Sunday, September 18, 2011

All For One And One For All?

An interesting few weeks in Noo Zuld race relations!
Margaret "mad dog" Mutu's suggestion of restricting whitey arrivals has this week been followed by a racist email over maori flags!
separatism in situ
[photo: Stephen Jaquiery]
Geoff Portman emailed NE Valley Normal School in Dunedin, angry it was flying "so-called Maori flags"
(tino rangatiratanga): "Talk about mixed messages. What this country needs is some national pride and a sense of belonging." Portman sent the email because the principal was against National Standards but was "teaching all this maori culture, basically culture that's been made up as it goes along. We're all one people here and this division's not good for the country." Geoff has every right to his opinion and to question the school's attitude. Where he erred was to attach a racially-based 'joke' email, claiming maori get special rights but are responsible for most social problems. He's maori himself – hence no frenzied backlash. The responses?
Local tribal rep Tahu Potiki: "I understand people can have attitudes worked up over time about the place of maori in NZ society, but as a community we’ve moved well beyond this sort of rubbish." He says schools should be allowed to fly the tino rangatiratanga, as it’s "an accurate reflection of where our community has evolved to…"
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres: "What he doesn't want is maori. He's trying to couch this in national pride and a sense of belonging but what he's basically objecting to is the school having symbols of maori visible."
Maori Party MP Rahui Katene says she gets "extreme reactions" when she drives a vehicle flying the separatist flag: she's had some broken off. "NZers need to get beyond the ignorance and slogans like 'one nation, one NZ, one flag, one people' and realise we're a nation of two peoples, with many other ethnicities living here. We will only mature as a nation when we learn to celebrate our differences rather than denigrate them."
Spot their rather obvious errors…?
Tahu Potiki thinks we've moved beyond Geoff's comments. Sorry, Tahu: individuals may have…but as a society, we haven't. Both sides of the fence still maintain an 'us-and-them' stance. And to say the tino rangatiratanga flag is "an accurate reflection of where our community has evolved to” is not saying we've reached a happy understanding: that flag is a separatist flag, plain and simple. Flying it probably IS an accurate reflection of our societal division!
Joris de Bres misses the point…that the separatist flag is a symbol of some radical maori – not all maori, by any stretch.
Rahui Katene's assertion of "a nation of two peoples" (with some other hangers-on) merely underlines the rift: NZ hasn’t been just 'two peoples' since 1840...when Mutu's mob 'invited' us in!
So while Geoff Portman stuffed up with that email attachment, his point is valid. It's long overdue that we pull together as 'one nation, one NZ, one flag, one people'…whether some like those slogans or not!

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