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Self-determination: It Takes Two

Engaging Maori: Haere Whakamua: Creating a new mainstream

James Cook, Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington

Thursday 12 October 2006; Speech delivered at 9.30am

‘Self-determination: It Takes Two’

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party

When I was first given the topic - ‘It Takes Two’, I thought I must have been invited here today for an audition. For as all you avid telly watchers would know, It Takes Two is the latest cult entertainment show to hit Oz since Dancing with the Stars.

It involves ten celebrities, not known for singing, paired with some of Australia’s finest singers; one expert and one novice, as they “embark on the experience of a lifetime”. I’m not kidding - that’s what the show credits say.

So Mr Horomia - what will it be? Are you a little bit country, or a little bit rock and roll?

Fortunately perhaps for this audience, this hui is taking place in Wellington, not Wollongong.

Actually, that concept, it takes two, is one that has frequently been associated with high drama, passion and entertainment - since the Motown hit of the 60s featuring Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston; and more recently in the 90s with Rod Stewart and Tina Turner. The key principle being, as they sing, “One can have a dream, but two can make that dream so real” (baby).

Is the attainment of tino rangatiratanga a dream? What will make that dream real? (baby). What does it mean? Is it a tangible goal or a marketing exercise to sell flags, tshirts and bumper stickers?

And is the stuff of self-determination really worth all the drama, passion and entertainment?

I was asked today to answer some of these questions, to talk to you about the importance of understanding tino rangatiratanga, to clarify the role of Pakeha in the achievement of rangatiratanga, and to do it all in a chatty, conversational sort of way.

But before I do, I want to congratulate Sway for the initiative and courage you have shown in opening the door for Tauiwi to connect and engage with Māori. I am sure that the innovation you have demonstrated in creating this seminar will assist tauiwi decision-makers in marketing, communications, policy and business to engage with Maori. I am pleased to be part of your programme.

Contrary to the myths of political spinners, the Maori Party is all about talking together, working out exactly the issues Sway has put to me, in a way which can best advance Aotearoa. How can we best ensure the exercise of chieftainship, of self-determination for Maori - the realisation of sovereignity?

Can I start by firstly saying there are as many different interpretations of rangatiratanga as there are speakers at this seminar. But suffice to say, in my view, the ultimate attainment of tino rangatiratanga must be defined with some relationship to hapu and iwi, by Ngai Te Kikiri o te Rangi and Ngāti Pahauwera of Ngāti Kahungunu.

I am sure that others may disagree. Don’t listen to them - they’re all wrong.

All joking aside, the real answer is that rangatiratanga is not a slogan, nor is it a brand for popular consumption. Rangatiratanga is reflected in the promotion of self-determination for Mäori, and is an expression of the rights defined by Mana Atua, Mana Tupuna and Mana Whenua.

Now that’s pretty heavy stuff. So where can the conversation start?

How do we create a dialogue about recognising and acknowledging the authority of whänau, hapu and iwi in their respective rohe?

How can we together, as Maori and Pakeha, work to enhance the relationship between Tino Rangatiratanga and Käwanatanga as provided for in Te Tiriti o Waitangi?

Well let’s go back to the song, ‘it takes two’.

Relationships, partnership, are all about finding connections.

I was talking with a friend the other day, and she was sharing a story about her great-grandmother, a tiny little lady with a fierce English and Scottish spirit. My friend remembers sitting on her knee, as her little Nanny sung to her, - "Ha, ha, ha, you and me, little brown jug, don't I love thee."

Some of you may be familiar with that song - it was a swing song made popular by a 1939 Glenn Miller arrangement that would have been top of the charts in war-time New Zealand. The song actually derives its source from an 1869 Appalachian song - a Texan jig that somehow made its way over to these shores.

Well - the connection that I can immediately make with that English/Scottish nanny, is by virtue of my whakapapa connection to renown composer, publisher, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Te Whatu-i-apiti leader, Paraire Tomoana.

In 1918, Paraire Tomoana composed a lament for all our loved ones who had been lost in battle during World War One.

Hoki hoki tonu mai, te wairua o te tau,

ki te awhi reinga, ki tenei kiri e

It wasn’t long, however, before some entrepreneurial tourist entertainers took the words of Hoki, hoki tonu mai and sung them to the tune of ‘Little Brown Jug’.

And, how, you may say, does the little brown jug connect to rangatiratanga? Well bear with me, while I explain.

Article two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi expresses 'te tino rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa' o nga iwi Maori. In 1840, we had no desire - or need - to cede our sovereignity, to give away our absolute authority. It was on the basis of the guarantee of rangatiratanga that our tupuna signed the Treaty.

The commitment made that we could continue to be a self-determining people is recorded throughout our history, our waiata, our pü rakau, our whakatauaki, our pepeha.

Richard Hill, in his publication, State Authority, Indigenous Autonomy: Crown-Mäori Relations in New Zealand/Aotearoa 1900-1950; summarises the meaning and implications for Maori in a way which I think is helpful to the ongoing conversation. He says:

There is considerable evidence to suggest that Mäori have frequently regarded the Treaty’s endorsement of rangatiratanga as a guarantee to Mäori of the type of sovereignty that the Crown saw itself as holding.

