Storm clouds gather over Waitangi Day

I hear rumbles of thunder. They are not in the sky or in my heart. They are the rumbles of trouble brewing on New Zealand’s national day.

I should not be terribly surprised and nor should you. This is after all, quite characteristic of the political machinations that go on around Waitangi Day. But these machinations in some respects are different, although again, we should not be surprised they are happening. They are the reactions of people from all walks of life starting to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole T.P.P. and what it stands for – nurses and doctors; ordinary working folk such as myself who see a massive wrong being committed against Aotearoa/New Zealand.

It is too early to call the protests against the Trans Pacific Partnership a ground swell, but at the same time they are more than just isolated clumps of angry individuals getting together to make a racket. Last week on a week night I went to a rally at the Cardboard Cathedral, which was packed to almost overflowing. In the weekend just gone there were nation wide protests in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and possibly smaller ones elsewhere. On Thursday there are more nation wide protests planned. As I have highlighted, doctors and nurses are showing concern about what this might mean for the health sector in a sense that they are worried that the quality of care they can provide for patients might be undermined. Can you blame them for being concerned? Not I.

But what about when Iwi and hapu start to speak out against it? What about when the Nga Puhi elders can no longer agree whether it is appropriate to permit the Government to come to the place where New Zealand was founded for our national day? What about when academics think that the provisions of the T.P.P. may undermine the Treaty of Waitangi and the entire settlement process? Given that this is a document as important to New Zealand as the Constitution is to the United States, and all of the political, economic and social capital that has been expended trying to bring about a sense of justice to the grievances of the New Zealand Land Wars, I find this disturbing.

Is a Government of New Zealand really prepared to undo 50 years of work by the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal just to appease some non-New Zealand corporate interests that only care about how fat their profits are? I certainly hope not.

But I fear that there is a possibility this might be the case. Those rumbles of thunder seem to be getting louder.

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