Mass Mataatua haka to support Standing Rock Sioux

By Peata Melbourne

More than 300 people from around the Bay of Plenty gathered in Whakatāne today to take part in a mass haka in support of the Sioux tribe's protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in America. It's the latest of numerous haka performances spreading the word on social media about the crisis facing an American Indian tribe and their treaty rights.

When distance is an obstacle, a stance in solidarity is the only means of support

Supporter Manaakitanga Pryor says, “The reason we're supporting their cause is because the struggle of indigenous people there is no different to Māori.”

It's a snippet of the resounding support of rights of American Indians who continue to protest against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline that will run through land they've retained under the treaty.

Organiser Erana Leaf says, “We incorporated our raupatu here within the Ngāti Awa rohe and we felt that our similarities and struggles pertaining to our whenua it was only befitting that we send our aroha over to them because we know the struggles.”

For the Sioux Tribe, one of 567 in America, these treaty lands is all they have left and they want to protect that. A sentiment all too familiar for many of those who turned up to support the mass haka today in Whakatāne.

“It's sad to hear how they're being treated over there by officials, that's what it was like here back in the days,” says Pryor.

It's one of many haka that have emerged over the last week, and gaining momentum on social media. Today supporters came from surrounding regions of Whakatāne, non-Māori included from places like Canada, and Germany.

Organiser Keita Wharerewa says, “Some have just recently moved here some have friends, whānaunga that are here, live in Opotiki, in the wider districts.”

But in North Dakota the protests continue. Supporters are now awaiting the fate of the Sioux Tribe's protected treaty lands following Donald Trump's unexpected win in the U.S presidential election.