Māori200 – Mana Wahine.

NB: Another catch up from last year … September-ish to be exact.

Second year of uni done and dusted.

I’ve loved learning and sharing ideas and concepts since I started uni. Learning makes my wairua happy. Sharing makes my wairua happy. Helping others through their own journey makes my wairua happy. My classes make my wairua happy – right down to the assignments.

I’ve had two creative art pieces as assignments this year for different classes and they’ve both come with their own challenges, angst, pride and successes.

Māori200 – Mana Wahine is such a brilliant class. Hineitimoana Greensill guides her class through the labyrinth that can be somewhat misconstrued as modern feminism, to the narratives we all know and live as Mana Wahine.

For my own journey, Mana Wahine is a class that teaches about the beauty, struggle, triumph, memory, and therapy wahine Māori navigate daily in this modern, ever focused on the one, commercial world, and how remembering who we have always been; the tūpuna (wāhine) of the next generation of tūpuna, since before we were born, is one of the keys to uplifting our whānau and ourselves.

This journey acknowledges various wahine in various positions of interest. Wāhine Māori in the Arts, wāhine Māori in positions of whenua, wai, takutai, whānau and taonga protection (calling to action), wāhine Māori in Law and politics, wāhine Māori in Healthcare, in education, at work, at home, ahikā, at the pā, on the farm. This journey acknowledges wāhine from the harakeke roots up. This journey acknowledges the synergy between wāhine and tāne and the mana they each embody and share. This class, though wahine centred, acknowledges that mana wahine cannot exist without mana tāne.

I really frikkin love my papers. Have I mentioned that already?

Anyway, the creative art assignment and cutting straight to the chase …

This is the piece I did for my Critical Response assignment. I’m frikkin proud of it now … now. I wasn’t so sure when I first handed it in for marking. The assignment was based on the Mana Wahine Speaker Series held on the first Wednesday of every month, and gave us the opportunity to hear kaupapa kōrero from Indigenous People’s in the academic circle by the likes of Ngahuia Murphy, Aroha Yates-Smith, Nālani Wilson-Hokowhitu etc. It’s an amazing series. Enlightening. Educational. Uplifting.

The assignment called for students to respond to one of the speaker series’ kōrero and interpret it in a medium of our choosing, whilst considering the kaupapa of the kōrero with regard to the impacts of colonisation on te taha wahine and how wahine/tāne Māori have been responding to this. Brilliant topic.

I chose to interpret, “Tū te turuturu nō Hine-te-iwaiwa: Mana wahine geographies of birth in Aotearoa New Zealand”, by Naomi Simmonds. I’m purposely not posting about it because I think it needs to be read about, such is the imagery within it. If I lend anything to this, it is that, what Naomi Simmonds’ shared with us was the determination of our tūpuna whaea to do all that needed to be done for the betterment of their people. That despite all that can come with being a child of Māori descent, the challenge is not to drown in the weight of the tide, rather, become part of the tide and transform it into something positive – as Naomi put it, “…the circularity of never ending beginnings”.

Please note that I’m nowhere near what I would call hardcore artistic. I literally watched youtube clips and searched the net on how to draw babies and practiced and practiced, for weeks – all day, every day, to draw Pēpi for this assignment as, although I love drawing and being creative (both in art and words), I’m still learning to love whatever work I put out. I usually scrunch up my face, yell out “Yeeeuch!”, die inside, then throw the offending work away. As you can imagine, it can be difficult to learn to draw a baby with just an iphone on hand when you want to try to get the proper dimensions for something. My paper shredder got a good workout; my chickens had enough bedding to fill a sleeping bag while I was learning to draw Pēpi. Needless to say, I’ve learned that, if the work is done from the heart and is done with the notion of tika and pono in mind, anything is possible.

Mana Wahine assignment for wordpress
I called it, “Ancestors are born; shame is made”

Follow. Unfollow.

Ihumātao.

EDIT: Originally written back in August/Sept 2019.

The very mention of this beautiful, near untouched, peaceful whenua has me thinking of lush māra, a maunga standing tall, the people of the whenua giving as much to the whenua as the whenua gives to her. Of birth, life, living, love, lore, death and the continuation of the cycle, because that’s what cycles do, perpetuate forward movement and growth.

