40th anniversary of Bastion Point eviction commemorated: Reflections
Yesterday Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei commemorated the 40th anniversary of when they were forcibly evicted from Bastion Point by the state.
People from all around the country, including politicians, gathered to commemorate the day at Bastion Point.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s Taiaha Hawke says that the people involved with the occupation are still alive, and their memories are long.
“Kei konei hoki ngā iwi hei whakanui i tā tātou nei tū ki runga i te whenua.
“Kei te pupuri tonu rātou i tērā whakaaro i ērā tikanga kia kore te iwi Māori e ngaro.”
A group of people from Tauranga Moana also attended the event. Te Kura Kōkiri kaiako Koro Nicholas says that the Bastion Point occupation has inspired them to continue to fight to protect their own tribal lands and seas.
“Kei te akiaki tonu mātou i ētahi atu kaupapa ā mātou ake, e whawhai ana mō ngā mana o tō mātou moana, e hāngai tonu ana ki ngā whawhai i whawhaihia e whā tekau tau mua ake nei.”
Also at the event were NZ Police who were involved in forcibly evicting the occupiers from the occupation 40 years ago. NZ Police officer Joe Tipene was quite reflective about the occasion.
“I think a lot of things have changed since those times, you know a lot of things for the better I'd say and we are very grateful for the opportunity to walk on in this manner in the spirit of Rangimarie.”
One of the esteemed visitors, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, shared his impression about the commemoration and what coming back to Bastion Point meant to him.
“It was inspirational but there was sadness too the loss of Joann, there was Rodger, good people who just felt the pain.
“When you're part of a big family like this anything and everything that does happen, it's mixed emotions.”
Looking to where they are now, Atakura Hunia noted how different the world today than the world of the occupiers of Bastion Point in the 1970’s. There’s now a puna reo [early childhood education language immersion unit] and a permanent marae.
“He rerekē aua rā i panaia mātou e te Kāwanatanga mai tō mātou pā engari ināianei he rawe kua tipu ngā tamaiti ki konei, tō mātou puna reo, tō mātou kura, tō mātou marae.”
Ngāti Whātua keeps their fires lit strong, while the battle to affirm Māori rights keep flaring on.