The new New Zealand labour-led coalition government & PM-Elect Jacinda Ardern has given four Pacific Ministers the top jobs in the country today. A huge milestone for Pasifika progression in New Zealand. And well worth celebrating.
But unfortunately on the same day, it was other news, in stark contrast to the beehive celebrations, that was shared on social media much more excessively than the above.
The altercation between a group of Pacific Island males at Pak N Save Supermarket in Mangere which was filmed and uploaded by bystanders and shared by hundreds of thousands, was the most talked about subject on Poly social-media today.
The incident which was inevitably twisted to suit the negative agenda’s of NZ media (who probably saw the footage online and rubbed their hands in glee) was then accelerated and fed to the mass readership.
Why is that we (Pacific people) are more enthusiastic about sharing footage like that of the Pak N Save video than the achievements such as those Pasifika leaders mentioned above?
When you share video’s like the Pak n Save one, you are only feeding into the negative stereotypes and propaganda that our mainstream media rivals love to relish – the negative Polynesian portrayals that we are so desperately fighting to resist.
Yes. You are helping mainstream media and audiences to perpetuate stereotypes towards Pasifika which then leads to misconceptions and misguided views of ‘South Auckland’ and of ‘those islanders’.
As Polynesians in New Zealand reacted to the video, many cracking jokes about it, and others hanging their heads in shame and disbelief, posts, status’s, opinions and judgements were thrown back and forth faster than the latest meteor shower in the weekend.
But a relative of the Pak n Save ‘victims’ involved in the physical altercation set the record straight tonight.
Anaua Ki-Vaha Tuihalangingie posted on her facebook page:
“FACT: My brothers were defending themselves from a group of males they do not know. This group were looking for trouble and that group targeted my brothers. My brothers were not the instigators, their hands were forced and they only did what any other human will do is defend themselves.
“Those who recorded the incident and posted it up for the world to see, I have noticed are Polynesian. Now my fellow Polynesians, can I call you sister or brother? What you have done here I will point out and I will assume you didn’t think it through – it was probably late right?
“YOU have created the catalyst. You invited the ill-informed opinions from various individuals and groups to label YOU, me, Polynesians as “uneducated” “animals” oh heres a goodie “dumb brainless bottom feeders.” YOU put us ALL to the wolves for slaughter. Trolling at it’s best team, good ol’ human race.”
Thank you Anaua for confirming that Mainstream Media were as I expected, putting their negative spin on it. And for also pointing out that faikakala-ism really is alive and well amongst our community and that a change in mindset is crucial.
We talk about fighting racism – systemic, institutionalised and downright rude racism in New Zealand and being second class citizens which is all well and good. But what are we REALLY doing to change the status quo and to change perceptions and create a tolerant society moving forward?
We can start by discerning what we read in media. And reading between the lines. Be critical in our thinking. Don’t just believe Poly-targeted media purely because it is on a much bigger platform like the NZ Herald and Newshub and because they have the money for advertising that reaches a much larger audience. In fact that is the last thing you should believe. Look at the examples pictured above.
Think about it, how many brown faces do you see in mainstream media? Exactly. So why would you believe the reporter that is behind the article? We can be our own worst enemies. And sometimes we can fall into a trap of letting our ‘colonialised’ thinking take over without even realising it. Remember folks. They are not laughing with us. They are laughing at us.
The wise Malcolm X once said:
“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
Here’s some great advice I saw on one of my friend’s facebook pages today. I hope that bit by bit we can all learn to create this kind of positive change for our Pasifika. Our next generation rely on it.