Some people might have noticed that I didn’t post much around Waitangi day. There’s a good reason – I there.
So it was with some interest that I read what others had to say about it.
Even without a full moon, Waitangi Day instead regularly produces a ragtag cavalcade of mischief-makers intent on misunderstanding whatever anyone else says — no matter how simple and however straightforward. Every year there’s a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of talking very loudly past each other — often the same people every year. I expect no less this year. I expect another Waitangi Day with the same protests as last year, the same people loudly proclaiming that the state owes them a living … and more claims for even more legal privilege based on race.
There were 3 areas.
First, there was an area we all walked past to get to the actual treaty grounds. I understand this was the “lower marae”. It was marked by a great many flags at the entrance, flags of tribes, the Maori “sovereignty” flag and the flag of the Maori party. It was, frankly, a joke.
It was full to the gunnels with people with an agenda. I heard one speaker at a forum tell the audience that if you didn’t stop beating your children/family members “the pakeha will take them from you” (clearly not someone who’s ever walked into a CYFS or WINZ office).
That tent had a display around the outside that at one point seemed to suggest that the European settlers were quite happy to sit back and watch the Maori die from their diseases. (Ignoring the fact that many many more Europeans have died of the same)
There was another tent where some university post-grads were earnestly telling some other poor people their version of history… I didn’t stay long enough to find out what that was, but I’m quite sure that it was fairly divorced from any token of reality. It was far from the only one.
I even saw some American Indians sitting next to Hone Haweri’s tent. Ironically I recently read that the Indians were only subdued after the US government stopped fighting them and started giving them stuff – hey presto, warlike culture gone. I doubt they shared that with Hone somehow.
(I heard that the Mongrel Mob had taken lots of the kids from their gangs up. I can confirm this is true – they were all over the place, and their attitudes stood out a mile. Pretty most groups with a grievance were there.)
Our group then crossed the river. Over that side is an area I understand is the Domain, and this was also full of brown faces, though this was more of a party – much more food, footy, health programs, and a stage. I say “brown faces” because that’s what the guy on stage kept saying, even though there was a group of us “partners” sitting right in front of him and the audience wasn’t even that large. After a few minutes of constant exclamations of how many “brown people” were there, I decided (with some considerable disgust) to fulfil that particular prophecy and see what else was going on.
So I and one other of our group went over to the treaty grounds. What a transformation.
Quiet. Dignified. Peaceful. Maori and non-maori standing together. (most notably guarding the flag!)
A protest group came around at midday. I saw them after them as they were returning. There were about a dozen, and what suprised me was that most of them were clearly not Maori. (I note that a Samoan was arrested earlier in the day.) Many of them looked a lot like the anarchist types you see around university campuses.
We later sat by the beach and watched as some Waka came in. It was impressive watching them being carried up onto the beach, working together to carry something that no one person could do. As the canoe would slip down, they would all give a shout and hoist it higher again.
My main issue was the way that it seemed to be a Maori festival, except for the one area where the partnership was being celebrated. Maori have good reason to celebrate the treaty, and I’ve no problem with that. They also have had issues with it, and it is only right that they (and anyone else) is free to complain if they must. But I really felt that in the celebration they had forgotten that they had a partner, and that in the protest they had fooled themselves into thinking that all their issues would be solved if they got their grievances settled.
But it was a good day nonetheless. It was good to see what all the fuss was about. The food was good and cheap (for those not caught up in the cashless society!), and I really must try that trick of putting icecream into a partly scooped out half- watermellon…