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Letter to Jenny Shipley, WILPF (Aotearoa)

12 September 2000

The Hon Jenny Shipley MP
Parliament Buildings

Dear Mrs Shipley

Our organization is very concerned about the way Tariana Turia's speech to the Psychological Society has been dealt with by the politicians and the media. The importance of the message has been completely overshadowed by some of the things purported to have been said in the speech which have been misreported and misrepresented.

The way Mrs Turia has been treated over this incident seems to us like a continuation of the colonisation of Maori that she spoke about and which is still occurring.

We are particularly concerned about some of the statements made by you in your press release of 30th August 2000 such as accusing Mrs Turia of widening the gaps and having the potential to cause huge division and seriously damage race relations.

The speech was made to a particular audience and it was about the effects of colonisation on the Maori psyche. Those whose who actually heard the speech seemed to understand what was said. From your remarks it does not seem as if you have read the speech.

Although there is some improvement in understanding in some sections of the community about the effects of colonisation , there are still far too many of us who are defensive about any acknowledgement or criticism of the colonisers and what they have done to indigenous people, not only in this country,but in all countries which have been colonised.

Part of the problem for a lot of us is that we have never been given an impartial history of the events in this country and had the opportunity to acknowledge that the things that were done were fairly devastating for Maori and are having a long term effect. It does not sound as if you have heard much of this, from your comment about rewriting history .

Instead of criticising and blaming Maori for exposing their hurt it would be far more constructive and helpful for better race relations if politicians could give a better leads to the population by becoming more informed on the issues and enabling all of us to get a better education about the real history of this country. Seeing things like the Parihaka Exhibition can help.

We are somewhat puzzled about the your concerns now about the Treaty being written into health legislation. It is only acknowledging the policies that are in practice in the health system and were there when you were in charge of health and the country.

The Aotearoa Section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is concerned to address injustices in our society and to improve understanding between cultures so that we can have a more harmonious and peaceful society. We do not believe some of your comments have been helpful in that regard.

Yours sincerely

Joan Macdonald
President, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Aotearoa)

Index page on indigenous rights - Aotearoa

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