Academic’s pointed Māori message

Historian Tom Roa says when the government say it feels Māori pain over O-Rakau, it is simply paying  lip service.

Prof Tom Roa

The Waikato University professor delivered his rebuke when speaking on Tuesday at the 160th anniversary of the battle of O-Rākau on Tuesday.

His comments were directed to Māori development Minister Tama Potaka, the most high-profile government representative present.

And to emphasis his points he “reluctantly” broke with the protocol of the paepae to speak in English.

Roa said he felt hurt by expressions of sympathy from the government in the context of damaging actions towards Māori, in particular the dismantling of the Māori Health Authority and its support of the first reading of the Treaty Principles Bill.

He later told The News he wanted to be constructive in his contribution to the discussion, rather than inflammatory.

Roa first delivered his kōrero in te reo Māori, speaking beside a portrait of Rewi Maniapoto, who had led Māori in the O-Rakau battle.

Having switched to English he said his intention was to share a clear message to all, including those with a lesser understanding of te reo Rangatira.

While some iwi had settled with the crown, he said, people felt decidedly “unsettled” in the current political environment.

Thousands of whānau attended the 2 April kaupapa, almost all of whom had tūpuna among the survivors and those killed.

See: Ancestors remembered

See: Youngsters who were heard

See:O-Rākau battle remembered

Photo: Nehenehnui

Tama Potaka. Photo: Nehenehnui

Photo: Nehenehnui

Photo: Nehenehnui

It was an ealy morning welcome for whanau and manuhiri. Photo: Te Nehenehenui

A commemoration on Tuesday marked the 160th anniversary of the battle of O-Rākau where huge numbers of Māori defended the site from British soldiers.  Photo: Susan O’Regan.

Academic Professor Tom Roa spoke at O-Rakau.

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