Where the bloody hell are ya!? Evictions of aboriginal communities and the silence of Māori living in Australia

In September 2011, the 10 remaining residents of Oombulgurri were forcibly evicted. They had just two days notice and were allowed only one box of belongings each. They had to leave behind cars, whiteware, tools and other personal possessions. They had protested up to the last. They had protested when  the government closed the shop, so people could not buy food and essentials. They had protested when the government closed the clinic, so the sick and the elderly had to move. They had protested when the government closed the school, so families with children had to leave, or face having their children taken away from them. They had even protested when the government closed the police station. Finally, their electricity and water were turned off. By then, of the 150 residents who had lived in Oombulgurri, only 10 remained.

Oombulgurri has seven sacred sites, a cemetery and ceremonial locations, and it sits on the banks of the Forrest River in the eastern Kimberley, Western Australia. In modern history, Oombulgurri was the site of the Forrest River Massacre in 1926, a disputed account of the killings of Balanggarra people in revenge for the death of a farmer who had raped the wife of a local man.

The residents forced out have suffered in their new lives in urban townships. Rates of suicide, alcoholism, substance abuse, criminal offending, truancy, homelessness, depression, anxiety and disease have soared amongst Oombulgurri evicted residents.

Oombulgurri was closed because it was “unviable”. The Western Australian government claims the people left voluntarily. Now Oombulgurri is the case study for 150 communities that the Western Australian government is preparing to close because they are “unviable”. The threat of closures arose in 2014, when the Australian federal government said it could no longer afford to maintain infrastructure in remote communities, and handed responsibility to the states. The Western Australian government said it was unwilling to cover basic utility costs and many communities would be closed. In March 2015, Tony Abbott notoriously backed closures, saying:

“What we can’t do is endlessly subsidize lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have.”

But of course, as tāngata whenua, indigenous people of New Zealand, we know that living on traditional lands is not a lifestyle choice. It is a responsibility for people who are intimately connected with the land. We are the guardians of the land that nurtured our ancestors, the guardians of the land which is our ancestral mother Papatūānuku. We also know the pain of eviction: in Tauranga, my ancestors were forced from our Pirirākau lands and now live on small pockets as multi-million dollar mansions are built by Pākehā around us. This week the descendents of Parihaka, Taranaki, are completing another journey to where their ancestors were imprisoned in the South Island for resisting land eviction. Last month people returned to Pakaitore to commemorate their occupation of the site in the 1990s to protest their own experience of exclusion. Every tribe in our country, without exception, has an ancestral history that we recognise in the experience of Aboriginal Australians in Oombulgurri.

About 130,000 Māori live in Australia now. We even have a term for them: Mozzies. That is a quarter of the total Māori population. By all reports, Australia has been good for many of our relatives who have moved there. Whilst the use of the Māori language has struggled in that environment, the connections between Māori living in Australia and New Zealand remain strong for many. At our marae, we regularly have family return home from Australia for events, particularly when someone has passed away. I am convinced that most of our Australian Māori cousins remember who they are and where they are from.

So it is surprising how silent Māori have been on the issue of Aboriginal Australians who face evictions from their communities. Peeni Henare and Marama Fox have both spoken on the topic now, but Māori living in Australia seem largely silent on the fate of Aboriginal Australians, who are, in the largest sense, our indigenous elders. Perhaps the silence can only be understood as the answer to an uncomfortable question: who do we, Māori, become when we go to live in Australia?

Silence would indicate that we’ve become part of the silent majority supporting any measures necessary from the Australian federal and state governments to keep the economic good times rolling. We seem to lose our indigeneity, our connection with the Fourth World, once we have lost the physical connection with our homeland, with Papatūānuku. I can only reach the troubling conclusion from the silence that Māori living in Australia generally feel no greater connection with Aboriginal Australians than the average white Australian. Perhaps we’re the indigenous people white Australians have always wanted: compliant, silent and a partner in the rapacious capitalism that underpins the Australian economic ‘success’.

The Balanggarra people of Oombulgurri have not given up. They dispute the Western Australian government’s claim that they departed voluntarily and the Balanggarra Aboriginal corporation, on behalf of the 150 residents, has requested that people return to their land. The Western Australian government has refused and warned they will be charged with trespass if they try to return. The 150 other Aboriginal communities facing closure will no more give up than their Balanggarra relatives. I would hope that Māori, as a now sizable population in Australia, would be willing to risk standing besides the people of these communities. But I wonder if, when we as Māori leave these New Zealand shores, we also leave behind our heritage and history of injustice and with that, we leave behind the ability to see ourselves in the struggle of Aboriginal communities.

POSTSCRIPT: This past week since I published my blog has seen some notable examples of Māori communities under their own volition doing exactly what my blog had hopes for: moving beyond charity to addressing the actual justice issues in the evictions of aboriginal communities. E mihi ana au ki a rātou, e ngā tuakana i tautoko ki ngā iwi taketake, ā i tautohetohe ki te kawanatanga o Ahitereiria. Here are some links of just those sort of actions:

Perth Māori support Aboriginal communities

And of course I noted earlier, Manaaki’s songs and advocacy who posted in the comments on my blog.

