When the Māori king, Tuheitia Paki, called a hui at Turangawaiwai Marae in January he tapped into a vein of strength of ideas and under-the-covers debate in our country. Young and old. Māori and pakeha headed for the marae. If I’d been in the North Island I would have been there. This was the making of history.
Here is a wonderful summary of the event which is quite different from most of the other reports in our media. It’s by Aaron Smale and here’s a link:
The bit which really hit home to me was this:
The Māori King Tūheitia was winding up the day’s hui with a predictable list of talking points that was struggling to hold anyone’s attention in the oppressive humidity. But then he paused a moment, almost like he was bored himself, before he started to wander off-script. Suddenly everyone was paying attention.
“I don’t mean to hang out our dirty washing,” Tūheitia proffered. There was a ripple of anticipation about where he was going to go. A woman down the back of one of the multiple rows of seats snapped out of her lethargy as Kingi Tūheitia toyed with how much he should speak his mind in public.
He then observed that it had been nearly 30 years since Tainui had settled its Treaty claim with the Crown, the first iwi to do so. But he lamented that the structure that had served that purpose was still in place and had changed little in that time. He hesitated. The woman at the back gritted her teeth and muttered “say it” under her breath, apparently reading what was on his mind because it was what was on hers too.
“I’ve been trying to change our structure and bring more rangatahi through. But we’ve got more suits in there than in Wellington,” he said.
A surprised delight murmured through the crowd. He’d said it. This comment is a very real observation. From a man who has spent his life performing manual tasks and who still has his feet firmly on the ground.