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Edwards: Waitangi – A barometer for racial tensions

Written By: - Date published: 3:27 pm, February 5th, 2013 - 24 comments
Categories: john key, Maori Issues - Tags: , ,

Bryce Edwards has a useful roundup of the goings on at Waitangi:

The Harawira family is holding the whole country to ransom. That’s what the Herald has reported the Police as saying at Waitangi today – see: Yvonne Tahana and Claire Trevett’s Key at centre of Waitangi standoff. This is obviously a gross exaggeration on the part of the Police, but it will resonate with many observing the circus around Titewhai Harawira’s role in holding the Prime Minister’s hand in the walk up to Te Tii Marae each year. …

If Waitangi Day is seen as a barometer for racial tension in the country it’s hard to see what the reading is this year so far. Morgan Godfrey gives it a go with a comparison of the current mood with 2009 and 2012 – see: Reflections on Waitangi Day. For the Government any discomfort Key may have felt this morning may be a dose of karma as the Manawatu Standard’s Grant Miller points out: ‘National has fed Mrs Harawira’s ego on past Waitangi Days, so it is not in a position where it can distance itself from the affair – see: Waitangi – here we go again.

Of course there are plenty of very real issues that can and will be debated today. There seems to be plenty of room for improvement according to a UMR poll for the Human Rights Commission. Less than a quarter of those surveyed agreed that ‘The Treaty relationship between the Crown and Maori is healthy’ down from 40% in 2008. This is despite significant progress over that period in settling historical treaty claims – see: Public see Treaty negatives. It seems the unresolved issues are still taking the limelight and that will contribute today with Maori Council co-chairman Maanu Paul set to address the PM directly the on the marae over the water claim currently before the Supreme court. Like the Police, Paul might also be accused of gross exaggeration in saying that John Key ‘has a very brutal and violent way of relating with Maori’ – see TVNZ’s Harawira ‘has bullied her way’ into escorting PM onto marae. …

24 comments on “Edwards: Waitangi – A barometer for racial tensions”

  1. Bunji 1

    It’s pretty frustrating that the discussion is on who holds JK’s hand, not on substantive issues – like Maanu Paul confronting JK on Water Rights (or the general ongoing poor lot Maori get…)

    Still, I was impressed by JK pointing out that away from the media hype pushing any conflict, it’s actually a great family occasion, and people should go. I’ve gone up there with my young family in the past and it’s a great festival – I’d encourage others to make the trip.

    • Saarbo 1.1

      “it’s actually a great family occasion, and people should go. I’ve gone up there with my young family in the past and it’s a great festival – I’d encourage others to make the trip.”

      I am listening to Simon Mercep on RNZ broadcasting on Waitangi, a really good report!…well done Radio NZ. It makes me want to head up there and celebrate which I think we will do next year.

      I find it bloody disgraceful the way the commercial MSM love to highlight the little scraps and marae idiosyncrasies rather than report on the big issues. It says more about our commercial media than anything else.

      I think this highlights the need for more public service broadcasting so we dont have to put up with the drivel. Bring back TV7.

      • Skinny 1.1.1

        My sentiments exactly, listening to RNZ on my way up this morning I heard an Interview with John Key who’s opening line was  “it’s a bit quiet this year I don’t know why that is.” 
        I will tell you ya you out of touch clown John, it’s because most ordinary Kiwis can’t afford the expense of traveling up to Waitangi to celebrate our National day.

         That’s  because average Jo & Joanna Lunchbox are feeling the pinch under your clueless running (ruining) of the economy. 

        WAKE UP John! take time to go have a chat to a real rags to riches New Zealander in Owen Glenn, who is putting his money where his mouth is and doing the states job by funding a campaign against domestic violence. John the single biggest contributor to domestic violence is financial pressure which ‘you can do something about.’    

      • karol 1.1.2


        I don’t agree that Waitangi celebrations are a baramoter on race relations. It has more to do with the MSM coverage of Waitangi Day, in which they do their normal infotainment line of looking for dramatic conflict and simple stories of “heroes” and “villains”.

  2. I wish they would leave Titewhai Harawira out of their political point scoring but (metaphorically not actually I hope) shooting uppity indigenous people is still considered sport in this country.

    edit – just saw this great report – worth a read to understand the tensions and issues and resolutions


    • Colonial Weka 2.1

      Thanks marty. I think it’s almost impossible for pakeha to be able to understand what is going on there (certainly impossible for the MSM to report on usefully), and in some regards I feel like it is none of my business. Plus, it’s beyond me why anyone would want to hold the hand of that unctuous little creep.

