"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King
I have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with what is happening in the world. We had the riots in London a few months ago, we have the occupy wall street protests currently going on, and we seem to be seeing an endless number of protest marches and movements.
I think protest is necessary, but I find myself asking more and more "what is the plan here?"
Take for example Occupy Wall Street - I absolutely agree that we need a global system overhaul, we need to be looking at alternative models of development that move us away from being driven by money, to something which supports sustainable communities, something based on balancing our total wellbeing.
But what is the strategy? Who needs to make the change? How do they make the change? and how can we help them change?
What is the point of occupying without a plan for how you are going to change what you are unhappy with?
I raise this point only because I am becoming increasingly concerned with what is happening here in Aotearoa. We protest, we hikoi, we occupy - but how do you take an idea and turn it into reality? You need a vision, a solution, a plan and people to carry it off.
When we marched in the hikoi in 2004 - we had a shared goal, a plan, and the people who would get us there:
1) Set up our own political party - The Maori Party (tick!)
2) Get our party into the government to make the change that was needed (tick!)
3) Repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act (tick!)
4) Get our right to go back to Court back (tick!)
5) Keep our strong unified Maori voice in parliament (hmmmm?????)
Obviously the new Marine and Coastal Area Act is far from perfect - but the big part of the job is over, and now its time to dig in and continue to chip away and progress it. We have done this before in the form of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 which established the Waitangi Tribunal and the claims process, but it was not until 1985 that the Tribunal was granted powers to look at retrospective grievances. That's 10 years to get something almost right. It takes time to get what we want out of the government.
The point is, we have a vision as Maori (to lift our people up out of oppression, to be able to achieve rangatiratanga and equality), now we need a strategy or a plan.
There is so much discontent amongst our people - that I feel as if we are loosing our way. We are turning on each other because we have lost faith in ourselves. We are like lambs for the slaughter when we are in this state (divide and conquer etc etc) and we ALL need to take responsibility to start turning that around.
So I thought I would give you my view on what we need (collectively) to make a change and start turning things around:
First we need our agenda setters - we as Maori are excellent at doing this. We know how to highlighting the issues that need to be addressed for our people. In my mind this is where our protesters and activists come in.
Secondly, we need our strategy - we need our Maori researchers, philosophers and thinkers (community/academic/people who understand the frameworks) to draw us a map of where we want to go and how we are going to get there. We need solutions to our issues.
Thirdly, we need our soldiers - no matter who or where you are, you fit into this box. Politicians fit into this box too. No matter what the big picture is, every person can play a small part in moving us closer to our goals. It might be mama starting in our home with our babies; or it might be Hemi in the health centre; or Kara in the supermarket; Toni in the public sector; or Rahui in parliament....it is everyone playing their little bit just getting on with the business of picking yourself up, your whanau and your community around you.
Fourth, we need allies - remember we are only a minority group in Aotearoa, to make a change we need support from elsewhere, and in a range of different ways.
Fifth, we need our leaders - to remind us of our goal, to keep us on track, and show us the plan and how we all fit into it. They give us our vision, they tell us what needs to be done, and how to go away and do it.
Finally, we need hope, we need courage and we need faith.
'Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.' Martin Luther KingWe also need to trust our leaders, and trust ourselves. We need to commit to a pathway and stick to it.
In terms of the Maori Party I think we all need to remember where this kaupapa came from. It came from me, it came from you, it came from all of us as Maori. If you think three years in government can suddenly take away a lifetime of loyalty to Maori - you are wrong.
To represent Maori is difficult because our people are diverse. We are not one homogeneous group, but if we continue to change the game plan because we have lost faith in the course, then we start to move our development backwards.
What I can tell you, is that Maori people who have grown up in Maori communities are the best people to take our kaupapa forward in parliament. They understand where we are coming from and what our 'realities' are, but also they are accountable back to their whanau, their communities and our people.
We also need people who are solutions focused, and who have a strategy for how they are going to get us to the finish line.
The way to increase representation in parliament for our diverse realities - is to vote in a diverse range of Maori people. I think the Maori Party have that in spades over other parties and their lists. We also have solutions. At least you know, behind our figureheads, that all of us on the list have come from Maori communities. I would encourage you all to have a look at the Party lists for the parties you are thinking about voting for next Saturday to see if they have the same commitment to Maori representation and issues.
Maori Party List
Green Party List
NZ First Party List
Mana Party List
Labour Party List
National Party List