Sharples and Black Power: forget about the drugs, it’s the tikanga that matters

Alf is disappointed but by no means surprised that Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has been trying to spare a Black Power stronghold from demolition.

The gang might be a tad cavalier, in the law and order department, with a regrettable inclination to peddle drugs and what-have-you.

But hey, the Maori Party is unabashedly about promoting things Maori and there is bound to come a point where being Maori is more important than being law-abiding.

It happened – for example – with those blokes who roughed up the PM at Waitangi last year, and Hone Harawira proudly spoke on their behalf to tell us what splendid people they were and how we had to understand their grievances.

We can find the rationale for this in the party’s constitution, which gurgles and gushes about tikanga and what-have-you.

The Tikaanga derived from Mana Whenua among other things is intended to ensure that the Party “is of the Māori people” (which Alf assumes is intended to warn Pakeha to keep out) and:

to assist Māori to establish and maintain their connections to their own land;

This would explain why Sharples has gone out to bat for a Black Power patch of land, even though Black Power has been dispossessed as a consequence of a bit of law-breaking and so no longer can claim that this is their own land.

Never mind. Sharples wants to help, and the Herald reports:

The MP wrote to the Auckland City Council asking staff to ignore illegal structures on the Mt Wellington property – the hub of a $1.5 million cannabis ring – and to grant a waiver for breaches of the district plan.

The Black Power headquarters was seized and sold under the Proceeds of Crime Act to a new owner, who was in negotiations to sell the property to a trust connected to Dr Sharples’ Tamaki Makarau electorate manager.

Members of the gang have already moved back in.

This is all very cosy, eh?

Alas, Police Association president Greg O’Connor isn’t plugged into this tikanga stuff and reckons Sharples is “naive” to support Black Power, because Maori youth were the ones being targeted as gang recruits.

“The gang is going to be more successful in recruiting when they have successes like this [the gang moving in]. Young Maori will see that the Black Power won and the police lost,” said Mr O’Connor.

“That’s exactly how it is going to be seen. Does Pita Sharples want gangs to be role models for Maori? Because that is naive.”

But if Black Power trumphs over the police, well, no matter.

Sharples in that event is bound to argue that the police are charged with upholding laws passed by a Pakeha-dominated Parliament, which is a concept imposed on Maori by bloody colonists from the other side of the world who would not have been allowed in if he had been Minister of Immigration at the time.

Mind you, he might not want to say this publicly, which would explain why his office has ignored repeated NZ Herald requests for an interview.

But the Weekend Herald has done the right thing in telling us that Sharples – the Maori Affairs Minister – attended a hui at the Black Power headquarters in 2005 with Tariana Turia as co-leaders of the Maori Party.

In the letter to the council, Dr Sharples said the pair were welcomed into the house through a formal powhiri and the meeting was conducted in accordance with tikanga (protocol).

And there we have it.

What matters is that the buggers welcome him with a powhiri and conduct a meeting in accordance with tikanga.

We had better learn to live with this. It’s one of the privileges of being indigenous and therefore special under the United Nations indigenous people thing that Sharples signed on behalf of our govenrment a few months ago.

Oh, and the Herald quotes from a letter released by the council and written by Sharples’ electorate manager, Martin Cooper, who – guess what – is a former Black Power member.

He said he was the previous owner of the property under the name of the Piki Mai Trust, of which he was the founding chairman and chief executive. The trust was established to run vocational training programmes and the property became a drop-in centre for the community to use, he said.

“We saw it as our contribution back to the community, hence the name Piki Mai, meaning to rise and lift up those in need,” wrote Mr Cooper.

“I hope you can appreciate the spiritual and cultural significance of the property to Maori people in the area.”

Alf wondered if the Mongrel Mob could expect similar help from Sharples.

To help find the answer, he consulted Wikipedia and concluded that probably the answer is no, Sharples would not help.

Wikipedia says Black Power members “are predominantly from New Zealand’s Māori and Polynesian ethnic groups.”

The Mongrel Mob, on the other hand, has a race mix that more obviously includes Pakeha.

Alf imagines it’s the “Mongrel” bit of the latter gang’s name and membership that might not fit so well with the Maori Party.

Black Power is unabashedly “black”.

And let’s not forget that Hone Harawira only recently was saying he would not sanction a relationship between his offspring and Pakeha suitors.

We may suppose he prefers racial purity and eschews the breeding of mongrels.

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