Thursday, September 29, 2016

28 Maori Battalion Returns:

This is what I recall of the Maori Battalion soldiers returning after WW2. The battalion were a huge part of Maori culture of the post war period and soldiers were welcomed back to every marae in Aotearoa. 

Home At Last

I did not see them go
But neat uniform 
Khaki from neck to ankle wraps
Then polished boots
Beret tilted laconically 
To a victory salute
We're home we're home at last we're home
That's what I saw in 46.

What a week that was
Two only another mourned in Crete
They came by taxi to end of road
Then horse and gig to old marae
Hall and lean to kauta
No different from when they left.

Blind mother saw son with fingers
Another with dimming eyes
Saw handsome shadow
Tears tangi speeches and waiata
Welcomed them and farewelled son in Crete.

In lean to men and boys 
Heard war stories from Greece, Crete, Egypt
Libya, Sicily, Monte Casino, Firenze, 
And Trieste at last.
Yeah they said so casually
We saw action here and there
And R and R in Cairo
And E hoa ma 
28 shot at German planes with rifles

They even showed us shrapnel wounds
No worse than rugby scars
The wounds of heart mind and psyche
At horrors seen
Exploding mayhem nightmare fears
Wounded screams and pain
Machine gun body halved
Remained unsaid
Just laughing soldiers home again at last.

Us kids thought war fun
Cowboy and Indian movie like
Boys on horse back
Cap gun shoot outs after school.

But wounds of war
Showed much later
Long after keg was drunk
And war songs slurred away
To a silent end.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

All Those Stars In Space

I'm no poet. However, I am struck by the euphemisms cultures and traditions like Maori create to explain beliefs in death. Here are some:

Kua wheturangitia:                          He/She has been turned into a star

Kua taka ki tua o te arai:                 The spirit has fallen below the horizon.

Kua ea te Wairua ki tona haerenga: The Spirit is free to go on its journey.

When the late Rowley Habib of Tuwharetoa passed away I thought I'd try to express his passing with euphemisms expressed in poetry. Rowley was an able poet, dramatist and writer of short fiction.

Where The Sun Sets

It's true what we say 

About your star arching gently 

Across  the sky

We watch intently

Will it stop, pause even

But it arcs relentlessly on

Suffer not while you soar

Smooth the pathway light up the dark

Then drop below the horizon

At your appointed time

It matters not whose right

Missionary or us

Our own stars are in their trajectory

In the infinite milky ways of Heaven

One is you another me

And there's the horizon to another world

Beckoning where the sun sets.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What? Xmas Already?

This was Xmas past in Hamilton with six grand mokopuna. They now have their own children and we are blessed with a total of eleven Great Grand Mokopuna. Xmas then was traditional and of course these mokos were showered with toys and otherwise spoilt by me. The oldest kotiro I recall was given a Doll. She pushed it away in disgust and went after her brother's  "boys" toys. There's no way of predicting how they will grow into adults but the oldest are over 30. I learnt not to maintain unrealistic expectations like; "the parents and grand parents are school teachers and they should be too, right?" Wrong. None of them are but vital personalities they all are. Add three more to this six. All went to the new Kohanga Reo and were taught Te Reo by their Kai Ako Koroua and Kuia. Us Grand Parents are proud of them all as they make their way in a changing world with confidence and bring up their own children.

This Great Grand Moko will be at Intermediate next year I believe. I can't recall where this Xmas was but I think, Taupo. She is the oldest of six children, the youngest are the twins below. This is a large whanau by today's standards. Even their Great Grand Dad had only four (one brother and two sisters) in his 1940s whanau. She and her brother and sisters attend a Kura kaupapa school. Who knows what their futures will be but one thought is true. The world for them will change again. 

These Mahanga have featured on this blog before Of the six children they have only one brother. They still look at me like they haven't seen me before but interaction is improving. They have started to walk and are at Kohanga Reo. Both parents work but they are lucky in that they have Grand Mother namesakes  for after Kohanga care. 

This Great Grand Moko is not even one year yet and he has gone around the world and been to more countries than all of his Great Grand Parents put together except possibly one. I don't know where this photo was taken; England I think. He's back in NZ now but he failed to come back to Taupo where he left from much to the sorrow of two of his Great Karanis. Still, he's not too far away and we will see him this Xmas. He better not Tipi Haere around the Globe before then.

