Māori women’s voices in politics – protecting our environment and our people

Marama with Dame Nganeko Minhinnick (middle) and Mary-ann Harris at Nganeko's investiture ceremony.
Marama with Dame Nganeko Minhinnick (middle) and
Mary-ann Harris at Nganeko’s investiture ceremony.

“Today I am a Māori woman carving out a space to reflect on our unique relationship with Papatūānuku and our roles as kaitiaki and defenders of our lands, seas and people. This discussion throws a light on how the voices of wāhine are held in certain political arenas and what this means for Aotearoa as we ponder our economic, social, environmental and cultural future.”

Read the full blog here.

Maori control over Maori frameworks – Why I advocate strongly for Kaupapa Maori

Dr Leonie Pihama
Dr Leonie Pihama

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)

Native Affairs panel – Marama Davidson speaking on the appointment of Susan Devoy

Marama Davidson
Marama Davidson

Marama Davidson joins a Native Affairs panel with John Tamihere and Martyn Bradbury to debate the appointment of Susan Devoy to the role of Race Relations Commissioner.

You can view the Native Affairs video clip of the panel discussion here:

“Annette Sykes is a stupid person” says Judith Collins

Marama Davidson
Marama Davidson

Please go to the link below for my post on Judith Collins calling Annette Sykes ‘a stupid person’ over the appointment of Susan Devoy to Race Relations Commissioner. Reblogged courtesy of TheDailyBlog.

You can read the blog here.

IDLE NO MORE – from my Aotearoa perspective

Marama-Davidson-180

Just my own personal ‘what’s on top for me right now’ rant.

1. Ongoing abuse of indigenous peoples by coloniser Canada on that Great Turtle land.
We know this here.

2. Ongoing resistance by those indigenous nations to maintain their sovereignty and responsibility over their lands and peoples. They have never been idle.
We know this here.

3. Canadian colonising government and Bill C45 – latest smack in the face that again oversteps indigenous authority over their lands.
We know this here.

4. Four wahine of that land stand to protect our earth Mama against slaughter and call for indigenous authority. So begins Idle No More.
We have seen such stands here.

5. Chief Theresa Spence of the Attawapiskat Nation begins a hunger strike until Prime Minister Harper agrees to meet with indigenous leaders properly.
We have seen sacrifice here.

6. Today on day 24 of Chief Spence’s commitment, Harper agrees to meet with ‘First Nation Leaders’. We celebrate that for Chief Spence and her peoples. Her solid stand is inspiring, but we are also wary. Because we have seen how those in power do not like to share it.
We know how that works here.

Any opportunity to shine an internationally strong and bright torch on the same issues that our people have been fighting for generations, is an opportunity worth pouring my own energy into. So I am happy to lend my own voice to it, and support others who wish to do so.

A big mihi to our people fighting extraction industries to protect our whenua and our wai. A big mihi to our people revitalising our reo rangatira. A big mihi to our people trying to restore our struggling whanau to their tupuna base which nurtures our mokopuna as the taonga they are. A big mihi to Tuhoe resistance. A big mihi to our gardeners, our songwriters, our poets, our performing artists, our truth academics, our truth researchers and our activists. A big mihi to our ahi kaa back home on all our marae, keeping it warm for us to belong to. A big mihi to our kuia and koro who walked the back of our Mama to parliament, who took the beatings for speaking their Mama tongue, who showed us we have never been idle.

I am livid. I am proud. I am hoha. I am inspired. I am powerless. I am brave. I am angry. I’ am thankful. I feel ripped off. I have aggression in me. I am also in love – with my people here today, those who are gone and the ones yet to arrive. I am in love with my people who have always been strong, awake and feisty.

Time for better humanity. Tama tu Tama ora, Tama noho Tama mate.

Marama Davidson (Ngapuhi/Te Rarawa/Ngati Porou peoples)
#idlenomore

Calling for Indigenous Sovereignty – support the ‘Idle No More’ movement

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Press Release: 28 December 2012

Te Wharepora Hou Māori women’s group is encouraging more support from Aotearoa to a global call for indigenous sovereignty. The “Idle No More” movement is an indigenous uprising which started in Saskatchewan in November. It was a First Nation’s people’s response to the Canadian government pushing through resource legislation without the ‘free, prior and informed consent’ of its indigenous people.

A focal point of the movement is the hunger strike being taken by Chief Theresa Spence of the Attiwapiskat Nation. She is on day 16 of her fasting in a bid to have Prime Minister Harper acknowledge indigenous leadership and negotiate directly with her for better living conditions for the country’s First Peoples.

Marama Davidson of Te Wharepora Hou says “The call for indigenous sovereignty also acknowledges the unique relationship that indigenous people have with their lands, waters and resources. Iwi and hapū here have always upheld our caregiving responsibility over resources. But like many indigenous peoples around the world, we are facing aggressive legislation from our government that will exploit resources in a way that is not sustainable.”

The Idle No More movement seeks to umbrella the indigenous efforts that have been happening around the world for hundreds of years against the devastating impacts of ongoing colonisation. Te Wharepora Hou is encouraging all people to join the peaceful revolution to honour and fulfil indigenous sovereignty to protect the environment. People can join the facebook page “Aotearoa in Support of Idle No More” for further information.
Tonight there will be an outdoor public projection on Waiheke Island which will feature images to tell the story of Idle No More.The images projection will take place in Oneroa Village at 10.30pm directly following a performance by ‘Mihirangi’ at Artworks. Further public projections will take place in Auckland city over the next couple of weeks.

Contact:
Marama Davidson 021 025 88302
Mera Penehira 021 478 194

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)

新年快乐!Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快樂!

Marama Davidson

A mihi to our allies.

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.

Ngā mihi and Chūnjié kuàilè to you all.

Marama Davidson

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.

Arohanui
Te Wharepora Hou

Contact:

Marama Davidson

021 025 88302

tewhareporahou@gmail.com

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

Marama