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.
I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge those who are honest allies of the Tangata Whenua of this land. There have always been tauiwi/non-Māori who are doing essential work in striving for a better nation. They are people who themselves recognise the unique status of iwi and hapū in Aotearoa. Some of these people are from our Chinese communities.
In acknowledging the courageous stand that comes from others, I recognise their whole histories and their whole communities. This is regardless of where some individuals might be on the continuum of supporting self-determination for Māori. Even some of my own people are held hostage by misguided fear and misunderstanding of people from a different place – yet the collaborative work of honouring each others’ peoples and drawing strength from common ground must continue.
The lunar New Year started on 23 January which is when the Chinese calendar commences. As with Matariki and the stars for the traditional Māori New Year in June, starting the new lunar year is more important to the Chinese than the Gregorian calendar date of 01 January.
2012 is particularly auspicious as it heralds the Year of the Dragon – the water dragon to be exact – so symbolises good fortune, happiness, power and strength. My Chinese friend and her Indian husband are having their child next month in February. She insists she is giving birth to a Chindian dictator. As her voice is one of those very ones calling for all New Zealanders to honour the Treaty, one can only hope.
Chinese New Year celebrations are happening around the country as we speak and I hope to take my children to the Auckland Lantern festival that grows bigger every year.
With all that must be celebrated, a New Year is also a good time to reinforce vigilance. The Chinese and different Asian communities have remained strong in the face of outright racism they have sometimes had to confront. There have been disgusting attacks and taunts towards these groups of people that all New Zealanders should revolt at.
Agreeing to a baseline set of principles and guidelines to improve the way we live together – is where I highlight again the value of working collaboratively. The country this year will embark on discussions around a New Zealand constitution. There is an iwi led group who are determining a framework and a timeframe that rejects the narrow one set by the government. I am told that Māori should not aim for the stars in taking forward a vision – we must aim for the heavens and beyond. We spend the time going back to our core collective wisdoms so we can relearn and reshape them for our future.
And to do this – we need our allies.
Māori do not have majority status in Aotearoa. We would do well to strengthen our ties to those people and groups who are sharing the workload that aligns with our visions. There are many tauiwi who have been doing deconstructing work and decolonising work to uphold our Mana Motuhake as Tangata Whenua.
As hosts of this land, are we also upholding the mana and dignity of those who deserve our respect? Do we remain ignorant of the histories and traditions of our tauiwi communities and therefore neglect the common ground that exists? Are we lending our voice to their causes as we harp on about injustice?
I would encourage people to get along to this workshop “Decolonise Your Mind” pulled together by Meng Zhu, Wai Ho, Giang (tauiwi) and Rouge (tangata whenua). It is an example of the comradeship that we must capitalise on if we are serious about gathering collective strength.
(Original article posted Dec 2010, updated Jan 2012)
How can we help push a constitutional review towards this vision? We hope whānau will have a say in what rules and guidelines this country should be governed by. We urge people to find out what the current constitutional review process is all about.
Te Wharepora Hou would like to offer the following information to start kōrero among whānau.
What is a ‘constitutional review’ and why should I care?
Starting in 2011, the government will take a step back and look at the ‘bigger picture’ of how we run this whole country. This is the ‘constitutional review’ that you will hear about.
This could be very important for Māori, but it certainly won’t fix everything. The government’s laws and policies have always impacted on our right to live as Māori. Politics affect our day to day living; what education our tamariki can receive, what sort of healthcare is available, whether your whānau still own your tūpuna land, what support is available for you when you are jobless and homeless or struggling to access basic needs, whether your land will be mined or fracked, whether your seas will be drilled for oil and many many more situations in life. As Māori, political power has often played a big part in our right to our identity and our unique place as Tangata Whenua of Aotearoa.
What do we have currently?
At the moment we do not have a single document that is ‘our Constitution’. We have a collection of different documents and laws that guide how we make laws and policies. The Treaty of Waitangi is considered to be one of those documents. This review will consider the place of the Treaty of Waitangi. The review may have an impact on how we assert ourselves as the Tangata Whenua of this land.
What is at stake?
Together as Māori we could seize this opportunity to design a set of rules according to tikanga and kawa. Our collective wisdom could offer an improved system of political power. Positive change for whānau is good for the future of all New Zealanders.
Who should keep me informed?
The government have called for this review. There is a government panel who will lead the public discussion. They are called the Constitutional Review Panel.
