ALL Children Born are our Treasures

Personal Opinion – 04 March 2012

 Children are our treasures regardless of what home, family or circumstance they are born into. On this Children’s Day I express my thanks for my own children and every single child that the earth has blessed us with.

 The planet village, the one that is supposed to collectively raise our children, is no longer a given. We have instead a staunch and ever rising concrete sterile building in its place. This structure has been successful in advocating for a notion of individual self-centred survival of the fittest. It is a notion which harbours contempt and hostility for anyone less than fit and it ignores structural issues. This construction has been erected over the top of our gardens of collective compassion, as if those plantings are only weeds to be frowned upon.

As a mother of children ranging from eighteen to three years old – I can understand and fully empathise with the angry cries from outraged New Zealanders. They want death and castration for the Turangi teenager who raped and harmed a five year old child. If it was my own daughter, I may also have murderous hell-bent vengeance from my heart and soul. But at some point I would have to reckon with a future free from the ugliness of hate, for the sanity of myself and the rest of my family.

A huge wrong has been done. It is a profound and deep wrong-doing that has created enormous imbalance with all that is good in the universe. The young man and his family must be held accountable for what has happened – balance must be restored to that little girl, her family, the Turangi community and our entire planet.

To the little girl and her family; I wish for nothing but peace and healing to you all. I struggle to comprehend what you have all suffered. Aotearoa is grieving for you because we know this is not who we are. Today on Children’s Day I remember what happened to an innocent child and I am horrified.

The teenager who committed this wrong has been sentenced to ten years in prison. But I am not convinced that any prison sentence ALONE will properly restore this overwhelming disjunction. I am not sure that true accountability and reflection from this teenage boy and his whānau will happen purely as a result of jail time. In ten years time, he will still be a young man. Whether we agree or not he will be back in our communities again. I am asking us all, what sort of young man do we want him to be when he arrives back to us? Is it too much for me to hope that at the least, he will not be a monster? Is it too far fetched to expect that with appropriate support, he might even become a contributing adult again instead of remaining a burden to society?

I do not know the teenager or his whānau, but something somewhere went very wrong. By all accounts, it appears that this kid did not receive an upbringing. We all know that many exceptional people have come through all sorts of adverse circumstances to become quite functional and even outstanding. If you are still reading this article, I will have enough people ready to bite me by now without me also trying to make excuses for the actions of this teenager or his whānau. There are no excuses. BUT how do we stop this from happening again?! If in the angry call for ‘justice’ we have quartered and hung this teenager in the town square, with his ‘irresponsible’ whānau looking on – then what? Will that ultimate act of revenge ensure that other families and children are all strong and confident and resourced in our communities? Will that act of ‘justice’ provide the incentive for all parents to suddenly become role-models for society by tomorrow?

As I hear people now saying “simple, stop the ‘weak’ from breeding”………..oh wait. No.
My meter for feeling disgusted has just gone berserk and is preventing me from even speaking to such lunacy. Sorry if I got your hopes up for a second there.

Here in South Auckland where I live, people like the Manurewa Marae kuia (women elders) inspire me. They ignore the unforgiving concrete edifice that is devoid of kindness and they stretch their uplifting hands to those who are struggling. The kuia form authentic relationships with those who have already lost Darwin’s race. Their work is challenging, full of complex problems and dynamics and is mostly akin to pushing crap uphill. They are of course underpaid, under-resourced and under-valued by most.

I place huge value in those kuia and their small but important gains. Recently they spoke to me about a young mum ‘coming out of the darkness’. The kuia spoke about the many months they had spent just supporting her to feel like she was worth more than the life she is currently living. These are immeasurable gains. Can we measure how many babies we do not kill?

However, the kuia are up against ‘that building’ as well. Yes many communities, marae, and whānau have planted great gardens of collective compassion and nurturing. This has allowed some incredible work to happen in spite of the foreboding cold concrete creation that is concerned only with the care of the self.  I am also aware that many families have done quite nicely for themselves just by tending to their own backyards only. If you do nothing but be good parents for the rest of your lives, yes you are my heroes. But for us all to be heroes so all our children thrive, there is work to be done.

At the beginning of this article I called for accountability from the teenager and his whānau. I stand resolute in that. Only true accountability will give even that young person and his whānau any hope of a future.

