Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bastion Point

I am excited, tonight it is my turn to go to a festival, and to have the privilege of sleeping in a Marae. Not any Marae but The Marae. It is a Marea built with historic signifciance.

We are celebrating Waitangi day, the national Day of New Zealand. This celebration is not without controversy. February 6 isthe day, we celebrate the signing of the Treaty in 1840.

When I first arrived in New Zealand in 1978, every day we watched the news of the Bastion Point. It was prime property, and the Government was selling it to the rich and famous. There was "unlawfu" occupation by the Maoris and some sympathetic Pakehas. The police moved in and forcibly told them.
Bastion Point (Takaparawhau in Māori) is a coastal piece of land in Orakei, Auckland, New Zealand, overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. The area has significance in New Zealand history for its role in 1970s Māori protests against forced land alienation by white New Zealanders.[1]
In 1976, the Crown announced that it planned to develop Bastion Point by selling it to the highest corporate bidder for high-income housing. Joe Hawke and other Māori members of hapu, and Pākehā activists, formed the Orakei Māori Action Committee taking direct action to stop the subdivision. In 1977-1978 the Orakei Māori Action Committee organised an illegal occupation of the remaining land Crown land to prevent its confiscation by the Muldoon Government. A marae and housing was built, and crops were grown. A fire in one of the buildings caused the tragic death of a young girl.[2]
A peaceful occupation lasted for 507 days and was finally ended on the 25th May 1978,[1] when 800 police and the New Zealand army were used to forcibly remove the occupiers and destroy the temporary buildings including vegetable gardens and a meeting house, which were constructed to accommodate the living during the protest. Two hundred and twenty two protesters were arrested. The occupation and use of force to end it played a part in highlighting injustices against Māori, and the occupation was a major landmark in the history of Māori protest.

I am going as a volunteer for the Waitangi Day Festival. Last year, there were more than 30,000 to this alcohol and drug free family event. I am going to help out in the celebrations to reduce the environomental impact of waste. I will tell you when I come back.

Here are two pix taken thirty years ago with my Uncle Kok Fei. I always taken my friends to the Salvage Memorial. The point is the location of the Savage Memorial for the first Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand Michael Joseph Savage (March 23, 1872 – March 27, 1940).

Tamaki Drive is the road to the Bastion Point, and further on, the land of the rich and famous. St Heliers. The rich have to share the water front with the poor like me because it is public beach.

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