Ae Marika! A column by Hone Harawira 10 Oct 2006
A column by Hone Harawira
Maori Party MP for Tai Tokerau
10 October 2006
The raging teeth
The Far North District Council is going to fluoridate the water in Kaitaia and Kaikohe after a phone survey of 300 residents, which sounds like a really dumb way to get public opinion. I mean, if the Council rang up and said “would you vote for traffic lights in Mangamuka if it meant we might get more funding for Northland roads” most people would say yes. Council could then put up the traffic lights even if they didn’t get any money.
An issue as contentious as this deserves better than an unscientific telephone survey, and marches in both towns against fluoridation shows just how strong the feelings are. Seems to me that it wouldn’t be hard to organise a series of public seminars on the issue to ensure at least everybody got a chance to have a say before making a decision. But basing it on the responses of 6.5%?
Yes – I know that eight out of every ten Maori kids in Tai Tokerau suffer from bad teeth, but the genius brigade still can’t tell whether it’s the fluoride or just the low class, crap food the kids eat.
Watch this space folks – this one ain’t over yet.
Don Brash said recently that Māori who smoke, deserve to get lung cancer. Which is a bit like saying Pakeha’s who get bashed up deserve to go to hospital.
Neither comment makes sense; but I made the second one, knowing it to be foolish.
Cigarette smoking is a carefully managed addiction, promoted by multi-billion dollar tobacco companies who profit by hooking people, Maori and Pakeha, into their product, and tweaking the chemical mix to ensure that once hooked, you won’t be able to stop.
But the comment I noticed most in the flurry of condemnation of Brash’s remarks were those from the Prime Minister who said: "What I know is that tobacco smoking is as addictive and habit forming a behaviour as addiction to any hard drug, like morphine or heroine…So I just don't think it's fair to blame the victims of a disease, an addiction, for their plight," she said.
The reason why her comments were so noticeable, is that she actually has the power to do something about the problem. As the Prime Minister, she has the power to immediately put legislation before the House, banning the production and sale of tobacco products in this country, and stop this deathly destruction of our nation, it’s children and it’s future. She didn’t.
Her words ring as hollow as Brash’s ring of ignorance.
Being Maori can be a bit of a curse when everyone wants to disrespect you. And it’s hard to say you’re proud to be Maori when all you see on TV is the bad stuff. But every now and then, somebody drops you a line which makes you smile. I got an email the other day about what it means to be Maori. There’s a lot more of them, but I hope you enjoy this little selection.
You know you're a Maori when ... you go to the ball with your cousin; a nice restaurant is an 'all you can eat' place; you visit the cuzzies, and someone's wearing the clothes you left behind last time; you have brothers or sisters with different mothers or fathers; you’re at a party, and your uncle turns the stereo off and starts playing the guitar; and your older brother makes you cry and you’re the one who gets a hiding for crying.
If you know any good ones, drop me a line, a letter sometime @ www.tokerau.co.nz