Look back, then look to the future

EDITORIAL

Many Gisborne people seem stunned that our councillors voted 13-1 for the dual-name application for the city’s bay, especially when consultation feedback was 49.5 percent against the proposed Turanganui a Kiwa/Poverty Bay, versus 47.5 percent for it.

This outcome is because councillors have more information and representations to assess than the general public does before making their decisions. It is because they know how important it is to Maori to have their original name for the area recognised, along with the mana of their ancestor Kiwa who brought them here.

Future prosperity for the Tairawhiti/Gisborne District is likely but far from assured. The potential of this beautiful, fertile place with so many talented people is enormous, however there are many challenges to overcome. Some of them we erect ourselves.

One thing for certain is that a prosperous future will be a strong bicultural future; one where the cultural renaissance seen in recent decades continues and strengthens; one where tangata whenua of the Tairawhiti have overcome the deprivation and dependency that have flowed for so many from the devastating impacts of colonisation — where individuals and the state transpired to separate Maori from their land, livelihoods and culture.

The historical facts of this are indisputable, still raw, and they reverberate in the poverty, violence, addiction, crime and incarceration that afflict too many Maori. The harm caused by events and actions in this region that transgressed the Treaty of Waitangi was massive.

It seems in some conversations we have in our community that this is little understood.

The historical facts are outlined in detail in the accounts that accompanied Treaty settlements and apologies from the Crown to local iwi over the past decade. These have been the first steps towards resolution. The next steps involve Maori having a greater say in decision-making that affects their people and the environment.

A shift in the balance of power is always difficult for members of the group that used to hold sway. Understanding why the shift needs to happen, and the benefits that will flow for all of us, could help.

Many Gisborne people seem stunned that our councillors voted 13-1 for the dual-name application for the city’s bay, especially when consultation feedback was 49.5 percent against the proposed Turanganui a Kiwa/Poverty Bay, versus 47.5 percent for it.

This outcome is because councillors have more information and representations to assess than the general public does before making their decisions. It is because they know how important it is to Maori to have their original name for the area recognised, along with the mana of their ancestor Kiwa who brought them here.

Future prosperity for the Tairawhiti/Gisborne District is likely but far from assured. The potential of this beautiful, fertile place with so many talented people is enormous, however there are many challenges to overcome. Some of them we erect ourselves.

One thing for certain is that a prosperous future will be a strong bicultural future; one where the cultural renaissance seen in recent decades continues and strengthens; one where tangata whenua of the Tairawhiti have overcome the deprivation and dependency that have flowed for so many from the devastating impacts of colonisation — where individuals and the state transpired to separate Maori from their land, livelihoods and culture.

The historical facts of this are indisputable, still raw, and they reverberate in the poverty, violence, addiction, crime and incarceration that afflict too many Maori. The harm caused by events and actions in this region that transgressed the Treaty of Waitangi was massive.

It seems in some conversations we have in our community that this is little understood.

The historical facts are outlined in detail in the accounts that accompanied Treaty settlements and apologies from the Crown to local iwi over the past decade. These have been the first steps towards resolution. The next steps involve Maori having a greater say in decision-making that affects their people and the environment.

A shift in the balance of power is always difficult for members of the group that used to hold sway. Understanding why the shift needs to happen, and the benefits that will flow for all of us, could help.

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John Fricker - 9 months ago
History is a word that describes events of the past. Both Maori and English namings of this place happened in the past. They are both historical, one more recent than the other and better recorded though. The current inhabitants of this place have lived some of if not all of their lives in Gisborne, Poverty Bay, the world knows us as Gisborne, Poverty Bay, and until very recently we marketed ourselves as Gisborne, Poverty Bay.
Am I alone in thinking that it is suicidal to change the name and thus make our region invisible to the rest of the world?
At the end of the day, as Mr Kennedy writes, we will still refer to ourselves as Gisborne, Poverty Bay whatever our so-called representatives do.
Which brings me to another point. Councillors are elected to represent the people of this region, and whether you like it or not the majority of folk who responded to the consultation, 49.5% by your own figures, were opposed to a name change. A council vote of 13:1 indicates our representatives are interested only in representing themselves.
The argument was a one-sided affair led by our misguided mayor who appears to have been motivated solely by the desire to leave a legacy when he steps down. It is another ego trip from the same mould as the John Key flag debacle.
The whole affair is illegitimate, undemocratic and plainly wrong.
If our representatives are determined to pursue this injustice further then let's have a proper debate and a proper referendum.

Tony Lee - 9 months ago
I've read your editorial three times in an attempt to find something over which I could express self-righteous, self-entitled outrage. Damn it, can't find much other than that I'm a bit disappointed that the "/Poverty Bay" part is to be retained in the council's submission to the NZ Geographic Board.

Terrific editorial that provides rational, reasoned explanation of the name change. I particularly commend your paragraph of historical facts to those who will strive to find something to rant and rail against.

Perhaps people need to bear in mind that the health of a democracy can be measured in no small part by how well it addresses the rights and aspirations of minorities, the deprived and those it has previously inflicted harm upon.

One word . . . - 9 months ago
Dictatorship!

Andy Oakley, Wellington - 9 months ago
Jeremy Muir's opinion in his editorial 08.03.18 is that justification for ignoring the will of the people and changing the name of Gisborne's bay is to right past wrongs inflicted on Maori, who had land confiscated. Have he and the councillors forgotten why the land was confiscated? One of numerous incidences occured on the nights of November 9 and 10, 1868, when Te Kooti led a war party towards Turanganui (which became Gisborne), in a district that was home to about 150 European settlers and 500 Maori, in preparation for what became known as the Poverty Bay Massacre or Matawhero Massacre. By dawn, nearly 60 people had been murdered. A total of 29 Europeans and part-Maori were killed, as well as 22 Maori. Some were shot but most were killed with bayonets, tomahawks or patu to avoid alerting their neighbours. Blood-maddened Hauhaus galloped over the country, shooting, looting and destroying. Many of the killings were followed by their singing of Christian psalms. There was nothing bi-cultural about that incident. Just as there is nothing democratic about ignoring the will of the people and making decisions based on a one-sided view of history.

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