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We’re helping build an Aotearoa that truly honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the rights of indigenous people

Last year, our community gathered in homes, cafes and halls around the country to create our shared vision Te Ira Tāngata: People’s Agenda. Our vision says that:

In 2040 Aotearoa New Zealand will be a fair and flourishing country with care, creativity, courage and compassion at its core. We will honour te Tiriti o Waitangi and the rights of indigenous people in our constitution, our institutions and in everything we do. Everyone in our country will be proud of Aotearoa New Zealand for the positive role it plays globally.

 

We will have a robust democracy powered by informed and connected citizens, guided by accountable leaders. In all our decisions, we will put the well-being of everyday people and all forms of life on our precious planet first, and government policies will build a society and economy that truly serves all of us. Every person in our country will be safe, welcome and included and will have enough to live on, a warm, safe place to live and the means and support they need to learn and thrive.

In order to build a country that truly honours te Tiriti, we believe we first need to heal relationships between Māori and non-Māori and that, in part, requires us to address the racism that exists in our society today. We need to make sure that every all tamariki (children), taiohi (young people) and adults in Aotearoa learn about local hapū and iwi history, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, colonisation and its impacts.

Here's our work this year to help make that all happen:

Renae leads the delivery of the petition to Parliament. The posters read; Mana is the Seed of Hope. Do not Trample it. He Tapu Te Mana He Kakano. Kaua E Takahi.

Earlier this year, filmmaker and mum Renae Maihi launched a petition that quickly gathered 70,000+ signatures asking Parliament for the removal of business mogul Sir Bob Jones’ knighthood.

The petition was in response to a now removed National Business Review column in which Jones proposed a “Māori Gratitude Day” in place of Waitangi Day where Māori would serve non-Māori out of “gratitude for existing”.

The column was widely described as “racist” by many across media and social media. Bob Jones then decided to now sue Renae Maihi for defamation.

Defending the case will be expensive and if Renae loses she could be required to pay Sir Bob’s legal costs.

So the ActionStation community launched a Givealittle campaign to tautoko (support) her raising $26,000.

During Te Wiki o te reo Māori (Māori language week), 857 of us wove our voices, ideas and inspiration together to make this joint submission to the government's Māori Language Revitalisation Strategy​. We made 19 recommendations, including:

  • Te reo Māori and New Zealand history should be core subjects in all schools; and
  • New Zealand history should be widely taught and commemorated in our cities and towns so that adults and visitors can learn about it too. 

Hundreds of ActionStation members shared stories of their personal connection with te reo and its important place in identifying as a New Zealander. The contributions were inspiring, smart, and comprehensive. 80 of you also donated to help cover the costs putting our ataahua (beautiful) report together. Ka rawe! (Awesome!).

Most New Zealanders value equality, and the way we relate to each other, across cultural differences and other differences in background. We cherish values such as respect, and we speak often about honouring the history and cultures that shape us. Many New Zealanders overseas talk about these values and practices as reasons they’re proud of the country they come from.

But our laws and politics don’t always live up to these values. In our Parliament at the moment, the seven seats reserved for MPs to represent Māori are not treated in the same way as the general seats.

To abolish a Māori seat you only need a simple majority in the House (51%), whereas to abolish a General seat it takes a 75% majority. Māori seats are more precarious and treated differently from other seats.

Because of this, we made a crowdsourced submission with writer Max Harris and over 2,000 ActionStation members on the Electoral (Entrenchment of Māori Seats) Amendment Bill to help secure the Māori seats in Parliament. We believe Māori representation in Parliament is an essential part of honouring te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We asked the Select Committee to recommend giving the Māori seats the same level of protection as every other seat in Parliament. Here are some supporting perspectives of why it is important entrench the Māori Seats from ActionStation members:

“For me, to have Māori voices guaranteed in Parliament means that the voice of tangata whenua, the indigenous people of the land and the people who allowed my ancestors and me to share their country will have at least some guaranteed say in how we run the country. My belief is that [they] should have an equal say with tauiwi, but at least this is a step in the right direction until we can get constitutional change.”

- Heather, 71 year old Pākeha woman, once a tertiary teacher but now a full-time volunteer and grandmother

“Having Mā�ori seats is essential to having Māori interests represented. We lead the world in biculturalism and need Māori seats to ensure that we continue to strive towards honouring Te Tiriti. This advocacy and representation matters - secure our Mā�ori seats in Parliament!

- Anna, 32 year old Māori working māmā of one

As for next steps:

In the lead up to election 2020, we will be building and coordination a coalition that will call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Institutional Racism and Structural Discrimination. This is something that the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has called for in the past, but it has not had any campaign efforts around it.

Like we did with the People’s Mental Health Review in 2017, we will conduct our own inquiry into structural racism while using those stories to drive the media agenda. The stories and coalition partners we engage will come from health, justice, education and local government. Our aim is to that whoever takes power in 2020, does so with a commitment to this inquiry.

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