I did not feel welcomed as similar, related or one people growing up in South Auckland. We were referred to as coons, bunga’s or coconuts by others including Maori and we in reply called them hori’s and kumara’s. Maybe Minister Nanaia Mahuta is right, the mana of the Cook Islands has matured. We hope it has for them too.
For those too busy with the Cook Island Games
and only reading the back page headlines of the sport results, you may have
missed the front page headlines –“Two countries but one people: Cook Islands,
New Zealand strengthen ties” and “The bond between Cook Islands and Aotearoa
New Zealand will never break”.
Is it just me or did I miss something? Were
we not friends and partners before? Are
we now friends with benefits? What other benefits can we possibly have from
Aotearoa that we are not already receiving? Why is there all this ceremony and
what is it really saying? We have their passport so travel is fundamentally
easy with little to no visas required around the world. We have access to their
health care and superannuation funds. We receive funding and assistance at
every turn and event at the drop of a hat.
Even now the meeting of the Foreign
Minister Nanaia Mahuta, in typical fashion of the family aunt or nana, she flicked
us another five million dollars as they do when they meet their mokos shoving
folded bills into our pockets, palms or down the front of our shirt. “Shhhh”
they say looking around so no one can see like some back street drug dealer, “here
take this buy yourself something”.
The headlines should have read “Kia Ora,
Kia Orana and Welcome home”, we have always been one people ever since the
departure of the seven vaka/waka/canoes. The bond could never be broken when we
share the same language and historical roots. Sure, there are differences in
some of our words – the partnership is called Vaka Purua/Waka Hourua. The
change in consonants is slight but having just been back in Auckland recently
it was so cold I had trouble stringing my lips together to form words. I can therefore
imagine and no this has no historical basis only my own personal experiences
how this may have come about.
Our ancestors having arrived exhausted and
starving on their vaka after weeks of toiling the vast ocean finally reaching
this far off land Kupe promised to be full of wonder and a new beginning. I
would not be surprised that the shock of the cold had them going wwwwwwhoah waka
because it is harder to form a ‘v’ when your teeth are chattering, hence
vaka-waka, vaine – wahine.
Other words differ, we don’t have ‘f’ in
our alphabet so I can only imagine an ancestor with a speech impediment added
the ‘fa’ sound to anau – whanau and tahi, rua toru ‘a – wha.
Perhaps it’s like a renewal of vows so to
speak, who knows but there was much singing and dancing and yes she was greeted
with a ‘hongi’ because it is in our historical roots, as is the ceremonial
challenge part of the cultural ties that were brought to Aotearoa many decades
If we are to be recognised as one people
perhaps Mahuta can ensure we will be part of New Zealand Maori history teaching
in the future. Yes, we can all go back to Tahitian, Marquesas islands, Lapita
people, but before them the most recent and fundamental step is in Rarotonga – the
passage way where the seven vaka of Aotea, Kurahaupo, Mataatua, Tainui,
Tokomaru, Te Arawa and Takitumu are said to have last launched from on their
way to the land of the long white cloud lying to the south.
Given this history I did not feel welcomed
as similar, related or one people growing up in South Auckland. We were
referred to as coons, bunga’s or coconuts by others including Maori and we in
reply called them hori’s and kumara’s. Maybe
Mahuta is right, the mana of the Cook Islands has matured. We hope it has for
She went on to speak words of how great
our government was to protect us from the pandemic when if truth be remembered
our Prime Minister kept announcing borders will open very early on in 2020 and
it was Jacinda Ardern who kept them closed, who gave us the vaccines for free,
who limited the opening to only fully vaccinated travellers and who ultimately
protected us from our own harm doing.
With over 6000 infections and only one
recorded death – who had previous underlying conditions – and little to no
hospitalisations, this is a miracle considering our high-risk health vulnerable
Mahuta said in response to climate change
said “leadership in the region will be sorely needed”. While Mark Brown
responds with regards to the likes of seabed mining “we might end up in a
The acknowledgement of ‘what makes us
unique’ is the ‘agree to disagree’ agreement that will require respect
akangateitei/whakaute and trust irinaki / whakawhirinaki from both sides. Let’s
hope we honour tu ngateitei/whakahonore our end.