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  • Ashleigh Putt-Fallows

Hui aa Motu, Rātana, Waitangi - Here's what went down.

Passively-aggressively shouted by Ashleigh Putt-Fallows (she/her)

Ngāpuhi-Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Whātua, Tūhoe


If you don’t know what the reo means - google it :)


As we come to the end of our holidays and close to the end of the first two months of the year, I think it’s important to acknowledge what has already been happening in Aotearoa New Zealand’s political space. Here is summary (I do implore you to look into these in more detail): 


Hui aa Motu, Rātana and Waitangi. 


Hui aa Motu: 


In late 2023, Kiingi Tuuheitia announced Hui aa Motu following a Te Paki o Matariki, a significant royal proclamation. It urged all Māori to unite and ensure all have a voice in holding the government accountable. It was a rare occasion, the first such national hui since 2012, when it occurred over Māori water rights, and prior to that, the year of my birth. Historical moments. 


Held 20th January 2024 at Tuurangawaewae Marae in Waikato or over livestream, hosted by Waikato Tainui. This hui came as a result of the response Kiingi had seen towards the new Coalition government, and one day after the ‘Treaty Bill’ was leaked to the public. Over 10,000 people attended, including representatives from various iwi. All opposition parties as well as National. Notably, ACT and NZF were absent, drawing criticism. Five breakout sessions were held: Wellbeing of People Economy, Te Reo and Tikanga, Rangatahi, Treaty and Environment, and National Unity. Each had  speakers, and space for anyone to share. Themes of Kotahitanga, Mana Motuhaketanga, Tuakiritanga and Wāheke dominated discussions, focusing on solutions amidst valid government criticism. The rangatahi forum in particular was big on moving away from Pōneke. Every conversation was critical, not all need to be shared externally, and some I don’t have space for in this. I suggest you read the full document produced once available to the public. 


Rātana: 


Rātana marks the beginning of the Māori political calendar, but I couldn't make it due to budget constraints. It's the first gathering attended by all government parties. Rātana, both a church and political movement, has played a crucial role in Māori politics. The holiday commemorates the birthday of Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana, a revered prophet. 


Held around January 25th, 2024, at Rātana Pā, Whanganui, the event usually aims to decentralize politics, but this year, centrality was inevitable. Te Kiingitanga presence was notable, passing on Mauri and Hui aa Motu's documents to the government. Parties normally would attend together, but Te Pāti Māori attended alongside Kiingitanga, while ACT's absence drew criticism. Despite a festive atmosphere, discussions at Rātana were intense, with speakers strongly criticizing the new government and its Treaty bill. Shane Jones criticized kaikōrero for using Rātana for such debates, suggesting they be saved for Waitangi. 


Waitangi: 


Waitangi commemorates when Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed in 1840 between iwi Māori and the Crown. To note the english and Māori versions are not the same, and are not interchangeable. 

Held annually from February 4th to 6th in Waitangi, the event is inherently political, and this year was notably charged with palpable anger. Despite the positive atmosphere, there was a strong sense of Mana Motuhake, emphasizing Māori sovereignty and the importance of honoring te Tiriti o Waitangi. Tensions escalated. The three headed taniwha was likened to sand flies and spiders, memes were shared of them in a negative light, speakers from the government were booed, heckled and sung over. Our deputy PMs effectively suggested they have better things to do then be there. Both threw sulks about what they got called, and Luxon recycled the same speech from the year before. It's safe to say they did not ease tensions with Māori. In fact they shot in the opposite direction. Responses to this, like Hikoi ki Waitangi and Tama Iti’s blank canvas protest, have fast become defining images of this year's Waitangi Day. From political action to traditional demonstrations of our beautiful culture, there is so much more. I implore you to have a more detailed look, this and all the events mentioned deserve to be known by more than the political action that occurs at them. 

On a personal note if our terrible two tantrum deputy PMs ever see this - Me pēhea koe ehara nō kuhu ki te whenua, ngā whenua o ōku iwi, e mau nei te ingoa o tōku kuia me te kore whakaute. E tipu ake, ka nanu koe i ō tūpuna. 


This year I was very privileged to attend Hui aa Motu and, for the first time, Waitangi. It was an interesting, amazing and at times infuriating experience; the overall feeling was throwing gasoline on the fire. As we saw beginning in 2023, Māori are mobilizing and unifying, something I can only imagine, after what we have seen in only the first two months, will continue in 2024. 


Toitū Te Tiriti 

Mana Motuhake


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