Now please, don’t mind me while I offload a couple of thoughts. I’m not going to dive in with a deluge of wisdom/ stupidity or facts but just a couple of thoughts as we come up to the grand and controversial holiday that is Waitangi Day. I know I won’t even be scratching the surface, that there’s some huge holes but let’s just cruise on a, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if the world was…’ buzz.
My current hobby at the moment is to read the comments on NZ Herald Opinion pieces, call me a sucker for punishment or what but they can be quite entertaining and sometimes, on that rare rare occasion give some wider insight into controversial issues.
Today’s issue for debate was asset sales and foreign ownership. Snooze, grr, hiss, boo I hear you all sigh. I know, we’re all tired of it, a lot of us don’t want it, some are saying, ‘Fuck it, get rid of them already!’ But today’s news saw another spanner thrown into the works (not surprisingly) with the Maori party threatening to leave the government over exclusion of treaty principals from the sales.
See it feels like we have this great them and us thing going on when it comes to the Treaty. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, someone is going to feel a bit over it and a bit ripped off. Instead of bringing our country together, the Treaty seems to rip open a huge vent for many New Zealander’s and I can understand why.
Studying Health Science it becomes quite clear how colonization has adversely affected Maori. It is to attempt to rectify this, and bring everyone to a relatively even level that there are targeted initiatives in education and health for Maori. I tend to support these as I find it absurd that I am part of the 3.7% (As at 2005) of Maori students studying towards a bachelors degree and find it disheartening that being Maori can often be associated negatively.
But the thing is, I’m not just Maori, very few people are. As New Zealanders we tend to hail from a vast variety of cultures and backgrounds. My own Irish, Bohemian, Dutch, Scottish, Portuguese mix has been here for at least five generations. And I think that it’s here that we get problems.
I can understand the anger, if you’ve never known anything but New Zealand, and neither have your parents or grandparents well then yeah, you are a New Zealander just as much as me, or the people down the road at the local marae.
We can do better than this though. Last year, I attended some Te Reo lessons at Unitec and was amazed by the variety of people in the classes. It ranged from people like me, curious about their heritage or wanting to learn because they’d never had the opportunity, to recent immigrants who thought that it was important if they were to live here. These immigrants inspired me, because they were right.
It made me think that we should be getting better at this. Waitangi day should be a day where we celebrate being New Zealanders. Not waiting around to hear who had mud thrown at them.
At the end of the day, the old issues are never going to be completely solved, you can throw as much money at it, try and reclaim as much land but no one is ever going to be completely happy. What we can do is try to unite our little melting pot on cultural issues.
Te Reo, Maoridom, it’s unique to our country. We whore it out to tourists as part of our international branding. The Treaty as opposed to this controversial argument should be used as a tool for enriching the lives of New Zealanders to live in harmony with the land and the people flourishing. And maybe, just maybe everyone could start learning Te Reo. Hell, wouldn’t it be nice to see another New Zealander overseas and burst into a conversation that no one else can understand like all the foreigners here seem to love doing?