Bastion Point 30 years later
Old rivals remember land-rights drama
The noise from the helicopters above was deafening and the sound of soldiers marching along Tamaki Drive intimidating.
But for Patu Clark the peaceful nature of the Bastion Pt occupation, which was forcibly ended 30 years ago yesterday, gave the protesters dignity up against the strong arm of the state. "The scale of it was meant to belittle us, but it made us feel stronger." Mrs Clark, the sister of Joe Hawke, who led the land occupation, was among those escorted off the occupation site on May 25, 1978. Her mother also was arrested. Thirty years on she recalled the range of emotions that day. "It is sadness mostly, and exhilaration at the same time because we were peaceful. Our spirit was uplifted. The people stuck with the kaupapa, it brings a tear to my eye." An open-air church service was held yesterday outside the meeting house at the Orakei Marae to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the occupation, the direct action that pitched Maori land rights in the public eye and highlighted historical grievances.
30 years after a most despicable act of naked power by the state, the Bastion Point protest was the turning point in public consciousness – sure the state could rope in 500 thugs to attack peaceful and righteous protest, but the cost was so great the winner ended up being the tyrant. In those days racist garden variety NZers could be open about their prejudice, these days they have to quietly skulk around posting things anonymously or wrap it up in talkback dog whistle Political Madness gone mad rhetoric to dampen the blazing red necks of their bias, because while those NZers don’t ‘get’ what was won on Bastion Point, the rest of us do – it was a turning point in the dialogue of how far the State can go and those who put themselves on the line to make that point are to be respected as true New Zealanders.