There is also an iwi group lead by iwi representatives Moana Jackson and Margaret Mutu. They are called the Constitutional Transformation Working Group.
How can I take part?
Both the government panel and the iwi group will be asking for your whakaaro and ideas. There will be hui held around the country in 2012.
It is important that whānau understand that this korero is not just for academics, lawyers, politicians and iwi leaders. As Māori, we have a right and also a responsibility to have our say. Our experiences in our every day lives and our ideas for how to improve our right to live as Māori is the information that we should be asking the government to value.
Your iwi are not the only way to have a say, make sure you know how to be involved no matter where you live or who you are connected to.
Who is putting out this article?
Te Wharepora Hou is a collective of wāhine who are mainly Tamaki 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 all those who are too often silenced. We are concerned primarily with the wellbeing of whānau, hapū, iwi and all that pertains to Papatūānuku and the sustenance of our people.
We want to ensure that whānau are well informed of important issues so you could contact us if you would like further information.
(Dr Ruth DeSouza is a nurse academic living in Aotearoa via Goa and East Africa. She is passionate about social justice, feminism and anti-racism. Te Wharepora Hou is honoured to reproduce this article with her permission.)
The ocean is what we have in common: Relationships between indigenous and migrant people.
This piece was previously published in the Goanet Reader: Mon, 30 Nov 2009
Legend has it that Lord Parashuram (Lord Vishnu’s sixth incarnation) shot an arrow into the Arabian Sea from a mountain peak. The arrow hit Baannaavali (Benaulim) and made the sea recede, reclaiming the land of Goa. A similar story about land being fished from the sea by a God is told in Aotearoa, New Zealand, where Maui dropped his magic fish hook over the side of his boat (waka) in the Pacific Ocean and pulled up Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui), the North Island of New Zealand.
The first story comes from the place of my ancestors, Goa, in India and the second story comes from the place I now call home, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Both stories highlight the divine origins of these lands and the significance of the sea, as my friend Karlo Mila says “The ocean is another source of sustenance, connection and identity…. It is the all encompassing and inclusive metaphor of the sea. No matter how much we try to divide her up and mark her territory, she eludes us with her ever-moving expansiveness. The ocean is what we have in common.”
This piece for Goanet Reader is an attempt to create some engagement and discussion among the Goan diaspora about the relationships we have with indigenous and settler communities in the countries we have migrated to, and to ask, what our responsibilities and positions are as a group implicated in colonial processes?
My life has been shaped by three versions of colonialism: German, Portuguese and British, and continues to be shaped by colonialism’s continuing effects in the white settler nation of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Diasporic Goans have frequently occupied what Pamila Gupta calls positions of “disquiet” or uneasiness within various colonial hierarchies. For me, this has involved trying to understand what being a Goan means, far away from Goa and to understand the impact of colonisation.
I was born in Tanzania, brought up in Kenya and am now resident of Aotearoa/New Zealand with a commitment to social justice and decolonising projects. What disquieting position do I occupy here?
Both sets of my grandparents migrated to Tanganyika in the early part of the 20th Century. Tanganyika was a German colony from 1880 to 1919, which became a British trust territory from 1919 to 1961. Tanganyika became Tanzania after forming a union with Zanzibar in 1964.
On my father’s side, my great-grandfather and grandfather had already worked in Burma because of the lack of employment opportunities in Goa. Then when my grandfather lost his job in the Great Depression, he took the opportunity to go to Tanzania and work.
Indians had been trading with Africa as far back as the first century AD. The British indentured labour scheme was operational and had replaced slave labour as a mechanism for accessing cheap and reliable labour for plantations and railway construction, contributing to the development of the Indian diaspora in the 19th and 20th century.
Large-scale migrations of Indians to Africa began with the construction of the great railway from Mombasa to Lake Victoria in Uganda in the late nineteenth century. Indians were recruited to run the railways after they were built, with Goans coming to dominate the colonial civil services.
Some 15,000 of the 16,000 men that worked on the railroads were Indian, recruited for their work ethic and competitiveness. Sadly, a quarter of them returned to India either dead or disabled. Asians who made up one percent of the total population originated from the Gujarat, Kutch, and Kathiawar regions of western India, Goa and Punjab and played significant roles as middlemen and skilled labourers in colonial Tanganyika.
During the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964, over 10,000 Asians were forced to migrate to the mainland as a result of violent attacks (also directed at Arabs), with many moving to Dar es Salaam. In the 1970s over 50,000 Asians left Tanzania.
