When can Pakeha celebrate Waitangi Day? A response to Dame Susan Devoy

By   /   March 21, 2013  /   14 Comments

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“The day we live up to the hopes of the Treaty is the day we can all celebrate the wonderfulness of NZ. Not in some crass bikini-clad, foster beer swilling, genocide celebrating, criminal colony smugness, but in the joyful knowledge that we have done what’s fair for everyone.”

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In her Waitangi Day column this year, our new Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, managed to exhibit all the intellectual curiosity of an inanimate object.

It is extraordinary to me that we seem to have a Race Relations Commissioner with all the historic knowledge of a talkback radio caller. Maori have had their land confiscated and their economic base robbed while combating a cultural onslaught in their own country. The decades of colonization have born a terrible price through poverty. NZ benefitted from stolen Maori land and economically empowered by confiscation. Adding insult to injury is the paltry compensation offered to Maori via the court process.

It’s almost as if none of that matters to Dame Susan.

Exactly how Devoy has been deemed to have the empathy, imagination and intellect to be the new Race Relations Commissioner still isn’t clear. In terms of her comments over Waitangi Day being a day of division and her desire to sweep that all under the carpet so we can have a feel good celebration like Australia does, I’d like to inform our new Race Relations Commissioner of the exact date Pakeha can start celebrating Waitangi Day so she doesn’t need to create a flag blinded orgy of little brother patriotism.

Pakeha can celebrate Waitangi Day without all the shame and division the day Maori aren’t the worst health stats.

Pakeha can celebrate Waitangi Day without all the shame and division the day Maori aren’t the worst education stats.

Pakeha can celebrate Waitangi Day without all the shame and division the day Maori aren’t the worst crime stats.

Pakeha can celebrate Waitangi Day without all the shame and division the day Maori aren’t the worst poverty stats.

Pakeha can celebrate Waitangi Day without all the shame and division the day Maori aren’t the worst employment stats.

Pakeha can celebrate Waitangi Day without all the shame and division the day Maori aren’t the worst housing stats.

Pakeha can celebrate Waitangi Day without all the shame and division the day Maori aren’t the worst life expectancy stats.

Pakeha can celebrate Waitangi Day without all the shame and division the day they start living up to the responsibilities and obligations and freedoms guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi.

The day we live up to the hopes of the Treaty is the day we can all celebrate the wonderfulness of NZ. Not in some crass bikini-clad, foster beer swilling, genocide celebrating, criminal colony smugness, but in the joyful knowledge that we have done what’s fair for everyone.

Our egalitarianism and the dignity it brings can be the way we celebrate our foundation as a nation, it’s a pity that concept seems totally out of reach of our new Race Relations Commissioner.

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14 Comments

  1. marty mars says:

    That is a very good post indeed bomber thank you for putting it so well. As for devoy and this appointment, I note the start date is 1 April and I hope this is just a very poor bad-taste early April Fool joke – but don’t worry I’m not holding my breath on that one.

  2. Chris Miller says:

    I don’t want to celebrate Waitangi Day. What is there to celebrate? We behaved shamefully, and just because we didn’t outright invade isn’t any reason to brush that aside.

  3. ikarus says:

    I would’ve thought the $200k salary might attract someone qualified. But no. Devoy will undermine the role, and the Commission, just as the Nats would want.

  4. Duncan Brown says:

    A couple of points:

    1. Devoy’s column was written a year ago.
    2. She’s not anti-Maori, she’s simply saying there could be different days with a different focus. “We deserve a day of true celebration and pride… We need a day that doesn’t necessarily replace Waitangi Day but complements it.”

    You would be foolish to deny there’s been a lot of bad blood and harm done in New Zealand’s history. You would be just as foolish to focus only on that, and miss the many truly great success stories where the various races have learnt to live and progress together.

    It’s taken a long time to get that bad, and it’s going to take a long time to turn around the stats you mention. What is more important is to acknowledge that effort is being made to move in the right direction.

    • K says:

      While I agree with you to a point, I really don’t think that appointing this Dame serves race relations in this country.

      You point out that a year has passed since her comments…so now she is suddenly qualified to be Race Relations Commissioner? How so?

