The real Gerrard Otimi story
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.