What the Wha…

Posted in Indigenous New Zealanders, Maori Issues, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on September 8, 2009 by kuinirikihana

WANT to really know how the Miceal (silent ‘h’) Law letter to 12 year olds from  Otaki School’s total immersion class ended up in the media?

Yes. Me too. But here’s my imaginary scenario of what might have happened.  An upwardly mobile parent of  one of the pupils   (please note it is not a kura kaupapa)  is aghast to see the over the top response the Mayor of Wanganui, Micael Law (silent ‘h’) wrote to his shy daughter’s polite request. He/she shows it to a collegeaue at work [in Wellington] and starts an avalanche of emails.

Let’s say it lands in the In Box of a savvy Maori media woman and the letter takes on a life of its own as it charges around the Capital’s kumara vine contacts. Hey presto this  ‘gold plated’  news story becomes the lead of TV and Radio news right through the week. It was also fodder for affronted politicians, blog writers, talk-back  and other media spectrums.

Spare a thought then for the Wanganui Mayor  Micael Laws [silent ‘h’] who must have thought his rant with the handful of Maori language pupils was going to be like the roughouse abuse in sad families (that he talks about)  – and never see the light of day. His aim was to hit the target and move on.  I reckon he would have been horrified to see it got to mainstream media.

I say this because rather than graciously telling media he had been a ‘bit heavy handed’ he instead came out swinging.

He did not take up the chance to visit Otaki School for a  ‘muffin and something to drink’. That is a shame. If he did he would see how Te Reo Maori is thriving in the small Kapiti coast town. In Te Rauparaha street alone there are three kohanga reo, two kura kaupapa  (primary and secondary level) and of course the brilliant Te Wananga o Raukawa which offers Te reo at university – tertiary levels.

Indeed I would not be writing anything about this hoha (annoying) story if it were not for the attitude of Mr Laws . He is allowed to voice his opinion but if he  did  choose to visit our beautiful seaside town he would see  how Otaki School is just one of the many “language springs” who honour and nurture the retention and survival of Te Reo.

He criticised the young students  using the offending word pukuriri. His council translator of the letters should also have told him that the word  pukuriri can (the same as in English) have other meanings graduating from grumpy or irritable to angry.

Finally I invite him [and others interested ] to visit the National Archives in Wellington and see documents of the Treaty of Waitangi and the 1865 Declaration of Independence. Included in those 1840-65 documents is a map where his city is spelt with a ‘h’ as Whanganui.

This was spotted by one of my budding journalism students. The future of our ataahua (beautiful) country rests with him and others of our future generations.


Tribute to Brian Joyce

Posted in Journal Entry with tags , , , , , on October 17, 2008 by kuinirikihana

“Where the bloody hell are ya!”

In one of his last sessions with his National certificate class Brian couldn’t find his students as the class room allocation had been changed overnight. Brian giggled, stayed put and sent out the text.

Educational excellence was a mantra with him and he was proud talking about the “Doctor in his home”, his wife Rose, and I know he liked wearing his Masters orange hood at our graduation ceremonies. I liked the class which it gave to the Whitireia Diploma Journalism course.

Always to the forefront was his politics – a leftie with liberal leanings – he would have a socialist answer to life’s woes. ‘Out, out dam capitalism’ he would rasp with glee. I joined ASTE after talking to him.

His illness came suddenly. One week he was wearing Lycra and biking to work. He felt good and was getting ready for his double hip operation. I was to fill in for him while he had the operation and rested.

His recovery seemed remarkable, fast even. He came back early then just as suddenly we got the news he was very ill and tests later proved he needed treatment for bowel cancer.

I’ll not dwell on his illness – he certainly would not.

I enjoyed hearing his reflections where he put his past into perspective.

His stories could leave you in stitches or tears. Often past pupils would turn up out of the blue or he would get an email from them.
And yes he always put his students first. He cared about them.

As for the tears, well I felt them when he carried around a snapshot of his new mokopuna (born overseas) and one he hoped he would get to see.

I will remember a man who could wear pink and pull if off, who loved stylish braces and cotton drill trousers, and most of all a man who could write a perfect sentence.