President Nyerere issued the Arusha Declaration in February 1967, which called for egalitarianism, socialism, and self-reliance. He introduced a form of African socialism termed Ujamaa (“pulling together”). Factories and plantations were nationalized, and major investments were made in primary schools and health care.
My parents migrated to Kenya in 1966. The newly independent East African countries of Tanzania (1961), Uganda (1962), and Kenya (1963) moved toward Africanising their economies post-independence which led to many Asians finding themselves surplus to requirements and resulting in many Asians leaving East Africa, a period known as the ‘Exodus’.
A major crisis loomed for United Kingdom Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s government with legislation rushed through to prevent the entry into Britain of immigrants from East Africa. The Immigration Act of 1968 deprived Kenyan Asians of their automatic right to British citizenship and was retroactive, meaning that it deprived them of an already existing right.
Murad Rayani argues that the vulnerability of Asians was compounded by the ambiguity of their relationship with the sub-continent, and with Britain whose subjects Asians had become when brought to East Africa.
Enoch Powell’s now infamous speech followed where he asserted that letting immigrants into Britain would lead to “rivers of blood” flowing down British streets. The Immigration Act of 1971 further restricted citizenship to subjects of the Commonwealth who could trace their ancestry to the United Kingdom.
In 1972 Idi Amin gave Uganda’s 75,000 Asians 90 days to leave. My parents decided to migrate to New Zealand in 1975.
While ‘Asians’ (South Asians) were discriminated against in relationship to the British, they were relatively privileged in relationship to indigenous Africans. As Pamila Gupta says, Goans were viewed with uncertainty by both colonisers and the colonised. Yet, the Kenyan freedom struggle was supported by many Asians such as lawyers like A. Kapila and J.M. Nazareth, who represented detained people without trial provisions during the Mau Mau movement. Others like Pio Gama Pinto fought for Kenya’s freedom, and was assassinated. Joseph Zuzarte whose mother was Masai and father was from Goa rose to become Kenya’s Vice-President. There was Jawaharlal Rodrigues, a journalist and pro-independence fighter and many many more. In 1914, an East African Indian National Congress was established to encourage joint action with the indigenous African community against colonial powers.
In the two migrations I have described, Goans occupied a precarious position and much has been documented about this in the African context. However, what precarious place do Goans occupy now especially in white settler societies?
Sherene Razack describes a white settler society as: ” … one established by Europeans on non-European soil. Its origins lie in the dispossession and near extermination of Indigenous populations by the conquering Europeans. As it evolves, a white settler society continues to be structured by a racial hierarchy. In the national mythologies of such societies, it is believed that white people came first and that it is they who principally developed the land; Aboriginal peoples are presumed to be mostly dead or assimilated. European settlers thus become the original inhabitants and the group most entitled to the fruits of citizenship. A quintessential feature of white settler mythologies is therefore, the disavowal of conquest, genocide, slavery, and the exploitation of the labour of peoples of colour.”
I’d like to explore this issue in the context of Aotearoa/New Zealand where identities are hierarchically divided into three main social groups categories. First in the hierarchy are Pakeha New Zealanders or settlers of Anglo-Celtic background. The first European to arrive was Tasman in 1642, followed by Cook in 1769 with organised settlement following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The second group are Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand who are thought to have arrived from Hawaiki around 1300 AD and originated from South-East Asia. The third group are “migrants” visibly different Pacific Islanders or Asians make the largest groups within this category with growing numbers of Middle Eastern, Latin American and African communities. This latter group are not the first group that come to mind when the category of New Zealander is evoked and they are more likely to be thought of as “new” New Zealanders (especially Asians).
Increasingly, indigenous rights and increased migration from non-source countries have been seen as a threat to the white origins of the nation. While, the Maori translation of Te Tiriti o Waitangi may be acknowledged as the founding document of Aotearoa/New Zealand and enshrined in health and social policy, the extent to which policy ameliorates the harmful effects of colonisation remain minimal.
This can be seen in my field of health, where Maoriill health is directly correlated with colonisation. Maori nurses like Aroha Webby suggest that the Articles of the Treaty have been unfulfilled and the overall objective of the Treaty to protect Maori well-being therefore breached. This is evidenced in Article Two of the Treaty which guarantees tino rangatiratanga (self-determination) for Maori collectively and Article Three which guarantees equality and equity between Maori and other New Zealanders.
