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The New Mourning - Lost in Contemplation

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Strong show of solidarity against government policies at Waitangi

12 February, 2024

Interview by Jessica Hopkins, adapted by Kate Walker

Action Station Director, Kassie Hartendorp (Ngāti Raukawa) and Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland Law School, Eru Kapa-Kingi (Te Aupōuri, Ngāpuhi, Waikato-Tainui, and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) say the largest turnout at Waitangi in modern history was a significant demonstration of unity behind defending Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa. Image: Waitangi Grounds

Thousands gathered on Waitangi Day to voice their concerns about the new government's proposed policies, including a referendum on the principles of Te Tiriti, making Māori wards go through a referendum process before being established, and getting rid of the Māori Health Authority.

Action Station Director, Kassie Hartendorp (Ngāti Raukawa), told 95bFM’s The Wire that there was a strong show of solidarity by Māori, Pākehā, and tauiwi at Waitangi, for the government to honour Te Tiriti.

“You're seeing people who wouldn't normally take to the streets come out and say this government is going too far.”

“The message being sent is to honour our agreement that we put in place 184 years ago, continue to honour what has already been done and go further, and stop attacks on Māori and Te Tiriti."

Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland Law School, Eru Kapa-Kingi (Te Aupōuri, Ngāpuhi, Waikato-Tainui, and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), told The Wire that the turnout on Waitangi Day was the largest he has ever seen, having attended most of his life. 

Kapa-Kingi says the overwhelming opposition to the government’s policies has been “empowering”.

“It was a display of the strength in numbers of protectors of Te Tiriti o Waitangi."

He believes Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announcing National would not support ACT's Treaty Principles Bill past its first reading is a direct result of the overwhelming support for honouring Te Tiriti as the country's founding document.

He says attempts to delegitimise tino rangatiratanga (Māori sovereignty) put Māori and the country in “a dangerous position.”

“Te Tiriti is the primary document that has mana. It is a document of truth and power. My tūpuna (ancestors) never ceded sovereignty to the British crown.” 

Hartendorp believes some political leaders demonstrated a lack of understanding or consideration for te ao Māori at Waitangi.

“There was either incompetence or open disdain, or actually using aspects of Māori culture and concepts to push a different ideological view.”

She encourages people to think about what they want Aotearoa’s future to look like.

“Is this the leadership that we want and deserve? Not just for us, but the people after us too?”

“There's this huge movement of people who believe in Te Tiriti o Waitangi; who believe in the importance of it, who don't want to go back into the past, who want to move forward.”

Listen to the full interview with Kassie Hartendorp

Listen to the full interview with Eru Kapa-Kingi

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air