What the Treaty means to me
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What the Treaty means to me

November 21, 2019


They did arrive in our area on the borderlines but they never quite made it, quite to where we were and so we didn’t really receive the message as to what the Treaty was about and I guess that’s the reason we didn’t sign the Treaty at all. When I think of the Treaty of Waitangi I think of the wharenui and the treaty being the poutokomanawa – being the strongest foundation of our whare or our nation. I think we see the Treaty definitely as a founding document of New Zealand and so for us as a church we see it as our founding document for us as well. And so we try to base our corporate life, our life together on the on the Treaty and try our best to sort of work out how to outwork that now. How do you feel 170 years ago, they burn your house down, they kill your tipuna down there, it puts you right back. My rights under the Treaty as a Māori woman being from Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Paoa is that I just have an ability, an opportunity to speak my language, to live in a country where my culture is valued. In the time that I was growing up, the Pakeha in New Zealand didn’t want to know about the Treaty and didn’t want to know anything about the Māori Pakeha relationship except what they could see and what they wished to see. We see ourselves I suppose a little bit like the midwives of the Treaty originally so you know the anchor missionaries were there, operating as the midwives, operating as the go betweens you know doing the translation, bringing the people together. So we want the Crown to come through raging fire, smoke, feeling angry … I was living this life within New Zealand but always aware that whenever I went home the old people were still always talking about the Treaty. My job really just to light the fire and then I don’t have to tell the Tuhoe people how to do it, so they show it, emotion, feeling, anger… When I went to drama school in 1990 and it was the sesqui of the Treaty of Waitangi suddenly this wonderful institution I was involved with Toi Whakaari were going we have to honour the Treaty and so all our Māori students must be allowed to exist within this institution in a Māori context. What was happening was that I was living in in two worlds, one world was a world which I really wanted to succeed in which was the Pakeha world and at the same time I would then go home to Waituhi which was my home village and be aware that actually the people that I came from had a long history of resistance to Pakeha. When I visited Ratana a couple of years ago, it was interesting the Ratana folks sort of said to me, somebody sort of said to me, well when you know, when are you fullas gonna start taking some spiritual responsibility for the Treaty that you were part of, which I thought was a really good call actually. And they went Katie, you’re Māori from, aren’t you, yes, don’t know anything. So if they talk about Tama Iti they’ll bring the, you know they don’t actually tell the story, they see me with my fat puku with my gun and my colonial hat there and then people will see that. Some people like it but a lot of people, that’s not me. It’s theatre, it’s Shakespeare.

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