Napier's Unity Week awards and Robson Lecture faced one of its biggest tests yesterday in a challenging address from Auckland University Professor of Maori Studies, Margaret Mutu.
The latest in a chain of high-ranking speakers who have delivered a Napier Pilot City Trust-founded Robson Lecture her address Te Tiriti o Waitangi in a future New Zealand Constitution: Removing the Shackles of Colonisation drew some questions as to whether it was the appropriate occasion.
Conversely, the city council chambers, hired for the day, were seen as appropriate for delivering a message that she said some would not want to hear; that many of the same "British" attitudes that colonised New Zealand in breach of the 1840 Treaty remain and are possibly worse.
The myths of colonisation included those that Pakeha were supreme, that Maori were inferior, and that Maori had ceded sovereignty of their land and resources, she said. "Too many Pakeha are uninformed or misinformed," Ms Mutu said. Pakeha need to take ownership of "their own problems and let go of some power."
She recommended the work of such treaty educators as Network Waitangi, or the recently-published Healing Our History, by educator Robert Consedine as priority learning material.
Ms Mutu says the Treaty settlements process has become racist and aimed at achieving outcomes by the cheapest possible means.
The lecture, now an Anzac feature in Napier, was the first since the Pilot City Trust rebranded as Whakakotahitanga-CommUnity Solutions.
The ceremonies in the council chambers, attracting more than 100 people, featured presentation of eight trust awards for community work fostering unity, tolerance and understanding between all people.
One award was made posthumously to Paki Keefe, who died recently from cancer. Other recipients were Tom Hemopo, Cyrus Tawhara, Nima Timu, Lou Halbert, Caroline Lampp, Tamihana Nuku, and Waapu Clark.
Trust chairman Martin Williams said the lecture covered important themes of relevance to New Zealand's future.