Full justice for Maori still lacking in Pakeha world
“They hate it when they see we are good looking and articulate.” That’s what my Uncle Syd Jackson used to say about Pakeha New Zealand in the 1970s.
Syd was perhaps the most famous Maori activist of the last generation. He was commenting on Pakeha prejudice toward Maori, who were outspoken on Maori issues.
Uncle Syd, though, was more than just a Maori activist. He was an academic, a union leader, a Maori leader, a role model and inspiration for activists like Hone Harawira, Ken Mair and Tame Iti.
He was also, apart from my dad, the biggest political influence in my life. I was thinking about uncle when two stories broke last week – the Maori rugby tour to South Africa and Sky TV giving former TVNZ presenter Tony Veitch a break on the Murray Deaker show.
Both stories had significant racial connotations and required some explaining.
So first up my bro’ John Tamihere tried to give the simplest explanation on why a Maori team was not racist on our Radio Live talkback show.
JT said that a Maori team was about celebrating our uniqueness, our culture, and was similar to an Australian Aboriginal team or a London Welsh team. He said there was nothing discriminatory at all about having a Maori team, and this was about positive recognition and not racial discrimination.
Now if anyone has a chance at cracking the racial divide then JT does. He probably fits Uncle Syd’s criterion – good looking and articulate – which is tremendously hard for me to concede!
But JT didn’t have a chance. No matter what he said most of the callers couldn’t break through their own racial prejudice and refused to acknowledge the rights of a Maori team.
So I thought from the outset that my chances of converting Pakeha New Zealand to my way of thinking over the Tony Veitch saga would be pretty small.
I have however, been encouraged by the support that I have received.
While most Pakeha don’t accept my justice for Maori argument, and that a Maori would never receive the same opportunity that Veitch has received from Sky TV if they were facing serious criminal charges, many do accept my argument that this opportunity is a basic breach of Kiwi principles, morals.
They also accept that there seems to be a different set of rules for people if they have heavyweight media friends, like Murray Deaker and Paul Holmes advocating for them.
And so I remain optimistic that Kiwis’ intolerance of Veitch being back on TV will one day extend to them recognising what Uncle Syd used to talk about, when he spoke about equal justice for Maori.