Instead, Ihumātao battles and is embattled with the prospect of homes being built on her that will forever sever and impact the connection the people of that land have, with that land, by a company who has the power to stop the build. Because they bought the land … off a family who was ‘gifted’ the land, by someone who stole that land, because he wanted it.

What is on that whenua? Wāhi tapu/sacred ground. Burial grounds. Middens. Narratives pertaining to an entire people pre colonisation. Much more than these few items. But nothing of monetary value, because everything that once had value was stripped from the land. Including its people.

What for?

For the betterment of progress.

What do you mean, progress?

The act of making a place better for the community.

What community?

Auckland.

And what will Auckland give back to the land and the people who live on, through and for her?

Nothing.

So why are the people of that land being evicted from their whenua?

Because those who bought it want it. It’s theirs now. Get your shit. Get out.


Wow.

As Māori, everything we are, connects to whenua. The whenua touches the sea, which churns the winds, which play on the rays of the sun showing us Ranginui who cries for his beloved, our kuia, Papatūānuku, who is clothed by Tāne who allows us to harvest his children for some of our many material things – do you see where I’m headed with this? Everything we are, as Māori, connects to the whenua. The land is us and we are the land.

So what does this mean for Ihumātao? The whenua will be there as long as someone is bold enough to fight for it and you bet Pania Newton and everyone who stands beside and behind her, are it. They are protectors, not protestors. Whenua is forever, especially when it is taken care of. Pania is doing great things for the people of Auckland and for Aotearoa by wanting to see Ihumātao protected, but she is doing even greater things for her own people in safeguarding their whenua from the steely grip of development. Stand tall koutou ma. #Ihumātao #protectorsnotprotestors

Māori261: He taonga tuku iho – Evolving Māori and Pacific Art

Māori261 was taught by Regan Balzer this semester, like, was a mega fan of hers already, then haramai, she’s my art lecturer!?! Such a wicked paper.  Like I said in my Decol blog – FMIS has THE COOLEST, most knowledgable and evocative lecturers in i te AO!

Anyway, admittedly I was shit scared to join it at first, which is not a massive deal – I’ve been slightly shit scared throughout my entire uni journey thus far – I like to keep that little bit of fear in me; it keeps me on my toes and stops me from becoming complacent.

The paper itself walks tauira through Māori and Pacific Art, artists and their methods; social, political, cultural and spiritual context and influences, and also guides tauira to look deeper into their own artistic ability; allows them to have belief in themselves and the beauty they can create when they are supported. Like I said, wicked paper – one that perfectly compliments the other papers taught through FMIS. It rounds off your second year nicely, I found.

As with all subjects, our assignments pertained to what we learned and practiced. The assignment for 261 was to implement what we learned and translate that into an art piece. The criteria was simple: Use repetition, composition and design of Māori or Polynesian patterns to create three artworks, each of which responding to a current kaupapa.  They were to be as monochromatic as possible, if possible and utilise positive and negative space. Part of the assignment was to choose a venue where we could all exhibit our pieces. We all wanted to exhibit in FMIS as some of the classrooms were empty, but it didn’t feel right – I think we were all just pōuri that refurbishment on the classrooms is happening soon and we felt like we should just choose elsewhere. De Stylez Studio Mix on Collingwood Street, came to our rescue with Regan’s guidance. Perfect venue. The energy there is calm, but vibrant – gushes with love.  We were all so nervous to exhibit that, although we told people about the exhibition to begin with, we intentionally went quiet about it the closer the exhibition date got. Much to our pleasure, the only people outside our class who came to view our mahi was my mini iwi, aka, my husband and my kids – who ended up providing background music for us as we set up our exhibition and while we networked … with each other, bahaha (De Stylez is a cafe and sound studio; has space to exhibit art and a stage with gear if anyone wants a jam).

Strangely enough, or not so, all of our pieces started out as being about the assignment question, but ended up being about our own journeys.

My piece started out as a response to many kaupapa, Indigenous in general, that I felt overlapped:

  • the fires in the Amazon
  • the dumping of dredge waste 25km of the coast of Aotea
  • Ihumātao
  • Mauna Kea
  • Idle No More
  • MMIW – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
  • Suicide rates within Māori and Island communities
  • Hands off our tamariki
  • the place in New Zealand land wars history that still manages to exclude Māori
  • Climate change, which affects every living, breathing entity on the planet

the list is endless, almost devouring; and that’s how I began my assignment.

