The real Ger­rard Otimi story

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

I’m used to the main­stream me­dia churn­ing out “beat-ups” about Maori.

Our broad­cast­ers and news­pa­pers haven’t re­cruited more than the odd jour­nal­ist who knows any­thing about Maori is­sues, so they en­ter­tain them­selves – and in the process mis­in­form the pub­lic – with sto­ries com­piled from a small slice of fact and a dol­lop of delu­sion.

You have only to think back to the rub­bish cir­cu­lated when the me­dia had Tame Iti in its sights. If you be­lieve the non­sense that was be­ing writ­ten you might have thought that Tame was a ter­ror­ist wait­ing for his op­por­tu­nity to as­sas­si­nate the prime min­is­ter.

Of course noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.

An­other ex­am­ple of the me­dia’s ca­pac­ity for non­sense was the view that if there wasn’t pro­tec­tion from the fore­shore and seabed leg­is­la­tion no­body ex­cept Maori would ever be al­lowed on a beach.

You had to won­der about the men­tal­ity of our ed­i­tors and talk­back hosts.

And their re­sponse over the last week or so to Ger­rard Otimi’s mis­guided visa scheme is a re­minder they’re prob­a­bly as stupid as ever.

Ger­rard is the Otara guy who’s been sug­gest­ing to Pacifi Is­land over­stay­ers that if they were to give him $500 he’d ar­range for them to be wel­comed into his hapu as whangai – over­com­ing the has­sles they’ve had try­ing to mi­grate here.

That sounds fairly dodgy, and that part of the story de­served some con­dem­na­tion.

But from then on the journos re­sorted to their two favourite moves.

First came the beat-up – mak­ing more of the “evil scam” than the facts war­ranted, and even im­ply­ing that he was a des­per­ado on the run.

He wasn’t. He was at home – and so was the money.

Then the journos tried their other favourite move – ig­nor­ing the real is­sue.

Ger­rard Otimi is one of many peo­ple who can’t stom­ach the way Maori have been did­dled out of their land and their po­si­tion of au­thor­ity in their own coun­try.

In 1840 the Treaty of Wai­tangi gave a guar­an­tee to Maori of tino ran­gati­ratanga. A guar­an­tee? Yeah right.

So now and then, folk like Ger­rard come up with a scheme, how­ever clumsy, to high­light this stain on our har­mo­nious racial his­tory.

He’s not pol­ished enough to ar­gue the cause con­vinc­ingly, and sell­ing his whaka­papa for $500 lost him any chance of cred­i­bil­ity.

But me­dia word­smiths have no ex­cuse for con­tin­u­ing to ig­nore the de­bate from Maori on their rights to tino ran­gati­ratanga.

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