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Calls for immediate halt to war commemorations

Media Release: Wednesday 25 October 2017
For Immediate Release

Maori leader calls for immediate halt to “culturally insulting” Government-funded war commemorations

Ngapuhi kaumatua, David Rankin, has lashed out at the $1 million that the Government has given to the iwi to commemorate the wars of the nineteenth century on 28 October. “We are having feasts, and sports competitions to commemorate out dead, which is a cultural insult,” says Mr Rankin, “and to make matters worse, this million dollars is being frittered away at a time when we are experiencing chronic poverty and a housing crisis worse than anything in living memory.”

Mr Rankin says that traditionally, deaths that occurred in battles were commemorated by periods of mourning and tapu. “Now,” he claims, “the tapu is ignored, the mourning is ignored, and instead, there will be games, sausage sizzles, and other things that are totally abusing our traditions.”

“And what makes these Government-funded events so insensitive is that iwi are turning their backs on the chronic poverty in places like Northland – the homelessness, the hunger, and the lack of the basics – and instead, a million dollars of tax-payer money for celebrations. That is immoral.”

What also concerns Mr Rankin is that there has been no public accountability about how the money will be spent. “Decisions are being made behind closed doors, and none of us knows exactly where all the money is being allocated, and how much is going on “consultancies”. This has become a lolly-scramble, with no accountability for the expenditure of public funds.”

Mr Rankin has called for the Ngati Hine organisers of the commemoration in Northland to commit the entire amount of government funding to poverty in Northland. “And as for the commemorations for the war,” he advises, “do it in a culturally appropriate way or not at all.”


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