Uawa encounter worthy of celebration
The furore that has surrounded Tina Ngata’s provocative statements in New York is not all bad.
I am pleased that a number of central and local government initiatives have been exposed as nothing more than opportunities for distorted views to be promoted as fact.
The double standard that has been applied by our governing authorities when assessing Tina’s comments compared to those used to evaluate Dr Don Brash’s lectures is obvious.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if our Government had recommended Ms Ngata for a Nobel peace prize, if it hadn’t been for the timely intervention of Dame Anne Salmond to put the record straight.
However, this debate could overlook the real reason for concern regarding the planning for commemorations of the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s first visit to these shores in October, 1769.
Readers will note my earlier unsuccessful attempts to get answers on the degree of balance with the story-telling likely to be on display during the weeks we host the world.
After silence in response to my questions, we must assume that the presentations will be heavily biased towards the retelling of Cook’s disastrous first encounters with Turanga iwi groups.
If that is all we will be saying about Cook’s visit then maybe there is no reason for celebration.
But are we not kaitiaki of our complete heritage, with responsibilities to not only recount the truth about the less savoury incidents but to also tell the stories of the very positive aspects of that important time in our journey to nationhood?
What is wrong with enthusiastically recounting the positive experiences of the Endeavour’s week-long stay at Uawa with Hauiti iwi? This must surely have influenced the attitudes of tangata whenua and Cook’s crew towards one another — in contrast to the events that took place in Turanganui-a-Kiwa a week or so before.
We need to acknowledge all these encounters for what they were but in doing so, we shouldn’t be afraid to say that a good proportion of the visit was indeed worthy of celebration — and we should use the forthcoming opportunity to promote it as such.