Te Rina Triponel: Protesters are ignoring tikanga – and thats dangerous

OPINION:

The lack of tikanga Māori and the constant waving of the Tino Rangatiratanga and the United Tribes flag at Parliament protests is dangerous.

It sends a message to fellow Māori, particularly those who are disconnected from whānau, and rangatahi, that it’s okay to override the tikanga of the mana whenua – who have asked the protesters to leave.

Māori can be significantly vulnerable when they feel they’re facing eradication, because it’s something we have lived through for many decades. And for those who are against vaccine mandates, many feel they put their health at risk despite evidence the jabs are safe.

But I am concerned for the misuse of tikanga and our flags flying alongside some protest elements that hold white supremacist views.

Under Te Tiriti, we have a partnership with Pākehā that exercises equal rights. This is not what white supremacy represents.

Chairwoman of Te Raukura Wharewaka o Pōneke and a former trustee of Taranaki Whānui Liz Munn told Stuff there was no kōrero exchange between iwi and the protest organisers. No koha, no nothing.

Yet one protester has demanded that mana whenua and ahi kaa be hospitable to kaiwhakatūtū (protesters) anyway – because that is tikanga.

“I’m hearing out there that Ngati Tama, Ngati Wai and even Te Ātiawa are saying we’re not welcome,” the protester said in a video.

“That’s not very Māori,” he continued, “that’s not manaakitanga.”

I would argue that it is very Māori to not welcome white supremacists who believe that Māori are an inferior race. Tikanga is reciprocal, not a one-way street.

Make no mistake, I have compassion for people who are genuinely concerned for their lives as a result of losing their jobs to the mandates. Many aren’t in a position where jobs are falling from the sky. I acknowledge that this is a rough time.

I have compassion towards people who do not have the same privilege as me where I have abundant access to health information.

I have compassion to those in rural areas who are more likely to have doctors or health professionals who do not reflect them or their culture. That is part of a wider issue of the institutionalised racism in Aotearoa, which I encourage people to continue challenging.

Māori have nearly two centuries worth of history of being silenced, ignored and abused by people in power.

This includes the media, who have contributed to awful stereotypes making it a lot easier for people to hate us and conjure conspiracy theories.

There is intergenerational distrust and lived experience of systemic neglect.

Just the other day, I watched a video from a fellow journalist who entered Parliament grounds but was told to leave by a wahine Māori. Her reason: the land they’re on is under tangata whenua.

I want to know why this same attitude hasn’t been exercised towards the white supremacists and QAnon protesters.

Do whānau really think this is a solidarity event where all of those protesting support the rights of tangata whenua?

Because I didn’t see white supremacists at Ihumātao when the kaitiaki of the whenua made a real peaceful occupation. Where were our white supremacy allies then?

Where were the QAnon protesters when Pūtiki needed help to prevent a marina being developed on their land?

I’m also concerned that the woman who said “this land is under tangata whenua” was not the chairwoman of Te Ātiawa where I come from, or the leader of Ngāti Toa -the mana whenua of Parliament grounds.

I’m concerned that there’s been no kōrero with mana whenua or ahi kaa for other Māori to exercise their protest on land that isn’t theirs, especially if they’re claiming tikanga and implying that this is their land.

It sends a harmful message, that Māori can disrespect other Māori.

The Tino Rangatiratanga flag was designed to send a message of mana motuhake and governance. It seeks cultural autonomy and sovereignty, a “by Māori, for Māori” approach, which has not been respected here.

Its spirit was present at the 1981 Springbok Tour, Bastion Point, and Ngā Tamatoa and their work to revitalise te reo Māori. It was finally designed in 1989 and made its debut in 1990 at Waitangi.

It later upheld the mana of all the people who fought for legislation that put the seabed and foreshore into public ownership in 2004. This fight was for the greater good of Māori, to enhance Māori.

Among those great protests have been Māori activist Tame Iti who recently spoke out to Māori media, urging protesters to go home.

Iti has now been added to a protesters’ hit list, calling him “kupapa” which means a Māori man on the British man’s side.

Iti is a giant on whose shoulders I stand, I am ashamed that he is being treated as such. But good luck going up against Iti I say, Ngāi Tūhoe is as fierce as they come.

Unfortunately, this calls for reflection from Māori who oppose the protest too.

Shaming people who are on the powerless end is a recipe for failure. In that regard, we’ve left our people behind.

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