However, Maori don’t have autonomy in health policy and care delivery, and the disparities between Maori and non-Maori health status, point to neither equality nor equity being achieved for Maori. In addition, colonisation has led to the marginalising and dismantling of Maori mechanisms and processes for healing, educating, making laws, negotiating and meeting the everyday needs of whanau (family) and individuals.
So in addition to experiencing barriers to access and inclusion, Maori face threats to their sovereignty and self-determination. Issues such as legal ownership of resources, specific property rights and fiscal compensation are fundamental to Maori well being. Thus, the Treaty as a founding document has been poorly understood and adhered to by Pakeha or white settlers, in terms of recognising Maori sovereignty and land ownership.
Allen Bartley says that inter-cultural relationships have been traditionally shaped by New Zealand’s historical reliance on the United Kingdom and Ireland, leading to the foregrounding of Anglo-centric concerns. Discourses of a unified nation have been predicated on a core Pakeha New Zealand cultural group, with other groups existing outside the core such as Maori and migrants.
This monoculturalism began to be challenged by the increased prominence of Maori concerns during the 1970s over indigenous rights and the Treaty of Waitangi. The perception of a benign colonial history of New Zealand — an imperial exception to harsh rule — supplanted with a growing understanding that the Crown policies that were implemented with colonisation were not there to protect Maori interests despite the mythology of the unified nation with the best race relations in the world that attracted my family to New Zealand to settle.
So while countries such as Canada and Australia were developing multicultural policies, New Zealand was debating issues of indigeneity and the relationship with tangata whenua (Maori). More recently people from ethnic backgrounds have been asking whether a bicultural framework can contain multi-cultural aspirations. New Zealand has not developed a local response to cultural diversity (multiculturalism) that complements the bicultural (Maori and Pakeha) and Treaty of Waitangi initiatives that have occurred. However, many are worried that a multicultural agenda is a mechanism for silencing Maori and placating mainstream New Zealanders.
So is there a place/space for Goans in New Zealand? Or are we again occupying a disquieting space/place? According to Jacqui Leckie, one of the first Indians to arrive in New Zealand in 1853 was a Goan nicknamed ‘Black Peter’. Small numbers of Indians had been arriving since the 1800s, Lascars (Indian seamen) and Sepoys (Indian soldiers) arrived after deserting their British East India Company ships in the late 1800s.
The Indians that followed mainly came from Gujarat and Punjab, areas exposed to economic emigration. Indians were considered British subjects and could enter New Zealand freely until the Immigration Restriction Act (1899) came into being. Migration increased until 1920, when the New Zealand Government introduced restrictions under a “permit system”.
Later, in 1926, The White New Zealand League was formed as concern grew about the apparent threat that Chinese and Indian men appeared to present in terms of miscegenation and alien values and lifestyle. Discrimination against Indians took the form of being prevented from joining associations and accessing amenities such as barbers and movie theatres.
By 1945, families (mostly of shopkeepers and fruiterers) were getting established, and marriages of second-generation New Zealand Indians occurring. The profile of Indians changed after 1980, from the dominance of people born in or descended from Gujarat and Punjab. Indians began coming from Fiji, Africa, Malaysia, the Caribbean, North America, the United Kingdom and Western Europe.
Migrants are implicated in the ongoing colonial practices of the state and as Damien Riggs says the imposition of both colonisers and other migrants onto land traditionally owned by Maori maintains Maori disadvantage at the same time that economic, social and political advantage accrues to non-Maori.
But my friend Kumanan Rasanathan says that our accountabilities are different: “Some argue that we are on the Pakeha or coloniser side. Well I know I’m not Pakeha. I have a very specific knowledge of my own whakapapa, culture and ethnic identity and it’s not akeha. It also stretches the imagination to suggest we are part of the colonising culture, given that it’s not our cultural norms and institutions which dominate this country” (Rasanathan, 2005, p. 2).
Typically indigenous and migrant communities have been set up in opposition to one another as competitors for resources and recognition, which actually disguises the real issue which is monoculturalism, as Danny Butt suggests. My friend Donna Cormack adds that this construction of competing Others is a key technique in the (re)production of whiteness.
My conclusion is that until there is redress and justice for Maori as the indigenous people of New Zealand, there won’t be a place/space for me.
As Damien Riggs points out, the colonising intentions of Pakeha people continues as seen in the contemporary debates over Maori property rights of the foreshore and seabed which contradict the Treaty and highlight how Maori sovereignty remains denied or challenged by Pakeha.
