The Maori peoples are the indigenous natives of New Zealand, constituting upwards of approximately 14% of New Zealand’s total population. The Maoris have been the habitants of New Zealand for thousands of years, establishing their own distinct language, culture, traditions, and history.
The arrival of the European colonists to New Zealand in the early 1800’s led to the Musket Wars, a series of inter-tribal wars between the Maori stemming from the bartering of muskets from the Europeans to a diversity of tribes.
In this period, European disease was also a factor in the well-being of Maori health. Disease, coupled with inter-tribal wars, left many Maoris enslaved, and former Maori occupied land, deserted. It is at this time that the European colonialists began to expand their presence in New Zealand, settling into unoccupied lands, and, ultimately, clashing with Maori tribes.
In what may be seen as a symbol of indigenous solidarity with Israel and their conflict with occupying Arab settler groups, the Maori people, according to J-Wire, a daily digital Jewish news site that specializes in Australian and New Zealand affairs, recently held a special ceremony of apology for Israel known as a whakapaha.
The whakapaha honoured the Israeli ambassador, His Excellency Dr. Itzhak Gerberg and vocalized the deep regret for New Zealand’s involvement in their co-sponsorship of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 which, in brief, demonized Israel as an occupying power. It also infered that any land Israel reclaimed after the 1967 war is not internationally recognized under Israeli sovereignty.
In her article for J-Wire, Sheree Trotter examined Maori support for Israel and their counterparts’ support for Gaza. Among what was documented, Trotter discusses the instance in which the co-leader of New Zealand’s Green Party, Marama Davidson, also a New Zealander of Maori origin, joined the Gaza flotilla of 2016 to emphasize Israel’s blockade on Gaza. As a result, Davidson’s actions galvanized a surge in support for Israel.
The ceremony would then end with the kaumatua, or elder, who led the ceremony, Pat Ruka, exchanging native gifts with His Excellency Dr. Itzhak Gerberg, where the kaumatua swapped his traditional cloak, known as a korowai, with the Israeli ambassador to receive a menorah.
Even though the Maori stand divided in their 14% makeup of New Zealand’s total population, and with New Zealand evidently standing against Israel with their allies at the United Nations Security Council, perhaps it’s time for Israel to publicly declare New Zealand an illegal European occupation of indigenous Maori land.
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