Syd Jackson: In the last 30 years, there have been four or five major protest movements, for want of a better term. One was the nuclear free movement which lead to the formation of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement. There was the anti-apartheid movement which was really strong here. The Vietnam war. And others. In each of these, Maori have played a prominent role. In many instances, we’ve actually been the drive, kaha, the strength in it, because our people know what it is to be disadvantaged. You get into those things. You are able to take a more proactive approach than others might be prepared to take, to help drive a movement forward because in our own issues, in our own development, that’s what we’ve had to do.
Syd Jackson: Yes they are.
To come back to your initial question, for the Maori, the nuclear issue could never be divorced from the independence movement in the Pacific. The two went together. For instance, Tahitians would say, “Well, if we had control of our own country, and not the French, there would never have been nuclear testing in Tahiti”. And the Hawaiians would say a similar thing. People all around the Pacific have said that you can’t divorce the two issues. They go hand in hand.
Māori protest movement
The social reform movements of the 1970s gave rise to the notion that some forms of human behaviour could be described as politically correct, while others were best forsaken as "politically incorrect" or "unsound." What were these behaviours? Essentially, they involved various forms of prejudice and discrimination. In the 1950s and '60s, for example, it was not unheard of for landlords to erect signs saying "No Dogs or Maoris" outside their accommodation.
As a youngster, I recall being told in some North Island towns Maori children were not allowed to sit upstairs at the cinema.
By the 1970s, such blatant forms of discrimination were becoming increasingly unacceptable, especially to young people.
Growing up, they had been moved by the stories coming out of the American south as blacks and whites together fought to end segregation.
When the white South African government demanded Maori be excluded from All Black touring sides or, failing that, be designated "honorary whites," they realised, even in Godzone, there was a fight to be waged against racism.
Now-familiar names like Syd Jackson, Pita Sharples, Atareta Poananga and Hone Harawira reacquainted Pakeha New Zealanders with the injustices of their nation's colonial past and began to demand redress for the wrongs done to their people.