I can't celebrate colonisation. There are no benefits from that process. The chiefs who signed the treaty did so as superiors, they were tricked and lied to - there is no doubt of that when you read how the treaty was signed. The treaty was designed to get the land.
But we are here.
This country didn't start in 1840.
Our waka is filled with many peoples who have come here to live, to love and to die - but it is a waka.
Te ao maori is inclusive, no one is excluded.
The foundation must be set correctly otherwise a crooked structure is built. New Zealand is a crooked structure and we have to set the foundations again. Resetting the foundations involves accepting the truth of colonisation, accepting and celebrating that maori are indigenous, accepting that maori have the right to self determination - the right to follow their kaupapa, the right to be maori.
When the foundations are reset we will find that our country will be such a better place - for all peoples.
Five actions we can take to help reset the foundations:
1. Visit marae and listen and learn. Marae are everywhere and they are very welcoming places. Do not be afraid - you will be welcome.
2. Learn our local histories. Everywhere there are heroes, there are legends, there are lessons. as an example I was chatting to a recent immigrant from scotland the other day - I talked about this area and the activities that occured here. The legends of what happened between major figures of my iwi and what the various actions meant (within my very limited understanding) and this person was interested. The places i mentioned he had visited and all of a sudden there was context and more understanding. We must do more of this with all people who live here - especially those that have been here for 2 or 3 generations.
3. Pronounce te reo correctly especially when it concerns placenames. The other day i heard a ex-nz-ambassador on the radio completely mangling Motueka. This was a person who supposedly represented this country overseas and yet they could not even pronounce that word correctly - there is no excuse for this, but we all have done it and i have been corrected more than once for mucking it up. Start with your local area and expand outwards.
4. Treat people with respect. The negative effects of colonisation are intergenerational, manifold and deep. It is easy to make glib comments and sweep over the hurt that people may be feeling. Get over it - is not an appropriate response - if someone has talked about their feelings then you have been priviledged and that is an honour - respect that and you are also respecting yourself.
5. Cut people some slack. The media loves drama and controversy - it sells. Don't buy into everything you read - give people the benefit of the doubt. There is an old saying about treating people the way that you would like to be treated - but that is incorrect - treat people the way that they want to be treated - if unsure just ask.
I'm not trying to be sanctimonious - i too am always trying to be better and to improve - that never stops.