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Saturday, February 09, 2008

An "Urewera 17" Arrestee Speaks Out

This is timely.

One of the "Urewera 17", Emily Bailey has just posted an article on Indymedia.

Why Reject the Treaty? A Maori-Pakeha Viewpoint

She describes herself as a

"film-maker, writer, gardener, aunty and an environmental and social activist from Wellington. She is now living on bail in Taranaki, awaiting trial after the recent state 'terror raids'"

Emily Bailey also reveals she is part Ngatiawa, which probably means she is related to my wife.

Here it is in full.

When you learn about the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand schools or on the street (if you manage to hear any of our hushed-up history), you are told how all the Maori chiefs signed the Treaty and how it became the founding document of this country, making us all 'one people'.

People speak romantically of Maori wanting to 'share their country' or of Maori having to sign because of being outnumbered and 'losing the war'. It is all lies of course. A convenient lie repeated by those who continue to deny our past and the injustices that happened and continue to happen.

These lies were created by a self-imposed government with no true mandate, set up by an Imperialist British ruling class to rule the working classes and natives of another new 'commonwealth' nation. A nation that never did and probably never will exist except in the minds of sportsfans, bureaucrats and pseudo-egalitarian, racist nationalists (who are sick of hearing Maori 'whinge' as they block their ears again and again).

Let me go back to the Treaty.

There were many versions of the Treaty of Waitangi. One in english which only twenty-something Maori chiefs signed and then more than six other copies hastily and incorrectly translated into maori and sent around the country by various different people with various different motives.

Many 'chiefs' who signed were infact not so, often to the full knowledge of or by coercion of the Treaty bearers. Some Treaty bearers got 'creative' about the contents of the Treaty or had to make it up as they were not given copies to go by. Many women chiefs were denied the right to sign. Many places were deemed too difficult to reach or declared 'terra nullis' (without people) such as the South Island.

In all, 500 'chiefs' signed a treaty, estimated to have been representational of only one third of all Maori at that time.

Many other chiefs refused to sign, such as those in Tuhoe country and in the Taranaki region. But we won't talk about that, will we.

Those that signed did so because there was suddenly a bunch of new settlers running around with no cops or community processes keeping them in check. Dodgy land deals were rife and accountability low. The maori version of the Treaty of Waitangi promised full sovereignty to Maori and control of their lands and resources while The Crown could govern their people and offer protection to Maori as equal British citizens.

The english version of the Treaty (which under international law is now considered defunct) claimed that The Crown would attain sovereignty. This gave them control over all New Zealanders and first right of purchase of lands from Maori - soon to become confiscation when their imposed laws were disobeyed.

Refuting the 'majority rule' history some New Zealanders like to tell each other, at the time of the Treaty signings there were far more Maori than settlers in the country. The settlers soon came flooding in though, after the signings, especially in towns like Wellington, which was much to the surprise of the local chiefs. (Many settlers too became surprised when they realised the land they had bought from their dealers was not quite as large or cleared as they had been told or did not even exist.)

As for losing the war, this also happened after the signings once Maori were being forced to sell land against their will, by the government and settlers. This is fairly well documented, albeit 'creatively', as every good history book likes a bloody battle and the historians were of course white.

So why reject the Treaty now? Because for many Maori there never was an agreement to give up sovereignty over ourselves. There was never an agreement to sell our lands against our will. There was never an agreement to pay council rates or otherwise forfeit our lands. And there was never an agreement to give up our tohunga, our reo, our carved meeting houses or our right to rebel against those who raped, beat, murdered and stole from us if we didn't.

This is not something Maori forget. It is passed down from generation to generation in our stories, our behaviour and our pain. (This too is common amongst settler families from countries such as Scotland and Ireland.)

Some Maori now, struggling to find a way out of the cycles of depression, poverty and self-abuse which are so dominant in Maori society post-colonisation, are trying to use the Treaty to secure lands, resources and money. Many Maori have been well assimilated into the dominant hegemonic culture found across most of the world now, with several becoming for example entertainment stars or capitalist business entrepreneurs, just as the colonisers engineered. These achievements may help in the short term but they have longterm adverse effects such as changes in values towards materialism and individualism.

Maori are also more than over-represented in the NZ army and police force, institutions that oppress their own people and other indigenous peoples across the world. It's like convincing the kids you don't like, to fight each other while you steal their lunches. Ironically at least, it keeps food on some of their tables, be it at home or in the prisons - another place Maori are more than over-represented in.

