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Hikoi/March In Auckland

category aotearoa / pacific islands | indigenous struggles | news report author Tuesday June 09, 2009 15:28author by Barrie (AWSM- Private Capacity) - AWSM Report this post to the editors

On 25th May over 7,000 predominantly Maori marchers took part in a well organised and boisterous hikoi/march on the streets of Auckland, Aotearoa. The protest opposed government plans to amalgamate existing multiple local councils into a single ‘Super-City’ administration without allocated representation for Tangata Whenua/indigenous people.

HIKOI

On 25th May over 7,000 predominantly Maori marchers took part in a well organised and boisterous hikoi/march on the streets of Auckland, Aotearoa. The protest opposed government plans to amalgamate existing multiple local councils into a single ‘Super-City’ administration without allocated representation for Tangata Whenua/indigenous people.

The hikoi saw four separate streams of people converge and march along Queen Street in the heart of the CBD in a single torrent behind a lead banner saying ‘No Super City Without Us’. This slogan and subsequent speeches at the end of the march from the likes of Minister for Maori Affairs, Dr Pita Sharples gave the impression that since the Super City is a done deal, Maori should try to get what they can from it and that this will amount to something. While Sharples received audible support for his hope that he could influence the government, it seemed he was lamely trying to justify the compromises his Maori Party have already made since joining in a ruling coalition with the centre-right National Party. In addition his speech unintentionally underlined the fact that while the tail is wagging the dog, that tail is white, not brown. The real authority lies with Rodney Hide, the Minister for Local Government who represents the ultra free-marketeers of ACT, a minor party also in the coalition. Hide has made it very clear he and his cronies view Maori representation as the unjustified ‘special pleading’ of a minority, rather than signifying recognition of indigenous status for Maori. Even if some tagged representation was forthcoming, it is by no means obvious that working class Maori would see any great benefits from it. While the Maori elite might manage a few scraps for themselves in such a situation, the imposition of a business model and greater unelected influence on the council by businesses means the structure of things would rule out real gains at the bottom anyway.

Fortunately despite the lead banner, there was a cross section of people on the hikoi with contrary views. These included working-class Maori, members of the various Pacific Island communities (who are a significant proportion of the citys population), Pakeha/Europeans and others opposed to the Super City in itself. It is through the building of such cross-community coalitions and actions that any genuine improvements will be found in the future. In the meantime, the struggle for real democracy continues.

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