My well being and belonging are tied up with that of Maori. Maori have paved the way for others to be here in Aotearoa/New Zealand, yet have a unique status that distinguishes them from migrant and settler groups. After all I can go to Goa to access my own culture but the only place for Maori is Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Increasingly, the longer I’ve lived in Aotearoa/New Zealand and spent time with Maori, the more I’ve begun to understand and value the basis of Maori relationships with the various other social groups living here as being underpinned by manaakitanga (hospitality), a concept that creates the possibility for creating a just society. Understanding and supporting Treaty of Waitangi claims for redress and Maori self-determination (tino rangatiratanga) allows for the possibility for the development of a social space that is better for all of us.
Actually before I start on next year I better look at 2011 first. Woah – freaky year!
Around the end of 2010 I decided to pitch in with a few other like-minded wāhine and add our voice to the mix a bit more. Leading into 2011 I took life-long inspiration from those amazing fighters at all levels around me including; the kuia/kaumātua at home keeping it real, the whānau back at our marae burning the home fires, the people on the ground in our communities, our young people ‘halleluiah rangatahi’ who continue to inspire me, our academics, politicians, artists, gardeners, te reo warriors, teachers and especially our whānau raising our tamariki. There are so many people doing amazing work to strengthen our most precious resource that is whānau. There are so many people to thank for being brave enough to speak out for our right to live as Māori. There are so many people taking up our collective responsibility to care for each other and the environment around us.
My puku was telling me I could do more, so I tried. Facebook became a hugely important tool to start circulating my whakaaro via blog articles, press releases, Op Eds, radio and television interviews, community speaking and other engagements.
And I got shot down LOL! More than once. And it will happen again of that I am most certain.
But just today someone who I consider a stalwart fighter of our people reminded me that we need to do more of it – we must not stop. And as always, the other stalwarts of my life will support my need to keep contributing. I cannot contribute to my community without the tautoko of my family, and without having first assured their wellbeing.
This brings me to 2012.
I have huge hope for our future as whānau, hapū and iwi. Our strength and vigilance to maintain our identity on our own lands has not faltered. We have proved time and time again that we are born with what we need to keep ourselves alive – no one can remove whakapapa.
“And we will need more of the same” says our stalwart fighter (who shall remain nameless because a private facebook chat does not a public speech make).
I agree with him. It is nothing new but we are facing even tougher far right agendas which threaten our collective integrity and wisdom as Tangata Whenua. We need to be steadfast in keeping our waters clean, our whenua un-mined and un-fracked and our moana deeply undrilled. We need to be determined to keep our whānau out of poverty and safe from abuse. We need to keep sacrosanct our ability to grow, hunt and fish for kai. There is much to protect.
So I stand in awe of all of us as we continue to be resolute together and support each other. We fight in many ways. We should continue to sing waiata, write poetry, learn to reo, speak te reo, hīkoi in protest, grow gardens (so I can buy your organic veggies cos my gardening sux right now), care for our earth, write submissions, and press releases, and Op Eds, and blogs, speak out, stand up, speak out and stand up.
If we feel hurt enough, we may also need to think of other ways to resist. So let us think…..
But mostly, take care of our own whānau. Be kind to each other. Thanks to my ever wise mother who reminds me “Sometimes it is easier to save the world than to look after those around you.” Check myself.
Thank you to my husband and children for your ongoing tolerance and support.
Around the world many are rising against oppressive neo-liberal policies that benefit only 1% of all people. An “occupation” on Wall Street in New York has inspired other cities and countries to take action against this repression. A slogan borne from this protest has been”We are the 99%”. Aotearoa (New Zealand) now joins this movement in solidarity.
This is what I wish our country would say.
“We are with you now Tangata Whenua (People of the Land). We are now ALL fighting what you have been fighting since we arrived on your shores. We join with you to say that this system does not treat people or the earth kindly. We echo your call that this way of treading on people is not of Aotearoa. It is not our way. We stand in solidarity with the world against a regime where only 1% are the lucky ones. We are 85% who realise that we must join with indigenous people who have long fought these issues. Then our number will truly reflect 99%. We remember that your responsibility as guardians of these lands was stripped from you under this system we now oppose. We acknowledge that to this day you fight for the status of authority and caretaker that you lost on your lands of ancestral origin. We ask for your blessing that we may all become better caretakers together. We understand we can only gain STRENGTH from standing with you, from the outset. We realise that we will ALL benefit when we collectively affirm your unique responsibility as hosts of this land. We understand that we need not fear your voice anymore. We are with you now Tangata Whenua. Let us fight this fight together.”