      • blue leopard 2.1.1

        ” …it’s beyond me why anyone would want to hold the hand of that unctuous little creep.”

        Probably the msm getting it all wrong~they were probably not fighting over who would walk with him because both of them wanted to; rather because both of them didn’t: “no you do it, no you

  3. xtasy 3

    I heard and read this already this morning, these accusations of “bullying” supposedly by Titewhai Harawira. And the media was quick to pick it up. Some member of a trust or group of people, who feel they have some influence on who should be included into protocol as escorts on the Waitangi Lower Marae, they wanted a challenge to Harawira.

    Kingi Taurua appears to have had some support to push for a challenge. He was vocal on calling Harawira a “bully”. That was gobbled up with glee by the media, all over.

    What I saw last night on the TV news was Titewhai Harawira walk on two walking stick or crutches. Now a “bully” does to my knowledge look a bit different. I would not rule out she is very insisting, firm and demanding in her ways, but that may be a different thing altogether.

    Even John Key called the 80 plus year old activist a “kind old lady” or something similar today, and that was after waiting up to 40 minutes for some disagreement to be sorted out.

    Kingi Taurua I saw once before a District Court here in Auckland answering to charges.

    He may have his own “challenges”, and I also remember last year, or was it two years ago, that the trustees of Te Tii Marae now charge handsome fees for people entering the grounds. Media were not happy with it.

    Whatever goes on there is partly petty, partly personal and complex. But hey, I feel it has all been blown totally out of proportions, and now it even seems the media want to declare war on the Harawira family, guess why?

    Maybe there is some concern about the strong stand Hone and others in the family take not only on Maori issues, but also on social injustice, poor health, housing and other services, that make Maori, plus many others in NZ suffer very badly under this government.

    So here we go again, maybe a bit of a hidden “agenda” there – by white professional career journalists, feeling more sympathy for a (“European Kiwi”) PM, who does stuff all to improve race relations.

    I feel that race relations have worsened substantially over the last couple of years, and it is a real big worry. This government is not doing anything positive in that regards. All they do is offer the odd token gesture to the Maori Party, to ensure they keep supporting their rule.

    I even start thinking, Key insists on going back to Waitangi, as it serves his personal agenda, to look strong and determined.

    Duncan Garner did on Radio Live make the whole event and disruption his main story this late afternoon. He really went to town, rubbishing the Harawira family, and he is one there in the media, who now tells people what they should think (like him). Now is that the role of the media, or are we in “Goebbels Soft Territory” here?

  4. Murray Olsen 4

    Titewhai will be used by the right to attack Mana. Hone is a big boy and he’s the leader, not his mother. It’s every bit as ridiculous as using Archie Banks to attack ACT.

    • Yes, thats what crossed my mind. Its pretty clear that Mana and Hone will be wanted removed. Monied interests wouldn’t want what Hone says to be listened to by many; it might actually get the disenfranchised voting. Quelle horreur!

    • karol 4.2

      Yes, the MSM do tend to have it in for the Harawiras. A little too far from the (mythical, constructed) political centre for most of our MS journos..

      • North 4.2.1

        Injustice is not to be identified. It’s a constructed moral equivalency we’re after. Facile shit to keep the ignorant, our potential soldiers, on our side.

      • infused 4.2.2

        Because they are racist dickheads

  5. vto 5

    If the Titewhai circus, Waitangi and its reporting is a barometer then it would have to appear that racial tensions have eased.

    However I do not think that is the reality. I think there is as much tension as there has been except that it has gone somewhat underground, due to the stronger position Maori hold in the country now. Issues that people have with the treaty and the place of various races in Aotearoa are not discussed as openly but they are certainly discussed firmly when raised in quieter surrounds. More firmly.

    Personally, I would like to see a discussion on the quality and relevance of the treaty document and its structure and whether it is suitable for what it needs to achieve today. Good luck with that though – it is like trying to have a discussion about whether there were other immigrants here in NZ at various times before Maori. Impossible due to heavy dominating vested interests – best push these things under the carpet.

    • not under the carpet but in the compost bin vto for obvious and legitimate reasons but don’t worry I have better things to do today than try and convince a closed mind so go hard young fella!

      edit – try chucking your thoughts here vto looks like a debate starting


      • vto 5.1.1

        You can’t ignore people marty mars, it just doesn’t work

          • vto

            You have a vested interest in the status quo. QED.

