Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Māori land march to Parliament, led by the late Dame Whina Cooper.
30,000 people filled Parliament grounds to see the march and hear what was being said by those who took part in the month-long hīkoi.
Māori Party co-leaders, Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell say the event helped shape our society.
“Dame Whina was a remarkable leader whose voice still echoes in my ear saying "Not one more acre of Māori land will be taken". She was able to help unite Māori and Pākehā to march together over land rights. But, she also raised awareness about the discrimination towards tāngata whenua,” says Marama Fox.
The hīkoi left Te Hāpua in Northland a month prior, bringing with them a petition signed by 200 elders and 60,000 other people. The petition called for an end to the selling of Māori land and the control of 1.2 million hectares of whenua that was in Māori hands.
Te Ururoa Flavell says, “This momentous hīkoi publicised Treaty issues that were impacting on the lives of tāngata whenua and came at a time when Parliament was just passing legislation leading to the creation of the Waitangi Tribunal.”
Both leaders add that whenua Māori will always be of paramount importance to tāngata whenua and that its connection is expressed through the whakataukī, Te toto o te tangata, he kai, te oranga o te tangata, he whenua.
To commemorate this day, four individuals who took part in the march will talk about their experiences in a panel discussion at The National Library. There will also be an exhibition that has been given the name, Not one more acre, The Māori Land March 40 years on.
You can find out more information here.