Somewhere along the way it became more about how I fit in that world, and how mātauranga/knowledge, of my surroundings, of my position as wife, mother and sole female and therefore role model for my sons and how they may perceive relationships later on. Adding to that, layers of my tuakiritanga/identity; this whole uni process has been reawakening those layers left tucked away in a vacuum sealed bag in my brains filing cabinet, blowing the dust off them and allowing them to breathe. I’m remembering how much I really frikkin enjoyed drawing and painting as a mode of personal expression and outlet for emotion. It’s been a long time, let’s just leave it at that.

Anyway, so, remembering that it’s been decades since I did any kind of thing artistic, this is my assignment:

Reclamation of self

Ink on Acetate

Andrea King: Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa.

First layer: the whāriki, represents the foundation I choose to have supporting and centring me (extra special to me as it was made by my aunty from Motukaraka). Hands hold the folder; preparing.

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Two: Black folder, white inlay. This part is threefold:

  1. Portraying manipulation of a contemporary, every day scholastic item, reminiscent of the educational system our tūpuna have had to navigate and endure as Māori.
  2. Portraying the feeling of a person of Māori descent using something for that particular moment only, until I need it again, much like the ‘dial a Māori’ concept we know all too well.
  3. Opening the top, solid exterior. Allowing whatever is beneath to peek out and eventually reveal itself.

Three: Silhouette. The background shows the ingrained inadequacies felt over the decades. The silhouette also shows desire to seek knowledge, to understand.

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Four: Hair. Each layer of ‘hair’ represents a new layer of consciousness and acknowledgement; a reimaging, of everything I see that seeks to reclaim my melanin  and remind my wairua that, even as a child, trying to scrub the brown out of my skin, my heart was always anchored in te ao Māori.

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Five: Facial features and moko kauae. Who I have wanted to be for the longest time. I remember walking down my nan’s hallway as a kid and always being in awe of my tūpuna in our walls. None of them had kauae or mataora though – they were all from the generation after Hone Heke and his siblings … that was 6 generations ago … my children are the seventh generation. I used to have dreams of my kauae being chiselled into my skin, pērā ki ngā wā o mua. The pain I felt in my dream would wake me and I’d reach for my chin – as a kid that was always disappointing, to wake up without it. The last layer is life in a skin that is proud of its journey. Reclamation of self.

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Five: Closing the folder. Closing the folder, which has now been used for its purpose and therefore no longer needed, means that. I chose the colour of the folder because it was black, and because black has many meanings in te ao Māori, all of which, have a duality to them, as in, Te Kore being the void and the potential. After the folder is closed, my foundation, which has been there the whole time, waits for me, and strengthens me to keep moving forward.

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I became two separate components. The first piece was a moving image (where the top images came from) that could be played off a usb, hence the manipulation of the folder. The second component was the still, mounted image:

Reclamation of self
Reclamation of Self. Ink on Acetate. Andrea King: Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa. 2019.

It was awesome to see my classmates thoughts, aspirations and dreams come to life at that exhibition. It was a beautiful feeling to see what we had all talked about for weeks, and to see what Māori 261 had taught us all. It’s true, everyone has a love of art in them, and everyone is creative. My classmates are proof of that.

So what have I learned from this class?

  1. I absolutely adore Cliff Whiting to bits.
  2. The ‘E Hina e, E hine e’ exhibition opened my eyes more to the art world because I was able to put into practice what I learned, first hand.
  3. Pointilism is fkn hardcore … RSI for your art is gangsta.
  4. Now that I know what kumara look like in kōwhaiwhai I see them eeeverywhere and have no shame in saying I see them, “Ooooh look, kumara!”. Yes. My kids loooove it 😀

Again, the list is endless. This paper, like every paper I take at FMIS, is a part of my whāriki, my tuakiritanga; and just like every other paper I’ve taken through FMIS thus far, I WISH each one was a year long so as to fully delve into each kaupapa and devour it.

I loved this class. It’s reawakened my love of creating. Am currently on the lookout for a secondhand easel.

 

I’ve gotta Golden ticket

I received a letter in the mail the other day … well, it came on Saturday 30 March

-Woohoo! Not a bill!!