No reira haere atu ra e hoa. Haere ki to tipuna tuarangi.

Farewell my friend. Go forth and join your illustrious ancestors.

My reply –

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2008 by kuinirikihana

Hei aha kei na… Mr Pawson – I relish your opinion and thank you for giving voice to your thoughts on the take. Once again it is a blog and opinion so go for it and write your blog on your views. There are not enought Maori voices on the internet.

Queenie Rikihana

Terrorism – or was it?

Posted in Maori Issues with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by kuinirikihana

When Kiwis woke up to huge red front-page headlines shouting of the overnight arrest of 18 New Zealanders allegedly running terrorism camps in the Urewera ranges… we (readers of the DomPost). Took a collective deep breath.

Here in peaceful, tranquil  – Aotearoa backwater – New Zealand were under threat – from our own terrorists.
Or were we?
It’s easy to have 20/20 vision after the event but now we are well into 2008 it to me is all beginning to look like a lot of testosterone has been expelled and dollars spent on the hundreds of hours phone tapping and following the movements of the suspects. That’s not taking into account the outfitting of the 300 or so Darth Vader look alike black-clad, gun toting police who carried out the raids.
Having lived (and travelled) for ten years in the UK I speak with prior knowledge when I say (with one-eyed certainty) ‘we are the most beautiful and peaceful country in the world).
When a niece of mine (who had once lived in Sydney) complained to me of her hometown relations saying ‘aunt they think this (Otaki) is it!’ I had to then assure her ‘darling, this is it, only none of you have been anywhere to know the difference.’
From the bottom of the world we have looked with horror and concern at TV footage of the atrocities occurring around the world.
None of us who saw the footage of light aircraft flying into the Twin Towers could forget it. That act of terrorism on September 11 changed the world forever and together with the responses of other counties we in New Zealand responded to the threat.
Our government’s introduced the Terrorism Suppression Act and it came into effect on October 17, 2002.
Police did not get special rights to arrest or detain people (to do this they needed the authority of the Attorney General) but they were able to obtain warrants to intercept telephone communications.
Fast forward five years – and on October 16, 2007 the country wakes up to the news that the Police had carried out armed raids on homes around the country in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North and Ruatoki.
Readers (of this piece) overseas would have no cause to have heard of Tuhoe nation leader, Tame Iti but his image is what newspaper front page sub editor’s drool over. Look I have used it too.
Tame has a full facial moko (tattoo) and often wears fatigue army garb. He is a self confessed Tino Rangatiratanga or Maori Sovereignty rights supporter and a fervent fighter to retain Tuhoe lands in the Urewera’s. (Native bush).
He has sought publicity and his activities (no doubt) monitored by police. Google him and you will find he has 10 pages – and 17,000 hits to his name.
In recent years he (and others – some of whom are part of the NZ Army and employment services) have run training camps for young disaffected youth. Aimed at getting the young people ‘back on track’ and to learn survival skills.
Tame Iti has since the 1970’s flaunted his Maori sovereignty activism. He has been to prison for it.
So when the arrests of 18 environmentalists, of both men and women and including four Maori – it would naturally to be veteran activist Tame Iti who’s photo was most used, who’s name was not suppressed and who’s bail application was rejected.
Tame’s son Kairakau Iti was moved to say after his father’s arrest:” My father is not a terrorist and I believe most of the New Zealand public realise that.”
I liked the comment of art historian Hamish Keith who was in Germany at the time of the arrests. He was alerted  about the ‘terrorism threat’ back home then when told it was Tame Iti – gleefully replied, along the lines of  – “Oh they surely have it wrong. He is a humorist not a terrorist.”
I remember a very clever art piece by Tame Iti commenting on shifty turn of the century land deals. It was part of a Ralph Hotere exhibition at City Gallery. It featured a table (I can’t remember what was on the table) but  on the floor a mirror showed what was happening under the table – a gun, land sale papers and maybe a few beads.
All very amusing but still the charges for firearms possession remain and the case is now being heard. Most of the defendants are out on bail including Tame Iti who has been touring the UK as part of a theatre troup performing Shakespeare in Te Reo (maori language).

