I wish to address an ongoing attitude from those who feel a sense of righteousness about their white identity.
Yet again, (NZ Herald, 27 April, 2016) we read the insinuation that Māori are ‘the problem’ for being approximately 14% of the population of Aotearoa and approximately 51% of the prison population. These comments are shared by the general non-Māori public, academics, talkback radio participants and certain TV and radio presenters.
Yet, there is the possibility of self-reflection for some. Imagine how different life might be for that 51% of Māori and their families if we (yes, us, the white people) were to actually value Māori and Māori ideas.
To this end, we can:-
- Learn Te Reo Māori
- Become literate in marae protocol
- Be able to perform kapahaka confidently
- Know who the famous people are in the Māori world, and why?
- Know Māori songs, hymns and chants
- Know important events for Māori in the history of Aotearoa
- Be proud to stand alongside Māori (because we are able to)
I claim that it is our (The White Clan) lack of pride in and knowledge of Māori tikanga and also our lack of knowledge about the history of our own country that contribute to social failure in Aotearoa. The issue is the mana of Tangata Whenua and Tangata Whenua being understood by our dominant White Settler culture. By being inclusive, we (The White Clan) need to implement our responsibilities for our side of the bargain, as part of the bicultural agreement, Te Tiriti.
In the film, The Price of Peace by Kim Webby which is a documentary about the ‘Urewera Four’, we see yet another court scene in the history of Aotearoa that punishes Māori, demonstrating yet again, the cruelty of power and white hegemony in this country.
We are the ones who need to change, not Māori.
Lizzie Cook is a PhD (Sociology) student at the University of Canterbury, singer/songwriter, teacher of Drama and Te Reo Maori.