Mutu doesn't speak for me

JOHN TAMIHERE COLUMN
Last updated 05:00 11/09/2011

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The big story, apart from the only story called the World Cup, this week came about by way of comments from Professor Margaret Mutu out of Auckland University.

She was responding to a Labour Department survey of 1000 people which demonstrated their views on immigration. The survey found that Maori, as a group, were more opposed than any other group to immigration. They further found that the group of immigrants most disliked was Samoan.

Professor Mutu made a number of comments which caused concern.

First, she indicated that we should be careful about the number of European immigrants we allow in, given their racist attitudes. She went on to indicate that unless people had Maori ancestry they could only be guests or manuhiri.

Mutu's world view presents a number of problems. First she is a full-time academic at Auckland University, who, regardless of what she says or writes, will always retain her job due to the protocols surrounding academic freedom. The point here is she has no consequences or adverse impacts from the statements she makes. Regretfully thousands of other Maori, who share their world with others, are often forced to either defend or comment on matters which the Mutus of this world foist on them. They are made uncomfortable and placed in a difficult position through no fault of their own.

Second, no one can tell me that my mother, a Pakeha third-generation Kiwi, is a guest in this country. There is an acknowledged rule throughout the Pacific and in Maori. That rule asserts if you can retain occupation of land for three generations or more, you have rights to assert mana whenua. In effect, you become tangata whenua.

To make out that we have special rights above all others into the future, solely on the basis of ethnic supremacy, is wrong from a Maori cultural perspective.

There is no doubt that Maori have different rights because they are Maori.

For example, most land titles in this country trace back to the original Maori land owners. There are tens of thousands of hectares of land in New Zealand today under Maori Land Court title and managed under Maori custom. Not many people understand this. Further, Maori do have different rights on the basis of the Treaty of Waitangi but these different rights do not allow Maori to become reverse racists.

This is exactly what Professor Mutu is and while she is allowed her views, they are unhelpful and definitely do not represent all Maori.

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