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New Zealand History Teachers' Association Conference

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Associate Education Minister Dr Pita Sharples 4 October 2010

I was delighted to accept your invitation to speak with you today.

I want to thank the Sarah Beccard [Chair, Wellington History Teachers' Association] and the Wellington History Teachers' Association for hosting this conference, and putting together a programme that will challenge and inspire.

I also want to acknowledge our overseas guest Paul Kiem - the president of the History Teachers' Association of Australia. This is a great chance for you to learn more about our nation's history, and for us to learn more about the Australian approach to history teaching.

This conference is all about challenging you to think about teaching different types of history in new ways. I would like to present a vision of this today.

Why is it so difficult to explain to many New Zealanders, the concepts of mana whenua and iwi taketake?

Why do many New Zealanders regard the Treaty settlements process as a gravy train - even when the average value of settlements is about 1% of the value of the land lost?

Why are New Zealanders not taught about the nature of those tools of colonisation which, in early NZ, were the absolute cause of the loss and near extinction of the Maori language - and I refer to the Tohunga Suppression Act; the role of the early Pakeha village school master and his family in determining the rights, and wrongs, of appropriate village behaviour; the deliberate practice of corporal punishment for speaking te reo Maori in the school grounds, and the associated negative stigma that these practices placed upon te reo Maori as a relevant and appropriate language for these islands?

Who was Huikai, and why was he famous?

What role has our selective portrayal of NZ history played in shaping attitudes towards Maori-Pakeha relations? - and contributed to many of the negative stereotypes that arise from time to time between the two peoples?

Why has NZ History teaching failed to represent the indigenous people of these islands within their own distinctive cultural and spiritual values, which still today underpin the Maori genre de vie?

Have the various presentations of our history, particularly over the past century, contributed in any way towards the promotion of Maori as negative? As second-class? As not as sophisticated in the ways of living as Pakeha are?

In my maiden speech in Parliament I addressed some of these questions.

It is common knowledge that Māori do not enjoy the same socio-economic and educational benefits as non-Māori in this, their country of origin.

Yet it strikes me as somewhat amazing that half the country, and probably some of us here today, actually believe that Māori are the privileged group in our society.

Cries of racial funding, gravy trains, and special courses are constant within our society, and are eagerly published by every arm of the media to promote a negative stereotype of Māori.

If Māori are the privileged group, why, in my electorate, are Māori not living in prime locations like Kohimārama, St Heliers, and Mission Bay? Conversely, why are they clustered in State housing sectors inland?

Does privilege mean that we Māori dominate certain illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, glue ear, and others, and that we die 10 years earlier than Pākehā?

Or is our real privilege to be revealed in this country's disgusting incarceration figures? I say "disgusting" because in 1980 one in 1,000 New Zealanders was in jail, and in the early 1990s one in 800 was in jail. Five years ago one in 570 New Zealanders was in jail, but for Māori, the privileged group, one person in 180 was in jail.

So I ask this gathering: Why Māori are being promoted so negatively by politicians, the media, and, consequently, by non-thinking redneck New Zealanders. How can that be good for our future as a nation?

When I was at school, it was said of our history lessons that New Zealanders learned a little about a lot, in contrast to students in the United States, who learned a lot about a little.

We learn about the events of world history and about the cultural origins of countries' customs. Where is the recognition of the 1,500-year bond between Māori and these islands? Why do we accept the world's history and not our own?

The Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution, the Battle of Waterloo, Plato, Aristotle, Socrateswe know about all these things; we know about those people. So what of Toi Kairākau, of Rauru? What of my history, my tangata whenua-ness, my 1,500 missing years?

Toi Kairākau crossed the Pacific and came to New Zealand. At the same time, Eric the Red was expelled from Iceland and voyaged to Greenland. Toi Kairākau is my ancestor; he still lives, in me. His history and genealogy is my history and genealogy, my bonding to these islands of Aotearoa.

Toi's son was Rauru; his son was Whātonga. From Whātonga came Tahaiti; from Tahaiti came Uenuku. At the time of Uenuku, William of Normandy conquered England and became King William I.

From Uenuku came Ruatapu; from Ruatapu came Rākeiora; from Rakeiora came Tama ki Te Hau. Those are my ancestorstangata whenuaand the ancestor Tama ki Te Hau lived at the time of the great military leader Genghis Khan, who established the Mongol empire, uniting almost all of Asia and Europe.

My genealogy descends to Tama ki Te Rā and Tame ki Te Mātangiand now the Magna Carta is signed on the other side of the world.

I continue my whakapapa by naming Tama ki Reireia, Te Kāhuārero, Pito, Rere, Tangi, Maika, Toto, and Tamatea Arikinui.

