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Hikoi Takutaimoana II - the second foreshore and seabed hikoi
Maori campaigner calls for 'united front' with Pasifika


9 October 2004

A prominent Maori campaigner called today for a strengthening of the relationship between Maori and Pacific Islanders with a "unified front" over common issues.

Lawyer and activist Annette Sykes spoke at the Pacific Island Media Association (PIMA) conference in the lead up to the foreshore and seabed hikoi in Auckland next weekend.

Sykes said the foreshore and seabed legislation framework being developed in New Zealand had possible implications for Pacific Islanders.

She urged islanders to join the hikoi.

Sykes said she was worried that if the foreshore and seabed legislation passed it would provide a dangerous model for the rest of the Pacific.

"What's going to happen? Is the Pacific bloc going to be strong enough to stop Australia and its American friend?" she told participants at the PIMA conference at Auckland University of Technology.

Sykes also said Maori and Pacific Islanders had a common heritage, or whakapapa, although there was a belief among some Maori that Pacific whanau were not related.

"If we don't look after each other the way we should, it puts our whole world at risk," she said.

She pointed to the racism between Maori and Pacific Islanders.

"Maori are terribly racist against Pacific Islanders. We need to be actively promoting strategies that bring us together to look for more things we can look after together - rather than these racist ideologies."

An audience of mainly Pacific Island media people listened as Sykes outlined ways in which the relationship between Maori and Pacific Islanders could be strengthened.

"It's about figuring out how to recover our relationship together. Tongan, Samoan and Rarotongan they all came from the same root language as te reo [Maori language]," Sykes said.

"Together, we need to protect this special area of the world."

Dean Campbell
AUT Journalism/Pacific Media Watch


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