Thursday, April 22, 2010

Declaration of Indigenous Rights

It's in the news - NZ is signing up to it at last. It will be interesting to see what the ramifications are. You can read it online here.

Sandra has encouraged me to give my thoughts on the big picture relationship between industrialisation/capitalism and colonisation, and I feel a bit daunted, but the starting point is: Everything the majority of people who live here today take for granted is built on the colonisation and dispossession of the first people here.

As Pakeha we only live here today, and live the lifestyles we do, because our forebears flooded into the country and took it over, using military might and, above all, sheer force of numbers to push the existing people here off their land.

Then lots of our forbears got richer than they ever could have done back in their own countries. They got rich because they now had plenty of cheap land to use that they had pushed other people off.

And if we feel that was all in the past (all of 150 years ago or so), we could remind ourselves that lots of us are still prospering, relatively speaking, living on that land that was taken.

At the same time, many of those who were alienated from their land have not been prospering - partly because without land they didn't have the means. Their community economies as well as their self-reliance were taken.

I suggested to someone at Puke Ariki that for some Maori it has been like a 150-year recession/depression. He agreed.

That's my first point. I'll add to it over the next few weeks, point by point, and maybe with a bit of luck it will hang together semi-coherently by the end of it!