Speech delivered by Dr Mera Penehira on May 1st 2015 “Stop the forced closure of Aboriginal communities” rally held in Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland).
… And so we continue to fight for our land, our sea, our rivers, and our birds our children our mothers and fathers. It is a fight to retain them in OUR kaitiakitanga ( in OUR protection), to MAINTAIN them and glorify them as they soooo deserve and as has been done for many generations before US.
I was recently asked if I would be prepared to put my baby on the line in battle for the land and forced to consider fully my real life politics, my preparedness for battle of a different nature than I am familiar with in everyday speak… WE come of land and people who have fought to still be here. The battles have cost lives; the battles have maintained and retained the life and kaitiakitanga (PROTECTION) of our mother Papatūānuku.
My response back to the woman who asked the question of life or death of my baby for the land, was to rephrase the question …‘Would I be prepared to put my mother on the line in battle for my baby, OR would I see the death of my mother for the life of my baby?’
The land is OUR mother, she is US, she is OUR baby and to lose Papuatanuku (OUR land) is to ultimately lose all. To lose what is present, past and future. And so my answer is yes, I would fight. YES WE WILL FIGHT … WE WILL fight for OUR babies and WE WILL FIGHT FOR OUR MOTHERS AND GRANDMOTHERS. Because UNDERSTAND THIS: to save Papatūānuku MOTHER EARTH … IS to save pēpi, OUR BABIES and FUTURE GENERATIONS . Would I lose my baby for my mother by choice? Never! “Ko tou uri ka whai mai i ou koutou tapuwae” (our offspring follow in our footsteps). What point is the land if there is no one to walk on her? What point is a mother without children? What point is the battle when those for whom we fight no longer exist? And as I wrote this piece I was reminded of the words of someone else’s rhyme … ‘not to fight is to commit suicide’. We pick up our arms and we fight these battles because we are on a battlefield, whether we like it or not we have been born here in this time that often requires us to be warriors. It is our responsibility to our land, it is our life and we are grateful for her in every respect.
This work we do, this gathering we are all now a part of … It is about: HEART, MIND, BODY and SOUL! From generations before, from lifetimes before … FOREVER we as Indigenous peoples have been a part of our sacred lands, not just connected … WE ARE BORN OF THESE LANDS! TANGATA WHENUA! WE ARE THE LAND AND SHE IS US!
SHAME Australia! To dare try and break this bond!
SHAME Australia! To dare ignore the rights of Indigenous peoples!
SHAME Australia! To dare lay your police physical brutality and abuse on Indigenous peoples!
We Maori stand in solidarity today with our brothers and sisters across the ocean of Te Tai o Rehua!
We stand in solidarity with all of our relations across the globe presently fighting for the protection of their ancestral lands.
Navigating across the ocean of Te Moana Nui a Kiwa … We can this evening, congratulate Kanaka Maoli in Hawaii who stand strong to protect Mauna Kea, and who today witnessed the significant back down of the Office of Hawaiian affairs … who now as a direct result of the Protect Mauna Kea actions, have rescinded their original support for the building of a Thirty Metre Telescope on Mauna Kea. Sovereignty! Rangatiratanga! Although not the FULL endorsement of ‘opposition’ that the people have clearly voted for as is required, it is still a significant move in that direction, and does signal clearly an achievement of the people’s voice, mana and commitment.
Returning closer to home … WHITE AUSTRALIA … YOU DO HAVE A BLACK HISTORY. WE ARE here today to ensure, that this history WILL NOT include the forced closure of Aboriginal communities. We are here to stop cultural genocide. We are here in solidarity for the protection of ancestral lands!
Tihei mouri ora! Tihei mouri tangata! Tihei mouri whenua!
Dr Mera Penehira
Ngati Raukawa ki Otaki; Rangitaane; NgaiTeRangi
Director Postgraduate and Lecturer
Te Puna Wananga
University of Auckland