May 19, 2016


I’d actually agree with people who say “I’m not racist”. I think racism is essentially the characteristic of the society we live in and all of us are caught up in it. Most of us are well adapted to living in a racist society. Of course, there are a few bigots who are enthusiastic and consciously participate rejoicing. Then there are lots of us who are uncritically accepting of how things are, or who have the luxury of putting it in the too hard basket. A growing number are trying to live in a resistant way.
It is good to have had a discussion on radio. If media would stop reinforcing the settler-coloniser mindset, I think the pace would pick up. However Jenny Rankine is doing a thesis about racism on social media, and at present that is a nightmare of prejudice where bigots romp and evangelise!
After focusing our energies on institutional racism, we haven’t had much impact on personal prejudice as yet.  However there is some evidence that attitudes follow change rather than initiate it, and again that takes a change of generations to show up.
Remember that anti-racism theory says that if nothing changes, whether the dominant group are glad or sad about it doesn’t really matter.  It is changing what happens that counts.
January 13, 2016

An Open Letter to Tourism New Zealand and Qualmark

My  partner and I opted to become domestic tourists this summer and undertook an epic road trip from Auckland in the North to Nugget Point in the South. We stayed with friends, family and at holiday parks on the way, engaging with a number of tourist operators, going on boat trips, to art galleries etc. As part of this journey, we encountered many international tourists curious about our country.

As domestic tourists, we came with a base-line understanding of the history of Aotearoa, Te Reo and tikanga Māori. We were disappointed that many of the tourist operators we encountered, including those with Qualmark endorsements, did not seem to share this basic understanding. We note the following concerns from our travels:

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November 20, 2015

Conversations Around a Flag: Getting our history straight about the 1834 Te Whakaminenga Flag.

This blog reflects concerns about how our history is being told, especially with regard to our country’s first flag, the 1834 Te Whakaminenga Flag. Set out below are emails on this subject, sent to the Treaty Worker movement and New Zealand’s Flag Consideration Panel.

united tribes variation
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October 26, 2015

The Rugby Haka Debate

Attacks on Māori tikanga and taonga routinely place Pākehā who wish and work for a Tiriti-based future for this country in an invidious position. The targets of the assault are not ours and we rarely have the knowledge and spiritual connection to them that would support a direct defence. At the same time we know that there must be a vocal opposition to the attack because, as our Pākehā lore has it, silence means consent. An example of such attacks was provided by a Listener editorial that questioned the rightness of All Blacks performing a haka before international matches. The following was my attempt to challenge the thinking and claims behind the editorial.

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June 22, 2015

Right of first refusal: Calling the Crown to act with honour

In 1840, Ngāti Whātua invited Governor Hobson to establish his seat of government on their land adjacent to the WaitemataHarbour. Their intention was a flourishing centre, bringing advantage to Ngāti Whātua and new settlers. Sadly, the Governors and the Government soon lost sight of working in partnership with Ngāti Whatua. Decisions were made and legislation passed that caused Ngāti Whātua huge losses of land. The injustice of what happened is well recorded in the Waitangi Tribunal’s Orakei Report. Similar processes by the Crown meant that Waikato-Tainui wrongfully lost land in South Auckland. As part of the Crown’s recompense to these iwi, they were granted right of first refusal on Crown properties in their respective territories.

What is the “right of first refusal” and what lies behind it? Put simply, a group with right of first refusal on a property has the first option to buy the property when it becomes available for sale. If they turn down that option, then the property can go on the open market. The Crown’s Settlements with any iwi are acknowledged to be very small in relation to the value of the lands originally taken. Legislation in 1992 had established that private land could not be used in the settlement of treaty claims, and often the amount of Crown land immediately available is limited. That is why a number of the Settlements include a clause stating that an iwi will have right of first refusal over Crown property before it is put on the open market.

In this year’s Budget the Government announced that it would be making Crown land available to private developers for the purpose of housing. In doing this they overlooked the iwi with right of first refusal. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Housing have since claimed that the Government has the legal right to go ahead with their proposal. This is obviously going to be tested in the Courts. However, their emphasis on being legally in the right completely ignores the issue of whether what they propose is morally right. The Courts have made it very clear that the Crown, that is the Government, is obliged to act as a Treaty partner. On this the Crown’s honour depends.