Ae marika. Te waimarie o te Tangata. E hia Kirihimete kua hipa engari e ora tonu ana. Nga mihi kia koutou nga hoa kei runga i te Pukapuka Kanohi, kia koutou nga whanaunga, kia tatou katoa hoki. Meri Kirihi Mete me nga mihi mo te Tau Hou.

Atihana raua ko Hera.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Media And Maori Stories

I have been thinking; 

How good are Maori organisations and spokes people at responding to stories that are about us, our issues,  and relevant to us? Should we respond or not? Should we grab the opportunity while it is current and say our piece or should we hide away and not respond hoping the issue will go away or no one will notice?

I have been informed that when an issue arises points of view, rights of reply etc are built into the news item (purongo) in order to provide balance. This is fine except that if the original point of view goes unchallenged because those with a different view do not respond for whatever reason then the opportunity for balance is lost. and never recovered.

Those who have media savvy know this and can intimidate another point of view because they know how the media works. The other advantage is that they are known to the media and are adept at giving the clear impression that they are the only "go to" person in that organisation, iwi etc. They stand out as spokes persons and their point of view is accepted by others including some in the media. They are cemented into the media especially if they "win" a High Court case.

So what can we do? First we need to know how the media works and know some people especially journalists and producers of news and other shows and their work. Secondly, the organisation however fledgling should appoint spokes people that can respond quickly and appropriately when the occasion arises. while it is current. Thirdly we need to trust those spokes people totally. There isn't time to consult all 500 members because news doesn't wait until then. The opportunity that arises in the morning may not be there by lunch time. 

Na reira, tatou e hiahia ana ki te whakatakoto  o matou kerema kei mua i te Karauna, kia kaha tatou ki te whakamarama atu o matou whakaaro ki te hunga e tautoko ana to tatou kaupapa.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Is A Mandate, Atihana?

Atihana: Well it is the way in which the Crown; Government: Office Of Treaty Settlements; Minister of Treaty Settlements decide who the claimants are for a particular claim registered with them such as Wai 45 which was originally registered by Rt.Hon. Matiu Rata for Muriwhenua Iwi.

Question: But isn't that a Crown/Government initiated process, Atihana?

Atihana: Yes it is, but so was the setting up of the Waitangi Tribunal which listens to claims lodged such as Wai 45. I went and took part in some of those hearings in Muriwhenua.

Question: What did the Tribunal decide after all the hearings were completed?

Atihana: They contracted researchers to research the claim and they recorded everything said at the hearings for Wai 45. Then Dr. Evelyn Stokes of the Tribunal wrote the "Muriwhenua Lands Report." 1997. This became the basis of the claim.

Question: Then what happened Atihana?

Atihana: Excellent question. Groups suspicious of Matiu Rata and the Muriwhenua Runanga fought each other for the MANDATE to negotiate with the Crown. The then Minister and Labour Govt. didn't really want to settle with Muriwhenua who were claiming the same as Tainui and Ngai Tahu.

Question: So what happened then, Atihana?

Atihana: Another good question! He piiki whawhai led by Ngati Kahu. Gradually each iwi (Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri and Ngati Kahu) decided to negotiate their own part of Wai 45 and were mandated to do so by the incoming Labour Govt. and Rt. Hon. Micheal Cullen became the Minister.

Question: And then what Atihana?

Atihana: You are getting better. Well, to cut a long story short everyone has settled except Ngati Kahu. 

Question: But...but...Bloody hell! Why not?

Atihana: Haua hoki. Patai kia ratou.

Question: So what now, Atihana?

Atihana: Those with the MANDATE will lose it which provides other Ngati Kahu groups to organise and seek the MANDATE to negotiate a settlement with the Crown based on the Crown's 2013 offer to Ngati Kahu.

Question: But is it worth it?

Atihana: Compared to the other four iwi settlements yes it is, but compared to what we have lost, hell no. 

Question: So why don't we go for what we are due?

Atihana: No one can calculate what that is in today's values. We can grow what we get to make the rawa and putea larger. Other iwi like Tainui have. They have also made a big contribution to the education of Tainui students. But the longer we stuff around the more we lose in "opportunity cost" that we won't get back. 

Question: Enough! What can I do, Atihana? I'm only one person.

Atihana: Tell your marae/hapu that you want a FULL AND FINAL SETTLEMENT. And support those who want to seek a MANDATE to negotiate.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What's Up Ngati Kahu Runanga?

