I have a good mate, his name is Blackey, and he is a retired cop.
Blackey is one of life's good buggers - a true blue goodhist who does everything for everybody and never expects anything in return except straight-up answers.
"So what's it all about this protest stuff," he off-the-cuff asks me.
"Who wants what and why and who is right bro?"
It's hard to give a one-sentence answer about Māori politics, but for Blackey, there is no grey, just black and white or in this case Māori and non-Māori and the closest thing to being Māori for Blackey is the hard case T-shirt he wears that proudly states he is Ngati Pākehā.
"Well bro", I answer somewhat awkwardly.
"It's like this. The protest on the steps of Parliament against Oranga Tamariki and the Ihumātao peaceful protest and to some degree the handing over of the Elms residence up at The Historic Village have some similar boil-up bones in the protest pot."
Blackey frowns like an inquisitive cop (even an ex-one would) when he senses something is not quite right in my alibied answer.
"It's all about mana whenua?"
"In all of the injustices impacted on Māori and brought before the Treaty Settlement process, the Crown will only deal and settle with the hapū and or iwi, who have the mandated rights to the lands lost being compensated for – known as mana whenua. This status of mana whenua just like mana itself can never be bought or stolen and is bestowed upon those hapū who have proof of whakapapa or lineage, and who have looked after the land for generations – and then hand it on to the next to look after.
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"I knew nothing about mana whenua when I came home and got involved firstly as a hapū board member 19 years ago and as an iwi board member 10 years after that.
"You get to know a lot about the brutal process of Treaty settlements when you are one of the mandated negotiators for your hapū as I was.
"It was three years of up to three hui a week and when you finally reach a compromise agreement you sign it and hand it over to your hapū to look after and hopefully invest it wisely and ethically to benefit all of your people - especially those who have little or nothing.
"Sadly, as in our case the question of who has mana whenua post settlement starts a whole new process of grievances."
"Sounds like you have a few Ngati Whingers in your tribe just like mine who are holding you back" says my Ngāti Pākehā bro Blackey.
"True that, bro. That's why I prayed and walked away from both boards a few years back and got involved with the homeless, at least you know you can make a difference for our people in need.
"In my opinion, Blackey - be it up north at Bastion Point, down south on the steps of Parliament or right in the middle of Tauranga Moana up on Otamataha Pa, we will always have unsettled injustices.
"The only pathway forward of all of these injustices - in my opinion, is the same as our homeless we work with.
"You have to get past the war stories or you will drown in them. Our leaders and our rangatira have to take off their political potae and put on the hat of hope if they are to create a positive pathway for our people to follow."
Blackey flicks me a cheeky boy smile, thinking he has coaxed the confession he needed to hear from me.
"Sounds like this mana whenua bizzo is big and won't be going away anytime soon?"
"Yes, bro. These protests like Bastion Point then and Ihumātoa now start off as small steps - only to become history-making huge ones in our country's cultural footprint.
"Who had mana whenua status at Bastion Point was easily settled - but the question of status and its solution at Ihumātoa will be hotter than a hangi stone for this government to handle - all the way through to the election."
Blackey scratches his head and digests our korero like a tea-soaked Roundwine, and then bang - he bowls me an out-of-the- blue blindsider about the other protest about uplifting our tamariki this last week on the steps of Parliament.
He charges in ready to lock up the korero and throw away the key.
"So mana whenua is all about who has looked after your land and who will look after it best in the future eh?"
"Yes," I nervously reply.
"So who has mana whenua when it comes to your kids?"
It's a question I still struggle to answer.
Tommy Kapai Wilson is a local writer and best selling author. He first started working for the Bay of Plenty Times as a paperboy in 1966 and has been a columnist for 15 years. Tommy is currently the executive director of Te Tuinga Whānau, a social service agency committed to the needs of our community.