Demystifying Te Tiriti

Demystifying Te Tiriti

In February 2024 Damaris-Head hustler and founder of The Realness invited Eru Kapa-Kingi to present at a wananga she was holding, in relation to  ways to re-indigenise The Realness platform and gain a deeper understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi & He Whakaputanga.

These pātai between Damaris and educator, political change advocate and VP of Te Pati Māori, Eru Kapa-Kingi, illuminate how demystifying Te Tiriti, He Whakaputanga, and tino rangatiratanga is critical in the ongoing fight to deconstruct existing oppressive systems and frameworks.

Damaris: What are your objectives with your mahi, the Movement, your workshops and advocacy around He Whakaputanga, Tino Rangatiratanga and Te Tiriti?


The objectives of my mahi and the workshops is to revitalise He Haka Pūtanga, so Tihei Te Haka Pūtanga, and then to entrench Te Tiriti, Toitu Te Tiriti, and our belief in our rangatiratanga within ourselves, to resurrect that, to revive that within us, within our generation, and that's what I believe will get us to the start line of the kaupapa that is our liberation, and the rebalancing of constitutional power, political power, legal power in Aotearoa, in line with what Te Tiriti actually envisaged, and what our tūpuna actually envisaged.

Still there is a lot of mahi to do in terms of correcting narratives, learning our truth, and then speaking reality to our truth as well. Because our truth has been radicalised. But it's no different from me saying that the sky is blue. That's just a fact. And facts are normal, the truth is normal. But our truth has been radicalised because we have been made a minority and then subject to the powers of the majority, the tyranny of the majority, who have manipulated our truth and tried to hide it and diminish it. So we don't realise that we are the rightful sovereigns of Aotearoa. They want to keep us dumb, weak, and blind to our own power.

Damaris: How do you envision the future of the Aotearoa? How can Māori and non-Māori do their part, and better learn?

Eru: This is the whenua that we connect to as Māori, we can't connect in the same way to any other whenua in the world. And that's what makes us, gives us our status, our mana as tangata whenua. And so when people try and say we're not indigenous, that's bullshit. We are. That's exactly what was said recently. No, no, Māori came from the Hawaiki. That's false. Our Eastern Polynesian ancestors came here from Hawaiki and became Māori over time, in connecting with their new land. So this is how we combat that false model. We developed not only our own language, but our own law. And I do mean law. Not lore. When we say lore, we're actually belittling the mana of our tikanga and putting it in the same basket as, like, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Of course we have our own way of story, but in our story we embed legal and moral code. When we belittle it by calling lore, we're kind of erasing that sophistication within Aotearoa and the complexities and authority around tikanga.

The Aotearoa that I envision, is the exact same one that our tūpuna were trying to create in the relationship of Te Tiriti o Waitangi - an Aotearoa that's inclusive and creates a home for everyone, whilst solidifying our position as tangata whenua and our special inextricable relationship to the whenua. Let's not forget Te Tiriti was meant to carve out a space for Pākehā (non-Māori), Tau Iwi (foreigners not from here), and our relations in Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (the pacific) to feel comfortable and to feel at home when in Aotearoa. Te Tiriti does not benefit Māori, it benefits everyone else who lives here.

So, it's that just coexistence that I envision for the future. For Māori, it's on us to re-educate ourselves, to decolonise ourselves and then to feed the truth to our tamariki and mokopuna in the same way that we feed them te reo and our tikanga. It's our story of sovereignty that is equally as important. As for Pākehā and non-Māori here, I think they can and should centre their identity in Aotearoa by way of Te Tiriti. That could cement their connection to this place in a meaningful way. And then that all circles back to the idea of coexisting - te noho kotahi i runga i tēnei whenua, te iwi Māori me tōna mana ake, te iwi Aotearoa whānui me tōna mana ake, ka tau.

Check out Eru on the gram @tewharewhakaaro or on his website and podcast series Never Ceded Sovreignty, and follow @Maori_party and @Toitū_Te_Tiriti on Insta for Tino updates.

For those wanting to learn more about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Aotearoa hitori, we found The Spinoff’s “A Te Tiriti Reading guide” (and watching and listening) a really helpful space to get started Guide here

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