            I will not live under a system of birthright privilege. It is what our ancestors escaped together with the injustice and oppression that springs from such.

            I will not live under governance by people who I have no say in. That is a dictatorship. No franchise, no rule.

            Ignore away all you want marty mars, you do nothing for you people in doing so.

            • marty mars

              No YOU have a vested interest – i want to change it so that we have EQUALITY

              You do live with a birthright privilege – look in the mirror (that one is based on lots of assumptions so sorry if you are a person of colour vto.)

              Your ancestors escaped injustice and oppression to… create injustice and oppression towards others here and you can’t be bothered doing one single thing to even acknowledge it let alone try to make it better.

              That sentence about governance is nonsensical.

              I will ignore you and your dreams of smashing the treaty and making something that advantages you and I’ll also ignore your lapdogging with the wankers that claim tangata whenua are not indigenous or that celts were here first and taught tangata whenua everything they know. Yes I’ll ignore all of that vto – but what I won’t ignore is – bugger i forgot :)

              • vto

                Thanks for the dialogue marty mars. If I might respond…

                Paragraph 1. The vested interest lies with the status of the treaty and its curret interpretation in law. The interest I have is the same as you – equality for all. And I do not see that happenning – I see one unjust position being morphed into another unjust position. The parties are swapped.

                Paragraph 2 – sure, whitey had a birthright privilege and that was not just and neither was it sustaniable. There is a hangover from that I agree, slowly diminishing, as it should. I have acknowledged this before.

                Paragraph 3. Sure, but not quite. Please don’t equate English actions with others of pale skin. The English did it to us too, of course. What do you think we were escaping? As for saying I “can’t be bothered doing a single thing”, really marty mars, assumptions let you down as well as the base position of your view. You are quite wrong.

                Paragraph 4 – governance. It is not nonsensical. There is a strong move from consultation to governance. examples include Christchurch and Te Urewera. I expect this push will accelerate. It is not nonsensical/ I have no say in, for example, Ngai Tahu, yet in Chch they exercise a governance over me. Please re-read and think.

                Paragraph 5 – irrelevant. personal.

                Honestly, I think we are on the same side and want the same things. What I see today in the treaty and its application though is not pointing us towards those things, in the longer picture, imo. This is the unsustanable faultline in the approach. We must stand equal. We are stronger like this. We are equal. But, my main thrust is that this is not happenning and the direction we are going is making this worse.

                I have explained before how this should play out, but unfortunately must run for a few days…. In a nutshell though – the current direction must be for a shortish timeframe, to reinstate things to a level playing field, however once that point is reached these treaty machinations must be re-adjusted to an equal footing.


                edit: don’t sweat the pre-maori arrivals marty, that is just a historical / archeological curiosity on my part. imo though it remains unanswered and I will keep looking and watching.

  6. North 6

    One feels obliged to dress up in one’s best, put one’s best foot forward, and celebrate Waitangi in honour of happy homogeneity.

    We are hurrahed into this fuzziness by a big business predominantly eurocentric media which at the same time recommends (unbridled if it buzzes us) disgust, focused on the Harawiras as exemplars of Maori mouthiness, as party wreckers.

    Forgive me the churlishness of my cognisance that tomorrow in the local district court it will be business as usual criminalising poor discarded people. Maori people we’re not talking about when we earnestly (bullshittingly really) voice that old chestnut………”some of my best friends are Maori…….”.

  7. Kudos to Mr Peter Sharples for stating on TV1 News that he felt that there was nothing wrong with people protesting if they were unhappy with things.

    I believe Mr Key mentioned Holmes at Waitangi, if so I consider this nothing less than despicable considering that he’d been done for racism last year. What the f* is wrong with our country when a PM feels the need to be so discourteous? Thank you to TV1 News for referring to Mr Keys speech at Waitangi as a broadside speech and reporting Mr Sharples fair and reasonable comment. Heartening.

  8. infused 8

    Jk isn’tnt out of touch, average Joe doesn’t care about the day. Its dicks like horowea and his mother that cause it.

    No one in my family care my partners family, my employees at work (just a free holiday). Who can blame them?

    • Horowea and his mother? Are you referring to Harawira?
      Cause what?

      Cause racial tension?

      I guess you believe that the newsreaders on T.V. cause the wars overseas
      …And all the job losses here too?


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