NZ has unresolved race issues! OMG WHO KNEW?

Soooooooooo Hone Harawira.  Here’s a Stuff link which vaguely outlines the situation for any non-Kiwi readers, as I can’t imagine there’s a New Zealander with access to the Internet who hasn’t heard about this.

First recommendation: rocky’s two excellent posts at The Standard on the wider foreshore/seabed issue, and ta, rocky, for the link to NZ History Online’s map showing Maori land loss to the present day.  That was a nice sobering hit for a Wednesday evening.

First thought: gee, I wonder if that’s the kind of thing a person, whose ethnic group remains at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and whose language is apparently so terrifying to the ear that non-Maori will just die if they’re forced to find the mute button hear it, might just be a little pissed off about?  (And see Zetetic’s comment below – of course not!  Nothing to be angry about here!  Just a little diversion from that thing Harawira was totally unapologetic about!)

Second recommendation: the sprout’s post, also at The Standard, on why no, Harawira didn’t actually advocate violence and why yes, this is all just a bunch of privileged white wankers* summoning the spectre of Scary Brown People Who Will Climb In The Windows Of Other New Zealanders At Night**.

Third recommendation: Play bingo with any discussion of this story against the classic Wite-Magik Attax.  It may help, but probably not.

And now, my own little bugbear.

It cropped up in another post at The Standard (and bugger me if this story hasn’t conclusively established that There Is No Official Party Line among their contributors), this time by Zetetic:

Single-handedly, Harawira has brought racial division back to the fore in this country. For no good reason. Just to try to cover his arse for screwing around in Paris when he was meant to be working.

It’s everyone’s favourite, the “you’ve set race relations back [x] years!!!” line.

And it’s utter, utter bullshit – and simultaneously completely true.

If Hone Harawira’s comments in a private email have set race relations back [x] years, that’s only for one very simple reason:  because for [x] years, a significant proportion of the NZ population – white m@$%&#f#*@ers, if one may borrow the term – have been happily pretending that race isn’t an issue in New Zealand.

We – and I include myself, as a white, middle-class woman who has never actually had to learn about our country’s history in-depth, who knows only picture-book level facts about the Treaty, who doesn’t have to deal in any way with the consequences of the colonization of New Zealand by Europeans – have been able, for a long time, to act like NZ is a happy multicultural paradise of tolerance and understanding.***

We’ve been fucking insufferable, in fact.  Story about the Australian government treating refugees like they’re carrying bubonic plague?  Oh, we in New Zealand would never do something like that.  United States’ history of slavery?  New Zealanders never owned slaves.  Stolen Generation?  Haha, we are so smug.  We even gave our brown savages a Treaty, for Christ’s sake.  Not that we can tell you what’s in it or anything, but still, marvel at our enlightenment you shabby fellow-colonizers.

And every symptom of our own issues is cheerfully written off as A Few Bad Eggs/Some Extremists/Troublemakers/Haters and Wreckers.****  Someone insults a rich white politician at Waitangi?  Young idiots.  A golf course gets occupied?  Vandals, can’t they see we’re playing, here?  The Geographic Board points out that Wanganui is actually spelled wrongly, and they would kind of know, being the Geographic Board and all?  Come on, everyone spells it that way, we can’t change just because someone’s actual language and culture and history is being shat on by a misprint.

And then someone gets elected (oh no!  We might have to accord them some space to have their voice heard!) and [in a private bloody email] says “You know what?  White people stole land from Maori as recently as the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and that pisses me right off.”

And holy Jesus we can’t be having that.  How dare he bring up historic fact!  How dare he question our faith in a fictional Queen’s Chain and Aren’t The Beaches For All New Zealanders?*****  How dare he, as we’re heading into freaking Christmas, make us think about serious issues with our own history and race relations and not in a way that makes us out to be the Great White Multicultural Hope of the Southern Hemisphere?

Well, I hope you’re happy, Harawira.  You have made white women cry this day.

*Can’t be racist, obvs, I *am* white.

**It’s Not Just Maori.

***The rhetoric that emerged around the prostitution law reform and civil unions issues helped shake that up.

****Oh, Helen.  No.

*****They want our beaches and our rugby.  Public Enemy No. 1!