Tau Henare is a crack up. Sitting pretty in the blue party, our Nga Puhi boy says he has little time for the idea of the Maori flag flying from the bridge this Waitangi Day. He reckons Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is pushing the idea as a publicity stunt.
I found a speech of Henare's online when he was courting votes for Mauri Pacific. He said:
"The Government doesn't need to help Pakeha culture. It practically is Pakeha culture. But it does need to ensure the survival of Maori as a vibrant, modern culture here in its homeland. Naturally, the Treaty also tells us how to do this, through the protection of rangatiratanga."
The protection of Rangatiratanga? Flying two flags to represent the two peoples who signed the founding document of this land is surely protecting the rangatiratanga of Maori, isn't it?
Oh how time changes opinions, particularly when you're a politician. Tau Henare is now in Government , the one to which he once referred to as "practically pakeha". He's kept company by his tuahine, Georgina Te Heuheu who says she's not sure the flag actually represents Maori.
Has she forgotten the tens of thousands that marched behind and under it in the 2004 Hikoi to Parliament. I was there with my children, my Pakeha mum and the Tino flag flying above our heads, no one was complaining that day. In fact Georgina was one of those MPs welcoming and kissing iwi as they arrived holding their flags.
If it isn't the original or traditional flag it certainly is the one most New Zealanders identify with as being Maori. So with almost every other country's flag having had their moment flying above our Harbour Bridge, will Tangata Whenua get their chance? It'll be a first as will it be the new Prime Minister's first brown challenge when he arrives back from Hawaii this week.
I'll leave you with more from Henare's 1998 speech.
"It is a basic right of every culture to survive and flourish in its homeland. It is necessary to secure that right and put it beyond question, otherwise people will fight for it, as they are doing all round the world at this very moment. In New Zealand that right is enshrined in the concept of bi-culturalism which is inseparable from the Treaty. If bi-culturalism goes, so will the Treaty".
Kia ora bro , oh sorry , I mean Tau! What a lovely sentiment to remind us of Waitangi Day..
Nga mihi o te wa ki a tatou katoa hei tenei rangi whakahirahira e tuu mai nei.
Maori flag on bridge call a stunt - Henare
New Zealand Herald, New Zealand -
11 Jan 2009