I have decided to keep the tino rangatiratanga flag on my blog. I put it up in response to this call. I thought I should write a little bit more about why I put it there and what I mean by it.
Article two of the treaty guarantees Maori tino rangatiratanga over their lands, villages, and all their property and treasures (that translation is from nzhistory.net. Obviously this clause has been broken many, many times, but it is in the treaty. The claim for tino rangatiratanga is not a radical claim, but a most basic one.
All too often discussion of the treaty of waitangi gives this document an almost mystical status. There are references to the principles of the treaty of waitangi, or it is referred to as a living document.
I think this is bollocks. The treaty of Waitangi is a historical document, written by actual people in a particular historical time and place. They were not all knowing and had agendas of their own. They were unable or unwilling to even translate what they had written in English accurately into Maori.
This time last year Reading the Maps reproduced a Communist Workers Group leaflet the treaty is a fraud:
The question is, why on earth does the left need a piece of paper to tell us that Maori are an oppressed and dispossessed people? If the Treaty did not exist, would we not champion Maori land rights? Do we ignore the right to self-determination of the Aborigine peoples, because they never signed a treaty?I agree with this analysis - anti-capitalists, anti-colonialists, must reject the legitimacy of any action by the British government in the 1800 - whether it's taking a country by force or signing (and breaking) a treaty.
The CWG seem to be implying that this must mean that Maori should not organise around treaty grievances. I don't think that follows - I think powerless people can claim their rights under the current legal system, even if they're are entitled to much more. But even if I did agree in principle, the most basic right to self-determination is the right to determine your struggle. It is not up to me, the CWG, or any other Pakeha to direct the Maori movement for self-determination.
So when I fly the flag of tino rangatiratanga, it is not becuase I think the treaty of waitangi, a document written by colonisers, define Maori rights in this land, but because I see them as the most basic of rights that Maori hold.