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Maori Activists Use Radical Protest To Dismantle Colonial Narratives

On Dec. 11, 2023, members of the protest group Te Waka Hourua defaced the English part of “The Treaty of Waitangi: Signs of a Nation” exhibit at Te Papa Tongarewa, or the Museum of New Zealand, with power tools and spray paint. The exhibit introduces museum visitors to the Treaty of Waitangi, Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding constitutional document, via two large sets of wooden panels which present the Māori and English texts of the treaty. The protesters argued that Te Papa Tongarewa, commonly known as “Te Papa,” had not sufficiently highlighted the differences between the English and Māori texts and their unequal legal status, instead representing them as accurate translations of each other that had equal status in law.

How New Zealand’s Maori Are Reclaiming Land With Occupations

Two years ago, a small pocket of land three kilometres from Auckland’s international airport became the most prominent site of a struggle by Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, to reclaim land confiscated by the crown more than 150 years ago. Ihumātao contains evidence of New Zealand’s first commercial gardens, where thousands of hectares were planted with kumara, a tropical sweet potato which thrived in the warm and nutritious soil. The adjacent stonefields, today a category one Unesco heritage site, are rich with ancient nurseries and storage pits. When William Hobson, then-governor of New Zealand, founded Auckland in 1840, the produce of Ihumātao sustained the growing population.

An Indigenous Māori View Of Doughnut Economics

Working in sustainability, one understands that context is key. When we fail to identify or understand the nuanced, complex, systemic and local context of a situation, the best-intentioned solutions simply won’t solve society’s most pressing problems. The first economic model I came across which offered an effective, modern context for our planet was the doughnut, developed by acclaimed economist and author, Kate Raworth. To inform the local context for sustainability, I felt New Zealand needed a doughnut of its own. I have been to too many meetings held to discuss issues affecting minority groups (Māori, Pasifika, women, children) without them at the table.
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