The address was stickered on and from the uni, so I naturally assumed the worst:

  • Holy shit, they’re kicking me out
  • They saw the photos I took from the protest, didn’t like them … and are kicking me out
  • They’ve realised they’ve made a mistake in accepting my enrolment … and are kicking me out
  • They saw what I blogged about the terrorist attack last month … and are kicking me out
  • They’ve seen my marks and thought, “Who tf let that idiot in!?!” and are kicking me out

My mind is like that god awful duracell bunny at the best of times and it goes all day, all night (Mary-anne).

I was wrong.

It was an invitation to the Golden Key International Honour Society, which is a student organised and run international academic network that opens its doors to the top 15% of high academic achieving students in universities/colleges around the globe, and within any discipline. It’s a service based network. A friend said, “Like Rotary” and I liked it a little more … I always liked Lions’ lollies.

The GKIHS provide undergrad and postgrad scholarships, grants etc, personal and professional development, mentoring, global networking and has other opportunities beneficial to those who are eligible and are wanting to join.

I looked at the letter from uni, the accompanying letter from the GKIHS and the GKIHS information pamphlet for a moment, read every word on each piece of paper – twice, looked at the images on the pamphlet, the letterhead, the frikkin addresses, the letters ‘GK’ in navy blue with the golden key in the middle on the top lefthand side of the letterhead, then I held the papers out to my husband and said,

-I don’t get it.

He read them briefly and said, “Mean!”. It didn’t help. He asked what I didn’t understand and I explained that I wasn’t sure why I’d received the letters. I didn’t say it like that though … more like, let it all fall out of my face like this:

-They must’ve sent them to the wrong person

-I’m not an academic

-I have to work hard as for my marks, and most of the time I get things wrong. Academics are brainy mofo’s

-They definitely sent these to the wrong person, look, it says these are only sent out to the top 15%. Yep, definitely not me

-If they knew I was Māori they’d most probably send another letter saying they’d made a mistake

-There’s no way they’d even think of letting me stay a member if I slipped, so there’s no way they meant to send it to me

-There’s probably about 60 women with the same or varied versions of the same name at uni. This is definitely not mine

-It’s a fluke

-There’s no way I’d deserve something like this.

-There’s no fkn way I’m good enough for this

-They wouldn’t have sent it to me if they knew I was in my 40’s.

You know, as hard as I tried I just couldn’t, for the life of me, be proud, even for one second, that I actually achieved something academically. I literally stamped every inch of myself and any feeling of pride into the ground as I read the print and as I said the verbal diarrhoea. I didn’t even need to be forced to say or think it – it all just flowed and came naturally.

Why the crap did I do that?!

GKIHS
Proof

I didn’t realise I’d done it until class (MĀORI100. Kōkiri: Academic Skills for Indigenous Studies) yesterday, and it hit home this morning during MĀORI203 (Decol) that this is what Māori … no, I shouldn’t try to speak for anyone else … this is what I do. The notion that I am only good at the things I’ve been told I’m good at – the notion that I was only ever going to be good at doing the things I was bred to do (including making babies from a young age – thanks Mrs F and thanks inlaw ‘aunty’) – that’s why I didn’t believe I had earned or deserved the letters or pamphlet. There’s still a part of me that believes I am only good for …

Nothing makes me angrier than hearing those same phrases come out of the mouths of Māori who I see and hear saying the same things. Why does it hurt me more to hear them say these same things about themselves?  Because their thoughts mirror my thoughts? Because they’ve all been told the exact same discourse I have? Probably. Why do I still allow myself to think this way when I DO work my ass off to be at uni, I DO want and deserve to be there, I WANT more Māori in this network and I want more Māori to know they DESERVE to be in that top 15% of high achieving students at uni fullstop. Why has it taken me so long to allow myself to think this is ok? Shit, even saying that receiving the letters is ok, is difficult.

All of this realisation came from the mixture of two of my papers: 203 and 100. Both specialise in different aspects of decolonisation but both tie in to one another in that they open the eyes and mind to what has always been under the surface of my skin. They make me see the uncomfortable; the right and the wrong. The logic and the insanity that permeates my skin and culture. All I can say is, we as a culture have always been more than manual labour. We have always been more than pepper potting, always more than child bearers, dole bludgers and cleaners. We are more than we realise. We need to wake up. I need to wake up. I mean, geez, I am raising my boys to believe they will be whatever they want to be in life, they are good members of society. They have good hearts, minds and bodies with which to take them wherever they wish, so long as they remember where they come from, to always use their manners, always give kaimoana, especially, to kuia and kaumātua first (because they can’t get it themselves), babies and kaumātua/kuia go first for hākari, where the spare house key is, to always give māmā a hug when they come home and don’t touch the washing machine settings. Ever. 


