Ae Marika 6 November Hone HarawiraPosted on November 5, 2012 by admin in Ae Marika
I spent the last week over in Aussie with the Maori Affairs Select Committee, and what a trip … I’ve been on three parliamentary trips over the years, and this is the first one that I saw through from start to finish.
The first time was when I went to Australia with the Justice and Electoral Select Committee and cut loose to go see what life was really like for Aboriginal people in Alice Springs, after calling Australian Prime Minister John Howard “a racist bastard” for his Northern Territory Intervention Plan. I’m glad I went. It got heaps of media attention focused on the plight of Aboriginal people.
The second time was when I slipped away from a parliamentary visit to Brussels to spend a day with my wife in Paris, after clearing it with the chairperson of the committee we would be meeting with the next day.
This time however, instead of skippin’ off to Alice Springs by myself I persuaded my colleagues that Alice was a worthwhile destination so we all went.
Before we got there though we stopped off in Sydney to meet an Aboriginal academic who gave us some good stats on poverty and suicide that very much mirror what Maori people are going through right now, and we also got to spend time with Les Malezer of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
We also visited a real special place, the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence – a $50 million sports and educational centre in Redfern which reminded me of what they’re doing up at Te Rangi Aniwaniwa. The Centre has a basketball court, an indoor heated swimming pool and educational facilities just like Niwa, but it also has accommodation for visiting groups and world class cardio and weight training facilities (which they’re still workin’ on getting at Niwa). Even the name of the Centre (Indigenous Excellence) has an eerie similarity with the focal point of Aniwaniwa’s vision, where they promote the view that excellence is normal.
Anyway, we saw some real possibilities there and I hope we can arrange for key people from around the country to get across to Redfern to talk to them about what they’re doing and how we might replicate it here.
Then down to Canberra where we did the rounds with politicians and officials telling us what a great job they’re doing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders … yeah right.
My highlights from the capital were catching up with people I’d met when I was over there for ‘Sorry Day’ in 2008 when Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised for the racism that Aboriginals had had to endure over the past couple of centuries; sneaking off to visit the Aboriginal Tent Embassy which has been parked out front of the old parliament for the last 30 years; meeting diplomats from all round the world who told me they were coming to Waitangi next year!?!; and meeting a state senator who was honest enough to say that when she visited the Town Camps in Alice Springs it had made her “feel ashamed to be Australian”.
And as for Alice … well, that was a trip worthy of its own article … watch this space next week.
AE MARIKA is an article written every week by Hone Harawira, leader of the MANA Movement and Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau. You are welcome to use any of the comments and to ascribe them to Mr Harawira. The full range of Hone’s articles can be found on the MANA website at www.mana.net.nz.