In the meantime, how do we make certain that no young person will ever again adopt such tragic actions? I am choosing to fight for sustainable wellbeing for all of our children and whānau. It is well past time to explode this current arrangement of indifference, hostility and outright hate towards our families who are anything less than heroic right now. Rather than exploiting any opportunity to ramble unintelligent bigotry, role-model what genuine concern looks like. I realise that the latter approach takes more intelligence, work and balls but it has proven to have better outcomes than stirring polarisation.

Currently our State is; breaking our country into bits and selling it to more ‘cold colossal’ corporations, whipping the poor without whipping poverty, harassing our natural resources instead of harassing outdated fossil fuel energy, instilling economic, social and political policies that further destroy healthy and basic human values in favour of corporate ones. In Manurewa we have more prison buildings for our children to look up to than we do tertiary education institutions. We  owe it to our children to reject such fee market neo-liberal thinking because it is destroying our planet village.

At the time I was born my parents were young, poor, unmarried, clueless and Māori. By some lunatic analysis, they should not have been allowed to breed at all. Thankfully I entered this world and can now take my glorious place to write articles of profound importance, to espouse words of stunning grandeur, to conjure notions of revolutionary thinking and indeed to inspire mass world change.

Failing that (darn it), I will just try and be a good Mama who role-models care towards others. Thanks to Mum, Dad and my planet village for ensuring that we remain fiercely proud of being Māori. Thank you also for teaching us to stand up for, rather than stand on, others.

Ngā mihi

Marama Davidson
(Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou)

Author: Te Wharepora Hou

Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tāmaki Makaurau based, but we have strong participation from wāhine based elsewhere in Aotearoa and the world. We have come together to ensure a stronger voice for wāhine and are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.

14 thoughts on “ALL Children Born are our Treasures”

  1. well written, well said, it challenges me, a man, about violence and the aftermath of violence, too easy to be outraged and throw away the key, job done, now chilling. But the longer term mahi of teaching and growing up, the wounder, and restoring the wounded is a big work, it should be women and men’s work together and the reality is, its not. Most men have absented themselves from doing the work of raising their own and other men’s consciousness.Thats the big tangi right now.

    1. Kia ora Boudi Maasen. I agree with you, it is absolutely huge mahi. So huge that I can barely comprehend it myself. And there have been people who have been trying to do this mahi for ever. Te Wharepora Hou are certainly trying to share our whakaaro that we need us as humans to all work together on the long road of restoring balance. So thank you for your feedback.

      Marama Davidson

  2. He toanga o taku ngakau, he taku mokopuna e, e mokopuna korikori, he aha, he aha ra, –
    A priceless waiata, that a Grandmother composed for all Grandchildren. “The dearest gift of my heart is my grandchildren”. Marama, this is a huge mahi in restoring balance back into whanau.
    Having kuia and kuamatua, to support you unconditionally on this journey is truly inspirational.
    To acknowledge your parents for blessing you with the gifts that you have, is very powerful.

    Pa Tate, had a very powerful workshop that he delivered not only to Health & Business Corporations, but also to Marae. It was called “The Dynamics of Whanaungatanga”, powerful, because it truly demonstrated what “role” we all played in our whanau, hapu, and iwi. I truly believe that if we all lived by “The Dynamics of Whanaungatanga”….there would be no tukino/abuse of any kind to one another. Nga mihi

    1. Pa Tate’s mahi is exactly the sort of approach we should be advocating more of. I have heard about this very workshop from so many of our Tai Tokerau whanau.

      Te Wharepora Hou will support and continue to highlight the sort of mahi that you talk about. And at the same time we will support in whatever way we can, calling the structures to accountability.

