Tino rangatiratanga – a letter from an old friend in NZ

A guest post by Tina McCafferty

I am wondering how you are? How the days are and where you find yourself? I was very glad that my mum and sister could come to the Andy’s funeral and represent my family and myself. They know how much I love you and how I loved Andy and how at home I always was with you both. It was so great that Kirsten could be there too. As she said after 20 years is too long and she is looking forward to a walk on the beach with you and the dug. The words around Andy’s funeral are consistently ‘sad but beautiful’. He was a beautiful man in every way. I am very glad that I came home when I did a few months ago and got to say goodbye.

On reading the blog I am so deeply touched by the honest and raw kindness of strangers to you both and to the fact that there is such a lack of homophobia. All kids of people from everywhere united around the yes vote and finding themselves touched by the love between you two men. It has reduced me to tears at times. I think you shouldn’t miss that people ‘saw you both’ and sexuality is irrelevant, invisible. Genuinely… It seems a fitting way to honour Andy and your life together as individuals and as a couple.

Maybe it is the loss of Andy and my own grief and sentimentality, my own sense of hope and my belief that as one thing ends another begins, but it does feel to me like Andy leaving us and the opportunity for a free and self-determining Scotland are linked as they both speak of strength, new beginnings, character, hope and the future in a way that honours the past.

I was watching the NZ news tonight and there was a piece on the fact that lots of New Zealanders are living in Scotland at the moment and so have the right to vote. It really pushed me around emotionally. One Kiwi said this was not his country and he was going home to NZ one day and so he didn’t feel it was his place. I applaud his insight. Another Kiwi said he was going to vote no and I cursed him as he is not voting on his heritage, his identify, his right to self-determine, but ours. I was angry at him and I was jealous as although a Scot, a proud, fiery, politically active, interested, passionate and committed Scottish woman I am not allowed to have a say about my country. I was jealous and filled with an envy and anger so deep as I thought ‘how dare you say no to an issue that is not yours!’ and I wept for the fact that I am denied it. If I was there Scottish and proud as is my right my yes vote would have countered his no!

If this was a national election I would not care a jot if New Zealanders voted. However it is not. It is a vote on identity, sovereignty, self-determination, freedom, the future of generations. I feel cheated. Yet I cannot regret living here in NZ either. My sadness in not being allowed a say, is not a want to run from here. It is the sting of injustice.

NZ is a life changing place. I met the love of my life here, became a parent, found myself and I stay because I cannot ask those I love to leave the place they love. I was the immigrant traveler. My darling partner and our weans are in their homeland. I live with the pride and the deep ache of traversing two worlds and grieve for the denial of the right to have a say about who I am and the future of the country and culture I love. The land, the people, the heritage all run in me.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the country in which I have lived so many years and I think being a Scot has allowed me to connect with many New Zealanders but particularly my Maori brothers and sisters in this land. They have taught me, gifted me so much. I recognise this is their land and I recognise it was taken from them by the Crown of England. We share this knowing on both tacit and formal levels, a shared experience that pulses through the blood of ancestors. This longing to have what was ours returned, reclaimed to self rule to shape your own future, to be self determining; tino rangatiratanga – roughly translated as ‘absolute sovereignty’.

I recognise they share it with so many cultures and do so with grace. Like so many of us Scots they do not want to hate, to exclude, they just want the right to have it recognised as their place. They envy Scotland’s position.

I have heard and read and considered the economic arguments, the global arguments, the political arguments. I have been joyed by the hope, the support of other nations. Saddened by the views of those who feel ‘staying together’ is better. Staying together is staying stuck. It is settling for being less than. Those people have the right to their view but I don’t share it. I have no wish to deny their right I just I don’t understand their position, how they can say they are Scottish but … However freedom is a core value of our society and I respect that.

I have been lucky and privileged to have 12 years of formal university education. I have weighed the arguments I vote yes. However I was always going to vote yes as for me this is my heart, my centre of being, my identity. I am not a separatist. I am not anti English. Some of the people I have loved the most in my life have been English – my grandfather, Andy – both shared a passion for Scotland mind ye! I have many friends who are English. I love them. This happening in Scotland, in Alba, is not anti-Sasannach sentiment. This is not about party politics. This is about who we are as a people, a country, a hopefully self-determined nation. I have believed in Scotland my whole life. The first wave of injustice stung so hard as a small child when my parents put ‘British’ on a form and I said we were ‘Scottish’ and they said ‘Aye hen we are but ye are no allowed to put that on a passport form’. I was an independence believer from that day – nearly 40 years ago. I remain a believer in us and our independence now. If I was there tomorrow I would cry with joy as I voted yes.