Here is a Change.org petition on the issue which needs more support.

A group of Ngā Tauira Māori at Auckland University have joined the protest against evictions.

Wes Carr who won the 2008 Australian Idol wrote a song he has put up about the evictions.

Jez Kemp, a UK backpacker who has been travelling Australia, explains the injustice of evictions to those outside of Australia.

Te Kaea’s latest report has Tony Abbott supporting the evictions and claiming to know what is best for Aboriginal Australians.

We, Ngāi Māori, need to be part of more and more of these actions. As I acknowledged in the paragraph above, thanks to all of you who are standing up in Australia. As I see more, I will post more.

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60 thoughts on “Where the bloody hell are ya!? Evictions of aboriginal communities and the silence of Māori living in Australia

  1. Whilst I cannot speak for the terrible situation happening in Western Australia or have no scope to comment on Maori involvement or lack there of as you suggest in that part of the Australia, I can comment on our people represented in all levels of Indigenous affairs in Far North Queensland.
    Far North Queensland FNQ represents the Torres Straits and outer Islands, Western Cape and Northern Peninsular areas and our people have always had a presence in these communites in all levels, Government agencies -Health -Education – Child protection.
    Infrastructure and development, early learning, Sport and Recreation, and even community members who have opted for a more traditional way of life.
    Please don’t make generalisation on what position you believe our people are taking when you ave only focused on an area of the problem.
    My Hikoi through these communities and Remote Islands for my mahi over the past 6 years has brought me immense pride when I see our people at the front line with sleeves rolled up making a difference, in communities that number no more than 400 I can guarantee you there will be at least one of our people there or would have served there.
    Please recognise the geographical economic nature of Australia , as I understand it most Maori flock to WA for the coin generated from the mines and there nothing wrong with that. But for those interested in social services including work in Indigenous communities, North Queensland is where many of the challenges are.
    You speak about silence, I would suggest you open your eyes and realise that the issues facing indigenous people is wide spread around Australia and if you were to visit this side of the problem you would recognise the tautoko for the Tangata whenua on this side is alive and well.
    I have been for the past 2 years trying to set up an Indigenous boarding House for kids struggling to study in unstable home or community environments, and trying to get funding to run youth programs running on the ground in New Mapoon, Lockhart River and Injinoo
    I know of whanau running mens groups and night patrols and all kinds of programs living in Pompuroow.
    We have whanau working in health and mental Health in Torres Straits and Bamaga.
    We have whanau running the Childrens Safe House in Kowanyama.
    Domestic Violence councillors living in Aurukun…….google Aurukun, this place is hard out with most Government workers living in compounds protected by barb wire fences and where Air travel companies refuse to fly into because of riots.
    Our whanau are all over it up here so do your research before you make broad generalisation or even better come over for a week and let me walk you through these communities and see our people at work.
    We may not be present at the state or federal Government level making a noise, but we are on the ground making a difference

    1. Kia ora Rob and thanks for your comment. I take your point that many Māori are involved in communities throughout Australia and, as always, making any challenging comment bears a risk of generalisation and offence. There is an important role working at the coalface and I genuinely acknowledge you and all others who are doing that work. This is not a blog about that good, essential and amazing work. This is a blog about how there is also an important role in standing out in the media both here and in Australia on indigenous issues, a space that is not currently being occupied by people like you and I. Māori can offer a voice in that space.

  2. There is genunine fear that if Māori in Australia do offer a voice on this matter, they will be further victimised by the current coalition government. Since 2001, ex-pat New Zealanders living and working in Australia have been increasingly targeted by the Liberal party. Slowly, but surely, our path to permanent residency and citizenship has been eroded. Although paying high taxes and contributing to society in a positive way, we are unable to even vote. Having said that, I think you will find that a huge number of Māori in Australia have offered voices via social media as we have neither left behind our heritage and history of injustice, nor the ability to see ourselves in the struggle of Aboriginal communities.

    1. Thanks Debbie, and I am very interested in your comment about the victimisation of Māori by the Abbott government. I can understand the second class citizen status people must feel. I freely accept your rebuttal of my opinion about the Māori voice on social media in Australia; I hope that can translate into the voice in mainstream media as well.

  3. I hope this panui is being circulated to other cultures not just in Oz but Globally. You ain’t gonna get Maori coming on board this campaign to support their indigenous cousins if u say where silent compliant just the way the Government likes it. What would u like us to do, don’t put it out there provide practical ways of how we can support these people on the ground being evicted. Maori r all about passive protest we still demonstrate that today…..what I’m not into is when other use these sort of Kaupapa to get a political stance that’s sucks I saw a lot of that at home. So what happens is the real issue gets covered over with the political red tape so on n so on then everything gets lost. The best thing the First Nations can do is to empower themselves n I c them doing this and we stand in support. They have powerful mentors n leaders here in Oz that need to make a stance politically. We as Maori have to remember their colonisation was more recent then Maori. I would never take the lead in calling a passive protest in my community as this would be takahe I TE Mana put to participate should the local tribe decide to organise one. I live here, my children and Tane we work, now we are raising our moko. Although we are supporting one another financially Mining work isn’t all cracked up to what u think it is. We also support our whanau n culture at home. Helping whanau to come over. It’s hard work just trying to do this as well as supporting ur whanau at home. If we are silent this is why nothing wrong with that . However we always acknowledge the Tangata Whenua as aboriginal and tell our kids this to. There is internal fighting between our cultures so we’d better fix that up first aye.