Partnership means entering into conversations with your partner about future developments long before they are presented as settled policy; it means working together on common concerns. Ngāti Whātua have made it very clear they are interested in being part of housing development that will benefit a wide range of people. They are committed to the welfare of Auckland city. Those of us who are not Māori might well find that solutions proposed by Ngāti Whātua are much more in line with our sense of common good than those put forward by a government situated in Wellington. Certainly, if the Government had taken seriously its Treaty partnership with Ngāti Whātua and Waikato-Tainui, some of Auckland’s housing issues would not be facing the present delays.

Dr Susan Healy

December 7, 2014

What now?

 I guess most of us felt relief when the Waitangi Tribunal reported that the Māori who signed Te Tiriti did not cede sovereignty and had neither intention nor reasons to do so…

The rangatira who signed te Tiriti o Waitangi in February 1840 did not cede sovereignty to the British Crown, the Waitangi Tribunal has concluded.

The Tribunal today released its report on stage 1 of its inquiry into Te Paparahi o te Raki (the great land of the north) Treaty claims.

The report concerns the ‘meaning and effect’ of the Treaty in February 1840, when the first signings of te Tiriti took place in the Bay of Islands and the Hokianga. Stage 2 of the inquiry, which is under way, will consider events after February 1840.

‘Though Britain went into the treaty negotiation intending to acquire sovereignty, and therefore the power to make and enforce law over both Maori and Pakeha, it did not explain this to the rangatira’, the Tribunal said.

Rather, Britain ’s representative William Hobson and his agents explained the Treaty as granting Britain ‘the power to control British subjects and thereby to protect Maori’, while rangatira were told that they would retain their ‘tino rangatiratanga’, their independence and full chiefly authority.

‘The rangatira who signed te Tiriti o Waitangi in February 1840 did not cede their sovereignty to Britain ’, the Tribunal concluded. ‘That is, they did not cede authority to make and enforce law over their people or their territories.’

The rangatira did, however, agree ‘to share power and authority with Britain ’.

‘They agreed to the Governor having authority to control British subjects in New Zealand , and thereby keep the peace and protect Maori interests’, the Tribunal said.

‘The rangatira consented to the treaty on the basis that they and the Governor were to be equals, though they were to have different roles and different spheres of influence. The detail of how this relationship would work in practice, especially where the Maori and European populations intermingled, remained to be negotiated over time on a case-by-case basis.’ “

-WT press release Friday 14 November

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February 23, 2014

Talk Matters #2 – Actions not Words – does everyone think this?

Words, Words, Words, I’m so sick of words. I get words all day long, first from him now from you, is that all you blighters can do?” (Liza Doolittle).[1]

Furious at her treatment by Professor Higgins, Liza erupts when her would-be boyfriend Freddy talks of love.  She wants action, NOT words, and demands he – ‘Show me’.  Liza is not the only person who wants action not words, who assesses people by what they do rather than what they say.

If, like me, you’re an English speaker, you’re surrounded by pat phrases and familiar comments that encourage you and everyone else to see actions as ‘doing’, as meaning that something is being or has been achieved.  Take a pause – how many such phrases or sayings come to mind?  Examples off the top of my head are: ‘just a talk shop’,  ‘all hot air’,  ‘not walking the talk’… and when I ask others, they provide lots more.  The ditty that was and apparently still is offered as a response to bullying: ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ is a particularly clear example of the encouragement English speakers get to trivialise the power and effects of talk.

sticks and stones

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August 10, 2013

World Heritage status for the volcanic field of Tāmaki Makaurau?

It is good to hear recently  that progress is being made towards putting forward a bid to UNESCO for World Heritage status for the volcanic field of Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). Talks were held with pretty well all of the key stakeholders involved – mana whenua (local Māori people), Auckland Council, Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage, volcanologists and other scientists.


Stonefields of Ihumatao. 56 Ihumatao Quarry Rd, Mangere, Auckland

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July 14, 2013

Fairness and the Myth of Equality

We were interested to read the very expensive advertisements which appeared across New Zealand’s main daily newspapers in recent weeks. These advertisements advocate for constitutional arrangements without regard to the Treaty of Waitangi and the signing of a proposed ‘Declaration of Equality’. Placed by a group calling themselves the ‘Independent Constitutional Review Panel’, they rely on patently false, alarmist and fear-based messaging; claiming recognition of the Treaty in the constitution would “entrench iwi in a position of unassailable racial, legal, cultural and economic superiority over all other New Zealanders” and “forever condemn our country to a future of racial division”.

From the outside, calls for ‘equality’ and ‘one law for all’ may seem fair and reasonable as everyone is treated the same – as in the satirical cartoon below.



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