What on earth is going on?
In my late 70s I look back on values that have changed in my lifetime and find myself wondering just where we are heading now. Who and what is driving our country and what’s their agenda. It seems to me abundantly clear over the last months, we are travelling head on into a reverse Apartheid New Zealand apparently condoned by our Government. The population of New Zealand is approx. 15% Maori, and even this is unclear. There are no pure bred Maori and by simply declaring 3% Maori ancestry will qualify anyone for Maori status, the Maori Parliamentary roll, University privileges and much more. Apparently it doesn’t matter that the majority of the claimant’s ancestry will comprise a majority of British, Irish and mixed blood lines.
I know of several people, on discovering some distant relation who had Maori blood immediately claimed Maori ancestry, why? Because of the uneven education benefits and much more Maori can claim. Further 20% of New Zealand population comprises of Pacific Islanders, and 30% Asians, all significantly larger groups of New Zealanders who are not recognised, yet far outnumber Maori. Their languages are not sacrosanct even though many of their languages are recognised worldwide.
Apartheid in South Africa was frowned on by the world and who wouldn’t agree this was a terrible time of oppression. Yet what we are experiencing at present has much the same potential to divide New Zealand.
So what am I talking about?
Have you noticed in the last few months that suddenly every radio/TV presenter has suddenly been taught and now speaks Maori? What’s this all about? I was brought up with Maori friends throughout my schooling years and Military service and I worked with many Maori colleagues, good friends, including Maori politicians who I admired immensely, for example Hiwi Tauroa All Black and Race conciliator, Sir Peter Tapsell, Parliamentary speaker and Dame Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, just to clear up the point that I am not racist. Travelling through New Zealand recently I was amazed that recognised area names had or were being changed to Maori, some very difficult to pronounce. What about the tourists who are arguably New Zealand’s biggest income earner? How do they Identify places or pronounce the new Maori name. Streets are being named throughout Papakura and Pukekohe mostly starting with “Te” which is going to confuse maps and some with difficult long names. One lady home seeker I was talking to recently said the street name would be her first item checked as she doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life spelling out her address; having had a difficult often misspelt street name in the past also made getting mail very difficult. “Interesting".
Perhaps the most striking thing about the Maorification we are presently experiencing is the America’s Cup currently being sailed in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata. What is the point of a presenter speaking at length in Maori that only a small number of people could understand? Yacht racing is not a sport in which Maori seem to take part.
Certainly overseas viewers will think “how quaint, what are they saying?” Regardless of what these presenters think, the common language in New Zealand is English. I was brought up as a New Zealander and born in New Zealand a 3rd generation Kiwi. I don’t speak Maori, and have never needed to.
I understand the need for French an internationally used language, Mandarin for our developing markets in a huge economy, but Maori? Who speaks or understands this anywhere else in the world. It’s great that Maori language should be encouraged, even taught in school as part of our history but right now the balance is totally and deliberately skewed by those with a personal agenda. Maori is not a commercial language and frankly never will be. I can speak French (not particularly well) but having been on a Paris Global board, I respect French as an international language. I also speak Italian sufficient to do business. Every New Zealander knows greetings in Maori and other Maori words which is good but nowhere have I ever found anyone who speaks Maori internationally. So what is the point? Our present Government I believe actively garners support for the Labour political party from Maori by allowing this form of Apartheid to grow. Maori will never be an international language. So there has to be something I like many others seem to be missing?
This country seems hell bent on having an everlasting guilt complex about past historic wrongs which have cost New Zealand millions over the years. Speaking for the long suffering New Zealanders not of Maori ancestry, it seems the Waitangi Tribunal has a never ending cycle of grievances being claimed by Maori. I accept there were wrongdoings in the past. However, don’t you think it’s seriously about time to shut this cash cow down and get on with our lives as one nation in today’s world? I am sure this column will be greeted with howls of rage from the “entitled few”; be assured I have a thick hide and regardless, know well I am a Proud New Zealander, as are those who recently have become New Zealand citizens of this country. I am hard pushed to see any justification for doling out huge sums to modern Maori from the good old taxpayer for past historic grievances which will continue infinitely or until we finally empty the cash bucket.
Trevor Rogers is a former Member of Parliament, serving two terms from 1990 to 1996.