Flying the length of the country south to north on Waitangi Day, I looked down on a dusty and parched New Zealand. Nothing obviously clean and green about it.

Two loud and proud middle-aged males sat directly behind me and discussed everything I didn't want to hear. Without headphones, I was at the mercy of listening to their entirely unoriginal take on the world. To be fair, maybe they were an aberration. I suspect not.

They got me thinking about this nearest thing to an official national day we have, and how most of my fellow pakeha New Zealanders appear to view it. Not being an academic, historian or politician, I'm going to approach this subject from a more agrarian, earthy perspective.

Coupled with Newshub's Paddy Gower's revolting reporting from Waitangi last Friday night, where he called the folks on Ti Tii Marae "these people" - not once but twice - my hackles were already up.

Shortly after take-off, they started with unrepeatable vignettes about some poor women who were obviously their wives, and then quickly moved on to the "bloody Mowrees" up at "Whytangy" and how they needed a "decent smack in the head".


"Mowrees live in the past, and are always chasing the almighty dollar. Like those bloody endless settlements that the Government throws OUR hard-earned cash at, and then when they get the dosh, they either embezzle it or make bad investments. No idea how to handle money."

The implication being, of course, that white New Zealanders are great with money, have a fabulous work ethic, and don't live in the past at all. Oh, no. Anzac Day is not at all about looking back and dwelling on the past. No way. It's just about honouring the dead. It's different. The Land Wars? Nope, we're not talking about that. Not at all.

They continued.

"Now they want compulsory Mowree taught at schools. Bloody not happening. No friggin' way. My kids can learn a useful language like Spanish or Chinese. Something they can use in the world. What good is Mowree to anybody?

"Anyway, there are no full-blooded ones these days. They're all watered down and only use their skin colour to claim more readies. The Moriori's were here first anyway. We're all one people. Except they want more than everybody else, and bloody get it. Special treatment.

They ... quickly moved on to the 'bloody Mowrees' up at 'Whytangy'.


"The reason the stats are so high and they're always getting locked up, or tasered, or beat their kids, and die early is because they make bad choices. Simple. Just a few years ago they were still eating each other. Colonisation made things better for them. Better to have KFC than eating your mate's leg, eh. Tastier too.

"Burn the Treaty, bro. Waste of time. We're all equal and it gives them way too much. Never read it myself but if you're gonna' swap land for blankets and muskets, then you deserve everything you get. Silly buggers.

"Hope the Prime Minister takes it away from them, moves it somewhere else where he's treated with respect. Trying to charge media a fee to come on to the marae. What a cheek! They can get stuffed. They act like they own the place.

"Everyone should just ignore them. The media, the politicians should just take a walk next year and give up on all of it. They don't need them. Get more votes if they did."

Somewhere over the King Country the subject abruptly turned to rugby. Deep, and deadly serious manly discussions ensued.

One of them had a relative die suddenly a few months back. Great rugby boy. Big future ahead. A night out on the lash with mates ended violently, tragically. A random fight, and he got cold-cocked by some "big black bastard." Got some sort a brain injury, died sometime later, but it had to be linked to that night.

At the huge, standing-room only funeral, his teammates performed a spontaneous haka as the coffin was being carried out. It was awesome, moving, a great send-off.

Brought tears to his eyes, he said. Half a dozen times.

Landing in Auckland I was relieved to be getting away from these two. They were odious, and being forced to listen to their racist rants made me nauseous. But these guys were just saying what lots of New Zealanders are thinking, right? If true, the idea repulsed me.

As I reached for my bag from the overhead locker, I turned to watch them slowly moving down the aisle in front of me. Both had intricate, large, beautiful kirituhi (tattoos of Maori design) totally covering a pale thigh and arm respectively.

Kia ora.