Monday, April 28, 2008

Maori message of support for Yankton struggle

E nga Iwi katoa, mihimihi tatou.Ehoa ma
I am a Kaumatua (Elder) of Te Kaiaio uri of TE WHANAU A APANUIiwi ("tribe") on East Cape, New Zealand.
We are currently in Negotiation with the NZ Govt aka "The Crown" overrestoration of our "tribal Rights" to manage our lands and resources, and have been able to call an INTERIM "stay" on all development projects not carrying approval of any Hapu ("subtribe") concerned.Given that the Govts of NZ,Canada and the US seem to be singing from similar song sheets vis a vis"aboriginal affairs" these days, though the venues are set up slightly differently, we need to be alert to what is happening on the ground and be quick with what support we can offer.A near neighbour Iwi of ours was invaded by SWAT - type forces recently,on "anti-terr" grounds subsequently quashed, but many of those arrested still face "Firearms charges". We are sure that this outrage is connected to a certain agreement centred in "your " national capital. and this viewpoint was well aired in our national Press, which was overjoyed to have the consequent debacle to wallow in. This not quite the point that NZMaori wish to make, but it gave us useful headlines and has added to the"injustice"profile. The Ngai Tuhoe Iwi got wide international support atthe time, and some of that filtered through as well.As you know, publicity is about the biggest tool in the box these days.For generations it was used against us all but the tide is turning somewhat, for various reasons of course but if the horse is going our waylets swing into the saddle. NZ is a small country (about the size of Wyoming) but it happens to have some useful attributes internationally,including a fairly vigorous protest community and an accessible media.Maori TV, a national public broadcaster with a mix of Maori and English programming, has increasing widespread support for the quality of its service and is starting to reach out for overseas stories. It has just launched an exclusive "Reo Maori"(local language) channel, which will takeover some of the specialised Maori topics and hopefully allow for more indigenous political coverage.We share many health and social problems, unknown before colonisation,which need urgent airing. NZ Public services aren't too bad but overstretched as most are, and the NZ Pakeha (white) population moans quite a bit about "extra' resources being sqaundered(!) on "lazy natives". That there is something very wrong with the consequences of colonialism world wide barely penetrates the general consciousness, tho the Global Warming thing is stirring the brain cells inNZ these days. Publicising the "common cause" in Health and Education,both of which all people can relate to, is one vehicle to get the message across. Diabetes, alcoholism, domestic assaults, school truancy, youth gangs - our people never suffered these sorts of afflictions before colonisation, and those who hold the chains of power these days must be pressured into accepting they have inherited a heavy burden of responsibility, even if in their long term interest as well. We all have our local issues, and on behalf of my Hapu I forward heartfelt support foryour stand with regards to the "Hog farm" and say "Kia Kaha" (Be Strong) to those in detention.I am Chairman of our Marae (Longhouse?) Committee, and a Founding Trustee/Board Member of Te Runanga o Te Whanau, the Development Oganisation which these past 20 years has been working to lift our Iwi(consisting of 13 subtribes) out of the shackles of the Dept of Maori Affairs (now disbanded thank god). (We refuse to "register" our tribeunder Parliamentary Law, but use existing "Service Bodies" legislation to set up groups to do the work on the Peoples behalf. For instance I am Chair of a "Water Services Trust" recently registered as a "Charity" toget homes in our Hapu quality, reticulated water. As such we are eligible for funding, whereas the Hapu itself is not!) We have gone through plenty of turmoil, family fights, failed ventures etc , our founding Elders have passed on and those who have stepped up realise how little we know, but we are pushing on, as is the rest of Maoridom and our Iwi has recently joined the Indigenous Nations Organisation formed by "American FirstNations".bodies.Being aged 70, I'm stepping aside from "active service" - we need to putthe younger sector into the lead and Ive work of my own to finish, including a look back over what has been going on for us these past three or four decades.The "Anglophile"Goverments all derive their laws from the English Westminster structure,and they can be challenged on very similar grounds where indigenous communities are involved. I will protest to the US Embassy here, and encourage others to do likewise.I wish your people all the very best success in this current struggle,
Kia Ora ratou - Kia Kaha
Tony Chadwick, Te Whanau a Kaiaio.
Photo: Yankton face off with South Dakota State Police on Indian land, protesting hog farm. Courtesy photo.

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