Liberation of the Mind
by Ross Nepia Himona

(a posting to the NZ Maori Tino-Rangatiratanga email discussion list, 25 June 2000)

Kia ora koutou

I think Joe Davies [of Corso NZ] has raised an important take/point, and that we need to look closely at what liberation of the motherland entails, and how it might be done.

The obvious answer is that the colonial structures and hegemonies need first to be dismantled, before a more suitably  indigenous Maori or Pacific framework can be put in place. And that is a revolutionary kaupapa. Revolutions of course range in intensity from the extremely violent to the sublimely peaceful. For us in Aotearoa the citadels that must be stormed are fairly obvious, starting perhaps with the "unwritten" constitution, and the assumption of sovereignty that is entrenched in this thing called parliament.

Decolonisation throughout the Pacific, where it has taken place, has been generally but not always peaceful, but has left the colonial infrastructures in place, and the colonial powers have maintained their hegemony through the pressures of officially or unofficially tied economic aid. So there has in fact been no revolution, merely a replacement of local European colonial hegemony by local Indigenous colonial hegemony, still subservient to the old mastas in new guises, such as the Commonwealth, the Forum, the IMF, WTO, etc.

The arc of unrest across the Pacific (and South East Asia) is showing us how the peaceful revolution eventually turns to violence anyway, if the underlying colonial control measures are not recognised and dealt to.

For me the lesson is that whatever form the revolution takes, it must be deep revolution, involving the complete replacement of constitutions, structures and systems. Whatever form the revolution takes, this process takes time, and it is the commitment to future-building that is important -- building the vision, building the hope that becomes faith, and building the commitment to work towards it.

What we have seen in our "liberated" neighbours is that they are not yet truly liberated, and equally that they have not yet become involved in future-building towards true liberation.

Personally I believe that the revolution in Aotearoa needs to be of the peaceful variety, after the example of Te Whiti, followed later by Gandhi. And that the key ingredient in the peaceful revolution is the exercise of future-building.

I also think that even when armed revolution is necessary, future-building is still the key ingredient. Armed revolution without that component is little more than banditry. Perhaps South Africa is the role model in that regard, in that the leaders of the ANC were able to move quickly after victory into reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoration, having already envisioned their nation after victory.

That future must be built first in the minds of men and women and children, lest the revolution itself becomes the kaupapa/cause, and degenerates into the accepted lifestyle, as in Northern Ireland. Here in Aotearoa, in our mostly peaceful 160-year old revolution, I think we Maori have also fallen into this trap, and that we need to move on to some serious future-building. We need, I think, to raise the peoples gaze out of the collective and individual calamities in which they find themselves entrapped, to focus on a future that will only be possible if they can first imagine it, and then believe in it.

Future-building is the responsibility of the artist, in collaboration with the politician; revolutionary activists together - kapahaka, singers and songwriters, dancers and choreographers, actors and playwrights, carvers and weavers, painters and sculptors, filmmakers, radio broadcasters, writers, poets and other storymakers and storytellers.

Left to themselves, without the influence of the artist-as-activist, the politician-as-activist becomes enmeshed in the present. Too many of our artists as well are still stuck in the past, neglecting their role to lead us into the future. And too much of our planning has been hijacked by the management and public service paradigm, with its dry and unimaginative strategic planning process.

The first step to liberation is taken, as it ever was, in the minds of ordinary men, women and children.

Kati ra mo tenei wa o Te Huihui o Matariki