Waatea News Column: Maori taking pandemic matters into their own Tino rangatiratanga hands


I salute those Māori who have taken matters into their own hands to police pandemic checkpoints and screen those entering their lands.

The roar of history tells Māori that they suffer far more when these pandemics hit us. The true scope of how many Māori were killed from the Spanish Flu of 1918 is rarely acknowledged partly because Pakeha ignore much Māori history and partly because the reason why the mortality rates were so much more deadly for Māori highlighted the poverty that had already swamped those communities.

Settler New Zealand Culture never likes to focus too much on the injustice and hardship of land confiscation caused Māori.

The cruel math, however, tells us a truth Māori remember.

Pākehā died at a rate of 6.1 per thousand.

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Māori died at a rate of 49 per thousand

The difference in mortality rates was a body blow to a community still reeling from the loss of so many men from World War One.

The price of citizenship was paid with as much penalty on the homefront as it had been on the battlefront.

Fast forward 100 years to the latest pandemic and Māori have remembered the cost of the last plague.

The decision by various Māori groups around NZ seizing agency to protect their own self-sovereignty with checkpoints are the actions of a people who have a long enough memory to value self-defence over Government assurances of safety.

With the nature of this virus being as sneaky and clever as it is, those checkpoints will need to be manned again if the virus breaks out until a vaccine is available. These are lessons of self-reliance that all our Communities need to start considering as we face an uncertain future defined by continuing external shocks.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. Interesting to see an ethnic breakdown of deaths in the USA. In Michigan and New York the vast majority of dead are Black and in California Hispanic. Poverty and access to health care cause this. Maori and Pacifica should be concerned. It’s a pity Hone has not practiced what he preaches.

    • Peter – I’m not querying your basic premise here, but demographics need to be taken into account eg
      California likely has a higher Hispanic than ‘other’ population base. And certainly in the UK, the deliberate running down and massive deterioration of the NHS has contributed to their dreadful cv rates.

      Poverty and decent basic healthcare do not affect the power wielders; they do not care about the have-nots and we have seen this clearly in NZ with the health service deliberately run down under the Nats, because this impacts upon people who do not matter to them. Where this damages people, and leads children to believe that they do not matter, then this is evil.

      I am very annoyed with Hone Harawira; again, I had been contemplating voting Mana, but his racism and anger was what stopped me last time, and as a role model to idiotic young males he is worse than useless, he is now a bad example, justifying himself by the adolescent arrogance which he should have grown out of long ago. The police should charge him, but he’ll be wailing, “Racism.”

      • AW
        I am curious as to what you think Hone has done wrong and separately why should he be charged.

        The outstanding question is why are these campervans and the like, touring the North and why are the police not prosecuting them,

        The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association has already condemned touring so they are setting a good example. Tourist have no justification in going North or anywhere.
        Local opposition to tourists needs to be active and confronting the wrongdoers who are potentially putting us at risk.

        • John W -If he was collecting essential services, then it was probably ok – don’t know if he made that clear on his posting, but saying that he had a bacon and egg breakfast in Auckland, then home to a meal of roast pork, apple sauce, and potato salad, I thought a tad insensitive towards those for whom such good food may be a rare luxury. But perhaps everyone up his way eats that way, so I could be wrong there.

  2. Martyn; Yes there’s no use waiting for “Ministry of Health” to step up to the plate properly as they have made a “pgs ear” out of tryimnng to keep us safe while not seeking out any “alternative tresatments” to keep the “most at risk” among us (elderly) safe from Convid 19 just see who had died and what age group that has died from Covid 19; – all between 60’s to 80’s.

      • “Wisdom comes with age”

        I think that is a bit of a myth. In some cases individuals seem to become wiser, but most of the 65 to 75 year olds I see around are very conservative and resistant to change and accepting the reality of anthropogenic climate change etc

        • EP
          Fair enough. Experience can be a teacher but not for all.
          The young have to guess about many things.

          Wisdom comes with age but not for everyone

          Many of the 65+ group I know are angry at what they see and the acceptance of the lies by the brainwashed general public.

    • They want older people to die. We’re an economic burden. I think it’s Italy where authorities have prioritised treating younger people rather than the elderly – at least they’re honest about it.

      Old ladies like Winston Peters because they think that he’s the only politician who cares about them.

      • Well one may look at it differently, That the generation now in their 70+ are responsible for many infrastructural features of NZ and having paid there taxes often at a much higher rate than today, formed a contract with society bound by the understanding they would have a health system to look after them and a pension.
        Hospital beds per 1000 population have kept falling after roger nomics and health funding has also fallen comparatively. The public health system has to hire out private health facilities as they cannot afford to build their own.
        The system has known that a pandemic was a likelihood but has been very much unprepared through poor management by non medical staff and shortage of tax take.

    • That’s weird… in the reality I inhabit the whole country is locked down trying their best to keep the most vulnerable safe. Why else would you say we are torching the economy if not in a herculean effort to keep the vulnerable safe? 95% of the fatalities in Europe were over 60… that’s just what the virus does. It’s not personal.

  3. The idea of groups of people taking the law into their own hands always makes me nervous

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