The New Zealand Herald

Judith, talk to us, not about us

Māori would like rights-based debate, not something that is based on race

- John Tamihere comment

Judith Collins has spent a lot of money and effort in defining a national debate. A debate commenced while she was a senior Cabinet minister. A debate consented to while she was a high-ranking Government minister in the John Key administra­tion.

He Puapua is a paper discussing how Aotearoa may implement its agreement to the indigenous rights debate.

Let’s be clear, Collins is not making hate speech. But in my opinion, she is emboldenin­g it.

I have written this column because everything I have read on Collins’ defining debate has been written by white people about brown people.

Police have just prosecuted a man from Tauranga on two separate charges of making an objectiona­ble publicatio­n and inciting racial disharmony.

This is but one example.

The filth and the vitriol directed at Māori is naturalise­d and normalised by the actions of many white folk including Collins. You have to be subjected to it constantly to understand it.

Politics is about the use of words. In my opinion, Collins’ use of Politics 101 is emotion + passion = hate, known as raising the politics of fear.

What we as Māori talk about is a rights-based debate. Collins has, in my view, purposely turned it into a racebased debate.

This campaign around Māori matters appears to be justified by Collins because she is not politicall­y correct, because she is a proud white New Zealander, because her entitled and privileged community are being denied a debate, that her rights are being stolen by conspiracy and stealth.

She is framing this conversati­on as if I, as a Māori, am taking something away from her, when what I’m actually deeply requesting is that we want some honesty, fairness and justice. We want rights at the table that were promised to us under the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

Where, in any debate or document, have Māori ever taken anything from a Collins or her privileged, white and entitled followers?

How have Māori discrimina­ted against Pākehā in health, housing, education, employment or justice? All of the evidence is absolutely contrary to what seems to be a campaign of fear being unleashed by Collins.

How can getting one or two Māori around a table of 10 or 12 white councillor­s at a local council table be a takeover?

In my opinion, when Māori ask for the recognitio­n of their rights, Collins makes it a debate on race — never about rights.

White versus Brown, Stealthy Māori versus Honest White, White Victims versus Brown Villains.

Māori will continue asserting our rights as indigenous people and the fact we are Māori is beside the point.

Māori have persistent­ly and relentless­ly indicated that honouring the Treaty of Waitangi is the starting point of any conversati­on or debate.

We just need to find a few honourable white folk to have that debate with.

If that scares the likes of Judith Collins, then she’s in the wrong country.

By all means, have a debate, but do not make Māori your bait.

So Judith, talk to Māori, not about us.

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