    1. Kia ora, thanks for the time you put into commenting. Here are a few simple ideas as to practical ways that we could be involved in Australia are:
      – first and foremost, attend the various marches and protests that Aboriginal communities are organising;
      – some of the other commentators have talked about various social media campaigns we can contribute to – social media only works as part of an overall package of actions;
      – write letters to newspapers;
      – contact your local representative as to your views on the issue;
      – ask Māori leaders in Australia to regularly talk about the evictions in their public work in Australia;
      – ask our iwi and political leaders here in New Zealand to take a stand against the evictions as well.

      We can’t empower anyone, but we can use our own power and presence to support Aboriginal communities to build and enact their own power and authority. Finally, you are, of course, right that the quality of the relationship between Māori and Aboriginal communities is key to our actions having any effect.

  4. I have been living in Australia for 10 years now, the last 2 years here, in Western Australia. I am a little concerned about the use or the statements, reports, made by the media in New zealand about the silence of Maori living over here regarding the closure of remote Aboriginal communities, when we must remember we are only ‘manuhiri’ visitors of this land. Back in New Zealand we are ‘ tangata whenua’ people of the land, but here we must respect difference of all cultures and
    their ways of life.

    From what I have seen on the Kiwis in Perth Community and Events page, most Maori and Pakeha are not happy about what is happening to the people of Coonana area. But Maori have ‘tikanga’ values we must respect. Although we are shocked by whats happening, and are raising awareness of this disgraceful event we have no authority to physically interfere in another cultures business, as visitors we must respect both cultures evolution to decide for themselves a way forward.

    this battle

    1. Kia ora Kathleen, thanks for the thought you gave to this. I acknowledge we are manuhiri in Australia. However, I wonder who we support by staying out of the debate because of the “difference of all cultures and ways of life.” The dominant culture and way of life in Australia is not that of the indigenous people. We don’t support them by not positing an opinion. What is happening to Aboriginal communities is not an “evolution” of cultures in Australia. It is the ongoing and deliberate ethnocide of the oldest culture in the world. Our dissatisfaction with what is happening needs to turn into action, not out of disrespect for the nation of Australia, but out of relationship with Aboriginal people.

  5. Hey Guys, This isn’t about us (Maori)…
    This is about the Aboriginal and their plight.
    We need to voice we will support them and stand by their side as not only fellow indigenous people of the Pacific but human beings.
    They are being persecuted for their race and cultural beliefs.
    Abbot needs to get it thru his head that this amounts to no less than apartheid.
    The world stood against South Africa and said this is not acceptable in today’s world and they changed.
    Australia seems to think they don’t count, or it’s different..How… they are oppressing a people based on their culture.
    Unfortunately Aboriginal do not a Mandela to rally behind.
    We all need to get behind these people and show our support and spread the word, shame Australia into change.
    The Australian governments apology is of little consequence if they dont change and follow thru.
    The argument that we are not Tangatawhenua is completely irrelevant.
    Did we not learn anything from the Holocaust, by turning our backs on injustices of people doesn’t make us free of ownership.
    Kia Kaha,
    We hear you. Does anybody else?

  6. Kia ora I have just recently moved from Aotearoa to Australia and am discusted at the lack of media around this issue. I have signed a petition on change.org to help prevent this however it dosnt seem to be as popular as you would think. I would love to help however I am new to sydney and am unaware of any aboriginal communities around. If there are any suggestions on how our whanau can help we are open to hearing them. It makes me sick to think that these people can be treated like this all over again.

    1. Kia ora Mel, I wonder if your first port of call might be the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy. They are on Facebook and are obviously based in Sydney. If you visit, I am sure you will be able to connect in with what they are doing.

  7. Manaaki have not been silent and with a lot of the response from the video posted and sharing from not only Indigenous people but also Maori people shows that there are people out there that tautoko the Nyoongar and First people of Australia Video

    1. Thanks for the link Trojan-John. More actions like this are just what is needed. Check out Manaaki on the link in Trojan-John’s comment.

