As I expected (and predicted) the hikoi protesting against the MCA bill is off to an underwhelming start. This is hardly unexpected given Maori concern is primarily focussed on the cost of living and the like. There is really an inherent intangibility in the notion of mana whenua. Some Maori, mainly urban Maori disconnected from their culture, find it difficult to capture and hold any depth of feeling towards such an issue. This is disappointing yet entirely understandable. To some extent Maori values, such as mana whenua, are a result of cultural conditioning as opposed to some sort of genetic hardwiring. With this is mind it is understandable that the hikoi is off to a slow start in Auckland.
Having said that it is reasonable to expect to see an increase in numbers as the hikoi passes through coastal rohe where tino rangatiratanga is strong. I do not expect the hikoi to surpass, in terms of size, the hikoi of 2004. I do expect to see a large increase in numbers though.
One would think that given the huge rate of Maori unemployment, stagnant wages, the rise in GST and tax cuts for the rich that Maori would be hitting the streets in their tens of thousands. Though as we can see this is not occurring. I think this is not occurring because the MCA bill is the wrong issue. As I said many Maori find it hard to connect with the issue, but more importantly most Maori who protested against the Foreshore and Seabed confiscation of 2004 are now members of the Maori Party. This is their bill so naturally they are not going to oppose it.
I look forward to meeting the hikoi in Wellington and I can’t wait to see the Maori Party, and Labour for that matter, react to it. Something tells me the Greens will be the only ones who show up on the day.
As an aside Tim Selwyn has done some outstanding work re the MCA bill. See Tumeke.