I ADMIT it would be completely unheard of to have a Waitangi Day without a protest of some kind.

The legacy of a flawed yet utterly unique document, derived from a Victorian sense of preservation for the "natives", continues to mingle uneasily with the adaptions of a European society and values, which has always possessed a very obvious advantage over Maori culture. And that is intrinsically the problem. Three principles in the Treaty of Waitangi are never enough to define a culture and what is truly important, when western civilisation continues to be an unstoppable force, doing things its own way, as it has done for thousands of years. A stone-age civilisation, if it's not virtually steamrollered, or protected in part by a document like the treaty, is at least going to be damaged as change happens all around them. It is in our nature, as humans, to adapt to survive.

My difficulty is that in the preservation of a culture and its values, there lies distortions and extremes that don't sit well with European values. Concepts such as ownership of water is one example. The idea that there are, for Maori, different rules around taking food from the sea.

It feels sometimes that both sides are fumbling in the dark because neither side can have the perfect situation.


The 'pakeha' culture of New Zealand is damn near absolute, there's no doubt about what it means to be a white person. Whereas you can only really feel like you're immersed in Maori culture when you're on the marae. Even in a Maori immersion school, the 'system' of education has to adhere to NCEA.

This Waitangi Day there are expected to be protests and clashes over yet another form of Western evolution, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

New Zealand has a right to evolve. But without question, it is evolving around a Pakeha system. And every year, at Waitangi Day, I'm reminded how uneven the situation is. Is this the only way to evolve? If we say yes to that, we will continue to have Maori populating prisons and failing at school.