My last note was a complaint about the Dutch government, so now it’s New Zealand’s turn, because bro, they’re not doing too flash either.
Yesterday (which is still today here) was Waitangi Day. It’s New Zealand’s national day which marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which is New Zealand’s “founding document”. There’s a whole lot of controversy regarding the Treaty that I’m not gonna get into here, but basically, it’s an important day for Maori, the native people of Aotearoa New Zealand.
In recent years, during the years that Labour were in power, an effort was made to boost Maori language and culture as it’s part of our identity as a country. Even if you’re not Maori and you’re not ridiculously racist and purposely avoid doing it, you participate in at least a little Maori culture and language every day of your life. It’s just how it is.
However, the latest instalment of the NZ government has decided that there’s too much Maori happening and wants to roll back some of those efforts to boost language and culture, remove access to Maori-specific public services and initiatives and redefine the Treaty and how it impacts law. Because that’s a great way to spend money in a cost-of-living crisis which is what your dickhead voters voted for you to fix.
Sorry, shit makes me so angry. Back to my point…
I am a Maori woman. I am of Ngati Whakaue and Ngati Pikao (Te Arawa) descent. But aside from knowing that, I don’t know much else. Why? Because my koro (grandfather, who wouldn’t even let us call him that) was a victim of government policy to disincentivise speaking Te Reo Maori (the Maori language). He was beaten, as a literal child, any time he spoke Te Reo. This eventually led to him believing that it was wrong and bad to be Maori.
Even after the cavemen became outnumbered by reasonable, decent people in parliament and those policies were abolished and we started embracing Maori culture and language as a country, my koro tried to deny all of it (aside from a few family names). When he passed, the elders came to try and take his body to our marae, but my dad and his siblings had to fight them because that was not something he wanted.
But because of that, I am disconnected from a very important part of who I am. I am literally descended from such an important figure in the history of Aotearoa that he’s on a coin! This is so fucking cool. But I don’t know dick about my culture and heritage because the government succeeded in brainwashing my koro into thinking it was wrong to be a REAL New Zealander.
So now, when I see what the current government are trying to do, I can’t help but think of my koro and everything I missed out on because it wasn’t passed down to me. I’m not one for tradition or anything, but it would have been nice to have the sense of belonging and community that SHOULD come with being Maori. Instead, I’ve got “I’m Maori, but don’t ask me anything beyond my hapu (tribe) because I have no idea!”.
The fact that the government is the reason for this is why I hope the pushback on this government’s bullshit is strong. I will never understand why we (royal we) are so fucking willing to accept racism to maybe get a better economy when we’ve seen time and time again that all it leads to is war and more poverty. Just… why?!