Tamatea Arikinui brought the tapu canoe of Tākitimu across the Pacific. He is the eponymous ancestor of all descendents of the Tākitimu waka and I descend from him. At this time, history records the crusade of Joan of Arc of France, who was burnt at the stake aged 19 years.

From Tamatea Arikinui came Rongokākō; from Rongokākō came Tamatea Pōkai Whenua. His son was Kahungunu. Kahungunu was the founding ancestor of my tribe, Ngāti Kahungunu.

Then came Kahukuranui, Rākaihikuroa, and Tarāia. Taraia led the migration of my people, Kahungunu, from Wairoa south to the Napier-Hastings area. That is my history. At the same time Columbus stumbled upon America.

I move on from Tarāia to Te Rangi-Taumaha to Te Huhuti. Te Huhuti married Te Whātuiāpiti. He was a great war chief. He had red hair. Those are the eponymous ancestors of our subtribe, Ngāti Te Whātuiāpiti. And I lived in them, and now they live in me.

Then came Te Wawahanga, Rangikawhiua, Te Manawakawa, and Te Rangikōianake, and at that time Cromwell overthrew the British monarchy and declared a republic. All that is history.

Te Rangikoianake is the ancestor of the subtribe Ngāti Rangikōianake of Te Haukē. Also my grandson carries his name and his spirit.

His eldest son was Te Kikiri o te Rangi, another chiefanother famous war chief, another redhead. He led many successful forays to avenge the deaths of his two grandfathers. He is the eponymous ancestor of my subtribe, Ngāi Te Kikiri o te Rangi.

And the genealogy continues, his daughter was Kanohi Tū Hanga, who married Te Umurangi, famously recorded in the oriori Pinepine te Kura, to Te Aroatua, Hōri Niania, and Paora Kōpūkau Niania. He was my grandfather, and his name and his spirit are carried by my son, in whom I also live.

From Paora came my mother, Ruihā, and then me. This is my history. This is tangata whenua, and this is New Zealand, history. This is our history. This genealogy is alive, with the people and the history of this palce - a history untold. And there are 600,000 such genealogies existing within Maori oral culture of today, of events and people of this place.

I have chosen to use this time to explain the importance of the concept of tangata whenua. I do so because I believe that the future of New Zealand is deeply intertwined with the future of Māoridom, and is, in the eyes of the global community, uniquely intertwined with the idea of this nation.

In a world increasingly homogenised by global commerce, migration, communications, travel, and trade, Māoridom provides an enduring point of difference that other cultures envya difference we must preserve.

For this nation to thrive economically, culturally, and with a sense of social justice, Māori must be able to play a full role in all parts of society, not only as leaders, educators, artists, business chiefs, and sporting champions, but as citizens whose rights, culture, and fundamental worth are valued and supported.

Although Māori have made great strides within kaupapa Māori initiatives, the reality of equality for Māori is still far off.

So, then, how wiill we write our future? How will we write the history of the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act of Parliament?

The entire country was led to believe that such a law was appropriate and fair.

The entire country was led to believe that such a law was appropriate and fair, but, firstly, the decision to legislate was made by a few people, without consulting with the Māori Ministers and Māori members of the Government. Their opinions were not sought until after the decision to legislate had been made.

Second, the legislation produced the single greatest act of confiscation to date, and that occurred during the time of the Treaty settlements.

"Wā-ā, ko te Kāwanatanga wā tā ringa ka-tau utua raupatu, Wā-ā tā ringa ma-auī tāhae taku tai moana - e!"

The right hand pays out for last century's confiscations, but the left hand steals more land.

Third, public support for that legislation was sought by promoting the idea that Māori would stop public access to the beaches and, furthermore, might sell the asset offshore.

I would like to remind us here that Māori culture is inclusive and not exclusive; for example, Māori leaders who represented a population of more than 100,000 signed a contract at Waitangi on 6 February 1840 with a people numbering only 2,000. It invited people not only to access and emigrate to our islands but to establish a Government as wellsurely a generous and an inclusive offer.

Then, to add insult to insult, the Government used its Māori MPs to sell that Foreshore and Seabed Bill to the people. The final act of the Government was to disregard the United Nations report condemning the legislation as racist.

Does your historical representation of the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act coincide with my version? Will my version be taught as History 101?

I want you to understand that the hurt to my people in that matter was very, very deep. To be regarded as not worthy of a voice, to be called "haters and wreckers", and to be held in contempt and ridicule cut even deeper than the legislation itself. That absolute disregard for Māori, for our views, for our customs, and for our mana, will notwill notbe allowed to happen again.

Well, we've moved on, we're heading for repeal, and the replacement Billl has had its first reading in Parliament. Hopefully this episode from our recent history will enable us to refllect more wisely on earlier episoodes of history, and will lead us to a different, more positive future.

Kia ora.

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