Do we Need Noho Marae Treaty of Waitangi Educational Programmes in New Zealand?
A Success story of Noho Marae in Action by Belinda Bonzon Liu:
ARTICLE: 23 September 2016
"The first day we arrived in Wellington from California to start my husband's job at Victoria University of Wellington, I suggested that we knock on the Maori Department's door and introduce ourselves. We were very happy to be warmly received by Teripowai Higgins and the people at the department. They invited us to go to a powhiri the next day and meet more people. In a few weeks, we were welcomed to Ruatoki. We were so thrilled that we were welcomed into the community. They took us up to Te Urewera on horse back and we stayed in the camps all along the river.
I also adopted a Maori Pig dog. We met Tame Iti, Tamati Kruger, and all their relations up and down the river. I helped to cook fry bread for a tangi, and listened to the history of New Zealand from their eyes. As I listened to them, I learned their struggles, and listened to the spirit of the people and their connection to the land. In America, we had attended pow wows, went to the reservations, made friends and travelled in their lands. With this connection we already had with the Navajo people, it was only natural that we sought connection with the First Nations of New Zealand as well.
The both of us being in psychology, we were interested in their stories and were curious to learn more of their culture and relationship with the land. We found ourselves frequently going back to Ruatoki through the years. My husband found ways to help Maori students succeed in the Psychology department at Victoria University through his work. Our friendships didn't end with the Tuhoe iwi, we also extended our connections to other Maori people from different iwi. Knowing the history of the people, being aware of the interconnectedness of land and people brings respect and love. It was the willingness to put ourselves into a situation of friendship that begets friendship. We wanted to support them in any way we could - from giving students pep talks, finding funding for them to attend First Nation Conferences, to supporting our friend in Parihaka, Maata Wharehoka, with her work towards establishing Parihaka Peace Day as a national holiday symbolizing peace. This support was mutual - Maata and I have a shared agenda for peace, so she has supported me through the years in my peace work.
Life is richer and more meaningful when we understand the history, the connections, the spirit and the culture of the First Nations. We live in a world where we are all connected and opening yourself to understanding and sharing their world and vice verse is what good relations are about. All it takes sometimes is just a knock at their door to open a whole new world."
2016 Ethnic Engagement Summits:
Belinda’s story provides answer to the question raised earlier and also at the Ethnic Communities Engagement Summit where about 160 from diverse backgrounds met together at Auckland University of Technology and Victoria University Wellington on 30 April and 28 May, 2016 respectively. The summits were organised in collaboration with MNZ, Hui E!, Auckland Ethnic People Panel, Migrant Action Trust, English Language Partners NZ, CACR – VUW, Change Makers Forum and AUT.
Participants at both summits had very frank discussion and debate on same three issues:
- How do Ethnic communities relate to Tangata Whenua and the Treaty of Waitangi?
- How do Ethnic communities relate to one another?
- How do Ethnic communities relate to the media?
At the end of the discussion, we had “Where from here” workshop session and the findings and collaboration from this exercise informed the need to progress these key issues:
- How to promote ways in which the Treaty can be made meaningful to communities in an effort to give newcomers an insight into the history of Tangata Whenua and to foster an understanding of the respective values, beliefs, and cultures of Maori through orientation programmes.
- How can we develop and strengthen relationship not only amongst Ethnic communities but between Tanagta Whenua and Ethnic, Migrant and Refugee communities by respecting and understanding the essential obligation Maori have to offer hospitality and manaki to everyone who comes to their land?