Proud to be Maori

Proud to be Maori

By WILLIE JACKSON – Opinion
Last updated 05:00 29/05/2009
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“I’m just so proud to be Maori, papa!”

That’s what young Lewin Husband said to his dad, Radio Waatea host Dale, in an interview on the hikoi last Monday.

It was a heartfelt statement that probably summed up the feelings of most of the those on the 7000-strong hikoi that marched in support of Maori seats on Auckland’s supercity council.

Lewin’s statement was important because Maori pride, identity and rights were being challenged.

Whanganui mayor Michael Laws said on his radio show: “Look at what’s happening, the radicals and fascists are taking over, democracy as we know it is being threatened by Maori fascists!”

Laws and his twin brother Leighton Smith on Newstalk ZB had a field day at our expense, and managed yet again to expose the right-wing, redneck racists who are unfortunately still too prevalent in New Zealand society. Rednecks flooded talkback with all the usual racist rhetoric. Maori are too privileged, are separatists, are bludgers and so on, encouraged by Laws and Smith. It was like lighting the cross at a Ku Klux Klan rally.

The hikoi was a reminder that Maori spirit can not be broken. Whether we get Maori seats or not, we have an ability as a people to come together when the kaupapa requires it.

This kaupapa of Maori representation being cut out of the supercity demanded a strong reaction and our people responded magnificently.

The hikoi was a sight to behold as Maori groups from all parts of Auckland and beyond converged on Queen St.

It was great to see the support from many Pakeha, Pacific Island people and other minorities.

It was good to hear the mayors of Manukau, North Shore, Waitakere and Papakura voicing their support for Maori seats on the new council. What a shame none of them reserved seats on their councils.

But it’s great the penny has finally dropped because Maori can do with their support in the battle ahead.

It’s a battle that still has a way to go but it’s one that started with passion and power.

The hikoi proved how disciplined and peaceful Maori protests can be and it was perhaps the greatest expression of Maori identity Auckland’s inner city has ever seen.

Young Lewin Husband was so proud to be Maori, and I was too.

 
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