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Distortion of Tariana Turia's speech

4 September, 2000

The Editor,
The New Zealand Herald,
Box 32,

Dear Sir,

I am concerned that the Prime Minister is perpetuating a distortion with respect to Tariana Turia's recent speech. In using the word 'holocaust' Tariana was careful to stress that she did not want to get into a pointless controversy measuring one human rights tragedy against another.

Tariana has every right to remind us about the loss of life and injustices that are the direct result of colonisation, and it is outrageous that she should be gagged.

In a watershed judgement 15 years ago, the Waitangi Tribunal stressed the enormous losses of the Manukau tribes and said 'past wounds' could not heal because of the continuation of policies of the nineteenth century in the present.

New wounds have been inflicted - iron sand mining of wahi tapu at Maioro that exposed the bones of ancestors, and a sewage pipeline bulldozed across sacred and internationally significant Matukurua stonefields. Now there are plans to build a massive dump close to the Waikato which will inevitably contribute new poisons to the river.

It takes direct talk to get us to confront our shared colonial history. The gross over-reaction to Tariana's wake-up call is a sure sign that she has touched a vein of truth.

Yours sincerely,
Maire Leadbeater.
Cell phone 025-436-957

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