2/10/08

Orpheus Day Disrupted by Anti-Colonisation Activists

thanks to:

http://indymedia.org.nz/newswire/display/74892/index.php

The 9th February saw a disgraceful act of colonial glorification by a deep-rooted racist community of locals and backed by ignorant politicians and do-gooders of the Mangere Bridge community and wider Manukau district. Orpheus Day is an event to commemorate the shipwreck of HMS Orpheus, a military ship that was bound for land confiscation, cultural genocide, treaty breaches and the bloody and tragic invasion of the Waikato. This year anti-colonialist Māori, Pākehā and Tau Iwi activists disrupted this event.
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The 9th February saw a disgraceful act of colonial glorification by a deep-rooted racist community of locals and backed by ignorant politicians and do-gooders of the Mangere Bridge community and wider Manukau district. Orpheus Day is an event to commemorate the shipwreck of HMS Orpheus, a military ship that was bound for land confiscation, cultural genocide, treaty breaches and the bloody and tragic invasion of the Waikato. This year anti-colonialist Māori, Pākehā and Tau Iwi activists disrupted this event.

The ‘festival’ had the aim of getting youth involved to celebrate and commemorate the lives lost in the shipwreck of HMS Orpheus. The ‘festival’ was dismal in turnout and offensively ignorant as expected. Like last year, there was no involvement from the local iwi who have been opposed to this event from the beginning.

Starting with a marching band of a paid bagpipe brigade, followed by a contingent of St Johns youth and the local walking club, protesters made a mockery of the event by leading the march with Tino Rangatiratanga flags and a banner with the slogan- ‘Colonisation: The REAL Tragedy’.

Notable characters such as recently appointed mayor or Manukau, Len Brown, Mayor of Waitakere, Bob Harvey and the benefactor of the cannon on whose property it sits, Wynona Stevens, made inappropriate speeches about the great loss incurred by the sinking, rebutted by hecklings and chants from Maori sovereignty activists and Radical Youth. After speeches, men dressed in colonial military regatta fired their guns and raised a New Zealand flag; people hummed along to the Maori version of the national anthem, follower by a hearty chorus of the English version. The public was then invited to proceed down to the festivities across a knoll, where a baking competition, an all female barbershop cortette and more colonial British military gunfire would barely hold the attention of the 20 or so members of the public who considered today’s event relevant or worthwhile.

Commemoration of the Orpheus also involved the firing of a cannon, situated on a Mangere Bridge resident’s front lawn. The half-scale replica of a traditional colonial cannon was due to be fired at 1:30pm after speeches, but protestors stood in front of the cannon preventing it from being let off until most people had left the ‘festival’. This cannon is a symbol colonial destruction and mass murder.

Those involved the organising of the event alleviated the community action funds of all but the remaining matter of dollars for a fizzer of an event- thousands were given to the group organising who claimed at a community board meeting that the event could not go ahead if the money was not granted- the money then went to paying St John to participate and hiring the marching bagpipe brigade as well as hiring a singing cortette.

Pitched as a youth based event to educate and involve the community, the event itself on the day could not have been further from this; the average age being round the 60 year old mark and those youth who did attend were part of a paid contingent or those protesting against the shameful event. No schools were invited to the event and most of the community did not know it was on. It is unlikely to for the event to continue next year due to the disruption from protestors and the poor turnout from the community.

People in the community were told that local iwi had approved the day and indorsed the celebrations- that was not the case and tangata whenua of the region were and still are offend by the notion of firing a cannon to commemorate the loss of what was essentially, a raiding party, here to steal, kill and destroy.

1 comment:

ell21 said...

unbelievable! Yet so very very beleivable there in. Love your blog.