I do not understand why anyone would vote no. I don’t wish to deny them their right to vote that way but I truly do not understand. The arguments against independence have been run on fear mongering. They are shallow and ill informed. They are illogical, weak and without much substance if scratched a centimetre beyond their surface. We are a nation of thinkers, innovators, educators, entrepreneurs,, we have natural resources, a knowledge economy, world standing it is time to claim it. We will be ok. There will be waves and knocks. We will be ok. We will prosper and thrive.

It is seems small that in the breadth of argument, in my heart this tiny fear sits that if the ‘no’ fear mongering finds its way then I feel that I never again will be able to sing our anthem with joy. It will either be plagued by sadness or a sense of such profound disappointment. It will seem fraudulent. It will seem like folly to sing with passion, ‘o flower of Scotland when will we see your likes again who fought and died for your wee bit hill and glen’ and the words of ultimate hope of generations, ‘ or we can still rise now and be a nation again’.

We can rise now, tomorrow – after centuries and decades, after the passionate voices of the crowd over generations, we can, we should. How can we not say ‘YES’. Oh how I long that my Scottish brothers and sisters do not silence our song. I have observed with pride so many of my family make their way to yes. Come on yersel Scotland. Independence we can dae it. Come on!

I love you Paul, I loved Andy, we all love Scotland.  Let’s vote tomorrow for tino rangatiratanga.


22 comments on “Tino rangatiratanga – a letter from an old friend in NZ

  1. Pam McMahon says:

    Some of us will be voting tomorrow for our relatives and friends overseas who cannot vote, and our fathers and grandparents who died before this opportunity was given them. It is a vote for the people of Scotland, past, present and future.

  2. MBC says:

    I am going to vote tomorrow as if it was my wedding day.

  3. Malcolm MacLeod says:

    You “Yes” campaigners have not only lit an unquenchable fire in “the auld country”, but throughout the Scottish diaspora. Thank you from a proud Scot on the US/Canada border.

  4. It’s not about nationalism or looking backwards, but I confess to wet eyes at the top of the Wallace monument last Sunday.

    We who will vote tomorrow know we do it on behalf of many absent friends and loved ones.

    YES for all of them and YES for the generations as yet unborn. YES with our hearts and YES with our heads.

  5. Anton says:

    I’m vaguely alarmed by the claim that “I have heard and read and considered the economic arguments, the global arguments, the political arguments…I have weighed the arguments…however I was always going to vote yes”. So, in short, you haven’t weighed the arguments, because your mind was already made up. I really don’t know what to make of that.

    Nor can I buy into the idea that New Zealand was taken from its indigenous peoples by “the Crown of England”. Not only is this technically inaccurate, but the Scots too were active colonisers of New Zealand, and it might be argued that the strength of Scottish expatriate culture in NZ is straightforward cultural imperialism, displacing authentic Maori traditions.

  6. Jan Cowan says:

    It’s perfectly possible for arguments to back up a gut feeling.

    Recently I was talking to a friend whose father spent his life arguing for Scottish independence. Sadly he is no longer with us and she would love to somehow mark the day for not only her father but also the many who are unable to vote tomorrow. So you see, Anton, there’s emotion tied up in this whole debate which, it seems, you may never be able to appreciate.

  7. Melvin Penman says:

    Kia. Ora

    I Too live in NZ at the moment, a fine small country doing amazingly well with its resources , Living in the middle of the ocean as far from the worlds markets as you can get. Scotland has so much more potential and very close to its markets in Europe,yet the people are concerned about Independence. There is nothing to fear, NZ is a great example of a real democracy which is proud of all it’s people. Both the native and the New NewZealanders treated equally and all have the same goal, prosperity and peace for the country. I desire to have a real homeland a country like NZ which is proud to be independent . Fear is a short term felling which will disappear once Independence is underway,no country wants to go back to London rule. I for one want to come back to Scotland and help build the Independent country, I will not come back and support the British state, interfere and subjugate native peoples anywhere.

