Ngati Manu: Open letter to The Prime Minister
Open letter to The Prime Minister: Dear Jacinda, it’s been twelve months-and we haven’t heard back from you?
Dear Jacinda, 12 months ago to the day (3 Feb, 2018), you were welcomed onto our marae, and that day you cried with us, as you listened to our story of grief, despair, and hopelessness in the wake of relentless colonisation.
We did not harangue you with loud “honour the Treaty” protests, or bitter recrimination about the injustices repeatedly visited upon us. Nor did we hold you personally responsible as the penultimate crown representative - even though that crown you represent today, repeatedly - and often deliberately - failed us as Treaty partners.
But we did believe that our Ngati Manu history, told in our unique fashion, really struck a chord with you. We believed that having one of our kuia (elderly woman), relate our sad history in the form of a conversation with one of our mokopuna (grandchild) - resonated with you in a way that a written or oral submission alone, never could.
You cried. We cried. Message received loud and clear, we thought.
But perhaps we were wrong?
A year has passed and we Ngati Manu have not forgotten. E kore mātou e wareware i wōu korero.
You said that when you were welcomed onto our Karetu marae you felt the weight of our expectations, and told us, "So when we return in one year, in three years, I ask you to ask us what we have done for you.”
We ask that question now Prime Minister. What progress has been made? From our perspective, the answer is - very little.
We note that at Waitangi the very next day you spoke of the legacy you wanted to leave for your own child - Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford - born 26th June 2018… her birth, an auspicious time in the maramataka (Maori calendar), being just weeks after the Maori New Year, and the appearance of Matariki, or the Pleiades star cluster.
Neve, in Irish meaning bright or radiant, Te Aroha meaning The Love in Maori, and so named we hear for the support from New Zealanders during your pregnancy, especially the Maori community.
You said, "Hold us to account. Because one day I want to be able to tell my child that I earned the right to stand here. And only you can tell me when I have done that.”
We know it may take some time prime minister,, but we had hoped some visible progress would have been made in the last 365 days.
Ngati Manu are ready to negotiate. We have worked hard for years to meet your crown criteria. Some of our neighbouring hapu have joined us in a natural alliance. We now look to you to influence your ministers, and turn your words of hope, into honourable actions.
As well as significant waterways, Ngati Manu once held 55 thousand acres of life-sustaining hapu lands. Today, after countless Treaty breaches, it holds only 2,500 acres. We will continue to ask you questions as long as you are prime minister Jacinda (and beyond if necessary), because as our tupuna, Pomare, once said;
“Pupuhi te hau te paura o te Pu, Pakarukaru nga kohua rino, Tawhewhe ana nga paraikete whero, Engari Toitu te whenua”
- Gunpowder can be blown away by the wind, Iron pots can be broken, Red blankets can become worn, However the land remains forever.
Ngati Manu remains resolute, “Ma Ngati Manu, Na Ngati Manu, e ai ki a Ngati Manu”! See you in 2 more years perhaps Prime Minister?
Hopefully see you before three years has gone by.