  8. Kia ora,

    Firstly these things that are happening to the indigenous Australians is something that has been happening for a long time, this is something that has been happening as far back as the first settlement when they were forcibly removed from their land back then, to add that wasn’t enough for the government they introduced a breeding program to breed out the indigenous race basically a breeding program of genocide hence the Stolen generation happened. now they aboriginal organisations that take aboriginal children from aboriginal families and place them wherever they see fit something that is till this day happening,these are the injustices that happened to these people they are the tangatu whenua here “People Of the Land” and they are protectors of this land guardians yes the aboriginal culture is beautiful and very deep I know this having worked in the aboriginal community and also having children that are of Aboriginal/ Maori decent. If things like this issue that is happening in WA continue how is the next Generation meant to be taught to live, take care, and be taught their traditional customs these are things that will be lost, they are also the core things that hold aboriginal people hold so dearly too. It is saddening as I know how important Culture is been Maori and I see it as equally as important for aboriginal people to maintain what has been their job as the traditional Custodians of the land to remain where they are and be allowed to continue their Way of Life. Without the interference of any Government wether it be national or state government.

    1. Kia ora Grace, and thank you for thoughts on the tragic history that proceeded the current events. With you, I support the maintenance and support for communities in traditional lands following traditional practices. Those communities are not with challenges, but those changes and transformations need to be lead by Aboriginal people themselves.

  9. Ka pai koutou ki te wananga tenei kaupapa nui…. very good to discuss this very important issue. My experience is that most Maori that move to Te Whenua Moemoea are running away from burdening bills and unemployment back in aotearoa to money and jobs they find in Oz. Ka aroha to our tangata moemoea in Oz, however the vast majority of Maori are running away from situations of circumstance back home, drugs, violent relationships, poverty or simply wanting a change in their lives that only by leaving Aotearoa will they find it. A lot of those Maori in Oz weren’t the protesting type when they lived in Aotearoa, or even politically motivated, so where as i do get your point bro. Trying to get Hone and Hine Smith to instantly become politically motivated and take on the Australian Government order to help our tangata whenua Whanaunga just aint going to happen. For a lot of whanau I know who have moved to Oz, it’s the first time they have felt appreciated in their work place, then when they come home to Aotearoa for Xmas they see how hard it is for whanau back home they then quickly rush back to a country that seems to actually want them and value their actual skills and talents and don’t see them as just another HORI. So therefore bro in conclusion I do understand your hope that our brown brothers and sisters would rise up and help, what about the other first nations people that are also living in Oz?? And at the end of the day the Government wouldn’t listen to a pack of brown immigrants, what is actually needed is all those silent WHITE Australians to get up and protest and support the first nations people of that land… disaffected Maori running to a different land to better their own lives will never rise up against a system that is caring for them.. the one’s that would are busy back in Aotearoa trying to re-establish our own tinorangatiratanga. Maybe there is the answer. .. that community needs to stop looking outward for a white hand up, but instead look inwards and develop their own tinorangatiratanga and what that means to them. Self sustainable self sufficient communities. ..

    1. Kia ora Tony, I really like your insight there at the end. It is absolutely about building our own capacity to make change in our own communities. I also believe that change in Australia will absolutely require white Australia to be part of a sea change, but for this moment, as tangata whenua here at home, I wanted to focus and wānanga our own response. Thanks for being part of a reflection on that issue.

  10. Hi, I am a New Zealander and Australian Citizen, and I am so disappointed in the lack of outrage being shown by both sides of the Tasman. There is no excuse for being complacent here or hiding behind the this is not our fight. This is a global issue. It is a Human Rights issue. How hard is it to even share what is happening on your FB page, get more attention do your part, comment, write, protest, use social media, be relentless until this ignorant, arrogant atrocity is stopped. For goodness sake this is 2015, have we learn’t nothing!

  11. i found this article quite offensive as a maori living in Aus. Let’s face it , if I want to remain silent, then that is my choice. If I want to speak up, then I will when I am ready.
    Back home we are still fighting against and amongst ourselves. Sometimes we r just as greedy as those we protest against.
    In answer to your question, it seems Maori r not as quiet on this subject as you had thought.
    I don’t think it was for you to single Maori out on this issue, coz this issue is a cause for all Australians to uphold

    1. Kia ora Russell, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I respect your view that we have a right to remain silence. However, that is what lead me to ask the central question to my blog, which is who are we when we do this? I agree this an issue for all Australians, but I also think there is a place for us to challenge each other on the issue.

    1. Tēnā koe Rowena. Kāore au i tito whakapapa i runga i tētahi whārangi ipurangi, ēngari nō Tauranga Moana, nō Te Arawa, nō Tainui tēnei. I have spent the last 15 years working and living in communities, the last 10 in a Māori community. I am involved in our marae, kura kaupapa Māori, kōhanga reo, and our iwi here at home. I have been an activist in anti-war and anti-capitalism and anarchist movements for 20 years. I am a married father of four and I am raising my children with their te reo Māori as their first language, and connected with their whakapapa and tikanga. I hope that answers your question.

  12. Kiaora whanau back in 2000 i worked in WA kalgoolie in the mines on my days of i worked amongst our aboriginal brothers an sister in a little settlement called nigamia. whilst there i witnessed the most horrific behaviour towards them throughout WA including a killing of a local aboriginal boy by a kiwi who had not long arrived in the country (simply because he was aboriginal) .the majority of this behaviour me whakaaro towards them came from maori . which made me question maoris stance whilst living abroad .i have to agree capitalism becomes the overwhelming factor of why our maori people flee to Oz . They then adopt an ignorance towards there struggles forgetting we went through similar pains. it frustrates me that maori think like that it shows me that they are more lost than tangata whenua no ahitareiria because they have no stance on anything but forfulling the white mans dream which doesn’t include anything cultural . whilst aboriginal are fighting for EVERYTHING cultural they still live the ways of old.

