Opinion: Shame on those exploiting Moriori for their anti-Māori bigotry

OPINION: Yesterday, Newshub ran this story. I'd worked for weeks on it with Moriori and with input from iwi trust Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri.

The story was about attempts to hand land back to Moriori of the Chatham Islands and how that was opening up old and painful wounds.

But instead of actually reading the story and trying to understand it, many used it as an excuse to legitimise the wrongs perpetrated by European colonisers by making incorrect and sweeping generalisations totally devoid of fact.

Here is just a small sample of the racist comments it provoked on Newshub's Facebook page.

"Talk about double standards. So then The Maori should get nothing either and should hand back everything to the government Because they were conquered [sic]."

"No more waitangi claims, typical greedy f$#s they are [sic]." 

"So shut up. You lost your land because you got conquered., Stop any treaty claims you have going. You got beaten. Shut up [sic]."

"wow so the shoes on the other foot and the maori dont like it [sic]."

Shame on those of you who exploited this genuine story about a complicated and heartwrenching history to fuel your own bigotry against Māori. 

Grow up!

For those who need a deeper education, read this fantastic article from the Spinoff about Moriori.

The comments on Facebook echo what I heard while growing up in Christchurch in the 1990s. 

I would have hoped that by now we could have relegated it to history, but this exposes the sheer ignorance on the part of many Pākehā New Zealanders of our history and is simplistic, racist, bigoted thinking.

It shows no understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi or of the inherent privileges that Pākehā New Zealanders have as a result of not having had to experience the butt end of colonialism.

With these ignorant comments, they are attempting to legitimise the banning of Te Reo Māori in schools, the confiscation of vast tracts of Māori land, the suppression of indigenous beliefs and medicine by a 1907 Act of Parliament, the outright racism experienced by Māori to this very day and the cultural dislocation of thrusting a Euro-centric way of life on an indigenous peoples.

But of course, Pākehā can't understand the true extent of what that means, because we haven't had to live through that or experience that trauma firsthand.

It is time to call this out for what it is: Pure and simple racism.

Please, fellow New Zealanders, when you hear these things, don't awkwardly and silently laugh or nod - challenge it.

It's subversive, dangerous and doesn't deserve oxygen, especially as we move into 2019.

Alex Baird is a Newshub reporter based in Wellington