Sunday, 8 May 2011

learning more about the treaty

is it time for another mother's day post already? i can't believe the year has gone by so fast!

while i'm tempted to wax lyrical on the subject of motherhood, i've been constrained by this guest post over at the hand mirror, by someone with fertility problems. it has given me such a lot to think about. how casually we can ignore the suffering of others, or not even think to question what impact our actions might have in a wider context. it's one thing for my children to show their appreciation when we're at home, but another thing to have this whole public & very commercial blitz that values some women, devalues others, and hurts plenty more.

in other news, i attended a treaty of waitangi workshop on saturday. i'd already done some treaty training as part of the taku manawa programme, but it certainly didn't feel like enough. i've also been lucky enough to study 7th form history, which included a 6-week component on nz history focusing on the 19th century. so i have more education than the majority of nz'ers just through my choices in school education.

i remember being appalled at the time, as we went through the betrayals and injustices, all done legally of course, as is the tradition of colonisers. my teenage self had trouble dealing with the reality of our history, and the ignorance of our own people in regards to it. that ignorance fuelling the unwillingness to set things right, or to even accept that they benefitted from the injustices which have enduring long-term implications.

it saddens me that i didn't know about the treatment of dutch migrants till about 2006, and nothing about the chinese poll tax until the apology by helen clark. these are critical parts of our history, and yet were so hidden from popular discourse. that 30,000 dutch migrants were made to change their names, not allowed to gather together in numbers, and prevented from teaching their children their native language in an attempt at forced integration is just so appalling to hear. and i heard it from a child of these migrants, who spoke about the impact it had on him, and his community. that dutch nz'ers are now reclaiming their heritage and culture is hardly a surprise, and surely there is a lesson in this for all of us.

of course there was the person who was of the view that nz would, in the fullness of time, develop a single culture through interbreeding and intermingling. this would not need any action by the state, but was simply a natural progression. he's right of course, if we leave things to their natural progression, the minority culture will be subsumed by the majority culture. that's why i think there's a place for state support of a culture that may otherwise die out, particularly one that is native to this land and nowhere else. the treaty is the document that creates an obligation on the crown to do so.

so yes, it was a very useful if frustrating (but only a couple of times) session. mostly i did it because i needed a refresher but also because, with the return of don brash, i suspect there are going to be a lot more political discussions based around the treaty in the coming few months. for which i want to make sure i am as informed as i can be, particularly from the perspective from the side that has been wronged in this partnership.

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