Monday, 17 February 2014

How do you honour your Tiriti o Waitangi obligations?

As a NZ born Samoan, I have been taught in an education system that has focused on the teaching and learning about our collective histories - but no relationship is more paramount, more important or significant than that between Māori (tangata whenua) and Pākeha.

I have often come across people in my work who try to put Pasifika in the mix within this relationship.  I often have to argue that no - that's wrong.  Historically Pasifika peoples were not in Aotearoa at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.  This document symbolises an agreement between Māori and Pākeha about how they will co-exist in Aotearoa and Pasifika peoples were not part of the equation.

The different versions that were signed have always been the crux of the controversy around which side of the fence you want to sit on.  You probably don't even need to sit on a fence, but at least recognise the motivations behind which versions of the treaty was signed, its implications and subsequent consequences.

Some people have asked why I feel that it is important to know about Māori tikanga, reo and its beautiful tangata.  It doesn't sit right with me that you would live in a country, or you were born into a country where you don't understand how it was formed, how the tangata whenua see themselves, how to understand the people and how their cultures can enrich your own life.

So the question remains: how do you honour your Tiriti o Waitangi obligation.
For me it's that by being a staunch advocate of my own culture, this becomes easy for me to honour my Tiriti obligations, because partnerships and relationships are an important part of human interaction.

Gees that's the bottom line really isn't it - it makes us human :-)