    1. Kia ora Sha, thanks for your comment. As you will have read in the comments, the truth of Māori involvement in Aboriginal rights is complex, so we need to keep challenging and keep talking about what we are doing.

  13. Hey I just wanted to say, I know exactly who I am. Been living here for 10 years, and although I empathise with the aborigines of this country, I reckon we need to clean up our own back yard before worrying about someone else’s! I have taken in, befriended and tried to help at least 50 Maori boys and girls the same age or younger than myself whilst living here in Perth. They have also relocated with their whanau to WA for a chance at a better life. Their problems at home don’t stop when they leave NZ. We got disenfranchised Maori youth running the streets here! If, as much energy was expended on our own people by our own, maybe this wouldn’t be the case! Like I said… We need to clean up our own backyard 1st!

    1. Kia ora Khan, certainly nothing I have written avoids the reality you have identified: we need to manage ourselves and our rangatahi. Thanks for reminding me of the sad reality that the good life doesn’t come to all in Australia. Nevertheless, we need to stand together with other indigenous people whilst addressing our own needs if we want change in our society.

  14. Kia ora. Ive been in Australia since 1985 and the first place my whanau and I happened to move to was a little outback rural community where the population of Indigenous people were considerably higher than Non Indigenous. I loved the place. From the age of 6 I began to learn so much from the Indigenous people, I learnt about their spiritual connection to the land, the stories of Dream time, their sacred places, the importance of respecting and preserving what is what they would consider their mother, and how its important to share the knowledge with the future generations, because they will one day have to full fill that duty.

    I was 19 when I went home and discovered that our people were very much the same, I didnt grow up knowing a lot about my culture, its funny to say but, even though we never spoke maori or had a strong maori influence within our whare, I still felt it. So when I went home to learn about our people, I wasn’t suprised to discover our people too were spiritually connected to our land Papatuanuku. And as the tangata whenua, we naturally preserve and respect our land, always being taught, whatever we take, we give back.

    When I returned back to the Pilbara in W.A. I had a better and deeper understanding to why our Indigenous brothers and sisters do what they do, its not a “lifestyle choice”, its who they are. Then I began to realize why it was I was drawn to them as a people from such a young age. I’m a BIG believer in this cause since finding out one of the Aboriginal communities they are threatening to shut down, is a community close to where I grew up.
    I know these people, these beautiful strong never back down attitude, ‘PROUD” people. They have so much mana, I can not sit back and do nothing.
    My partner is Indigenous, we are going to the protests together, I have written to the Today Show and sent a letter to Stav and Abby’s radio show, I know its not all that much but
    I value your thoughts about how we can action together because its a cause worth fighting for. I also think that your ideas of how to participate in the cause is awsome. I will look up our local newspapers and start writting to them. I’m not a big fan of politics so I have no idea who our Maori representatives are here are in Australia, if anyone knows who they are can you please let me know, I would love to speak with them.

    But with this I also say this with caution, when talking to Maori representatives either political or otherwise, getting involved with protests, getting involved with any sort of march ect, please always be aware to an extent we are manuhiri here, so with respect we should always talk to the Aboriginal elders or leaders first, include them in whats going on, or what our ideas may be. Our hearts are in the right place and we do want to support, but just also keep in mind the Indigenous people are getting tired of people (Non Indigenous) both in political standing or otherwise making statements, voicing opinions or contributing ideas to actions that ‘they think’ are best for the Aboriginal communities, without actually including the communities leaders or elders.
    This is a real issue within the Indigenous communities, they have made a stand many times about those who aren’t Indigenous doing what they may think “is best” for the their people. So please always include your Indigenous brothers and sisters and let them lead you in what they would prefer and what they think “is best” for their people.
    Kia ora

    Kelly Macleod March 23rd, 2015

    1. Kia ora Kelly, this is an amazing and thoughtful comment. I think you have swept across many issues, and thanks for the contribution. I particularly want to agree and highlight that in anything in Australia, we need to be lead by First Nations peoples. This is central; thanks for reminding me.

  15. I think this is a little unfair. I am a Pakeha living in Alice Springs. The support that Maori give local people here is immense. But you need to remember that as New Zealanders, we have very little political power in Australia – we have no vote and are widely looked on as bludgers – despite being probably the hardest working people in Australia. We are second-class citizens here. People are doing what they can. A lot gets ignored when it comes to Indigenous issues here -for example there was no mainstream media coverage of the marches against the evictions that took place over this last weekend all over the country. If you really want to know what it’s like in Australia – its a neoliberalist playground with very little effective free press.