      Thank you!
      Marama Davidson

  3. Kia ora Marama, what an inspiring light you are,
    The Turangi teenager is one of many and many more to come sad but true, and yes castration is what our Tupuna use to do to people who committed a crime so terrorible and disgusting as that, it was the lore (law) of the land and the way of our people back then before our people were forced into living a diffarent way of life, it was part of respect and all the rest that goes with it. but hey time’s changed, we were all force to live a life that was not our own, and then over the year’s a break down of familie’s started to happen, and yes In my opinon it usually does start in the home, your parent’s are your first teachers in life who ever they may be, they are your roll models in every sense of the word, but…not if they haven’t been roll modelled themselve’s, I mean if they haven’t had the dynamic’s of Whanaungatanga growning up in the Papakainga from day one, they wouldn’t of had a very good start in life unless something or someone saved them, so from day one we all needed to be given a kite of life, a kite of knowledge, a kite of building blocks, a kite of coping, a kite of awhi, a kite of aroha, a kite of respect, a kite of whanaungatanga, but if we don’t have all or any of these kite then whats going to happen to us as a person as a family as a people, exactly whats happening to us now, a breakdown of Whanaungatanga as a whole, There isn’t enough education put out there in the community to teach people about family breakdown’s, womens refuge, mental disorder’s, post-natal depression, autisum in children, learning disabilitie’s. The knowledge needs to be put out there to let people be aware of who and what they are living with so they can better understand how to help the family
    member wheather its physical or mental, because if you don’t know properly what your dealing with then come’s the abuse, its through lack of understanding lack of being educated about the disorder, breakdown, depression and so on. So in order to educate people your first port of call should be people’s front door’s people’s letterboxes, not on TV, you need to reach out to the people. God bless you on your journey. One more thing, as for poverty, well, the Goverment can have that fixed within a week, if they really wanted to, that’s easliy fixed too.

    1. Kia ora Daphne – yes I have heard many Maori talk about how tikanga and lore would have things sorted out far quicker and with a swift justice in these situations of takahi on someone’s mana. But as you point out we don’t even have an understanding of tikanga, we have lost what such swift justice is about and how it would apply anyway. I would love for us to get back to such a place of understanding through the whole community that we could apply that sort of rebalance. But for the teenager, he himself is a victim as well, of sexual abuse as a child and of an entirely neglectful upbringing. I would hope that any lore would sort out the root causes of this evil and eradicating just the teenager in this case, wouldn’t deal to the takahi of what his family have and haven’t done to him. And who knows how far back the abusive cycle goes.

      So yes the return to lore may have some answers, but that is why we are even here in the first place. We are not all coming through hundreds of years and generations of those whanaungatanga dynamics and supports breaking down.

      Nga mihi Daphne!

  4. Thank you so much for your words of compassion and insight. I add my tautoko to your beautiful words and heart.

  5. Nga mihi kia koe Marama mai te Ao Moemoea / Australia.

    Your korero makes my heart rise, and fall – but rise again. I heard of this over here from someone else and every time I hear of another tamaiti dying or of something like this being done by one of our own well, words cannot do that aberration justice. My blood boils and I can hear our tipuna crying out for these ones being lost, and for this tama, his innocence and also for the poor little girl who was subjected to said atrocities. We tangi for her.

    We cannot help but dwell on the madness of this cold world, but not so long as it sucks us into a void of fear, hopelessnes and desperation. The mamae that have been perpetrated on our people and many of our indigenous brothers and sisters around the world, may never be truly addressed by the governments.

    Only we, the people, can stand and say, ‘ I will not tolerate your treatment of my whanau like this. I will not sit idly by whilst you rape and pillage Papatuanuku and Tangaroa, fill them with your poison for short sighted and ill informed delusions of so called ‘progress’. We are human, you will pay attention to our plight, you will listen to our concerns and realise we are not against you, but against the narrow minded ideals that the top-down neo-liberal constructs of modern politics is jamming down our throats. Every single day. ‘

    All I ever wanted to be growing up was a father. I may not be the best, I for one know there is always something we can do better. My role is to nurture, guide and protect. Imbue them with knowledge and foresight to face the ills that this selfish world throws at us incessantly.

    We can only do our utmost with the little knowledge we have and with the aroha and tautoko of our whanau and friends continue on fighting the good fight – for our tamariki, mokopuna and the future of our people.

    Love what you’re writing and can feel the passion jumping off the page Marama.

    Mauri ora!

    1. Kia ora Bronson – nga mihi. I appreciate your comments. It’s so excruciating thinking about these transgressions that we are doing! What I failed to say in my article was that at one point, we should’ve all been outraged at the experiences of the Turangi teenager in his childhood. At one point we should have all been rallying to protect him! He was sexually abused and neglected – we should have been crying for him.

      So yes it is a delicate balance of calling people to true accountability, while knowing that there will be more of this if we don’t sort out the community and structural issues. No one wants this to happen again.

      Thank you again Bronson.

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