      A great post on No Right Turn points out that ACTUAL understanding is required under law for this position and Damn Susan just doesn’t fit the bill http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2013/03/was-devoys-appointment-unlawful.html

    • Verbscape says:

      A couple of points:

      1. Yes. As recently as a year ago she was publicly spouting some painfully ignorant nonsense and we’re supposed to accept that she has learned so much in the intervening twelve months that she is not just a good choice, but the BEST choice for RRC? Better than the people who were already under consideration who weren’t shoe-horned in halfway through the process to bypass all that pesky committee scrutiny?

      2. ‘She’s not racist BUT’ is a bad way to start a sentence. Also, someone whose model for “a day of true celebration and pride” is Invasion Day, someone who genuinely believes Australia’s race relations are to be admired and emulated, is simply too ignorant and… let’s say “naïve” for a role like this.

      Your last two paragraphs are just feel-good waffle, and a derail. In the context of Devoy’s appointment, “many truly great success stories where the various races have learnt to live and progress together” are not relevant. It’s true that “effort is being made [(by who? I’d suggest not Devoy, and not National)] to move in the right direction”, but that just makes it more critical that people speak up when they feel that, like now, this is not the right direction.

      I’m not saying this was your intent, but I’m letting you know that you sound a lot like the people who object to any criticism (of anything. ever.) with cries of, “But it could be WORSE!”

      Sure it could. But it could be better.

    • Joe Davies says:

      Actually, it was written on Feb 5 2013, a month, not a year ago.
      Not anti-Maori? Yet she wants to celebrate the day Pakeha took away their country – the day that Maori lost their sovereignty and independence. What do Maori have to celebrate about that? How much more anti-Maori can you get?!
      Are efforts really being made to move in the right direction? Unquestionably, but I’m referring to the political right, not the correct direction.

    • Michal says:

      Effort by who? Not the current government nor their extremely foolish appointment of Devoy to this role.

      ‘I’m not racist but’ says it all.

      I regularly hear comments at my place of work – a large health board, on the bus and frankly at all sorts of places that indicates racism is alive and well and the only thing that seems to be moving is the focus of that racism – now we’ve got those dam Chinese here – looks like we pakeha are never going to have the place to ourselves.

  5. Joe Davies says:

    The most important of all the preconditions above is the honouring of the Treaty. Even if we somehow fix up all the dreadful statistics, the main crime we Pakeha have committed is the robbery of Maori independence – sovereignty – which is the thing we promised in the Treaty not to do. Until we have honoured our promise to preserve Maori independence and sovereignty, there will be division on the day that celebrates that loss. What else could there be?

  6. Ckiwi says:

    The treaty will never be over it is infinite like time and space, it will always be something more, and unfortunately the common New Zealander who had nothing to with any of it, they will be held accountable for it, for generations to come.

    • Verbscape says:

      There is no one in this country who “had nothing to do with” Te Tiriti. If you grew up here (as I did) you benefitted from the resources of the land, resources that were obtained through a signed agreement that one party has spectacularly failed to live up to. If you weren’t born here, you chose to come here – there are plenty of other countries to immigrate to that didn’t sign Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

      (Maybe there are some kids whose parents have only just brought them here who haven’t had time to really benefit yet and didn’t have a choice about it, but give them a little time.)

      Your real complaint is that you only want half of Te Tiriti upheld. You want to keep the parts that benefit you, but without any obligations or accountability in turn.

      This may shock you, but the “common New Zealander” by definition includes Māori, who also weren’t yet alive when Te Tiriti was signed (and many iwi didn’t sign it at all). They, too, “will be held accountable for it for generations to come”.

      Or are you advocating that we dissolve Te Tiriti and return the country to solely iwi leadership?

  7. jenny says:

    Exactly what qualifications and experience has Dame Susan Devoy got to get this position.
    I am absolutely gob smacked. She is a sports woman and has never actually struck me as being a great intellect or deep thinker or social commentator. She is pretty basic from what I have seen. Heaven help us. Is this why we should encourage excellence at sport… so you will be in the handed top government jobs from then on????

  8. jenny says:

    I thought ex sport heroes got a job as a beer salesperson or brought out a range of clothing or bought into retirement villages… but a top government position??? Hello

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