    1. Kia ora Debbie, it has been difficult to find good media coverage of the eviction marches anywhere expect alt-media. So I can only presume your ananlysis of the media is correct. Nevertheless, when mainstream figures stand and speak in Australia, they can make a big difference and be noted in the wider media. We need to encourage more people to make statements like Hugh Jackman has on this issue.

  16. Is it because you’re not here to see Maori people tautoko the Aborigine?
    Is it because we Maori are not making it on the media for you to see us tautoko the Aborigine?
    I don’t know where you got your information from but there are Maori out at Herrison Island everyday protesting, taking Kai and water to feed the homeless and the people making a stand to protect what is there’s.
    We are a community, we stand together.
    I’m disgusted by the comments of this authors thread. I think you need to come and have a look for yourself before you make comments on something that you don’t have all the information on.

    1. Kia ora Mahera, thanks for letting us know about your and your community’s actions on Herrison Island. When I wrote my blog, I understood it was likely to offend some people. The issue of evictions from remote communities is such a significant issue that I was prepared to raise this challenge anyway. If you find that disgusting, then I accept that I have caused you offence. Whilst I won’t apologise for putting my view out there, I am glad to have offered this forum for you to post your own view.

  17. I resent ” where the hell are you ” Maori / NewZealanders are guests in Australia and as from the 2001 ? change in Government policy have barely, if any rights at all. I have no doubt Maori acknowlege and recognise the Indigenous Australians and as individuals voice their opinions on ” loss of culture, lost lands and no rights. No one knows this better than Maori. And for the record i am not Maori, but born in Samoa and lived in NZ for 63yrs.

    1. Kia ora Salmasina, you are one of quite a few in the comments who have noted the second class status of Māori and other New Zealanders in Australia. There is common cause with Aboriginal Australians that many other people here have also commented on. The point I stand by is that in the commonality of experience we can be support to First Nations.

  18. Kiaora

    First I would like to acknowledge the Indigonous people of the whenua . I have given my view openly . When we can stop John Keys from selling off our whenua our Awa our Forest using our Maori party then maybe we have the right to stand up for our Indiginous whanau here . My Wero to you is bring your paper and pen here where I live in a remote village in Pormpuraaw QLD and see and feel what we do . Suppression bullying power and control from To CEO that these people trusted .povetty . grog and gambling controlling the whanau lack of education upskilling to young and old . Holding tamariki for ransom to keep funding through data for the government .its stolen generation all over again . Corruption lies power and control of The humble whanau have been held down to long . Well we where bullied lied to and our jobs taken until we stood up to those Bullies whom tried to run us out of town . We stood up to them as Maori of Te Arawa and Tainui descent . We are here because we love our mahi and the whanau we are able to help . The community stood up and won’t let us leave and want us to continue to work with them . We Run circuit classes for them starting up night patrols for the community and police . Music club for the health and well being of our Indiginous whanau . And many more other ideas to help the whanau here So we are giving back to the people as Maori . We are learning the culture and customs also sharing our own with them as are many Maori whanau whom have been here longer then us .my brother Robert hodge has been here 15 years and has worked in most remote villages helping the mob of this land . So plez don’t judge come here and write the truth of a community standing up to the curruption bullying of greedy people whom are only here for there self worth and greed. Noa reira tena koutou tena koutou tena koutou katoa

    Linaire Hodge

    1. Kia ora Linaire, e mihi ana ki a koe. Thanks you for sharing your whānau journey in Pormpuraaw. My blog is a comment on the national dialogue, not the struggles, work and charity of you and others in Aboriginal communities; it is a comment and a challenge for us as Māori to be part of a national dialogue. Work and involvement is one part of our support for Aboriginal communities that many people like yourselves are doing and sacrificing for; spokespeople on the national stage and in national media are another.

  19. Kia ora, (I’m guessing that’s the appropriate greeting).
    I’ve shared this on FB and other social sites I am listed in.

    I appreciate the call to arms to the Maori community and I understand the reasons. Maoris would have a natural affinity with the struggles of our aboriginal brothers in fighting to have their culture and landrights recognised by the wider community.

    Whilst any help is very much appreciated in this fight by those of us that support it. It is, none the less, the duty of every self-respecting Aussie, whether born one or chosen to be one, to recognise the special bond aborigine people have with their land. It is part of their being and for those that remain on their ancestral lands, being forcibly removed from those lands is nothing less than a re-enactment of the stolen generation, when children we ripped from their mothers’ arms.

    This country is currently being run by fascists going by any other name. They have no interest in human rights, traditions and people that in their minds, don’t matter much at all and are in the way of what they call progress.

    They want vacant deserts they can dig up for the wealth beneath and if there are people there the should be removed. out of the way of the dozers.

    The conservative government of WA is driving this. this is a government that has possible THE worst record in the treatment of Aborigines. It is doing this with the vocal support of our Prime Minister.

    The shameful thing is that while the rest of us worry about football results , rising house prices, and the cost of fuel. This is happening in our own country and we must by now, be choosing to ignore what is in effect ethnic cleansing of lands miners want to get their diggers onto.

    We should be screaming blue murder at this .

