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Māori Party Celebrates the Courage of the Hīkoi

MEDIA STATEMENT

22 April 2014

Māori Party Celebrates the Courage of the Hīkoi

The Māori Party pays tribute to the thousands of New Zealanders, who ten years ago today, began the march to Parliament known as the Hīkoi of 2004.

“On 22 April 2004, hundreds of tangata whenua gathered at Te Rerenga Wairua at the start of what would be one of the most important moments in our history,” said Tariana Turia.

“Over the next two weeks, they were joined by New Zealanders of all ages and stages, all cultures and creeds, who stood against the Foreshore and Seabed Bill created by Labour. It was one of the most moving and heart wrenching times in our history, and it certainly shaped my thinking and actions profoundly.”

“For us in Kahungunu the Hīkoi was part of our Seven Waves of action that included an application to the Waitangi Tribunal to highlight the actions of the Government of the day,” said Dr Pita Sharples. “In 2003, Ngati Kahungunu held our annual pre-Christmas hui. It was at that hui that we decided that we needed to act on the proposed Foreshore and Seabed legislation. Instead of Christmas cards, we sent out the call to all iwi to march on to Parliament to protest this gross breach of due process against Māori. The tribes answered en force, and people all over the country took up the call.”

“On 14th May, the Treaty Tribes Coalition, which included Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu, Taimanuhiri and Hauraki iwi, presented a submission to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York bringing international focus to the shameful proposals to vest ownership of the last piece of customary land to be held by tangata whenua in the Crown.”

“It was one of the proudest moments of my life when just over four years ago to the day (20 April 2010), I returned to New York to signal New Zealand had overturned the previous Government’s rejection of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and that we would sign up to the declaration as a nation.”

“I will always remember the significance of the Hīkoi,” said Te Ururoa Flavell who was the Chairperson of Nga Tai o Te Reinga, Hīkoi against the Foreshore and Seabed Bill.

“The way in which our march mobilised the masses was in itself an amazing milestone in our national story,” said Mr Flavell. “We all became leaders in the transformation – the Hīkoi was remarkable in its capacity to galvanise the people from all walks of life; to take ownership of our own destiny.”

“Out of that Hīkoi emerged the Māori Party; and one of our first milestones to be met was the Takutaimoana (Marine and Coastal) Bill which repealed the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and restored any customary interests in the common marine and coastal area that were extinguished by that Act.”

“Of course, the work is not over – even with the Takutaimoana legislation through there is still more to do. In reflecting back over the last decade, it reminds me that what can be taken away from us in an instant, takes a long time and a lot of hard work to get back – and if there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it’s about being here for the long haul, to make the difference our people want.”

“There are a lot of memories associated with the incredible passion and power of the people that showed such tenacity of spirit over the period of the Hīkoi,” ended Mrs Turia. “We reflect on some of those no longer with us – while also sharing the stories with those of our mokopuna who participated, whether it be in a pushchair or in Nanny’s arms.”

“While we reflect and we celebrate, we remember the importance of always listening to the people and doing what is right.”

ENDS

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