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Hikoi comes to a sombre end in Wellington

Mar 23rd, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, Picture story

THE HIKOI has ended as 400 people marched the last leg through the streets of Wellington toward Parliament yesterday.

The mood was sombre as the protesters marched slowly, reminiscent of a funeral procession.

Heads bowed low and women were adorned with crowns of kawakawa and kowhai branches.

Everybody was silent aside from the sound of weeping and the haunting sound of the koauau (Maori flute).

When the hikoi reached Parliament a tangi (funeral service) took place.

Kaumātua spoke and the Maori Party and New Zealand flags were laid to rest, along with the original 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act and its replacement, the Marine and Coastal Area Bill.

David Rankin, chair of the Hone Heke Foundation, has criticised the timing, with the Christchurch earthquake still fresh in people’s minds.

Independent MP Hone Harawira put the low hikoi turnout down to the sensitivity of the issue.

“In 2004 there was a clearly identifiable Pakeha enemy. When the enemy is part of your own, it’s very hard for Maori to march.”

Hikoi organisers attribute it to financial constraints, the fact that the economy is still emerging from a recession, and that petrol prices are at an all-time high.

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