    I thank you for your support as I am sure, our affected brothers do. But I am ashamed that it takes someone like you to help raise awareness about a fight we should be up to our necks in as Australians, all.

    1. Kia ora Rubens, I appreciate your contribution and your consciousness around these issues. Keep up your efforts to raise awareness of these outrageous evictions.

  20. I would like to see both Australia and New Zealand embrace ethnic equality. It would be too much to hope that racial prejudice would cease to exist worldwide as well, but we can start somewhere. Persecution is not restricted to indigenous people, it happens to all races for various reasons. As a a Kiwi of European descent, there are many privileges that I am not entitled to because of my race. It is not so much an issue of changing the problems of history, as correcting how we conduct ourselves towards each other for the future.
    Accept how people wish to live and what is rightfully theirs, whether by investment or birthright. Accept that we are all human beings and deserve to show compassion, respect and integrity to people of all races, and mixed race.
    We all are born to equality, it is ourselves that make the divisions. It is not just up to Maori to help implement changes in Australia, but to everyone. To question one race for their lack of stance on persecution against a particular race is misplaced. Every person should be criticised for their lack of action.
    Prejudice comes from a lack of understanding, in any situation. The birthrights and cultural responsibilities of every nation should be acknowledged and adhered to. Where that knowledge is lacking, education is required. This is the responsibility of every person to become aware of.
    Until we are able to assume the blame on ourselves, we have no position to assume blame on others.

    1. I agree that all people should be involved in responding to this issue and support your call for embracing equality. However, inequality is a reality that has arisen out of our own choices and the choices of others. People are not born at all equal; that choice is removed from them by the society they are born into. We need to respond to that actively and with purpose. In this case it is very much persecution that is restricted to Australia’s indigenous peoples as is the case for Māori here in Aotearoa. So those are whom we need to support, rather than holding values of equality that are a philosophical nicety that avoids the grubbiness of the reality around it.

  21. I have whānau across Australia who emigrated from Aotearoa from the 1920’s through today. That’s my first point – Māori are not johnny-come -lately’s in Australia and we need to reflect that in our dialogue with the likes of Abbot and the Liberal government; and with Key and his National government who are very silent on the way New Zealanders are treated in Australia. So, Māori have very strong links to Australia and have participated in its growth from very early days – Māori trading vessels were banned in the early 19th century because only ships flying a national flag could do so, hence the 1835 Declaration of Independence and the first flag of Niu Tireni. I digress. The responses to your column have not surprised me. You are eating humble pie quite well I have to say, but the articulate responses and strong aroha emanating from them leaves you little room to argue your fatally flawed stance. So my second point really echo’s that of other whānau on here – please think carefully about what you are writing and saying about us. I hope you haven’t included any of these thoughts at academic conferences or such. Ka nui te tautoko mai i NT ki Tasmania mō enei take na te iwi Māori konei mo te iwi o Ahitereiria. Māori are speaking up and protesting all over Australia. Perhaps you were looking for a unified Māori voice – and perhaps that’s as untealistic as it is at home? That doesn’t mean there is silence. I want to finish on a positive note. Your article comes from a place of tautoko for the tangata whenua of Australia, and there certainly needs to be a whole lot more visibility and support for Aboriginal peoples from mainstream media, mainstream academia, and from the mainstream in general. Kia ora.

    1. Kia ora Miha for your considered, well argued reply. Overall I agree with you on what you are communicating. I have a couple of comments:
      – it’s in error to say my stance is fatally flawed. In the comments above and in the media there is clearly a substantial amount of charity being undertaken by Māori in Australia. However, there are only perhaps two examples of social justice actions in the comments: Mahera on Herrison Island and Manaaki, the music group. My blog is not a call to action for more charity towards Aboriginal communities, but to act to transform the legislation and structures that oppress Aboriginal people using our voice and presence at the state and federal level. It is about social justice, and what is interesting is that there are many comments above about how we cannot act because of the sense of powerlessness and oppression that people feel as Māori in Australia. This was something I didn’t expect.
      – secondly, you suggest an unified Māori voice is unrealistic; actually there have been more and more unified Māori voices here at home. It is possible and in this I wonder if when we move to Australia it is even more possible as there is distance from the iwi distinctions we make here all the time.

      Anyway, thanks for reading and responding so graciously.