So what's the alternative and how will rejection of the Treaty help us all? Well let me first state that I am a third-generation pakeha and a Te Atiawa Maori. Roughly 50:50. I am also an anarchist, believing in the ability of people to rule themselves while living egalitarianly with others. I honestly believe that human beings still have the capacity to share and not eat themselves out of house and home. We managed it for a few hundred thousand years so why not now?

It's only in the last few hundred years that we've been forced to believe the 'survival of the fittest' idiocy. Aren't we tired of the competition and petty fighting just to keep our heads up? Isn't it time for some justice to go with those superficial, romantic words of peace and love and kotahitanga/'one people', man?

Well I think so and that is why I find the Tino Rangatiratanga, Mana Motuhake and Anarchist movements so inspiring. It's people who are prepared to stand up and say they want their mana back, their self-control back, their lives back. Not to rule a so-called nation but just to rule themselves and their communities. This is my idea of true sustainability and self-sufficiency, down on the ground, where we know who's taking too much of something and we can do something about it constructively, fairly and openly.

It doesn't mean a Maori-run nation either. Past stolen and confiscated lands and resources need to be returned or compensated for and past human rights breaches need to be attoned for. The government needs to step aside though (yeah right) so that there might be communities governed under Maori tikanga which pakeha could be a part of.

There might also be self-governed pakeha communities that Maori could be a part of too or a bit of an ethnic jumble. That we would have to sort out as we went. It might be hard sorting all that out but at least everyone would finally have a say on how they want to live in a land that finally has a history of justice and peace (unless of course some of those communities choose to continue being totalitarian, which is on their heads I guess).

The first step though is making the decision to want something better than this state government and corporation controlled nation.

The next step is organising to make it happen.


Thanks cousin Emily.

12 Comments:

Blogger peteremcc said...

She should be voting ACT.

A truely free libertarian society would allow Tuhoe (or anyone else) to get together and 'rule themselves' and I doubt they'd have to worry about paying rates to a council either!

Similar goals, just a shame about their methods though.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

They're superficially similar Peter, but unfortunately the kind of anarchism that cousin Emily believes in would not result in freedom.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Ana said...

Hey Trevor, I would expect that if your wife is Ngatiawa she would have been able to tell you that Ngatiawa and Te Ati Awa are different iwi. Ngatiawa in the Bay of Plenty and Te Ati Awa in Taranaki, Wellington and upper South Island. But then again factual coherency and accuracy are not always your forte.
BTW The article posted was pretty much correct historically and factually

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pre European NZ is a good example of Anarchism in action. Tribalism, no ownership of anything, slavery.
In fact we have something similar now, race based legislation, RMA, taxation.
What are the anarchists complaining about?

8:56 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

Ana-sorry about that

My wife is part Te Ati Awa with roots in Nelson and Taranaki.

I do get the two mixed up from time to time-probably because Emily mentioned she was living in taranaki.

They are related iwi however, so Emily is probably still a very distant cousin.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

Anon-good point.

Anarchist seem to think that everything was milk and honey before capitalism came along-more like mud, shit and blood.

Almost every good thing about our civilisation comes from private property, free enterprise and severely limited government power.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Emily said...

Since when was slavery "anarchism in action"? One of the main principles of anarchism is "neither masters nor slaves".

And 'Anon', what is your problem with tribalism? Will you call Maori 'savages' next? Need we remind you what century this is?


As for your comments above 'cousin' Trevor, I would love to hear exactly what you think is so good about private property and free enterprise. I haven't seen anything good yet except for those who can afford it and who control it - hardly much freedom for others is it?.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Trevor Loudon said...

Thanks for that cousin emily.

I'm planning a post on the contrast between anarchism and anarchy.

Watch out for it.

I'd be interested in your comments.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I would love to hear exactly what you think is so good about private property and free enterprise. I haven't seen anything good yet"

Priceless.

How can one argue with one so wilfully blinded by ideology?

EXOCET

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When anarchist do agree, its on there being no state.
They may proclaim the noble idea of "no masters, no slaves" but when anarchy exists there is by definition no means to prevent or punish such an unjust situation.
"no masters, no slaves " sits well with this capitalist who believes nobody should awarded privelage by birthright and all transactions, social and economic, should be voluntary.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with tribalism is the same as the problem with nationalism.
Since when does freedom allow stealing from others?

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stealing was good enough for the british, french and spanish empires and for the state of america and israel.

of course you have a point about nationalism. states and corporations like exxon mobil, shell and rio tinto contiune to steal from tribal and indigenous people. yet you accuse them of being the thieves?

12:01 AM  

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