Ae Marika: Waitangi
Waitangi can be a very strange beast – wild and wonderful, stressful and dangerous, calm and peaceful but never ever dull. And 2008 was no exception.
The political leaders’ debate was a hoot. Polite applause for Jeannette Fitzsimmons from the Greens, grumbles and accusations for John Key, boisterous and rousing support for Te Ururoa Flavell from the Maori Party, and as for Parekura Horomia from Labour…well, he got roasted!
In front of hundreds of people, Parekura tried to defend Labour’s record, but the people got into him and he started yelling at everyone which just made them worse. In the end, the MC had to calm everything down because it looked like people wanted to lynch the Minister of Maori Affairs. Clearly, Labour’s record on the Treaty is going down like a cup of cold sick, and equally as clearly, Maori are looking to others to provide leadership and an independent voice on Maori issues.
Tame Iti turned up, and got so swamped by the media that we had to organise a special press conference for him. Everyone had already heard the police side of the story, and this was the first opportunity for many people to get the inside scoops on the terror raids into Tuhoe, and it wasn’t hard to see which side the people were on.
The Blacks and the Mobsters also turned up with some of the young Bloods and the Crips from South Auckland. The older gang members had put aside old hatreds and agreed to work together to try to turn some of these young kids away from the criminal road that had so devastated their own lives.
They brought them to Waitangi to give them a sense of their own history, and I talked to them about my involvement over the past 30 years. Don’t know how successful it was, but it was worth a try. I’m no great fan of the gangs but ignoring them won’t fix anything, and slinging shit from the sidelines won’t fix anything either. Congratulations to those older guys for trying.
Last month we lost Hone Tuwhare, a master wordsmith, a teller of tales, a man who could paint you into his literary pictures, and the greatest poet I have ever known. I had to sneak away from a couple of other hui to get up to his tangi, but I’m glad I did.
We were blessed with some great oratory, and in true Maori tradition Selwyn Muru regaled the house with stories about Hone Tuwhare’s many wives and dodgy past to roars of laughter. Tame Iti also turned up, as did a whole bunch of the old brigade that Hone used to hang with back in the 60s and 70s.
Tai Tokerau MP