Maori Party MP Rahui Katene’s Matariki Public Holiday Bill was before the House last night (I understand National is planning to vote it down when it comes to the vote in three weeks). Anyway, as a precursor, Katene asked a question on the Government’s attitude to Maori holidays during Question Time.
Chris Finlayson answered with nice platitudes. All very pro forma. Then David Garrett thought he would ask a supplementary:
David Garrett: Is the Minister aware that Dr Paul Moon, a professor of history at the Auckland University of Technology and a well-known expert in pre-European history, is of the view that many of the claims about the festival of Matariki are tenuous at best, and that with regard to it supposedly being linked to planting times MÄori had much better natural science to rely on and ‘did not need a three-month advance warning of when to prepare for kumara sowing.’?
The House was pretty stunned. There was a chorus of outrage from Labour at the racism that lies behind this kind of claim that seeks to invalidate Maori history and culture. Finlayson managed a meek “No, I am not aware of that”.
What I found interesting was that the Maori Party MPs just sat there. One would have expected them to have been leaping to their feet to rebut this slander against their culture but no.
I found myself wondering what could be worth sharing government with such bigotry.
Then I remembered: the power.