Radio NZ interview with Marama Davidson – Idle No More

Marama Davidson
Marama Davidson

“Ideas this week talks to Marama Davidson, David Geary and Clayton Thomas-Muller about the Idle No More movement which deals with the rights and identity of First Nations people, starting in Canada with a predominantly female lead.”

Cree activist Clayton Thomas-Muller is first up in this interview with Chris Laidlaw.

David Geary playwright of Nga Mahanga descent is second up (around 22mins in) as a Vancouver based New Zealand playwright.

Marama Davidson of Te Wharepora Hou features as the final interviewee (around 40mins in).

You can listen to the interview here:

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)

Vision: An Aotearoa governed according to tikanga and kawa

(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.

Te Wharepora Hou


Marama Davidson

021 025 88302

Pondering 2012……

Marama Davidson - pondering 2012

31 December 2011

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.

Happy (Gregorian Calendar) New Year everyone!

Ngā mihi


Thinking about voting……………some reflections on Elections 2011

Dr Leonie Pihama

Tonight the final of the seven Māori electorate debates screened on Māori Television. It was filmed live at Māori Television and one of our wahine from Te Wharepora Hou, Marama Davidson, was given the opportunity to ask a question from the floor. I must congratulate Māori Television for taking the debates to the electorates, it was a creative and thoughtful process that enabled our people to see candidates in action in their areas. Having whānau reflect on their views of not only candidates but on participation within the electoral system raised a range of views of access, participation and the relevance of the so-called ‘democratic system’ to many of our whānau who are struggling on a daily way to put food on the table, to ensure a home, to earn a living, to survive on benefits, to have the realities of youth reflected in party policies and actions. The questions from each electorate were grounded in what the people of each area saw as priorities, and they were asked from the voices of those of the regions. Questions from the floor were to the point and covered issues of child abuse, directions for Māori health, Māori educational access and options, the position of Māori women in leadership, and the impact of poverty on children and whānau. The line up of whānau, Sid and Karlos Diamond and fellow musician Pieter T, from South Auckland brought the relevance of the political system to the fore, with the emphasis on the need for parties to basically ‘mahia te mahi’, to do as they say they will do, ‘to practice what they preach’ and to promote their messages in ways that reach into our communities and speak directly to our whānau that are currently not engaged with the system. And in line with those thoughts, it really was no surprise that Sid opened the debate with a clear, direct question as to what the parties were going to do about child abuse within our communities. And so the scene was set for a debate that was to focus primarily on issues of whānau ora, the impact of poverty, Māori health, the ability to provide educational choices and options for whānau and tamariki, and the fundamental rights of Māori women to participate in decision making. All issues of social justice, all issues of collective rights, all issues of wellbeing for whānau, hapū, iwi and communities. Some would ask ‘who was the winner’, in fact there is an ongoing obsession with naming ‘a’ winner after political debates, and interestingly it is generally the exact media outlets that broadcast the debates that then define who the winner is. The Decision 11 Leaders Debate on TV3 was a prime example, with conservative, and racist, broadcaster Paul Henry declaring the Prime Minister John Key the winner of that debate, after declaring himself an objective commentator. Now that’s Tui Ad material! So I am not interested in the idea that after every Māori electorate debate that a winner has to be declared, what is more important and significant is that we now have a Māori broadcaster that will get out amongst our people and take the political process to the regions and engage with whānau and bring to the fore both the best and the worst of Māori politicians views. If we are to increase our collective political participation as a people then we need more active ‘taking it to the streets’ and not just during election year, but in the next three years there needs to be ways in which those who are elected are held accountable and where Māori politicians work across parties to ensure the overall wellbeing of our people. Perhaps, one of the most poignant statements tonight came from political commentator, Sandra Lee, who brought her many years of experience within parliament and left wing political parties to play when she stated quite emphatically that there is a ‘natural’ coalition that could be forged on the left with Labour, Greens, Māori Party and Mana, and that the debate tonight highlighted that. In fact, if we put personalities aside then that is clearly a view that can be taken not only from the seven Māori Television debates, but also from the TVNZ Minor Party Leaders debate. What the TVNZ debate showed was that within the six minor parties (Māori Party, Mana Party, Greens, Act, United and New Zealand First) all but two are led by Māori! That is a powerful sight to see, and I mean that in a very visual sense, as to see a line up of the five Maori leaders (Greens and Māori Party have co-leaders) of those parties is to see a very powerful line up of seasoned and articulate and passionate Māori political leaders. On that level alone we can as a people be incredibly inspired. So the question is then, how do we get the best of all of our people in ‘the house’. It seems highly likely that we will see at least four of these party leader, Tariana, Pita, Metiria and Hone return to parliament. Winston Peters is making his ‘Phoenix Rising From the Ashes’ return to the political scene, that is if we have any faith in political polls, or what are now referred to as (flawed) ‘landline’ polls. As is the case in election year, there are predictions galore however even just a few months ago there was little indication through the polling that there would be such a gradual move to the left. But then some would say ‘no one could predict the Rena oil spill’ – well no one except for iwi, environmentalists, greenpeace, anti-drilling movements, anti-mining activists and many others… and then few would have expected that the many manipulations, which some would call ‘lies’ from the Prime Minister on all kinds of things, including his privileged position in the 1% and his personal financial gains and his statements from meetings (which he never actually attended) about the downgrading of the countries economic status, would provide great material for a range of you tube downloads and facebook creations. And so here we are, 5 days out from a general election and things are not looking as definitively National as some predicted just a few weeks ago. So what does that mean for Māori. It means there is a potential and need for deeper strategic thinking in terms of where we put our ‘two ticks’. It means looking across all of the seven Māori electorates and the party votes associated with the Māori rolls and the potential for party votes from the General rolls that may go the way of Māori parties. In the 2008 election our people voted for their preferred candidate but gave the bulk of their party vote to Labour, even when their preferred candidate was from the Māori Party. Labour received on average around 45-57% of the party vote. What that shows is that our people clearly hedge our bets when it comes to the Māori seats and that on the whole the votes are split. It also means that we are still not getting the full value of the two votes that we have available to us. In some ways this is a reflection on the limited information being provided in terms of the party vote and its actual impact. So lets look at two examples of how the party vote could make an impact. If Hone Harawira wins the Tai Tokerau seat, which is highly likely in my view, then around a 1.5% party vote could see Annette Sykes in parliament irrespective of whether she wins Waiariki. If the Māori Party return four members into parliament then around a 3.6% party vote could see the inclusion of Kaapua Smith. So a conscious party voting process would see at least two more Māori women in parliament, and that has to be good for us all! Similarly, if we look at the Labour Party list we will see that there are a range of Māori politicians on the list who, even on current polling numbers, would be returned to Parliament. So there appear to be some strategic options for our people, they are just not clearly voiced. What we need are some political strategists to give us a clear overview of those numbers and the possibilities for our people and we need that before next Saturday!! For me, Sandra Lee’s comment that there is a potential left-wing coalition right here, right now is critical and we need to see that as a real possibility and use it to inspire and motivate our people to the polls. And it will all be finally dependent on where we chose to put our votes, and whether we are willing to move away from the idea that we vote for a party because it’s the party we have always voted for… or if we vote in ways that will mean we have MMP not only retained but increased to reflect its true meaning for us as a people … More Māori in Parliament. Nga mihi!!

Dr Leonie Pihama