Hone Harawira's Open Letter to Barack Obama
Open Letter to Barack Obama President of the United States of America
30 July 2015
Hey hey, mah bruddah!!
Heard you were able to get back to your dad’s turangawaewae last week. Mean … hope you had a good catch up with the whanau.
I also hear you’re getting ready to endorse the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and I’m asking that you hold off, for now anyway.
You might not know who I am and that’s OK because I’m not that important in the scheme of things, but my people are. We’re Maori, the indigenous people of a little country down here in the South Pacific called Aotearoa - you probably know it as New Zealand - and we want you to know that we don’t support the TPPA; in fact we hate the bloody thing.
You see back in 1840 we signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British, which was supposed to protect our rights. It didn’t unfortunately, and now we’ve got less than 3 million of the original 66 million acres we once owned. We’ve been trying to win our Treaty rights back ever since and it hasn’t been easy. In fact, today our people suffer the same levels of deprivation in housing, justice, employment, education and health as Native Americans. Yeah bro’ … it’s that bad. There’s a long, long way to go before we get up to where we should be, and key to all of that is our Treaty, and our treaty rights.
We want to be able to look after our lands, our forests, our rivers and our seas just like the Treaty said we could, not just for Maori but for everyone in this country, and we’re really scared that the TPPA is going to make our fight an impossible one.
Maori aren’t even allowed to look at the TPPA before it gets signed off, and from what we hear it’ll compromise our sovereignty as Maori and as New Zealanders. We also hear that it will let foreign companies sue our government for protecting our rights (which admittedly they haven’t been that good at for the last 175 years!). And we hear that this TPPA will take priority over our Treaty, and that we will be denied the rights guaranteed to us by the Treaty and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And that sucks!
We got our own problems down here brother, and they’re tough enough to deal with without having this dumped on our heads, but if we have to fight this TPPA thing we will, and we’ll fight it till we beat it.
So how about givin’ us a break? Scrap the TPPA and let’s start again. In fact, come on down to Aotearoa and lets go fishing, have a feed and a few beers, and between the two of us I betcha we can come up with something that works.
Anyway, gotta go - gotta pick up the mokos. Love to the whanau!