Māori house and Pākehā house, or individuals needing more houses?

Why do Māori and Pākehā have to be divided into different whare?

These days perhaps only someone from ‘the Māori house’ could get away with raising questions about it without causing too much of aa reaction.

Steve Elers (Stuff) from: Our prime minister should replace her Waitangi Day rhetoric with something more useful

Parts of last year’s speech at Waitangi by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sounded like we were in 1840, not 2019, especially when she said: “We will keep building the foundations to bring our two houses together and that ultimately will be the foundation for which Te Arawhiti will be formed. The bridge between our two houses.”

I suppose, based on my whakapapa, physical appearance and self-identity, that puts me in the Māori house. But what about Māori who have more Pākehā ancestry than Māori whakapapa?

For example, my wife is a Pākehā and we have two young daughters, Anahera and Māia.

Given my own whakapapa includes Europeans, who were born in Germany and England and migrated here, then technically I suppose our daughters have more European ancestry than Māori whakapapa when it is all added up.

So, does that mean Anahera and Māia are in the Pākehā house? If having a Māori ancestor means one is first and foremost Māori, why is that so and according to who? Perhaps one gets to choose, or is it based on how one feels on the day?

If I am in the Māori house and Anahera and Māia are in the Pākehā house, does that mean I will see them when, according to our PM, the “bridge between our two houses” is formed?

The divide between Māori and Pākehā is complicated, on a family level and on a national level. While there are Māori orientated issues and non-Pākehā  orientated issues, there’ a lot of overlap – and mixed houses.

Speaking of houses, an in-house publication by the Department of Māori Affairs, now Te Puni Kōkiri – Ministry of Māori Development, states “all Māori have some degree of non-Māori ancestry”.

I don’t know if that publication was correct, but regardless, as Ranginui Walker eloquently stated in his Listener column back in 2004: “The lizards of our colonial past are being laid to rest in the bedrooms of the nation.” That certainly seems so, more and more, as most young Māori I meet are of the lighter shades of brown and many are white.

Someone with a dark complexion like myself was my fourth-great-grandfather Wiremu Tamihana (1805-1866), chief of Ngāti Hauā of the Tainui confederation. Yes, I know everyone has 64 fourth-great-grandparents, but let’s not ruin a good story and let’s not downplay my chiefly heritage.

My daughters, Anahera and Māia, are direct descendants of both Wiremu Tamihana, through my mother’s whakapapa, and Pulman, through my wife’s father’s ancestry. As far as I know, my daughters are the only descendants of both.

When they’re older, Anahera and Māia can look at that image knowing they are descendants of the Māori chief in it and the English-born photographer who took it. However, I hope they will recognise the multifaceted aspects of their whakapapa and understand they are first and foremost themselves – individuals who have the freedom to determine their own paths in life without being constrained by historical events that occurred before they were born.

That’s right, none of us was there when the treaty was signed, nor were we there when some of our ancestors stole land from some of our other ancestors, and I’m talking about my Māori ancestors – don’t get me started on the Pākehā ones. Complicated isn’t it? And, no, I’m not proposing “we are one people”, aka Hobson’s Pledge.

How about “we are individuals”?

That sounds like a good way of looking at it. Most of us with complex ancestry and complex houses.

So, this Waitangi Day, instead of our prime minister giving a speech about “building the foundations to bring our two houses together” like she did last year, perhaps she can tell us how she is going to build actual houses, like the 100,000 she promised in the last election campaign. That’s more useful to Māori and Pākehā than meaningless rhetoric about bringing “our two houses together”.

Harsh, but a fair call.