Was asked recently why I advocate so strongly for Kaupapa Maori and for Maori control over Maori frameworks. The question has also been asked recently by a Pakeha academic around who gets to determine the boundaries for kaupapa Maori? It’s simple. We do. For the past 200 years the majority of our land has been stolen or taken through the use of foreign systems, structures & definitions, our language, culture, knowledge, practices and structures have been systematically subjucated, attacked and denied. Our voices and acts of struggle against oppression have, and continue to be actively targeted and suppressed in order to protect the interests of those who have benefited from such actions. All that we have now we have fought for. All that we have held within ourselves we have struggled for. For 200 years we have lived with other peoples definitions of who we are and what is our place on our own land. It is our time to take that space. It is our right to define ourselves, our struggles, our kaupapa, our frameworks. That does not mean we do not need or want allies, it means we do not want to be defined by others who do not know or feel what it means to live as Maori in Aotearoa. Those who work as allies in that struggle know that is the case and work to challenge the systems that continue to deny fundamental rights. It is no secret that many of those I am fortunate to work with advocate Kaupapa Maori is defined and controlled by Maori. That has been clearly articulated for many years. Until there is significant change in the power relationships in this country that way of being can not and should not change. 200 years of others theorising and researching ON us has brought little change in the colonial inequalities that exist. So why would we want that to continue? That’s a more critical question. The answer again is simple. We don’t.
Dr Leonie Pihama (Te Atiawa, Ngati Mahanga, Nga Mahanga a Tairi)