Waitangi Day

Last updated 05:00 08/02/2013

Another Waitangi Day has come and gone and yet again most of the mainstream media has performed abysmally.

That of course is apart from John Tamihere and me who presented a three-hour show on Radio Live and Hugh Barlow from National Radio who produced an excellent two-hour show on the day with no mention of Titewhai Harawira.

The obsession that the media has with Titewhai particularly around Waitangi Day borders on unhealthy.

You would think there was nothing else happening at Waitangi given the over-the-top coverage of who would escort Prime Minister John Key on to the marae.

While I wouldn't exactly describe Titewhai as a "gentle old lady", which was how Mr Key described her, I certainly wouldn't vilify her the way that mainstream media does.

Titewhai is no angel and she and I have had our disagreements over the years but she is person who deserves much more credit for the contribution she has made in advancing the Maori cause.

At 81 she is still as sharp as she was 20 years ago.

She continues to take no prisoners when she criticises people - whether they be Pakeha or Maori. Her acidic tongue is legendary.

She abhors racism and the way Maori have been treated historically in this country and refuses to accept the way some Maori men treat their women.

She has been a huge critic of the treatment of Maori women on her marae and this was some of the background to what was happening this year.

The fight about who was going to escort the prime minister wasn't just some sort of catfight or granny fight as mainstream media would have had you believe.

It was about shutting down Titewhai who has exposed, and continues to threaten to expose, the sexism and abuse of some of the men on her marae.

There is still resentment towards her because she stopped Labour leader Helen Clark from speaking on the marae in 1998.

Titewhai's view was Maori women aren't allowed to talk so why should a Pakeha woman be given priority over them?

That makes perfect sense to me but she was condemned by mainstream media and the public.

However she received huge support from Maori women and leaders like Tariana Turia who at the time was a Labour MP.

The anger to that stand from Titewhai is still evident and it's a shame that the media were too useless to give some context and background to what was really happening this year.

That aside, I thought it was a wonderful day.

There were 30,000 people at Waitangi for the occasion and more and more are starting to celebrate around the country.

That will get even better once our lazy media picks up its game.

- Manukau Courier

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