It has taken just over a month for this new coalition Government to render Māori an almost nullity. The last time that occurred was in 1877 when the then Chief justice James Prendergast proclaimed the Treaty was “worthless” because it had been signed “between a civilised nation and a group of savages” who were incapable of signing a treaty.
In one foul swoop iwi/Māori were last week transported back to the Jurassic period where the notion of colonial superiority moved from military to legislative treachery.
If the bombs raining down on Gaza sickens you then understand that is exactly what happened here in Aotearoa. Last week we recognised 160 years since the illegal and unjust invasion of Rangiriri Pā.
As women and children tried to escape through the swamp, they were systematically shot one-by-one. Children that could not swim without their mothers drowned in Lake Kopuera which turned red with the blood of their mothers.
Screams of terror and cries for mercy were quickly silenced. Mothers who survived were raped next to babies who were dispatched with bayonets and then shot – there was no time for prisoners because they would hold up the advance into Waikato.
That is the context that drives iwi like ours who continue to advance the notion of indigenous relevance in a contemporary world. So, when this coalition Government proclaims the removal of mechanisms like co-governance from the delivery of public services, it is effectively saying prepare yourselves to die sooner in a public service that does not see you.
We have confirmation they will not recognise the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples as having any binding legal affect in Aotearoa.
It actually means nothing because neither did any of the other previous governments moved much on UNDRIP either. But it sounds great to the Hobson’s Pledge brigade and their ilk.
Both NZ First and the National parties have agreed to support a bill seeking to define the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi to its first reading.
The day this is introduced to Parliament it will trigger an immediate response from Māori and many non-Māori from across the country. I have spoken to a number of iwi over the weekend and the initial feedback has been overwhelming and they will mobilise in numbers
We must protect the Treaty of Waitangi rights and interests that we have negotiated in good faith at all costs. Those rights and interests in practical effect are held in perpetuity and we will not allow that to be changed by stealth and at the whim of the other Treaty partner.
We have a clause embedded in our Treaty settlements that effectively commits the Crown to engaging with us.
Any breach of our settlements will result in immediate High Court action against the Government. On that basis it is difficult to understand how this Government plans to implement its one-sided agenda.
They cannot simply legislate away our Treaty rights without opening the pathway for litigation and another round of Treaty negotiations effectively dismissing the notion of full and final settlements.
They want to conduct the Waitangi Tribunal legislation to refocus the scope, purpose and nature back to the original intent of that legislation. So what does that practically mean exactly apart from tearing the bonds of this nation apart?
The Waitangi Tribunal has already ruled iwi have a proprietary interests in water which is a discussion we are very keen enter into.
In our minds we have reached a compromise and walked back ownership to allow our Treaty partners to be involved providing guidance in this space.
Any threat that seeks to diminish our involvement in water will be met with serious challenge.
Our history is clear, when required we have sought the guidance of the courts and in this case, it will force the Government into a long protracted litigious process.
The rhetoric and the actions from some members of this new coalition Government is absolutely shameful in a modern Aotearoa.
Allowing the sale of cigarettes to raise funds to pay for tax cuts will result in more Māori dying from cancer-related illnesses. More than 2100 Māori die annually from smoking-related issues.
Paying for Government election promises is more important than saving lives.
You see, you do not need bombs and missiles to decimate an indigenous population, a legislative flick of the pen can have an equally catastrophic effect of consigning a people to oblivion.
This all-out attack against Māori will be the trigger for Māori to unite around the country to convey their outrage.
One thing is clear Māori are much more prepared and better resourced to the meet the challenges ahead we must because we owe it to the future generations.
This is our Rangiriri moment, a time for us to defend our very existence, it will be one of the most important decisions we will ever make in our lifetime.
Tukoroirangi Morgan is a former politician and broadcaster. He is the chairman of Tainui iwi and helped spearhead the Waikato River settlement claim with both the Labour and National governments alongside the late Lady Raiha Mahuta