Yesterday, a person I follow on Twitter drew my attention to an article by Paul Holmes that appeared in the NZ Herald on Saturday. Holmes is ranting on about Waitangi Day and calling it repugnant and a waste of time - amongst other things.
The tweeter was appalled at Holmes' gall, and had to read the article 'three times' because he was so full of disbelief that anyone could write anything so 'racist.' Certainly Holmes uses plenty of strong and emotive language, but I suspect he's saying what a lot of people actually think. And are maybe too scared to say because of an invariable backlash.
I had a bit of a debate about the subject with this tweeter, and didn't really get anywhere - although at least, after an initial possibility that there might be angry words between us, we managed to maintain a reasonably respectful tone. However, there wasn't going to be any change of mind. What Holmes was saying was rubbish, according to this person, and basically the Maori are still being treated badly by Pakeha in New Zealand.
It seems to me we've progressed, in our history, from a state of Maori bad/Pakeha good, to Maori good/Pakeha bad. The initial state wasn't right, but it came in a time of colonialism, and was by no means uncommon. It took us some time to get past it. Nevertheless, within that, there were many good things, not least the understanding by some Pakeha that the Maori people had a great deal to offer, and the understanding by some Maori that the Pakeha also had a great deal to offer.
In our present state, the Maori have turned themselves into 'victims.' Everything that's wrong is the fault of someone else. (When I say 'the Maori' of course I'm talking about those who want to think this way; there are plenty who don't, many of them now living in Australia!) The problem is, when you make yourself a victim, or behave as if you are one, someone else has to become the 'oppressor', whether they like it or not. The victim approach automatically turns the other into the person to blame for all that's wrong in their world.
I'm not saying that everything that Pakeha do is right; by no means. Much of what those in leadership do affects everybody in the country, not just the Maori. Much of what leadership do or has done has been opposed by the whole population, to no avail.
But continuing down our present path will not aid the country as a whole. Somehow we've got to get to a point where we think: Maori good/Pakeha good. Any other variation on this will just keep on leading us into a blind alley.