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Cookson & Davies: NZ Post Colonial? Yeah Right

Post Colonial? Yeah Right!

Leigh Cookson & Joe Davies
Arena (Action, Research & Education Network of Aoteaora)

The orders are received. The men prepare, put their combat boots on, cover their faces and load their guns. The exits are blocked, the people are searched and terrorized and the activists are dragged away. Palestine, Iraq. Afghanistan? – not this time. It is Ruatoki on a Monday morning.

The TV images of armed police blockading a small east coast town will shock many, but we should not be surprised. The dispossession of Maori and the ongoing colonisation of Maori lands, lives and resources is a New Zealand story, a story that hasn’t ended yet, as the people of Tuhoe can tell you this week.

Maori resistance to colonisation has always been labeled extreme. In 1916, the Tuhoe settlement of Maungapohatu in the Ureweras, a pacifist, religious community, was raided by armed constabulary in the same way as Ruatoki was raided last Monday. Back then, two men were shot dead and the remainder ended up in prison, "guilty of moral resistance". “Moral resistance?” Sounds like something we should encourage!

Maungapohatu’s crime was reluctance to engage in WWI. Back then, they called it “sedition” and “treason”. Now, Maori resistance is being called ‘terrorism’.

The fear of terrorism is being used as an excuse for the criminalization of protest and dissent. Where is your outrage and defiance? Has it been dampened by the word “terrorist”? What a useful little device if you’re a government wanting to repress and suppress dissent!

Tame Iti is not a terrorist. He has simply come to be the symbol - at least for the Police - of the Maori protest movement. Whether he had guns is not important. The fact that the Police equate him with Maori resistance is.

If you think this has nothing to do with you, think again. When the NZ State wants to get ugly, it tends to practice on Maori targets first. But it’s generally not long before it turns on other communities. Some of us remember that the tactics used against protesters during the 1981 Springbok Tour were first perfected against Maori occupiers of Bastion Point.

Will the big stick of the Terrorism Suppression Act and the amendments to it that the Crown is trying to push through Parliament right now (funny coincidence that, eh?) be used in future against you? I bet the organic gardeners and Save Happy Valley Coalition never thought so.

Colonizer states like NZ need to create a climate of fear to maintain their power. Acts like the TSA fill the bill very well. If we let them get away with hounding and demonizing Tame Iti and the Maori resistance movement, who will be next?

If you think New Zealand is a post colonial state, think again


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