I refer to our Treaty Claim not yet settled compared to our whanaunga of Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto and Ngati Kuri.  Given our current leadership and inability to negotiate in good faith with the Crown I would certainly not claim that we are right and the other four are wrong. However we are led to believe that Ngati Kahu wants only a partial settlement. I have seen the Crown's offer for a settlement given to the Runanga in 2013 and received by me only in December 2014 via Ngati Tara. The difference between a full settlement and a partial one is like getting the whole cake or only a bit of it. Timoti Hetaraka puts it more succinctly; a partial settlement means no to  any settlement. I do not know the details of the bit of cake but since the Crown has already said NO to it we are wasting Ngati Kahu's time and resources on it. 

So what's the full settlement offer then Atihana? It's detailed and you will need to look up the offer. Ask the Runanga for it and the Minister's letter. Or better still contact the Office of the Minister of Treaty Settlements. I will try and find the links. Briefly; Ngati Kahu gets;

1. Some Crown properties "in fee simple" such as Taumarumaru at the end of Coopers Beach. 
2. Other Crown properties in our Ngati Kahu Rohe which includes some in Kaitaia.
3. The school properties in the Rohe for which we have to forfeit some of the cash assets. In  return we become the land lords and get paid rents. 
4. Rangiputa Block Farm. We have to pay part of our cash or the quantum (the value of the farm which we can negotiate downwards).
5. Cash assets of $23m.If we invest prudently and not spend it we can grow this annually until we have a large enough income earning asset base.
6. Cultural redress for our Ngati Kahu marae ( This will be money but I don't know how much)
7. A "Korowai" arrangement with other iwi to manage Te Oneroa-A-Tohe (90 Mile Beach)
8. Social & Health Funding in an arrangement with the other four Iwi. They have already started.
9. DOC and Ngati Kahu management of DOC land in Ngati Kahu. This was part of Ngati Kahu's Agreement In Principle signed by the Ngati Kahu Runanga, myself and others at Kareponia. 

This is not the total. We can still negotiate some changes that will benefit us and that's where we should be instead of wasting time on a bit of  cake or at Iwi Chairs Forums in Ngapuhi. If you see this offer as a pittance compared to what the Crown and colonisation took from us since 1840 then you are right. However whether you think so or not it's close to the best deal we can expect and we have to get real about it. So what do you think then Atihana? I say go back into negotiations promptly. But if the Runanga still thinks a bit of cake is worth more than the whole cake then we will have to by pass them and those in Ngati Kahu who want a full settlement should go and get one.

Noho ora mai


Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 And Xmas

This has been a turbulent year. In politics National won handsomely only to suffer after election headaches as the "dirty politics" saga rolled on as if their was no election and the questions in and out of parliament dug into some uncomfortable places and the new Labour leader told the PM to "cut the crap. The PM's smooth patter was shattered not only by Andrew Little but by the cartoon face of one Cameron Slater who was on txting contacts with the PM. Labour finally chose the right leader after a tortuous selection process. 

The Rock Star economy was nothing more than propaganda as National squandered the nine years of surpluses achieved by Labour only to borrow for its fiscal measures reduced by tax cuts for the well off and benefit cuts for beneficiaries while the medium and low paid not to mention child poverty bore the austerity that followed. And no. The predicted surplus this year did not happen. 

What about the Maori world? The Tainui, Ngai Tahu, Kahungunu and other iwi conglomerates go from strength to strength. Like others in business there has been some failures but by and large the future is looking good for Iwi. However the trick is whether Iwi members get some benefit at the grass roots. This is as difficult as any enterprise in NZ. The structure of corporates often does not get down that far. However if the education levels of Iwi Whanau can be lifted then whanau have a much better chance of benefitting in employment, economically and socially. That is where Iwi Corporates should put their investments initially. 

Well so much for the heavy stuff. These twin great grand daughters are what I got for Xmas this year. They are not two of the many children living in poverty according to the stats. Neither do they live in luxury. They are two of six children whose parents were fortunate enough to benefit from a social housing initiative from a housing charity. My many thanks to that charity. Their father works for  an enterprise now owned by an Iwi Corporate. These Angels look out to a  better world hopefully. 

Any way Merry Xmas to all of you whether you followed this blog or not. My two mokos also wish you all the best. Ma te Atua  tatou katoa e tiaki e manaaki i nga wa katoa. 

Atihana M. Johns