I started this blog back in 2011 as a way of talking about Māori issues in the lead up to that years general election. It was a space that had been neglected for far too long, and only one or two of us were writing seriously about the big issues of the day and the impact they had on Te Ao Māori. As we once again enter an election year (seriously, can we move to a four-year term already), it is time to pick up the pen (or, in this case, my hideously expensive but delightfully easy to use Macbook Air) and restart the conversation on my little corner of the internet about Māori politics and the Māori economy.
Read more below
I’m going to start off with some crystal ball-gazing. Even though it is an election year, I do not think we are likely to see the same chaotic mess that was our 2014 election. In Bill English and Andrew Little we have two of the most uninspiring politicians vying to be Prime Minister in our nations short history. Even the minor party leaders are devoid of anything interesting. Winston has been around the block so many times that his populist tendencies are more so-so than anything strikingly anti-establishment. ACT have a young, sensible, completely forgettable leader. The Greens are embracing their middle-class support base; and the two Māori parties appear to be on a path towards reconciliation. All is quiet. And, quite frankly, after the cluster fuck that was politics in 2016, we can do with a sedate election campaign. Nonetheless, the Māori voice still needs to be heard. Rather contradictory, it is the Māori mainstream media who are kicking ass, producing great content and discussion, and not the Māori blogosphere. Perhaps the only instance of this being true anywhere in the digital world. This needs to change (Morgan – I am looking at you here!). Because, here is the thing. We can write with greater freedom. We can be more assertive. More politically biased. We can swear for fuck sake. We can be radical. We can call people on their shit when they speak out incoherently about Māori issues.
Take, for instance, the recent kerfuffle about the racist comments made by the Mad Butcher, Sir Peter Leith. Leaving aside the fact that a simple apology would have sufficed, the complete and utter media storm over the past few week has been incredible. Race relations in New Zealand is a tinder box and in the vacuum of political news that is the period of summer between Christmas and Waitangi Day all it takes is one small incident to create a national storm. And I am sorry, Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy (we sure have given away a lot of Knighthoods to people who I tend to write unfavourably about when it comes to their attitudes towards Māori); but racism is never casual. Never. It is an insidious act. It is taught to our children in our schools and homes. It is ingrained in our white, suburban neighbourhoods. It is reinforced on our most popular radio and television programmes. By our biggest “celebrities”. It is laughed at by our politicians. It is driven home in the very laws of our nation. No, racism is never casual. Racism is institutional. It is a part of the fabric of our nation. Rugby, racing, racism. I long for a day when we have a Race Relations Commissioner who actually understands that. Who knows firsthand the negative effects of racism. That it is a part of our daily struggle. Even for an Anchor blue top Māori such as myself.
This is a call to arms. Not literally. I’ve been told by my London work colleagues that they are never quite sure how serious I am about taking part in any armed rebellion to take back our land. Land that was stolen from us. That continues to be stolen from us (for instance the ongoing protest against the refusal of the New Plymouth District Council and the Government to return Waitara to To Ātiawa). A call to metaphorical arms. It is election year and we, as Māori, need to do better at engaging with the issues and making our voice heard. Making our vote heard. To actually turn up and vote. There are amazing Māori candidates across the spectrum for us to vote for. And two Māori parties which appeal to people on both sides of the political divide. Not to mention those other minor parties who claim to care about our interests as well if you are that way inclined to vote. The key thing is. Vote. More than that – engage. You have a voice, fucking use it. I am sick and tired of hearing that we do not vote because politics does not care about us. Make. Them. Fucking. Care. About. You. They don’t care because we don’t care. Imagine the response if political parties knew that 90% of Māori would turn up and vote instead of the 40% or so who currently do? The Government is already running scared of our large Iwi, and the Iwi Leaders Forum. Get them running scared of the general Māori population as well and half the battle is won. I’ve said this many times before: we have already won the war with the Crown for our independence. Our tino rangatiratanga. What we have been doing for the past 20 years is negotiating the terms of their surrender. Why stop now! More than ever we need to engage with politics in 2017. To either keep a fourth term National Government honest; or make the 6th Labour Government atone for the sins of the 5th.
My promise to you, dear reader (if I have any left after a years silence), is to engage in this conversation. To speak truth to power. And to share with you what I learn and what I discover about Māori politics and the Māori economy in 2017.