Whenua, Tangata Tiriti
Written as an opinion piece for the Herald, they have
not chosen to
publish it so far.
Tangata Whenua, Tangata Tiriti
Nandor Tanczos MP, Green
Party Treaty Spokesperson
piece, 12th March 2004
the Treaty of Waitangi itself, the current 'Maori
is not a Maori issue because it is not primarily about
Maori. It is
about the place of Pakeha in this land.
some Pakeha, I cannot claim that my ancestors have
for six generations. I am a first generation New Zealander.
Nevertheless many of us share a common, almost unconscious,
what right do Pakeha have be in Aotearoa?
anxiety has grown as Pakeha dominance of political
affairs has lessened. The recent re-examination of
history by such
scholars as Belich, Walker, Salmond and Binney has
simplistic views of the past. Waitangi Tribunal hearings
have made public a number of tragic stories previously
The promises of the Treaty of Waitangi have become
familiar in our
of the past indicate that Pakeha have long held a
position in Aotearoa. We probably underestimate today
psychological effect of the fear of war in many early
communities. With the constabulary's invasion of Rua
peaceful community in the 1930's those fears would
have largely come
to an end. The place of Pakeha in New Zealand seemed
awareness of the injustices of the past, along with
Maori population, has again threatened the peace of
Pakeha. It was,
after all, a peace built on the myth of exemplary
and "One New Zealand". Most Pakeha seemed
simply unaware during the
1940's to 1980's of constant Maori agitation for the
to them from the beginnings of Pakeha settlement here.
Pakeha is today unaware of those demands. It creates
in us a
difficult cognitive tension. We know that the past
characterised by gross injustices. We know that as
a result Maori
feature in the worst health, education, and imprisonment
Many of us do feel guilty about it, and we resent
way of dealing with our painful and difficult past
is to return
to historical amnesia. Arguments that "it was
all a long time ago"
and that we should "just get on with it"
are part of that strategy.
Ultimately such an approach is doomed to failure.
Too much knowledge
is now in the public domain, Maori culture is flowering
anew, and if
we haven't managed to destroy all traces of it over
the past 164
years, the chances of doing so in the next 160 are
fact until Pakeha are able to feel certain about our
place here we
will continue to show signs of anxiety, defensiveness
intolerance, always underlined by the question "when
do I become
do belong here in Aotearoa. One reason that I use
Pakeha proudly is because it denotes that very thing.
People can have
pedantic and irresolvable etymological arguments about
the origin of
the term Pakeha, but they are irrelevant. Pakeha is
word that refers to New Zealanders of primarily European
word indicates our place here.
do have a right to be in Aotearoa. The Treaty of Waitangi
confers that right on us. That is why I argue that
the Treaty is not
primarily a Maori issue. It is a Pakeha one. Maori
have a right to be
here as tangata whenua. Pakeha have a right to be
here because we
signed a treaty giving us that right. But the right
obligation. It means we do not get to be here 100
per cent on our own
Tariana Turia said that "Maori have nowhere else
to go" some
misinterpreted it as saying that Pakeha should all
go home. Many
Pakeha pointed out (correctly, if unnecessarily) that
this is home. I
agree, so long as we honour the obligations we collectively
when we moved here.
means we do not need to feel guilty for the past,
or for the
actions of others. But we do need to take responsibility
future. We dishonour ourselves as Pakeha New Zealanders
if we allow
injustices to continue. The foreshore and seabed policy
is simply the
latest and most blatant example of Maori being dispossessed
of their property and the right to go to court to
is time for Pakeha to secure our place in this land,
relationship with its indigenous people. However,
if we fail to
honour the agreement that confers the right to be
here, if we
continue to locate our emotional, intellectual and
homeland on the other side of the planet, perhaps
we really don't
belong here after all.