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No to integration or blending

 |  Buddy Mikaere  | 

Kia ora. I sincerely hope that Trevor Ammundsen’s views, What we need is a great big melting pot, 21 May, does not reflect the views of our wider community. His suggestion that we need to do away with barriers of geography, ethnicity and class that prevent peaceful co-existence. He calls this process blending but once upon a time it was called integration. I am mindful of the words of former Prime Minister Norman Kirk:

“The idea of one people grew out of the days when fashionable folk talked about integration…integration is precisely what cats do to mice. They integrate them. The majority swallows up the minority, makes it sacrifice its culture and traditions and often its belongings to conform to the traditions and culture of the majority… We are one nation in which all have equal rights, but we are two peoples and in no circumstances should we by any law or Act demand that any part of the New Zealand community should have to give up its inheritance, its culture, or its identity to play its part in this nation. Norman Kirk, Prime Minister, 1974.

I am proud of my Maori heritage, its culture, its language, and its place in our society. That was forcibly brought home to me at the opening last year of the new, NZ War Memorial Museum in Le Quesnoy, France which I attended as a former Trustee. The locals made it clear to me that they were disappointed the original intention to build a wharenui on the site had not been carried through. They were inordinately proud of their link with this country and wanted elements of Maori culture to distinguish “their” museum from the other Commonwealth war memorials – to make it special.

Indeed, as we all know, it is Maori culture that differentiates us from our mates across the ditch. For example, when local French school kids demonstrated their skill at the haka to me! Les All Blacks fans even at that age! What do our young people travelling around the world wear to reflect their national origins? A greenstone or bone pendant in many cases.

His analysis of the Waitangi Tribunal vis a vis Maori Wards is also misplaced. The Waitangi Tribunal does not initiate complaints about breaches of Treaty principles; they respond to concerns raised with them by the community. The current governments proposal to send the question of Maori wards to referendum without consultation with those affected is such a breach. It is not just land issues that concern the Tribunal. No. There are a whole raft of matters that are of concern. Government wind back of Maori health initiatives where the disconcerting stats are clearly shouting “the system is not working” is an example.   

I suggest to Trevor Ammundsen that rather than seeking for a blending, he instead actively embraces the Maori elements in our world – after all, they belong to him too. Vive l’difference!

Kia ora. I sincerely hope that Trevor Ammundsen’s views, What we need is a great big melting pot, 21 May, does not reflect the views of our wider community. His suggestion that we need to do away with barriers of geography, ethnicity and class that prevent peaceful co-existence. He calls this process blending but once upon a time it was called integration. I am mindful of the words of former Prime Minister Norman Kirk:

“The idea of one people grew out of the days when fashionable folk talked about integration…integration is precisely what cats do to mice. They integrate them. The majority swallows up the minority, makes it sacrifice its culture and traditions and often its belongings to conform to the traditions and culture of the majority… We are one nation in which all have equal rights, but we are two peoples and in no circumstances should we by any law or Act demand that any part of the New Zealand community should have to give up its inheritance, its culture, or its identity to play its part in this nation. Norman Kirk, Prime Minister, 1974.

I am proud of my Maori heritage, its culture, its language, and its place in our society. That was forcibly brought home to me at the opening last year of the new, NZ War Memorial Museum in Le Quesnoy, France which I attended as a former Trustee. The locals made it clear to me that they were disappointed the original intention to build a wharenui on the site had not been carried through. They were inordinately proud of their link with this country and wanted elements of Maori culture to distinguish “their” museum from the other Commonwealth war memorials – to make it special.

Indeed, as we all know, it is Maori culture that differentiates us from our mates across the ditch. For example, when local French school kids demonstrated their skill at the haka to me! Les All Blacks fans even at that age! What do our young people travelling around the world wear to reflect their national origins? A greenstone or bone pendant in many cases.

His analysis of the Waitangi Tribunal vis a vis Maori Wards is also misplaced. The Waitangi Tribunal does not initiate complaints about breaches of Treaty principles; they respond to concerns raised with them by the community. The current governments proposal to send the question of Maori wards to referendum without consultation with those affected is such a breach. It is not just land issues that concern the Tribunal. No. There are a whole raft of matters that are of concern. Government wind back of Maori health initiatives where the disconcerting stats are clearly shouting “the system is not working” is an example.   

I suggest to Trevor Ammundsen that rather than seeking for a blending, he instead actively embraces the Maori elements in our world – after all, they belong to him too. Vive l’difference!


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