I wish I was my 15 year old, bolder and brasher self in times like these. She’d be screamin’ like a banshee, laughing her ass off with pride about it all and hugging anyone and everyone, telling them to reach higher than high. Because she deflected crap better than 42 year old me does.


Since class this morning I’ve given myself time to process a little. I’m prepared to say that, while it’s difficult to be confident in being 100% be proud of myself, I am working on being appreciative for being eligible enough to join the Waikato Uni chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society. I’m not, however, going to join. I see the benefits, I see the opportunities but I also see time I don’t have to offer to it, to give service to a kaupapa I cannot outrightly say would benefit Kaupapa Māori in any means or fashion, and a part of me is just glad to acknowledge the achievement quietly. It’s going into my draw, as a reminder of sorts, that I did good. I’ll leave this sort of thing to the young bucks of Maoridom. I’ll encourage them like that screaming aunty from the sidelines that EVeryone has in their family’s instead.

I am appreciative.

NB: (Mon, 22 Apr) Since posting this, many of my friends and whānau have found out that I received the invitation and growled me for not joining. They reminded me of something that I tell my boys: “Your success is our success. Your pride is ours. Hold your head up and remember who you are”. Still getting growlings from my aunty and uncles’ at 42 years of age – so obviously I’ve joined, and am trying to take the other Māori students with me. Thanks aunty and uncle – you keep my head straight.

 

 

 

 

Godzone-d out.

Today was the day for in-depth discussion, which is good because I was having trouble deciphering everything I was feeling. Today some of us met in the Rūnanga Room at uni for a ‘Teach In’ hosted by our lecturer, Whaea Linda Tuhiwai Smith.10.jpg

We came to share space. Free space. Safe space. Space where we could share how we felt. Space where we could sit and listen. Space where we knew we weren’t under a microscope. Space where we could vent. Space where we could share trauma, whether it be emotional, generational, historical or any other. Space where we knew our voice would be heard. A.1.01, the Rūnanga Room was that space today, and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of discussions. Although, to be honest, I wasn’t sure exactly how ideas would fall from my grey matter.

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On Friday 15 March, 2019, at gunman was greeted at the door of Mosque Al-Noor with, “Greetings brother”. That gunman then turned his firearm on and murdered that man, and 49 other innocent men, women and children in an act of absolute, cowardice, hate-filled, humanless, heartless terrorism.

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That thing (I refuse to say his name) stole the lives of hardworking, good and loyal parents, and stole the lives of our next generation of New Zealanders, on one of the Muslim faiths most significant days, Jumu’ah, or Congregational Prayer.

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That word, “prayer” gives insight, I think, into what type of mindset this thing is in. To massacre, commit murder, upon those who are in prayer, in their place of worship, in their whare karakia, their marae, means this act was one of nothing but hate. It also means, that any culture he saw as being on his “Fuck You Coloured Cunts” list could easily have been next, and the question I found myself asking a couple of days ago was, “If it wasn’t the Muslim faith he targeted first … which culture would he have targeted instead?”

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Random thoughts:

You prick. Your actions have instilled fear and discourse that re-immerses us back into the pool of trauma we already tread water in.

How dare you reawaken this in us! What have our cultures EVER done to you!?! What has ISLAM ever done to you!?!

From microaggression to massacre. There should be no room for light to shine through that darkness. 

But light always finds a way to shine through.

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The talks today were fog clearing. Insightful. Painful. Helpful. Traumatic. Heavy.

They were good. Good in the way that they allowed people to speak freely, and clear their own minds. Share their thoughts. Share their stories. I was whakamā to share what I had been doing last Friday because I had been … having fun … watching my babies perform on stage after they and their kapa brother’s had worked their bums off practicing for Polyfest. I was ashamed to approach it until Whaea said it was important not to feel guilt for doing whatever you were doing that day, because we were all leading our own lives prior to the terrorist attack – there should be no guilt in living your life. There should be no guilt in celebrating achievements. Their should be no guilt in normality. But while I was with ‘my kids’ (the entire kapa is packed with ‘my kids’ – 30+ young men who attend Titikōpuke Kapahaka, from Dilworth School in Auckland) I saw their extreme guilt in receiving awards while ‘just down the road’ their fellow countrymen were grieving the loss of their loved ones. The boys felt guilty for celebrating their achievements until the were told the exact same thing, “I know you’re feeling empathy for the loss of those in Christchurch. I know some of you have family in Christchurch. But keep yourself here. In this time. Our time. Don’t feel guilty for something that was in no way, your fault, or in your control. Stay in the kaupapa. Be proud of your achievements. Celebrate them.”