The police discovered early that they could not charge the 18 arrested people with terrorism under the current Act and even some of the firearms charges appear to have been dropped.
The response from one of our largest newspaper companies – Fairfax – had been to cherry pick some of the juicier bits of the police 156 pages of affidavit evidence.
The reason? They believed they were acting on behalf of ‘the public’s right to know’. Fair enough.
The paper however did not put the whole document on their web page, which is interesting considering the whole document was purported to be ‘in the public interest.’ This was left to a US based website which was also whipped it off the net when the NZ Crown Law office got wind of it.
We have yet find out if Fairfax’s argument holds up in court.

 Just before Christmas, Peter Williams QC representing the Tuhoe residents of Ruatoki issued 30 High Court writs on the Police asking for surveillance on those arrested to be stopped, the community of Ruatoki (where the village was locked down for hours) to be given an apology and all legal costs to be paid.

To date the apology by Police Commissioner Howard Broad has not been wholeheartedly given although some ‘meetings’ have taken place’ I understand with Tuhoe elders. In the meantime  we will have to wait until the issue is played out in courts before we hear the most common words said in recent times  to indigenous communities for past wrongs . 

‘I am sorry’.

What is a Maaori?

Posted in Indigenous New Zealanders, Maori Issues, Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 7, 2008 by kuinirikihana

WELL FIRSTLY,   Maori are the indigenous people of the country of Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) or New Zealand. Is there a case here for re-naming it Kiwi Land? Just kidding!!

At present the population of New Zealand is nudging the 4.262,900 million mark and those with Maori blood make up about 12 per cent of that number.

That ofcourse is the point – Maori are those who have Maori blood and future estimates are that Maori will make up more that 25 per cent of the country when the growing youth bulge in our numbers  start having babies and more importantly continue to have babies with  pakeha or tauiwi ( foreigners) who ofcourse do not have Maori blood.

But that is just a numbers  argument  about our race. What I believe is a more important question is to ask what is a Maaori and how do they express their culture in their everyday life.

I pose this question at this time because we have famous people – such as our All Blacks who do my ancestor’s Te Rauparaha’s haka and a present an international indigenous face to the world. 

A letter in my metropolitan paper the Dominion last year asked why so few Maori were chosen for the World Cup games. Now with 20/20 hindsight  I can now ask did their ‘exclusion’ contribute to our losing the game against the French. Just kidding once again.

So yes, having the blood is important and right now some of  my (close) relations and from other tribes are getting jobs or Iwi consultative positions because they are Maori.

The last census  asked the person filling out the form – Did they identify as Maori??  It is a good move as many guessed at the numbers in the past. It is interesting too that in the last election some non- Maori openly said they had voted ‘as a Maori’ and there is nothing to stop them ‘choosing’ to do so.

I say this at a time when 47,000 Maori voters (DomPost Aug 7) have been wiped from the general and Maori rolls as enrolment packs have been returned unopened or addresses unknown.

 When I did my Degree in Matauranga Maori – (Maori Knowledge and Customs) we were asked a series of questions about what we did to espress our culture throughout our lives.

Responses were asked to such questions as: How often do you go to your Marae  and help out at hui. In order to pass the paper evidence was requested of at least ten visits to the marae for tangihanga (funerals), weddings, birthdays, fundraising events or tribal hui (or meetings).

It amused me to see these attendances itemised because where I grew up in Otaki going to the marae was normal – not going was unthinkable. So the question was a necesary accademic one where those ‘hours’ spent on a marae showed your committment to the health and well-being of your hapu.

I know most of the ‘ life blood’ ringawera  (workers) on our marae do not need to think about how many hours they put in. The work is voluntary. The hours you put in only what you can considering your job and caring for your own family. But always in the back of your mind is the ‘inner tally’ which only you know about. This is where the utu or reciprosity you owe to other families (in your hapu) who have worked unstintingly to give your beloved whanau member a beautiful tangihanga sendoff. Believe me those ‘hours’ you may never repay and the aroha goes on forever.

So what is a Maaori? It is a person who works on their marae for others and in this way contributes to the future well being of their hapu and iwi.

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Posted in Uncategorized on August 1, 2008 by kuinirikihana

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