The Coalition Arrives.
Waitangi welcomes the three headed Taniwha.
The three-headed Taniwha, the leaders of the coalition, have finally arrived in Waitangi. Labour and the Greens have been there since Saturday, Te Pāti Māori arrived yesterday, accompanying Kīngi Tūheitia. The government, I suppose not wanting to outstay their welcome, chose to arrive late this morning.
The footage of their arrival was like a war zone. Howling, the wailing of women, the fiercest of hakas. Visible anger, a constrained fury.
The harshest response seemed reserved for David Seymour with boos ringing out.
The camera person struggled to follow the government party toward the meeting house. You could hear the voices of those watching, the excitement and emotion.
Then there was peace as the plaintive sound of Whakaaria Mai rang out, calming the mood.
A stunning day. The cicadas in the trees, the blue sky against the carvings of the meeting house and then a welcome in te reo.
Broadcaster Julian Wilcox spoke quickly, with rising emotion. The elders and dignitaries sheltering from the hot sun, fans the order of the day for those less covered.
Julian became more animated and gruff, gesticulating, the crowd were with him, cheering his passion. It was quite an opening.
The camera panned to the marquee with the government. They sat emotionless. Christopher Luxon fiddled with his ear piece.
Kīngitanga spokesman Rahui Papa was up next. In response to comments Luxon made when meeting the National Iwi Chairs he said it, “wasn’t just about addressing truancy but looking at the systemic issues that hindered Māori student attendance.”
I couldn’t quite believe it when I heard that Luxon had lectured Māori about children attending school. Not only had I imagined he might have been rather more contrite, less divisive, leading into Waitangi, but I couldn’t believe the hypocrisy.
The whole argument from Luxon and Seymour against things like co-governance or anything that considers ethnicity is that people should be treated as individuals and not identified as being part of a demographic. Then he turns around and lectures Māori, as a group, over school attendance!
A massive cheer went up for Rahu when he suggested that things would be better if David Seymour spent as much time and energy actually achieving the things in the treaty. He finished on a conciliatory tone saying that it was good to have discussion but that it might be premature for ACT to start handing out membership forms.
This was a musical interlude and the large crowd swayed enthusiastically to the rhythm before finishing with a haka. The crowd at the rear were then ushered out by the wardens. Those filing out looked emotional, they’d done their bit, registered their opposition. Every vantage point was taken, children had climbed trees to see.
After further speakers Tama Potaka strode forward to respond on behalf of the government. He spoke of his origins and story. At this point, a brief interlude.
If you’d like to see my relative, and your fellow reader, Simon who uploaded a video of himself doing similar last week:
Tama addressed the elders in te reo. The crowd was silent. You could hear the noises of small children and the endless whirring of the cicadas.
“We have come here...the spiders, the lions of the beehive. Is this the face of a lion? Or of a spider? I am like...the feather of a hui bird. I pursued my ancestors who signed the treaty at Manawatū… We, the ministers, members of Parliament, of the government, yes we are delighted to be amongst you and within the cabinet of perhaps this taniwha.”
I’m not sure about the face of a lion, a hyena perhaps? In the shadows much of the time, content to come out and eat the scraps left by the lions.
Shane Jones was his usual bombastic self saying, “remember this, the Treaty of Waitangi is not the Treaty of Wellington, it is not the Treaty of Kohimarama … it is the Treaty of Waitangi.” Which didn’t tell me much, other than perhaps Shane was better at directions than I might’ve suspected he’d be.
I shouldn’t cast aspersions. In fact when Jones is talking he reminds me of a taxi driver. An old school one, pre Uber and GPS of course. You know, the sort of bloke that smelled of moth balls.
Hone Harawira told the government “you and your shitty ass bill are going down the toilet”. Subtle as ever. Speaking about te tiriti Hone said:
“Here we are today and you buggers want to get rid of it and you think it's just a case of bring in some legislation to strip the Treaty of its mana, to belittle the reo by making it a second class language in our land. It ain't gonna happen.
You need to know that. There's more important things to be doing if we are trying to build this nation than mucking around with the Treaty of Waitangi.”
Harawira said to the Prime Minister, “You may be thinking to yourself. I can either come out hard against New Zealand First and ACT, and act like I'm not a part of this, or I can just stand back and watch everybody beat the shit out them.”
Which is the crux of the matter. At some point Luxon has to man up and pick a side. He can’t keep blaming all the unpopular things his government is doing on his two junior coalition partners. Keep pretending not to support the Treaty Principles Bill while also supporting it.
What sort of leader refuses to take a clear position on something like this, but snivels behind his underlings?
Speaking of, Winston was up next. He resorted to his old tactic of holding up a sign saying “No” when everybody could see the truth was “Yes”. He berated the crowd telling them their concerns were wrong. In exactly the same way he didn’t tell the cookers in the protest outside of parliament that they were wrong.
Oh, and as an aside if you now have images of Vogon warships and/or bricks in your head give yourself fifty points.
As the current Deputy PM continued to insult the crowd some had seen enough. People left, one saying “Can't listen to this clown”, others stayed and booed. After Peters told them to “Get an education” the crowd chanted for him to sit down. Instead he left, having told people he had important meetings. Perhaps across the water at the Duke of Marlborough?
Annette Sykes put Winston’s performance in perspective saying, “You're not off the hook Prime Minister. I actually have real respect for Winston. I think he only went in for power... But why would someone who wants to be the leader of a nation permit the tail to wag the dog....Māori are 20 percent of the vote we demanded better care and we should have been talked to before you allowed the tail to wag the dog.”
Then David Seymour was up, protestors trying to sing over him until they were asked to respect his right to speak. “We need to start talking about ideas and stop attacking people,” he said, to booing from the crowd.
Poor David, no one has actually attacked you buddy. They’re attacking your ideas, talking about them. Truth is they don’t like them very much.
To be honest David the only person attacking you is the bozo seeking to change the Treaty, undoubtedly in a way that will negatively impact the people with your heritage.
After receiving another lecture the crowd again started chanting. This time telling Seymour to “Listen, sit down”. Unfortunately I don’t think sitting down, showing some humility, and listening to the views of someone else, is in David’s DNA.
Finally, after some uncertainty as to whether he would in fact speak, Christopher Luxon was up. He said, “Waitangi day is a day to pause and reflect on the foundations of our nation,” as if he was a scrum coach.
Then he said that “the Treaty was our past, our present, and our future”. Which sounded nice, but seemed rather short on detail.
The crowd had shrunk by now, with people apparently losing interest before the headline act. They didn’t miss much it was a campaign style speech, full of blame for the last government or imaginings of the future. Heavy on meaningless, inspirational phrases like “unlimited potential” or “relentlessly focus”.
It failed to achieve surely it’s most basic aim - to acknowledge and address the concerns that have arisen from the actions of his government.
In the run up to the election the three leaders of this coalition, the three headed taniwha, attacked Labour for not having taken people with them over issues like co-governance, Three Waters, or Climate Change measures.
Well gentlemen you are utterly failing to take people with you on this. Hardly anyone seems to be clamouring for it, why are you burning all your political capital on something that few want, and which is deeply offensive and upsetting to many?
It beggars belief. Especially the Prime Minister who needs to extract the paling from his backside, come down off the fence, and pick a side.
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