    Haere Mai,

    Melvin Penman


    • me in us says:

      Melvin, Paul — New Zealand! Sideways and off topic, please forgive –at the Auckland Town Hall Moment of Truth event on Sept. 15th, the moderator Laila Harre opened the event with a welcome in Maori. I THINK this may be what she said, but can anyone tell me for sure? I’ve spent quite a bit of time today trying to figure it out, and to come here and see Maori… ! I’m diving. (Extra hugs for translation…)

      @22:20 LAILA HARRÉ: E nga iwi, e nga reo, e nga karangatanga maha o nga hau e wha, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa Aotearoa.

      Sorry to interrupt, and many thanks. (One thing I did get and really appreciate was “We are all neighbors online.”)

      Me in California (come on Scotland!)

  8. Capella says:

    One more night to go! Thought I would post this link here to a great speech by David Hayman in “The Pitiless Storm”. It’s too brilliant to miss!
    Thanks to WGD and all who post here for keeping he positive momentum going.

  9. macart763 says:

    Great post Tina and much appreciated.

    Its like the night before Christmas. I can hardly wait to get to bed.🙂

    No more doubts, anxiety on a low peep and no arguments tonight.

    Let’s do it.

  10. kestral says:

    I am sorry that rules had to be made to make this referendum manageable – it could have got crazy if we had to go round the world with votes

    However – I am going to gather lots of bits of this referendum and would be happy to send to peeps if they would love to own part of the movement that made scotland vote YES

    Unionists organised a car rally tonight in east end of glasgow – so us yesers could wave goodbye to the union and we did with a smile and a wave and a goodbye – although I don’t think that was quite the signs they were giving us :-S

    Pub next door – yes pub – people were getting a bit pissy with all the horn honking, rude signing from the cars – a few union jacks that the convoy had lost off cars, they wanted to burn in the fag bucket outside

    we felt – we understood the provocation – we feel our people

    we said – “do not become them” – and not a flag was burned

    and that my friend truly defines us – that is what it means to be Scottish

  11. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    This is a beautifully written letter on so many levels. But it resonates particularly deeply with me as I am also a New Zealander and a Scot. My vast majority of my family were born in that country and live there. I was born in Scotland but emigrated to NZ when I was 8 following my father’s death. My mother needed the help of her family, especially her parents, in those difficult years. I lost a father but I gained two grandparents who I became very, very close to and I don’t regret these events for an instant. I also gained a whole tribe of a family – 19 cousins, 10 aunts & uncles – whom I remain close to to this day.

    I returned to Scotland aged 16 with my mother (now a naturalised Scot and ardent Yes supporter) and sister (slightly less ardent, but still Yes) because this land is home in a way my other home in NZ never was and never will be. NZ is the home of my family, but Scotland is my home and, while I have considered many times leaving it for other shores, I really don’t want to. Or to have to.

    My 8 years in NZ really helped me form my sense of Scottishness in a way I suspect I would never have done had I remained here throughout my childhood. I was labelled as ‘other’ and quickly learned to hide my accent but I never forgot where I came from. The NZ flag was not my own; the Saltire – not the Union Flag – always was. History lessons told the story of the Maori and the European settlers (how I empathised with the Maori) but my mother taught me about my people’s history and my people’s culture. But I also completely missed being taught that I was somehow a second class citizen of the UK nor was I taught the wonders of the British Empire. I am a Scot and a post-colonial Kiwi and I have never viewed the British Empire as anything other than an exploitative regime of oppression (without denying the Scots part in oppressing many others through the Empire). I missed out completely on being taught the standard fare of British & Scottish history as taught in Scottish schools and so when I came back home I found I completely lack the baggage that many Scots of my generation carry with them (though to be fair, I have some NZ baggage in its place).

    The self confidence I have gained from growing up in a country that was unapologetically independent and had no weight of lost imperial history behind it is only now apparent to me in this independence campaign. I am quite happy with the idea of living in a country with a small population and relatively small economy which does not get to ‘punch above its weight’ internationally (and doubly proud to have lived in a nation that banned all nuclear weapons, even if that meant annoying the USA). I know from personal experience that this is no barrier to having a good life. Not a perfect life, but definitely a good one and I can’t wait to see future generations of Scots growing up with that sense of confidence that being independent brings.

