I just don't get National's game plan. On hearing John Key slam the door on Tuhoe I felt hurt for them. It would not cost New Zealanders to let Tuhoe take over management of the Urewera National Park. It means everything to them and is just a few lines in the press to the rest of the us. On the other hand, if it was the upholding of a 'principle' there would at least be some rationale behind this, to use Chris Finlayson's word to describe how some Pakeha regard land settlements, 'mean-spirited' refusal to grant Tuhoe the fulfilment of their deep desire to exercise some sort of guardianship over the land they live on.
But it can't be a denial based on principle because elsewhere we have seen National open doors to increased Maori ownership. The re-visitation of the Seabed and Foreshore wrangle looks like it will result in Maori gaining greater resources. The upshot of current proposals will, like the signing of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, be far more encompassing than a deal over the Urewera.
Then John Key insults everybody's intelligence (or perhaps he assumes we have none) by saying there will be no separatism in New Zealand. Bull. Of course there is and will be separatism. The question is, how much and will it be a good or bad thing?
Individualists (my tribe if you like) make a great deal about our rights and freedom as individuals. We do not like being controlled by collectives, especially the state. We would actually embrace our own separatism from people who think differently - social engineers, moral relativists, herders etc. So why can't we understand Maori and their yearning to do their own thing?
It doesn't mean that we are permanently divorced from each other. Many successful marriages are based on respect for each other's space; both separateness and togetherness. That is how the relationship between Maori and Pakeha would best strengthen and abide.
But yesterday John Key showed he doesn't really understand this when he made a very big mistake with an unfortunate comment about Tuhoe eating him for dinner. It isn't that the joke was unfunny. It was that he would even think to joke about Tuhoe after just causing them so much pain. That was thoroughly and dismally revealing.
He pandered to those people who do not want Tuhoe to get anything. People who believe that Maori will shut off Pakeha access. They base this on the past behaviour of a few thugs. In fact, their entire view of Maori is based on the worst of Maori and not the best. But do they base their view of Pakeha on the worst specimens instead of the best?
Maori generally welcome strangers and share with them. At some point we are going to have to trust each other if the future is going to be better than the past. But trust took a massive hit two days ago when Tuhoe were told that their dream was over.