Hīkoi hopes to influence better race relations

By Ripeka Timutimu

New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd says Pākehā need to address racist attitudes if the country is to move forward to better race relations. Nearly 1000 people have marched to Parihaka alongside Judd. Te Kāea spoke to some Parihaka locals about what this hikoi means to them.

As Andrew Judd and his Hikoi of Peace approached Parihaka, Maataa Wharehoka had been on a hikoi of her own.

Mātā Wharehoka from Ngāti Tahinga and Pirirakau says, “When you look at what's happened to Andrew Judd then yeah there's racism.”

Mayor Andrew Judd told Te Kāea, “Why is it that when a European person says this all of a sudden we get the extra attention when Māori have been saying this since the 1860s.”

In the Te Niho o Te Atiawa kitchen at Parihaka, race didn't matter as they prepared to feed the visitors.

Wharehoka says, “There are 30 Pākehā people in there and those people are very much aware of how I feel personally, about and how we've been treated in Aotearoa.”

Though Rob Green wasn't beside Judd, he challenged those who rejected his proposal for Māori seats on the council.

Hīkoi participant Rob Green says, “They would say loudly they aren't racist, they would say the people that are trying to introduce this are racist themselves, however, I totally dispute that, I don't hold that view.”

Former MP for Te Tonga Mahara Okeroa said if it's good enough for the Beehive, then it's good enough for the council.

“We’ve had seats in parliament for a while, so what’s the issue.”

Te Whiti and Tohu's flag, Nga Kāro o Te Ao is a symbol of peace, is something Judd is trying hard to aspire to.

Judd says, “Actually who are we Pākehā? We need to speak to ourselves, what role we have had talking Pākehā to Pākehā in the sense we are to blame for so many things."

“When 10000 people can say we are ready to sign the petition for Māori and the govt has to make a change, that's what I believe,” says Wharehoka.

Behind me is the resting place of Te Whiti o Rongomai. His famous words "kia honour te rongo" have also been repeated by Andrew Judd to his supporters. However, only time will tell if his words have will any effect on the rest of NZ.