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Out of all the kōrero, a few things that stuck out in my mind:

  • Everyone in the room had suffered, or was in the process of recognising, their own trauma
  • Everyone in the room had experienced some, thing, some narrative, some action, discourse, pertaining to their own lives or of those they are close to that had been triggered and had come to the surface via this act of terrorism
  • No matter how big or how small, everyone’s stories were important and every story was cherished
  • Our narratives, our histories as Tangata Whenua are still being ignored and will continue to be so until WE make change
  • Those who have lived in and were raised in and around Christchurch had very similar narratives of trauma, yet each person lived completely different lives. It was hearing their histories that hurt the most, because their histories will never be the stories of the rest of the nation … I will, for example, never know what it is like to live in a city where being targeted by skinheads and other alt-right groups, because of my race and/or gender, is so normal that only brown people talk about it – because I’ve only ever heard brown people talk about it … because europeans don’t get targeted by gangs like that. And some of them never want to listen to what they believe doesn’t exist. It’s half the reason why the facebook frame’s saying, “This is not us” piss me off. They were designed by people who either ‘don’t see colour’ or who ‘didn’t realise there was a problem’. Bull. You frikkin see it alright. I have a lifetime of historical and generational trauma that calls you out on it, and I refuse to get over it until you start acknowledging your part in it.
  • ‘Godzone’. Gods’ own. New Zealand. Is completely f’d up.

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How does talk of Māori historical trauma bind with this kaupapa of terrorism. Simply put, there is a piece of me that feels we as Māori, as tangata whenua, as mana whenua, have been forgotten. “Law and policy makers don’t know what to do with Māori, as a race, when they make policies, because if they acknowledge us as tangata whenua they then have to acknowledge us as part and parcel of the policy making process – and they don’t want to give us tooooo much power, do they?”

True. We might actually save the whales, the Kauri, the international animal endangered list, find alternative, clean, green renewable power sources, increase our education track record, lower our prison one, stop addiction in all its’ forms, solve world hunger and poverty and basically be better off. Nah, screw that, keep Māori out of the policy making processes. Ignore us. There we go – now we’re one. Yaaay!

There is more to it than that though. The attack on these masjid have brought the pus to the tops of our wounds that have never really been allowed to heal. None of us, as minorities in New Zealand (meaning Muslim, Māori, Asian, Pacific Islander etc etc), are safe from any kind of terrorism. Our skin colour and culture is the flame to which all bugs are drawn to, good and bad – the only difference is it’s the bad bugs that hang around and make life difficult. Our Muslim brother’s and sister’s are a strong community, and once they have been given time to grieve and practice their tikanga, they will find their own small steps back to ‘normal’ life – but, life in New Zealand for them will forever be one where they thought they were coming to a land rich in culture (whatever the hell that means). A land full of opportunity, and a chance at a peaceful life to raise their children in a country that doesn’t know anything of war. Those 50 men, women and children didn’t deserve this.


 

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The images I took today, which are shown in this post, are part and parcel of the love and devotion the wider student body is showing for our Muslim community. The outpouring of aroha and solidarity has been phenomenal for our Muslim brother’s and sister’s.

Our VC stood in front of the wider student body at an event that was very well organised by the Waikato Muslim Students’ Association today. He stood and gave his very well practiced speech, which shows he’s a business man, and not an off the cuff sort of guy – nothing wrong with that though. I’m a planner as well. Hell, even Jacinda is a planner.

