Happy Waitangi Day Aotearoa!
For me this is our national day. I feel a sense of reverence to the founding history of our nation and personally it endears a sense of pride in that as a society we have the maturity to recognize and importantly set right the dubious decisions made in our past.
This year an article in The Nelson Mail made an impression on me . It outlined an appeal by Wakatu against the annexing of land ownership of three Nelson schools by the crown as part of the current Treaty settlement. Through this article it hit home to me how out of the 1/10th land ownership allocated to Maori as part of the 1842 colonial settlement, today in 2015 only 1/10th of that 1/10th allocation remained intact. By my calculations that amounts to 1% of the original pre European customary ownership.
I have lived now at Parapara, Golden Bay, for over 25 years. A pakeha landowner, raising my family, loving the lifestyle, the fishing , the bush walking , the swim holes , the gardening, here on the edge of the great Kahurangi National Park.
Mohua, Golden Bay, once had a large thriving population of Maori inhabitants spread throughout the Bay . With its sheltered anchorage's, abundant fish and shellfish, fertile valley soils, plentiful fresh water, moderate climate, it is easy to understand that population would have flourished. Now in 2015 , the local iwi are once again flourishing. However it is minute compared to pre European colonisation. To some respect this is due to Te Rauparaha rampaging through the area, but to my mind the depopulation is a direct consequence of colonialism. It is as if a population has vanished in time with little left to indicate an extended existence of generations of families, history and culture.
So it occurred this year that the block of land next to me here at Parapara passed back into local Iwi ownership as part of the Treaty settlement. The land, rich in iron deposits has long been burnt and ravaged to remove the valuable ore, right back to first European settlement. Prior to this the local Maori also used the iron ore. Their use was for the ochre oxide which when burnt and combined with fish oils become the prized 'Kokowai'
Kokowai represents the blood of the earth mother Papatuanuku who's offspring are moulded from this blood and given life. Humans. So it is to do with the traditional collection of the ochre for use in making Kokowai that the local Iwi included the land at Parapara as part of their treaty settlement.
So the Treaty is alive and functioning. It is about the respect of the Mana and sovereignty of the First nations people of this land. I hope it shines a light far and wide to other First Nations Peoples around the world who are fighting for the survival of their Culture and Land ownership and serves as an example to governments world wide to honour the sovereignty of their First Nations Peoples
Happy Waitangi Day Aotearoa.