Meet ‘the Woke’ – they are neither social revolutionaries nor extremists


OPINION: There is a large group of people in this country who are concerned about the leadership of Aotearoa-New Zealand.

They are disappointed that the heritage of this country is not properly understood or celebrated, and they are saddened by the indifference to this history shown by many of their compatriots.

They are aware of the severe impact colonialism has had on the Maori – particularly the dispossession of land, the storm of destruction of the natural environment, and the institutionalized racism that followed.

They are particularly sorry that Te Ao Māori is not celebrated in a routine and joyful manner as something which contributes immensely to the unique identity of this country in the South Pacific.

* Meet the bewildered: they are neither ignorant nor deplorable, they are just confused by the change
* The claim of academics that mātauranga Māori is “not a science” is controversial
* It is madness that we do not teach our ākonga the history of Aotearoa
* Prejudice and misconceptions about Maori hurt all New Zealanders

They are unimpressed when the Treaty of Waitangi is dismissed as irrelevant or when events such as the Moriori or the carnage of Musket Wars are presented as evidence for colonialism.

They don’t claim that the Maori were a perfect society – just that they were there first, that they are culturally rich and very worthy of our esteem.

They also do not qualify treated settlements as a personal or national tax burden.

On the contrary, they respect the right of Maori to be compensated by the Crown for past breaches of trust, and they welcome that this transfer of resources results in a significant re-engagement of Maori in contemporary Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Today, people with such views are often referred to, pejoratively, as “awakened.”

Greg Billington


Greg Billington

But who are the awakened ones?

They are educated, often from the middle class, but best described as being from all walks of life, from the young to the elderly.

They are both white and brown.

How are they different from those whose views often appear to be opposing?

They are almost certainly more likely to listen to science than to rely on “common sense,” which can mean, and just as is the case with science, that they are more comfortable with it. uncertainty and feel less threatened by the likelihood of change.

When this group of New Zealanders hear cries for open borders, they are mystified that those making these calls fail to recognize scientific expertise that recommends that borders remain closed until the population is fully vaccinated.

And they are more inclined to understand that just like our neighbor Tasman, until July the vaccine supply was the limiting factor for the deployment and that no acceleration would have allowed us to escape the current lockdown.

Likewise, informed by science, this group of people experience bewilderment and alarm when they witness reluctance against the need for urgent action, at all levels, to tackle climate change.

Ultimately, awakened people worry that for 150 years there has been no counter-narrative to who made Maori second-class citizens.

Likewise, they worry that there has not been an effective counter-narrative against skepticism in the face of climate change, the absolute right to exploit natural resources or the rights of the individual as being paramount. on those of the community at large.

They rarely feel pressured to express an opinion on any of these issues because they know their opinion is unlikely to hurt anyone.

Greg Billington was Managing Partner of DDB Brand Identity Consulting in Auckland, Managing Director of Van de Roer Design Branding Agency in Wellington and Auckland, and Managing Director and Managing Director of the recently sold skincare brand Snowberry. at Procter & Gamble. Greg lives in Picton.


Thelma J. Longworth