I didn’t know much about the Treaty of Waitangi

This is a guest post by Aroha Puketapu

As a kotiro Maaori growing up on my papakainga next to the marae, I didn’t know much about the Treaty of Waitangi. 

However,  I did know about our land and how it was confiscated under the Public Works Act. 

I knew that the government confiscated our 100 acres to make way for an Army base. 

I also knew they demolished the old home my fathers’ whanau lived in so they could survey the land it was built on and sell it off to other people.  It was a big whare which is why we used it as our marae for tangi and other hui.  

I didnt know much about the Treaty of Waitangi but I knew that my Koko had to go to Parliament to find a politician to listen to him about our tribe’s landless situation.  This wasnt easy with ten tamariki and seasonal work. 

I didnt know much about the Treaty of Waitangi but I knew that my Koko convinced a few politicians not to ‘pepper pot’ (spread our hapu across the district) our people but to keep us together. 

It seemed to work because the government built thirty-three state homes for our hapu to move into. 

I didnt know much about the Treaty of Waitangi but I knew that for about fourty eight years my parents paid state housing rent to live on their own land in a house the government built after they demolished our original papakainga.

I didn’t know much about the Treaty of Waitangi but I knew my Father advocated the local city council to buy those thirty-three state houses back. 

Then our people had to take out home loans to pay off those homes so we could continue to live in these homes on our own land.  I figured out that my parents have paid for the home they still live in today almost four times over. 

I didnt know much about the Treaty of Waitangi but I knew that the regional council would let the paint and carpet factories down the road release their discharge into the river that ran past our marae. 

I also knew that the city council used our river as the emergency sewerage overflow in times of flooding.

Evidence of this was in the colour and smell of the water on any given day.

Also that we couldnt eat the tuna or fresh water cray that once lived there because they were either no longer good to eat or werent able to live there anymore.

When I went to university I learned about the Treaty of Waitangi and about the thirty three legal breaches by the colonial government.

I learned that these events occured in the mid 1800s.  I also learned how it affected other hapu across Aotearoa.  I learned about the effects on the ownership or our land,  language and families.  

What was taught at university was about the national story,  what I was taught by my father and grandfather was much more. 

They showed me that its important to stand up against injustice, find a way through with people who will listen and understand. 

They showed me that every generation has a specific role to play in the process of ensuring that things are made right and not forgotten or just accepted.  

Te Whiti Orongomai said “What the white man has destroyed the white man will seek to restore’.  

When non-Maaori people ask me what special things I am doing on Waitangi Day I smile and say its just another day for me. 

Then I remind myself that my family has been doing Waitangi Day for the past four generations.  Waitangi Day is everyday when you are Maaori and it should be everyday for every person who call Aotearoa their home.

by Aroha Puketapu (Waitangi Day 2019) 

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

One thought

  1. Thank you for sharing your story Aroha. Really brings home to me how much more needs to be done to honour the Treaty.

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