He stood in front of the wider student body, giving his heartfelt condolences and love on behalf of the university, and, somewhere along the way, wording similar to, ‘This is the first massacre New Zealand has ever experienced’, fell out of his face. There were staff members there who literally felt their jaws drop to the ground at that statement. Students I spoke to after class this afternoon each baulked, turned to their friends and said,

“Did that m’fer just say this is the first massacre NZ’s ever experienced?”,

“Wait, what did he just say? Did he just say that Rangiaowhia didn’t matter? What, so Pukehinahina didn’t matter either? Ohhh I get it. It’s not a pākehā thing, so it doesn’t matter. Gotcha (snaps)”,

“Hoooooly shit. He’s just discounted our whole fucking history in front of the student body … good one, his dumb ass has just made it ok for the rest of the uni to think it’s ok to ignore our histories too”

“I thought, far what a rat shit fulla, I know he thinks we’re shit, otherwise he wouldn’t be thinking of stripping FMIS of its’ faculty, but that was pretty low eh, making out our narratives don’t exist”

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Good one VC. Way to ignore a whole culture’s past. Whether they happen 175 years ago, 75 years ago, or 5 years ago, those massacre’s happened. Our nation’s history is dotted with stories of massacre’s from a colonial viewpoint – ‘victor’s justice’ – so I get why our histories don’t register with him, because they wouldn’t matter unless they were from the viewpoint of the victor.

How else does this come from the original kaupapa of terrorism?

There are Pākehā in our community who actively seek to address, take responsibility for and heal the wrongs of their own community, family and race. I know many but a friend of mine in particular, who comes to my Māori302 class, has had some trouble peeling back the layers she feels. I see it in her eyes when we pass each other in the halls, I hear it in her voice when we stop to talk to one another. She has told me that her look into Te Ao Māori began with the disgust she felt at her brother for the way he talks about Māori and Pacific Islanders. She calls her family a bunch of racists, and I know sometimes she feels out on the edge of her circle of influence. She calls her brother out at every opportunity, but her journey would have had to start with the fear that she was going against the grain, not ‘being normal’. It’s people like her, and many others, who are trying to take this burden on for their entire race. These people need to be supported as well and reminded that their job isn’t to feel for their race, it’s to feel for themselves and realise that they have been a source of enlightenment for others like them to come forward and make a difference in our today, for our tomorrow.

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Above: a screenshot of a post shared on facebook that speaks volumes about what our country fails to see. Credit: https://www.facebook.com/whatwouldkritdo/

It’s a great power that sits in front us now. That power to unravel, acknowledge and heal. That power to forgive, as we know we have the capacity for, as we know our Muslim brother’s and sister’s are trying to do. A great power indeed. How do we move forward? How do we stomp out hate and bigotry, especially in the culture that we have been ignored in for generations? How? Tell me? Because I still hear people talking about Bastion Point, about Pukehinahina, about Wairau, about Parihaka, about racial profiling in stores, about adopting nicknames to suit the listener/teacher/employee/whānau. I still hear our kids in class telling a room full of strangers that she was bullied for being dark at school and this girl is only 19/20 years old, and the shame and hurt still resonates with me, who used to janola and sandsoap her skin raw in the 80’s to bleach the brown out so I wouldn’t be called ‘Dark Moon, full Moon, nigger, monkey, coon, shoe shine, dubbin, paint, lily (which are white, and therefore the opposite of what I am … quite clever actually), mud-pie, matchstick, skiddy’ – all of those pretty little names that stay with you and come back to the surface, all of those collective and generational memories you’re told by your kuia and kaumatua as a child when they recollect their childhood during the Native School years, when they tell their tupuna … YOUR tupuna narratives, all of that comes flooding back at once as trauma, when something like this, a terrorist attack on innocent people in our country, happens.

This country … New Zealand, Aotearoa, “Godzone”, needs to be reminded it where it’s roots comes from. Our future narrative starts with acknowledging that we need to be seen as the culture we have always been. Colonial trauma can only be healed when that process starts. Until then, our country will always hide behind closed curtains, or under the blanket where it feels cosy.


Nihad Nadam pic.jpgAbove: a photo of a print I bought a couple of years ago in UAE by Nihad Nadam, titled “Ennakum Lan”. On the back, a translation: “You can only win people’s hearts with morals”.

 

We ARE who we are. Indigenous.

I’ve just finished watching a brilliant youtube video via The Graduate Center at CUNY, 2013. This video already had me hooked. Whaea Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Eve Tuck are the panel speakers, and their telling of the book Decolonising Methodologies, their own tribal narratives, their own experiences as Indigenous people’s and Indigenous women is beyond amazing, it’s culturally awakening and culturally strengthening. Towards the end of the clip, a young, Indigenous woman sparks conversation from Whāea Linda who explains that under ‘convenient national fictions’, some countries can allow Indigenous cultures to be forgotten. She mentions a visit she had to China, where using the word Indigenous is not encouraged, but using ethnic and minority are. During a visit to Puerto Rico she was told, “There are no Indigenous people here. They went to the mountains”. She looks to the crowd and then her co-panelist with a look of disbelief – equally, the low murmur and nervous giggles from the audience mirror her thoughts, which I’m guessing ran along these lines,

Wtf do you mean, ‘they went to the mountains?!?’,

it’s certainly what I thought when she said it.