  12. Hugh Wallace says:

    p.s. Happy Yesmas Eve everyone! (with thanks to Gillian Martin of the Indy Quines for the phrase)

  13. Andrea says:

    Great Post Tina, Your journey in life away from your much loved homeland mirrors mine – I’ve lived in NZ but mostly in Australia since 1979, collecting an Aussie family along the way. A Thatcher refugee, in perpetual homesickness.

    Don’t fret about your vote… – thanks to social media we all have a say. We can all discuss the issues. We can all better articulate sometimes for the first time in our lives why a government closer to home will deliver policies that better reflect Scotland’s values and democracy. And we can reflect on the unfairness of 4 recent elections where Scotland never got the government it voted for. Unfairness seemed to be woven into the fabric of life for Scots under British rule. Weapons, wars, high handed foreign policy – destruction of employment opportunities and ever increasing disaffection and real poverty at home. Not much changed from my own Glasgow childhood of the 50’s.

    I finally att 60 started a facebook page in June this year whilst on a visit to Scotland – I had a brother and a niece who were no votes. They were 100% in favour of Scottish self governance – but were fearful. I scoured the internet for discussions on the main issues that they identified were concern – secure jobs, pensions more austerity -WGD was always a favourite – because Scottish humour was and is a great connecting force for Scots. I just put it out there….didn’t post to them directly – but who knows who saw these posts?

    But my niece just finally posted today – YES! on her timeline….. so a fair swap…my vote for hers!

    I calmed down about not have a vote – when I read the English press recently – where there was immense anger down south about being powerless to stop the Scots from destroying the ‘British way of life’. The cry was “why didn’t WE get to vote on something that affects us all?

    The panic of the last week or so is the result of that impotence.

    But of course Scotland would never have achieved Independence in that scenario. I am more than happy to relinquish my vote to ensure that the people in Scotland who have to live everyday with the decision tomorrow have their voices truly heard for probably the first real opportunity in 300 years. The internet and social media has made it possible to bypass the media, and debunk the fear mongering.

    I can’t stop saying YES!!! It is infectious…

    Having read of so many well considered accounts of non indigenous Scottish residents recount their own journey to yes – I am consoled by the intelligence and the caring and love they express for Scotland.

    I EXACTLY understand how you could fully want independence for our country. And yet still need to consider the issues carefully. Is Independence really possible? How would it work? What would be lost? What could be gained? How much will it cost? Scots are a pragmatic lot, canny and careful too. And with a healthy dose of scepticism for politics thrown in. .

    As to Anton’s suggestions that Scots were colonials in every sense of the word….Of course they were. They were pioneers and driven to be creative wherever they went and hungry for new ideas. They took the opportunities that were presented to them at the time as part of the British system. But they have also been at the forefront of the union movement ‘down under’- leading the way for fairness and equality.

    It will be a great day for all of us when most of the opportunities ripe for discovery will be in Scotland itself

  14. Mammy says:

    Who is that said .’I want to break free’ That’s right Andy .So Scotland now is your chance vote YES

  15. yesguy says:

    Tina thanks for the article.

    I think many of us will be thinking of Paul and Andy when the results come through. Paul writes about the bad and turns it into a laughing matter. A gift that has brought him many loyal followers.

    I couldn’t imagine the referendum without WGD. and the commenters. It would be without the laughter and plain sadness ,that these pages bring. This site is quite unique .

    And through all his pain, Paul still made time for us. Send him our thanks Tina. and to all Scots out there. We know we are not alone.

    Good night folks. see you all in an iScotland.

    YES Scotland .

  16. Morag Frame says:

    ‘to rise and be a nation again’ how wonderful……and I wish you will come back more often to visit your homeland and enjoy our spiritual and political freedom1

  17. A Meringue says:

    There cant be many Scots that dont have relatives across the globe. I have some in Canada and Australia. Sadly I have only met one or two. However I do consider the diaspora to be my kin as much as any other Scot.

    I am a polling agent at my local primary school tomorow. If nothing else it will get me away from a computer for a few hours. This is likely to be my last comment before the result so I just wanted to say “Go steady and keep the heed!” It is there right in front of us for the taking. If providence is with us then tomorrow Scotland will be a nation in its own right again.

    Couldnae finish without this the latest celebrity video from number 10.😉 (Watch to the end)

  18. hektorsmum says:

    I have a friend who is half Maori and half Scots, her Dad. I hope she is following this from Malaysia where she presently lives.
    Thank you Tina, I am thinking of the many people I know who would have loved this vote today and my vote was for them also.

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