Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

11 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Whakapara - Maori protest

This roadside shed was at Whakapara in Northland. In 1987, when I did this sketch, New Zealand was going through yet another period of Maori dissatisfaction as a result of the failure of a tribunal properly to reconcile perceived Waitangi Treaty grievances. Many Maori activists in the 1980s stopped asking for the founding treaty to be honoured and instead argued that it was a fraudulent document. They argued that Maori had been tricked in 1840 by the British and that consequently the New Zealand government had no right to sovereignty over the country.

This all came over 140 years after the signing of the treaty, at a time when Maori constituted about 12% of the New Zealand population. Many citizens wondered what Maori would do if they became an elite sovereign class - kick out all the descendents of the colonists, and return to the Stone Age?

As a result of anger on the part of the protesting minority, graffiti appeared on many public (and in this case, private) buildings and it was hard to decide whether they were justified as signs of anger or just plain vandalism.


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By Don Donovan