It seems, at the very least, that for Mäori, Article Two was in effect an affirmation that two sets of sovereignties could co-exist in some kind of partnership arrangement, a ‘declaration of interdependence’.

Inter-dependence would mean that in the ‘Little Brown Jug’ example we may enter into a dialogue about intellectual property and the protection of taonga, such as the lyrics of Hoki Hoki tonu mai. The exercise of tino rangatiratanga over our taonga, tangible and intangible, is central to the survival of Mäori as a people.

A shared conversation may also generate dialogue about the rights of citizenship of this country promised in Article three. Article 3 affirms the equal citizenship rights of Maori and all New Zealanders.

And so it may lead us in a discussion about the participation by Maori in the two World Wars; the role of Te Hokowhitu a Tu: the Maori Pioneer Battalion; the 28th Maori Battalion - and indeed the experiences that my friend’s great-grandmother could speak of about wartime New Zealand. A conversation no doubt even more relevant following the British Queen’s recent gesture in honouring the heroic leadership of Lance Sergeant Haani Manahi.

We may go even further to question, as Claudia Orange has, why it is that the Crown was prepared to accept Maori leadership in a war crisis, but the notion of rangatiratanga at home was untenable.

The key point in making such a conversation worthwhile, is that we

need to decide whether we are serious about Te Tiriti of Waitangi being our “founding document”, and if we are - how we recognise the continuing right of Maori to benefit from our own philosophies, customs and lifestyle, just as other citizens enjoy their own.

That conversation may not always be an easy one. The history of Aotearoa demonstrates the displacement of tino rangatiratanga by a form of kawanatanga which has seen the Crown usurp all authority over all people and all matters in this land.

It is an ongoing history denying the right of tino rangatiratanga, through such means as confiscating the foreshore and seabed, overturning the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal in respect of Maori radio spectrum management rights; deleting the principles of the treaty from legislation, from the school curriculum; out of statute, out of mind.

It is a history given life this week with the foreign fishing crews controversy, which threatens to derail the growth of the Maori fishing industry. After enticing Maori through the Sealords deal in to fishing, Maori, who now own half of the company, are being asked to foot an increase in the wage bill at the behest of a Government with little interest in the working poor.

If the foreign charter vessels are not used, Maori will have to lease their quota to the established New Zealand companies and in the process lose control.

Rangatiratanga and self-determination will be seriously threatened. Instead of being active participants and in control we will become passive recipients, power being in the hands of another - we have had enough of that.

Another recent threat to our aspirations for self-determination comes with the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

In the next few weeks, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will be ratified by the United Nations General Assembly. The Declaration includes an indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination in Article three. And a new article 4 of the Declaration explicitly states that indigenous peoples have the right to autonomy and self-government “in exercising their right to self-determination”.

New Zealand has implied that the Declaration threatens non-indigenous rights. It does not. The Declaration will be subject to binding international law that clearly protects the rights of all individuals, and indeed, article 45 sets out circumstances in which states may limit the rights and freedoms.

Despite these recent and ongoing attacks, our history is also a proud history of rebellion, of renaissance, of revitalisation. And that history includes Pakeha in a shared response to the racist actions of a coloniser, a shared responsibility of challenging the Crown to meet its due obligations to the Treaty partner.

When I think back to the hikoi, one of the most memorable moments for me, was experiencing the amazing solidarity from groups like Network Waitangi, the Anti-Racism Crew; the Tamaki Treaty Workers, the Northland Urban Rural Mission, Nelson’s Being Pakeha, and mixed national groups such as Peace Movement Aotearoa and ARENA. There were also Pasifika groups, Asian groups - who understood the significance of rangatiratanga and were prepared to act.

I remember up at Hoani Waititi when we were making arrangements to feed the people on the hikoi - not knowing whether it was one, two or ten thousand. Suddenly in walked Michael Jones, with two roast pigs and sacks of vegetables, a remarkable act of generosity.

I believe the attainment of tino rangatiratanga will only come about from the willingness to engage, the courage to act - Crown and Maori engaged in conversation just as we need to have as tangata whenua with other New Zealanders. If we are truly committed to preserving and protecting our cultural authenticity for all our mokopuna to come, we may need to share stories with each other.

It isn’t about translating Little Brown Jug in te reo Maori; or setting the lyrics of Hoki hoki tonu mai to a tune which is not ours. But it is about retaining the practices, the tikanga, the kaupapa, the histories, the memories of our ancestors on behalf of their descendants.

It is about sharing together the experiences that have formed this nation, the songs that we sing, the values we hold dear, the legacy of whakapapa, the knowledge passed down from generations.

We all have a responsibility to ensure the Treaty lives in ways which are meaningful to our evolving nationhood.

We may need new frameworks, and perhaps dialogue which is unsettling, before we gain the maturity of talking together, two worlds engaging.

Myths may need to be debunked, perceptions unravelled, before we achieve true understanding of partnership in practice.

But if we are truly committed to engaging with Maori, building nationhood, it takes two. Two to tango, two to talk, two to create a shared dream of Aotearoa, as it can be.


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