So far almost every entry of my blog has praised the amazing landscapes of New Zealand, the warm and inviting qualities of their people or their incredible Maori culture, but nothing is perfect and New Zealand is not the exception. In fact, this country has seen its fair share of injustice, particularily the nation’s Maori population. It all started in 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, which resulted in the English Crown taking ownership of what had traditionally been Maori land.
|Painting of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Source: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/artwork/3678/signing-the-treaty-of-waitangi|
A few decades later the Public Works Act was instituted by the British Government, enabling the Crown to take whichever land they chose from the Maori, to develop it, build on it, etc. Of course the Maori tribes did not take the hit quitely, and many wars and protests took place throughout the end of the 19th century. Although the wars and battles themselves were won by the English, Maori resistance to the Crown’s despotic ways didn’t cease to take place, however, the indigenous groups began mixing into what is now contemporary New Zealand society.
|Poster of protest. Unknown author.|
As much as integration happened, Maori dissatisfaction with the country’s government and the English Crown was increased when in 1977 they attempted to take the land located in Bastion Point (Auckland) to develop it furthe under the Public Works Act. The location had always been considered Maori land and held particular espirtitual importance due to the fact that a marae stood in the area.
The government went ahead with its plans and the Maori protesters were mobilized to the area, causing a 507 day peaceful occupation of Bastion Point. However, in May 1978, New Zealand police officers and army members forcefully evicted the protesters and proceded to destroy the buildings of the area as well as the crops the Maori had planted there.
This clash between the indigenous community of New Zealand and the country’s authorities came in a decade that had already been plagued by Maori activism and inconformity, which resulted in the government returning Bastion Point to its rightful owners in the 80’s. The latter might seem like a step in the right direction and in all honesty it probably was, nevertheless, there are many demands on the side of the Maori that have gone unanswered for many years, even centuries now. At the same time, the Maori population keeps integratiing into urban life in New Zealand more and more, and I cannot help but wonder if this will mean they will slowly stop raising their voices against what they believe to be an injustice.