Lawyer Kingi Snelgar told Te Ao with Moana direct action is necessary at Ihumātao because the system favours Pākehā outcomes. Photo/File.
One of the many people who have been drawn to Ihumātao over the last few days is lawyer Kingi Snelgar, who spent time at Standing Rock in North Dakota. He does not whakapapa to Ihumātao, causing him to think long and hard about his involvement.
“I tossed and turned for a couple of nights about, 'is it right for me as an outsider to be involved in this kaupapa?' knowing as well that I’d been to Standing Rock and offered my services there,” he says.
Snelgar says there have been previous instances in which whānau have had differences of opinion, but ultimately it is the Crown that is responsible for this.
“In our history, we know that there have been occupations - Bastion Point, Raglan - where there were disagreements within the whānau and I do believe direct action is necessary because the system favours Pākehā outcomes. Pākehā are in the decision-making positions in terms of the courts, in terms of government,” he says.
As a result, Snelgar says Māori are left having to weigh their options.
“So when we lose in those avenues, what do we have left? What can Māori turn on to make change or to create an environment for change? And it is direct action – foreshore seabed, the land march, te reo,” he says.
Snelgar says Ihumātao is a defining moment for Māori of his generation.
“A lot of our big achievements have come through protest or protection. So, maybe it’s our generation now that, after this full and final settlement era, are actually going to challenge that and say ‘no, there are ongoing treaty issues, even [those] that involve private land’ and I think that’s the right thing to do.”