Around 300 hikoi marchers arrived at Parliament this afternoon to protest against the Nat / Maori Party rebranded version of the foreshore and seabed bill. This is the issue which has split the Maori Party, resulting in the ejection of Hone Hariwira. It as an issue where polling (albeit with dodgy methodology) suggests that very few Maori support the new bill. Yet this hikoi has not generated the numbers of previous events. Maori may oppose the bill, but obviously when it comes to active protest some fatigue with the issue is setting in.
A contingent of Kaumatua, Kuia, Pakeke,& Rangatahi from the Kaipara & Tamaki Makaurau will be arriving at Parliament tomorrow between 1-2 with the express purpose of uplifting, retrieving, and returning a 6ft hook (Matau) and anchor (punga) which was gifted to celebrate the Maori Party’s 1st year in parliament, and express support for their mangai MP Hone Harawira. The group has asked that the taonga be placed below the steps of Parliament so that they may ensure the easy return of these taonga. In a statement released today, the roopu said,
“It was perhaps a HUGE error on our behalf to assume, that the party would uphold such values as manaakitanga, in order to respond to Taikokerau’s concerns re this bill. And that the party would also continue also to fight to restore our TINO RANGATIRA status (as guaranteed in article two of Te Tiriti 1840) but now recognise that , that will not be the case, being that the party, expelled our MP for merely voicing the Tai Tokerau’s concerns, and that they (The Maori Party) have blatantly ignored over 90% of the submissions re: this bill, and endorsed a piece of legislation that may well be the catalyst for TOTALLY nullifying and or extinguishing our ancestral rights of GUARDIANSHIP, CHEIFTENSHIP, AND TOTAL AUTHORITY over our taonga (Wenua, Ngahere, Moana Katoa!) …
Maori Party supporter and Ngapuhi leader David Rankin was critical of the hikoi:
“This protest is taking place when our nation is in a period of great difficulty,” Rankin said. “Instead of wandering around the country to satisfy their own egos, these protesters should be in Christchurch, investing that energy in helping their fellow New Zealanders.”
I find this attempt to use the Christchurch earthquake as a tool for suppressing dissenting opinion to be truly despicable. Christchurch is an important political and practical issue for NZ, and it will be for many years to come. But it doesn’t mean that the rest of politics has to stop, and it doesn’t mean that people can’t speak their views on the steps of Parliament.
All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.