In my very first blog post for the CORE Pasifika Blog, I talked about being “Pasifika in Parihaka” and how Parihaka was an awe-inspiring place to be in, considering Pasifika peoples were not in Aotearoa at the time of the great prophets Te Whiti and Tohu.
This feeling of “not being here” prompted my thinking around the place of Pasifika in Aotearoa, in specific reference to how Pasifika people can place themselves in the bi-cultural relationship, honouring their Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations in Aotearoa.
Te Ara The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand defines the tiriti principles as follows:
- The treaty set up a partnership, and the partners have a duty to act reasonably and in good faith.
- The Crown has freedom to govern.
- The Crown has a duty to actively protect Māori interests.
- The Crown has a duty to remedy past breaches.
- Māori retain rangatiratanga over their resources and taonga and have all the rights and privileges of citizenship.
- The Crown has a duty to consult with Māori.
- The needs of both Māori and the wider community must be met, which will require compromise.
- The Crown cannot avoid its obligations under the treaty by conferring authority on some other body.
- The treaty can be adapted to meet new circumstances.
- Tino rangatiratanga includes management of resources and other taonga according to Māori culture.
- Taonga include all valued resources and intangible cultural assets.
From a Pasifika perspective, I can say that it is extremely important and hugely critical for us to support and acknowledge the importance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a living and breathing document. The reason for this is because, for those of us who are born in Aotearoa, it ties us to the land of our birth alongside the lands of our heritages.
My personal definition of Pākeha in relation to Māori in this unique bi-cultural relationship has changed. It is reflective of the third-to-last principle named above:
The treaty can be adapted to meet new circumstances.
I am not advocating changing the treaty — in fact I am advocating that people need to understand that the definition of Pākeha in our interpretation of the Treaty — should change.
The definition of Pākeha should include the notion that anybody who is non-Māori, who does not identify as Māori — but are migrants or descendants of migrants to Aotearoa — are collectively known as Pākeha.
We can’t celebrate the multi-cultural and diverse identities within Aotearoa if we are not able to honour our Tiriti o Waitangi obligations.
My question to you is: If you read the Tiriti principles above, which of these do you honour in your daily life? In your work? And, if you are a teacher, how do you model these principles to the young people in your classrooms?