Forty years ago a courageous group led by the late Dame Whina Cooper started
Forty years ago a courageous group led by the late Dame Whina Cooper started the Māori Land March to Parliament. While the continuing alienation of Māori land was the rallying call, it was the catalyst for greater recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and a resurgence of Māori culture, language and identity.
Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says, “The Māori Land March changed our nation forever. It was a peaceful and powerful statement about the injustices Māori had suffered and our will to see those injustices resolved.”
“It is impossible to imagine how different our country would be without the peaceful activism of Māori who have fought to have the Treaty of Waitangi recognised and our taonga, like land and our language, protected. The Treaty also affirms our rights to be treated as equal citizens.”
Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox says, “No change happens without struggle and the Māori leaders since the 1970s have shown us how to effect change with dignity and determination.”
“While we have made great strides and thousands of people have dedicated their lives fighting for a brighter future, the hīkoi continues.”
Today is also the anniversary of when the Māori Language petition was presented to Parliament in 1972. This led to the Māori Language Claim, the legal recognition of te reo Māori as an official language of this country and the establishment of Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori.
Mrs Fox says “the Māori Party continues to fight for Māori in the political arena including ensuring the protection and flourishing of Māori land and language.”
As Māori Development Minister, Mr Flavell is leading the reform of the Ture Whenua Act which will protect the ownership of multiplied-owned land while giving the owners a greater ability to manage their land as they see fit. The advocacy from Māori to change this legislation stems from the Māori Land March in 1975.
Mr Flavell will also lead the Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill through Parliament this year which will see iwi and Māori have greater control over the national Māori Language Strategy and its implementation.
“The best way we can honour those who marched in 1975 is to continue fulfilling their vision,” says Mr Flavell.
“The opportunities for Māori to lead full lives, both as Māori people and citizens, have increased dramatically over the last forty years but there is still much work to be done.”