Now for the open engagement

Wally Te Ua

COLUMN

The writer of last Wednesday’s editorial (Greater efforts needed to build goodwill and understanding) in The Herald is to be commended for a factual, unbiased view of the relationship between the two Treaty partners and the urgent need for “greater effort by the powers-that-be to engage early, openly and honestly with tangata whenua”. This is something I have been alluding to on and off since I started writing nearly 18 months ago and in more recent times in the column I wrote on May 25.

Alongside recent electioneering, the issue of cultural equity and bi-cultural partnerships is topical and extremely relevant. Some recent comments in the paper around how we see ourselves and others in the community are unhelpful, factually flawed, and full of personal bias and prejudice. The incoming council will be closely monitored by the electorate and their performance evaluated against a number of key criteria — one of which is open engagement and support for tangata whenua that is not based on condescending opinions or self-serving interests.

Dr Vincent O’Malley, an academic, historian and philosopher, recently released his book The Great War For New Zealand. I watched his interview on TV last Tuesday evening and was encouraged by what he said. He claims the biggest impediment to moving forward with race relations in Aotearoa-New Zealand is the apparent cultural amnesia and uncomfortable silence around our history, especially the impact of colonialisation by the dominant settler culture. O’Malley sees the defining moment in our history was born not at Gallipoli but in places like Ruapekapeka, Parihaka, Orakau, Gate Pa and closer to home at Waerenga-a-Hika and Ngatapa.

The need to confront our past history, warts and all, has led the Government to set aside a day of reflection to commemorate the Land Wars and more importantly to understand the impact this has had on our national “psyche”. If we are open and honest with each other, absolution from guilt is possible — leading to national reconciliation and restoration of our unique relationship as Treaty partners.

No doubt there will be those who will react and vigorously oppose any perceived threats to the existing status quo (democracy), but by taking the Government’s lead on this — as we have done in similar conversations around a range of other contentious issues like same sex marriages and legalised access to medicinal cannabis — we will demonstrate our maturity to debate the issues. Surely we can talk to and not past each other about the things that trouble us? Especially if reconciliation, not retribution, through inner healing of our community and nation is our final goal.

A few weeks ago I mentioned the gathering in the Wellington High Court where Maori and Pakeha veterans stood shoulder to shoulder seeking better conditions for themselves and their families. In times of crises and emergency like Cyclone Bola, the issue of colour and cultural difference fades into insignificance — overtaken by the urgency and need of the moment to work together for the common good. We can show the same commitment by putting aside our preconceived notions about each other based on race and culture, and celebrate that which is good and life-affirming. The guiding sentiments expressed in the following verse says it all admirably:

Creator—grant me the serenity to accept the

things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

E te kaihanga—tukua mai

he ngakau mahaki (ki a matou)

Ki a tau tonu te rangimarie

I roto I nga uauatanga

Me te Kaha ki te whakatika I nga marotanga

Kia matou kia marama hokinga rereketanga

The writer of last Wednesday’s editorial (Greater efforts needed to build goodwill and understanding) in The Herald is to be commended for a factual, unbiased view of the relationship between the two Treaty partners and the urgent need for “greater effort by the powers-that-be to engage early, openly and honestly with tangata whenua”. This is something I have been alluding to on and off since I started writing nearly 18 months ago and in more recent times in the column I wrote on May 25.

Alongside recent electioneering, the issue of cultural equity and bi-cultural partnerships is topical and extremely relevant. Some recent comments in the paper around how we see ourselves and others in the community are unhelpful, factually flawed, and full of personal bias and prejudice. The incoming council will be closely monitored by the electorate and their performance evaluated against a number of key criteria — one of which is open engagement and support for tangata whenua that is not based on condescending opinions or self-serving interests.

Dr Vincent O’Malley, an academic, historian and philosopher, recently released his book The Great War For New Zealand. I watched his interview on TV last Tuesday evening and was encouraged by what he said. He claims the biggest impediment to moving forward with race relations in Aotearoa-New Zealand is the apparent cultural amnesia and uncomfortable silence around our history, especially the impact of colonialisation by the dominant settler culture. O’Malley sees the defining moment in our history was born not at Gallipoli but in places like Ruapekapeka, Parihaka, Orakau, Gate Pa and closer to home at Waerenga-a-Hika and Ngatapa.

The need to confront our past history, warts and all, has led the Government to set aside a day of reflection to commemorate the Land Wars and more importantly to understand the impact this has had on our national “psyche”. If we are open and honest with each other, absolution from guilt is possible — leading to national reconciliation and restoration of our unique relationship as Treaty partners.

No doubt there will be those who will react and vigorously oppose any perceived threats to the existing status quo (democracy), but by taking the Government’s lead on this — as we have done in similar conversations around a range of other contentious issues like same sex marriages and legalised access to medicinal cannabis — we will demonstrate our maturity to debate the issues. Surely we can talk to and not past each other about the things that trouble us? Especially if reconciliation, not retribution, through inner healing of our community and nation is our final goal.

A few weeks ago I mentioned the gathering in the Wellington High Court where Maori and Pakeha veterans stood shoulder to shoulder seeking better conditions for themselves and their families. In times of crises and emergency like Cyclone Bola, the issue of colour and cultural difference fades into insignificance — overtaken by the urgency and need of the moment to work together for the common good. We can show the same commitment by putting aside our preconceived notions about each other based on race and culture, and celebrate that which is good and life-affirming. The guiding sentiments expressed in the following verse says it all admirably:

Creator—grant me the serenity to accept the

things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

E te kaihanga—tukua mai

he ngakau mahaki (ki a matou)

Ki a tau tonu te rangimarie

I roto I nga uauatanga

Me te Kaha ki te whakatika I nga marotanga

Kia matou kia marama hokinga rereketanga

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lloyd gretton - 4 months ago
When I checked the listing of succesful candidates for the wards throughout the country, I noted with pleasure a lot of Maori names. I imagine for every Maori name there are also several other succesful candidates of Maori descent. Does Wally, whom I very much like, agree those of Maori descent should not be voting in the wards? Or at least should be given the choice as in the Parliamentary elections. Even the British Royal family and members of the House of Lords are forbidden to cast a vote in Parliamentary elections. It would be called double dipping by the Brits. Also, since 1769 has any Pakeha done anything right vis Maori in Tairawhiti? I am sorry Wally, I am not apologising and don't quote university academics on Maori issues. They are all cultural Marxists to hold their positions.
Incidently, I was disappointed there was no listing in The Gisborne Herald as I expected on numbers of votes for all Tairawhiti candidates. I had to check Facebook to find the thousand plus votes for a certain Mr Jones. They have not been represented in The Gisborne Herald.

Footnote: The full council election results were in a table in The Gisborne Herald newspaper. There was some difficulty getting the table up online yesterday. Thanks for the reminder, we will get the full results up soon. Ed

Poll

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    What are your thoughts on changing the name of Poverty Bay to the dual name Turanganui a Kiwa/Poverty Bay?