I want to thank David Seymour for doing what no Māori leader has ever been able to do - “unify Maori.”
Seymour is probably the best thing to ever happen for Māori. In unifying Māori, Seymour has been able to achieve what no Māori leader has ever been able to do because Māoridom does not have a single Pan Tribal Iwi leader. It’s a positive unintended consequence.
The outpouring of genuine kotahitanga and whanaungatanga on display at Waitangi will be both unique and unprecedented. That’s why my wife (who is Chilean) wants to experience it first-hand. I’ve always found it interesting that migrants have more interest in learning more about the Treaty than the majority of non-Māori who live in Aotearoa. Not sure why that is.
For the vast majority of attendees, Waitangi is, and always has been, a family-friendly festival. That’s why it’s so disappointing the images of Waitangi always focus on the negative instead of accentuating the positive.
Organisers are this year planning on 60,000 people turning up to enjoy the manaaki, whanaungatanga, and kotahitanga. That’s a heck of a lot of people crammed into a tiny location.
I remain hopeful those who have the right (and are right) to democratically protest – do so in an honourable manner. It is possible to make your case and bring people with you without throwing dildos, paint, pushing, shoving or screaming vitriol at those who don’t agree with you because – anger is a wasted emotion.
Gandhi did it peacefully, so did Dame Whina Cooper and Martin Luther. Anger drives people apart. A genuine leader focuses on the similarities that bring people together not the differences that keep us apart. Throughout history, anger has never solved a single problem. It has however caused a lot of war and civil unrest.
What those who have never been to Waitangi don’t realise is that for the vast majority of people, attending is a celebration. Sadly, showing happy people at Waitangi doesn’t suit the dominant societal narrative or generate good ratings. Emotionally compelling negative images are better at doing that.
Why are Seymour and Brash so staunchly against the Treaty?
The reason is simple – populist politics that panders to the voting majority wins votes. Seymour and his supporters shouting “democracy means one vote for all,” say this because guess which ethnicity holds the dominant share of votes and has done since their so-called “voting democracy” was implemented in NZ in 1852.
Before the Treaty was signed, Māori owned 100 per cent of Aotearoa, now they own 6 per cent. Māori were once 100 per cent of the population, now they are 17 per cent of the population. The electoral franchise established under the 1852 New Zealand Constitution Act was supposed to be colour-blind. Truth is it wasn’t (on purpose) because voting was linked to private land ownership. And guess who owned the majority of private land? Only men who owned land were entitled to vote.
Māori land ownership was collective. That meant the majority who were Māori (80,000 people) were excluded from voting. While the settler population (6000) could. On top of that Māori wāhine weren’t allowed to vote until 1893. Only 100 or so Māori voted in the first general election in 1853, out of a total electorate of 5849.
In 1859 the British Crown Law Office confirmed that Māori could not vote unless they had individual title granted by the Crown.
European colonists did not think Māori were yet ‘civilised’ enough to exercise such an important responsibility. They were also worried that if large numbers of Māori were enrolled, they would swamp the votes of settlers.
But here’s the kicker - I call it the law of fast forgetting. Where were all the Seymour clan voters screaming democracy means “one vote for all” when Pākehā were the minority ethnicity in Aotearoa New Zealand?
Selective memory has served dominant voting bigotry well. On the upside, all the old populist-voting bigots will soon be dead.
Boris Sokratov is a Bulgarian-Māori and has whakapapa to Te Rarawa, Ngāti Haua. He was the producer of the Nutters Club Radio Show. He helped establish the Key to Life Charitable Trust that supports mental health advocate Mike King.