Column – Mana Party
Last week I wrote about the arrogance and the racism of the Far North District Council. A Council “communications adviser” challenged my claims. So here’s what actually happened. Our Kura was in a dispute with the Council over some petty little rules …Ae Marika! Hone Harawira column 4 October 2011
A column published in the Northland Age
By Hone Harawira
MP for Tai Tokerau
To comment on this column please go to my website www.mana.net.nz
Last week I wrote about the arrogance and the racism of the Far North District Council. A Council “communications adviser” challenged my claims. So here’s what actually happened.
Our Kura was in a dispute with the Council over some petty little rules about building up at the airport. I know they were petty, because everything we wanted to do we eventually did anyway – it just cost us a lot more money and held us up a couple of years.
Anyway, during this long-running battle Council sent in this big, white South African guy with an attitude right out of the apartheid area, and this chap used to repeatedly make snide remarks about “darkies” and “niggers in the woodpile” to describe the difficulties he was having in getting his point of view through to us.
We didn’t bother to complain though for a couple of reasons (1) we were too busy trying to get our gym built to worry about the racist jerks being sent up from Council, and (2) you can tell from Council’s letter last week, how likely they are to respond positively to a Maori point of view. Racism? Definitely.
Oh yeah, and one other thing. Apparently our poor little old Maori school has been paying the Council $16,000 a year for a tiny little corner of the property while they’ve been paying $1 a year for the whole place!
Mind you, that might not be racism at all – it might just be that they’re a pack of nasty, mean-spirited, money-grabbers who are happy to take heaps of money from the tenant while paying nothing themselves to the landlord.
ANYWAY … just to show how keen we are to let bygones be bygones, the Board is still keen to host Council and the iwi at Aniwaniwa to discuss a more positive future for the airport and for the Maori / Council relationships in the far north. Don’t be shy. Don’t be mean. Be open-minded like the iwi are. It just might help.
And on another matter – I’ve had quite a bit of feedback on an article I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a family down on their luck and copping flak for daring to be poor.
A couple of comments came from ex WINZ staff who told me how they were expected to fit people into boxes and to treat them like units. It reminded me of one woman who used to break those rules all the time.
One whanau told me how their sister came into Kaitaia from way out of town for an appointment to get a special needs grant, only to be told that the appointment had been changed and she’d have to come back another day. Well, the poor lady had no money for kai for the house and not even enough money to pay for gas to get home. She was in tears, but everybody seemed to be too busy to help.
Anyway this woman working there couldn’t believe what a cold-hearted place her department had become so you know what she did? She gave this lady some of her own money for kai and for gas and told her to pay her back next time she came to town.
She displayed the kind of humanity and respect that all government staff who have a responsibility to work with our people should show, and she did it many, many times.
I can’t tell you her name because the department might still want to press charges, but if you ever buy a world-famous ice-cream from the shop in Te Kao, please don’t tell them about this – ‘cause Bonny will kill me!!!
And that lady she gave the money to? She paid it back the very next week.