  22. Tena tatou katoa,

    I have read every comment left on this blog in relation to the subject matter bought to our attention regarding the intrinsic beings of Mother Earth, the Dream People – the Real People.
    If we as Maori – Mauri, reference our traditional knowlege in accordance with Mauri custom, we have a spiritual responsibility to support, encourage and care for the Native Australian peoples in their ongoing plight to live as sovereign beings on their traditional lands.
    Whilst our Mauri people continue to migrate to the land that is colonially described as Australia for the purpose of economic, social or political reasons, Mauri are a highly evolved and advanced being that specialise in removing stumbling blocks in the most endearing and potent manner irrespective of any challenge within every realm of adversity. It is apparent that Mauri are present in this capacity toward the Native Australian peoples throughout various areas of Australia today and there is no doubt in my existence that Mauri will continue to do so across the land and beyond.
    Because Mauri are a versatile being, Mauri have chosen to lend their strengths in many diverse areas all at once so as to care for their own immediate genetically inclined whilst caring for the greater geneological community.
    With respect to the mutant civilisation and its descendants thereof, the mere mention of “ethnic equality” is an attempt to placate the very teachings of ancient wisdom that prescribe Mauri as life principle and birthright to that of the Real People. For that which is life principle and birthright cannot be mass produced, genetically modified and cloned in a laboratory experiment that inextricably obliterates Natural beings. Therefore, any mutant descendant who is gifted life principle and/or birthright, respects all that is natural, spiritually interconnected and true. And is most welcome indeed to lend support, encouragement and caring to the plight of the Dream People – the Real people and their progeny…Natural beings of Papatuanuku – Mother Earth.

    No reira, nga mihi nui ki a koe Kereama (Graham)…

    I appreciate the acknowlegement, recognition and awareness you have provided for the Natural beings of Papatuanuku by way of this medium. It is also an honor to hear from fellow Mauri whanaunga including our non-native whanaunga who have shared an expression of interest thereupon.

    “HE AHA TE MEA NUI O TE AO NEI?…He tangata…He tangata…He tangata…”

    1. Kia ora Lee, I appreciate your connected and interested comment. E mihi hoki ana au ki a koe.

  23. Maori / NZer’s live in Australia under a ” user pays ” system. The up front and in your face protest is not in the best interest of Maori nor likely to carry any infuence. Your challenge / statement was best served to The Australian Government and all Non Indigenous Citizens of Australia. They are the most powerful voice to likely bring any change. You have been quite dissmissive and condescending to any forms of support outside what you think. Of course the form of protest you are suggesting is important, but why didnt you put a call out for feed back instead of ” where the hell are ya” and assuming your People were silent and inactive. Would you care to elaborate your involvement, as I am quite ignorant as to who you are. Much appreciated.

    1. Kia ora Salamasina, I talked about my own community involvement in a comment above, so please read that. Suffice to say, I understand your comments about the challenge and concur we need to place in front of the powers that be in Australia. Whilst we may disagree around the appropriateness of and way in which to challenge our own, I appreciate the time you have taken to comment.

  24. This is rediculus, leave these aboriginal communities alone !! Stop pushing them out & stop shutting their shops & schools. We are always being shuned saying we as auzis have no culture here & yet the real culture of the land & its people is being taken away by crappy Polly decisions that only fill their pockets. Seriously stop this rediculusness & let them live their lives & Australia have some undesterbed land !!

  25. I’m just an Ojibway, from Owen Sound Ontario, Canada and this sickens me. Aboriginals all over the world have been mistreated since day one, it still happens here, in Northern Ontario, which is closest to home for me. I actually had the priveledge of meeting several Maori, dancers and singers, in Brantford, Ontario around 1999 or 2000. I met them through a “Maori”, although, he turned out to be not a very nice person, which is beside the point, the ones I met were awesome. Like I said this, “Sickens”, me. Please get back to me with any new news.

    1. Kia ora Mike. I am similarly outraged at the policy of eviction. As I know more, I will post more.

  26. If you would like to do something about this then why not try starting a petition with Avaaz, this could bring the attention of millions of activists to this issue and embarrass the Australian government and potentially get them to take some action. I would do this myself but of course the person who starts such a petition must know a lot about the issue and it is not something I have much knowledge about … Someone who has researched the issue, knows about it and has an idea of what kind of action needs to be taken could make a difference by campaigning as an Avaaz member. http://www.avaaz.org/en/about.php

  27. Look you know what … I was going to offer a long winded version of what everyone else has said … But my battle for the indigenous is daily … I daily take on govt and non govt for my clients and their families … I’m not super wahine nor do I claim to be … I am of ngati porou and kahungunu descent and I work at coal face in these very communities in WA … There are not enough hours in the day day nor enough days in the week to give these deserved people so I’m going to save my energy for my mahi … So that on my days off I can go to Perth to awhi and manaaki my mokopuna and tamariki and save some money so Xmas time I can go home to my beloved Tuakana Teina Kuia Koroua and Iramutu and shre stories new and old with them … Oh and just for the record … 130,000 Maori in Oz … Did you realise 11 New Zealand’s can fit into JUST Western Australia. I just got home from a 12 hour drive to take someone back to his community and helped a mum to keep her child from being taken off her all because he had hakihakis on his head … Just a snippet of a day in their life …

  28. My cousin was a teacher in Oombulgurri and was advised to get herself and her kids out of town because the education department could not guarantee their safety. Sexual child abuse rates were at 90% so to say the rates of suffering has Skyrocketed is crap they were at the top to start with. Let them live where they like. Just don’t expect joe public to pay for it!

    1. Thanks for sharing your cousin’s experience and difficulties in Oombulgurri. The increase in abuse, suicide and such since the closing of the community was recorded by Amnesty who also noted that, even with the desperate social, health and education needs of First Nations’ peoples in their own communities, they better off compared to those who had been evicted.

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