Aotearoa responsibilities around indigenous rights 

 “Idle No More”


Marama Davidson

The Idle No More movement is an indigenous uprising movement that grew from First Nations peoples in Canada in November 2012. Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honours and fulfills indigenous sovereignty to protect the land and water. The movement was a response to the Canadian government’s Omnibus Bill C-45 which effectively weakens environmental protections and Indian reserve land rights.  

Around the world groups of people have pledged their support to Idle No More. It is an indication that more and more people are aware of our current exploitative approach as being short term and unsustainable for our planet. The support for Idle No More is also a recognition that indigenous sovereignty includes being accountable to our Earth Mama and the protection of all people through that. Centuries of otherwise exploitative and competitive greed has facilitated the ongoing colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, oppression, inequality and and all the poison that pervades the planet and has privileged only certain groups.

In Aotearoa the Idle No More movement provides a vocal platform to keep our combined sovereignty issues to the forefront. This includes linking Treaty of Waitangi and indigenous rights to our current political challenges such as:

. Constitutional Review and what transformations are essential in governing our nation
. ensuring environmental accountability from our government and demanding transparency in their relationship with any extraction industry moguls (mining, deep sea oil-drilling, fracking etc)
. sustaining and caring for our living system including our responsibilities around water
. free market trade agreements including the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement
. calling for accountability from the government as a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
. the partial sale of our State Owned Assets
.current ‘Treaty Settlement’ deals being negotiated

Through each of these issues facing us we must pro-actively, staunchly and without compromise continue to place hard pressure on our government. The work of dissecting every single proposal that seeks to overstep indigenous authority must continue for the benefit of all peoples in Aotearoa. It is in upholding the true status and leadership of Tangata Whenua that a longer term vision for valuing our place and our all our people exists. So far in post-colonial Aotearoa this has not happened despite the Whakaputanga Declaration of Independence and the partnership agreement of the Treaty of Waitangi. Idle No More is a global indigenous solidarity movement that aligns indigenous resistance happening everywhere, and calls for a better approach to living together for all humans not just those indigenous to that land.

In Aotearoa and certainly around the world, indigenous people have never been idle. But global indigenous solidarity through Idle No More is a support system to strengthen each respective grassroots action happening across the seas. Our history of resistance in Aotearoa and our ongoing struggle for tino rangatiratanga is clear and continues in communities, whānau, hapū and iwi on a daily basis. What we can do more effectively is weave those actions into a collective mat so that each action supports the other as a foundation for a brighter Aotearoa.

I want to acknowledge the many tauiwi people and groups who have always been staunch supporters of affirming indigenous independence. This includes Pakeha and certainly migrant/ethnic groups. Read Dr Ruth DeSouza’s blog for an example of “Migrant support for Idle No More”. There are many more examples of such tauiwi solidarity and more of this will be needed as we ponder living together in this corner of the planet.

The following plan of action below has been suggested by the Idle No More movement in Canada and I think gives some great starting points for us here in Aotearoa.

In the meantime, thank you to those who have fearlessly kept the issues of Tangata Whenua sovereignty to the forefront and may we continue to do so!

Plan of Action:
• Support and encourage grassroots to create their own forums to learn more about Indigenous rights and our responsibilities to our Nationhood via teach-ins, rallies and social media.
• Build relationships and create understanding with allies across Canada (and Aotearoa and the world).
• Take steps to contribute to building relationships with international agencies such as the UN to raise awareness to the conditions Indigenous people have been subjected to and assert our sovereignty in the international arena.
• Acknowledge and honour the hard work of all grassroots people who have worked, and continue to work towards these goals – you are our inspiration.

TDB Recommends

Marama Davidson front indigenous rights movement, Idle No More


  1. Tansi? Means, how are you in the Cree Language. Thank you for the support and we in turn have supported your struggles. Let the People of the land we really appreciate and understand the fierce connection to the land and all forms of life that the “Creator” has gifted us, to sustain life since the beginning of time. We do this for “MOTHER EARTH” and our Children, GrandChildren and the ones not yet born.

    Viva! “MOTHER EARTH” and Future Generations

    Emil BELL

  2. great post marama, and i’m so happy to see you included in the writers here.

    i think one area that the local idle no more movement could work on here is the constitutional review. i’m really concerned that the consultations i’ve seen so far are with discrete groups, such as OEA consulting with ethnic communities, & i’m sure TPK is doing the same with maori. but we’re only talking amongst ourselves and not to each other, each group is not getting the variety of perspectives, and i’m really afraid that ethnic minority communities will not be supporting indigenous rights as strongly as they could or should. we need to be having those discussions and debates across various groups and sectors in society.

    • Kia ora Stargazer and lovely to see your here as well. Yes I agree at some stage we are going to have to come together to imagine a whole new nationhood than the one we have now. The Aotearoa Matike Mai process, which is the iwi led constitutional review process lead by Moana Jackson and Margaret Mutu, I believe intends to facilitate those cross-pollination discussions after it has canvassed the views of Maori. The government led process is hoping to capture all New Zealanders but it’s Terms of Reference are way narrow in my opinion, in terms of allowing NZers all to vision. There is also a process being led by Peace Movement Aotearoa and other groups who hope to canvass tauiwi in the same way that the iwi led group are doing for Maori. Then there is the extremely racist, right wing process which seeks to destroy Tangata Whenua status led by the likes of Muriel Newman and John Ansell (Act Party sponsored process I believe).

      I think we all need to keep pushing the discussions of constitutional transformation (not just review) and definitely part of that strategy has to be the common ground stuff and the re-education for all NZers just not newer NZers.
      Nga mihi Stargazer.

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