-culturalism means getting rid of the Treaty. But the Treaty was signed to avoid a fight.
It is still doing a very good job of doing that today. What will save us
from fighting if we get rid of the Treaty. The police? We could put a few more
Maori in prison, I suppose, but I donít think so.
and gentlemen, we must stop thinking of bi-culturalism and the Treaty as part of
the problem, and start seeing it as, part of the answer.
What the principles of bi-culturalism, contained in the Treaty, show us
are the basic conditions of Justice for indigenous people.
Unless these are met, Maori people will never consent to belong fully and
positively in our nation. The
Government needs this information. Because
it is the Government which is responsible for what happens to Maori culture.
Government doesnít need to help the Pakeha culture. It (government) practically is the Pakeha culture.
It doesnít need to help the Dutch or Chinese cultures.
They have their own homelands where they are strong.
But it does need to ensure the survival of Maori as a vibrant, modern
culture here in its homeland. Naturally
the Treaty also tells us how to do this, through the protection of
rangitiratanga, but I will talk about that another time.
we must try to be mindful of what is at stake for Maori people in New Zealand,
when we talk about multi-culturalism. Because Maori are acutely conscious of
their struggle to survive and what they are up against. The grim statistics of
Maori are even more sinister than we thought. We thought they were just about
Maori individuals not making it. But they are really about a whole people and
culture not making it.
I hope I have explained now a little bit about why I am rather dismayed at the
line taken by the Race Relations Office in its agenda initiative. Whether
knowingly or not, the agenda is rigged. It will be read as an invitation to vote
for multi-culturalism, on an assurance that this is the best way to fix our race
relations. To every Maori, however, it will seem like inviting the wolf to vote
for a chicken dinner.
is a basic right of every culture to survive and flourish in its homeland. It is
necessary to secure that right and put it beyond question, otherwise people will
fight for it, as they are doing all round the world at this very moment. In New
Zealand that right is enshrined in the concept of bi-culturalism which is
inseparable from the Treaty. If bi-culturalism
goes, so will the Treaty.
we lose sight of the Treaty, we will rob ourselves of the very institution which
was designed specifically to achieve racial peace in New Zealand. We have
depended on the Treaty greatly in the last 20 years, and it has worked well with
the Waitangi Tribunal acting as a wonderful safety valve. So my message to all
who would lay hands on our bi-cultural constitution without knowing anything
about us, is: donít! It doesnít
matter how well-meaning you are, if you donít understand it, leave