Mahara Nicholas waving the tino rangatiratanga flag at Mauna Kea. - Photo: Supplied
A Tauranga kaiako taking part in protests at Mauna Kea in Hawaii has been moved by the peaceful approach of native Hawaiian demonstrators even in the face of their elders being arrested.
The occupation at Mauna Kea - the tallest mountain in the world from base to summit - is now in its 7th day, as native Hawaiians attempt to stop the construction of a 30m high telescope on the mountain, which was due to get underway last week.
Mahara Nicholas (Ngāi te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui) has been there waving the tino rangatiratanga flag from the beginning, and has been impressed by the use of peaceful resistance, which came to the fore when more than 20 elderly native Hawaiians were arrested last week.
"We had all been asked to stay silent and sit down on the sides of the road and not intervene, and it'd be something really hard for people to do to sit down and stay silent, and watch your kaumātua being arrested by policemen and escorted to vans and then taken away.
"We had to respect that because that is what the kaumātua asked so that's what happened.
"The whole wairua around that was just something else I've never experienced before.
"Our Māori people we like to haka, we like to get rowdy and get in people's faces and I saw that a lot in the [Foreshore and Seabed] hīkoi where you're walking through the towns and all the young men would haka at shopkeepers and all the public around, but here they encourage not to do that and to show aroha to everyone, including the police officers."
Mr Nicholas said that Aotearoa and Hawaii are connected, not divided, by the Pacific Ocean, and share many cultural values such as a respect and love for their mountains, which are considered to be ancestors.
"Every whaikōrero, every kaumātua will stand and greet and tuku ihi ki tona maunga - that in itself is our connector to this kaupapa, our maunga are all connected, we feel the mamae of our whānaunga of the desecration of their maunga."
That view is shared by Ninakaye Taanetinorau (Ngāti Maniapoto) who has been holding waiata and karakia in the Waikato to tautoko (support) those at Mauna Kea.
"It's considered to be a beacon, or a pito, or a very strong part of the core of the planet so having this human, man-made construction going up there and disrupting that core, it can only have negative affects."
The protest is significant for Ngāti Tangata in the Waikato, who have been battling to save their own maunga, Weraiti.
A quarry has been operating on the mountain for the last 70 years, and the consent has just been renewed for Matamata Metal Supplies to continue quarrying.
He uri o Ngāti Tangata, Te Aho a Ranga Apaapa has taken the advice Aunty Pua, one of the head protesters at Mauna Kea, gave them when she visited them last month.
"The advice that she gave to counter what the systems and governments and states are doing is to delay - the most powerful tool we have as indigenous people is to delay - whether it is through the court systems, whether it is through legislation or whether it is through simply standing in your space."