In a recent class that I take at uni (Whaea Linda’s Decolonising Methodologies class. A second year paper), Whaea Linda was taking us through the teaser of her class – giving us just enough information to make us all curious and passionate enough to want to learn more. She said, “How do these Indigenous People’s just disappear?? They don’t. They’re killed off”.

A lot of agreement can be obtained from the simple gesture of a head nod or a throat clearing “Mmmm-hmm”. Class that day was full of them. We weren’t just agreeing because our lecturer is one of the most well respected women in our (Māori) community, or because she is well respected in the international community, for the work she does in and around education and cultural rights, we were agreeing because, as Indigenous People’s, as Māori, we see our Indigenous whanaunga around the world, striving to ‘be’ and the many cogs of the colonial machine working harder to take what is not theirs. We agree also because Linda Tuhiwai Smith is one of us: Wahine. Mother. Grandmother. Aunty. Friend. Teacher. Māori.

Back to the video. How right they (Whaea Linda and Eve Tuck) both are. I’ve seen and heard it before. Not at Waikato, but at AUT. A culture just disappeared before my eyes, and it was painful to witness … it was equally painful and to watch the correction.

I was sitting in on a class (waiting for my husband to finish his lecture that day). He often teaches in the campus marae; it’s his way of keeping students connected to the Māori faculty and enables them to break down barriers (and sometimes ‘fears’) some students may have towards Māoridom. Majority of the students were from the US and although attended the same university, were from different parts of the States. They were all part of a university cultural exchange, in that they had all come to Aotearoa to learn a little about Māoridom and the uni in general. If their papers could be cross credited and matched to NZ papers, they could potentially do a semester in Aotearoa as part of their degree.

Anyway, they were participating in a type of icebreaker, so they could get to know each other a little. While sitting in a circle, each student was asked to tell the class their name, what town or city they came from originally and, if they wanted to, to give one thing their family ate, as a tradition, every year, during the Christmas season (this class happened after NZ New Year, so thoughts of Christmas food were most definitely still fresh), something that was potentially native to their location or family, i.e. if your family never ate turkey because turkey wasn’t something you ate in your town or city, but you ate roast pork and apple sauce because it was your nan’s ggggrandmother’s favourite recipe from when she grew up in New York, tell us. At the end of each persons turn, everyone was asked to say, “Kia ora *insert name*!”, meaning, ‘thank you, so-n-so’.

The game was going well until one young woman said,

Hi, my name is *insert name*. I’m from the Mid West aaaaand we kinda don’t do traditional foods for Christmas because we aren’t native people’s of the area …”,

that was fine. We thought she meant she wasn’t born in the area. She didn’t.

My family originally came from the South. We had slaves and stuff. Yeah. I’m not sure how to answer that question because there haven’t been any Indigenous People in America for a really long time so there’s no traditional native food in America

I know. The entire room baulked at the young woman, not knowing whether she was kidding … in which case she needed to reassess her comedy sketch, or whether she was serious. A peer of hers widened her eyes, looked to her and said,

You’re joking right? Have you forgotten Native Americans? THEY are the Indigenous People of America. And just for the record – I’m descended from slaves. My proud African-American presence here is to remind you that slavery was not ok, and neither is your clouded, non-chalant thinking about the history of the United States. Wake up (snaps!)!“.

That one moment was both painful and powerful. Painful to think this young woman had been allowed to believe in her non-chalant sounding statement; that she had been raised to think that way and allowed to think she was right, and powerful because her peer had the guts to tell her to her face that she was wrong in front of their class and in front of those of us who were Indigenous to Aotearoa.

As aforementioned, in class the other day, Whaea Linda asked, “How do these Indigenous People’s just disappear?”. Now we all know she was being sarcastic about the person who told her there are no Indigenous people’s in Puerto Rico. She posed the question to our class because she was shocked at the audacity of what she’d been told.

By allowing youth to believe Indigenous people’s don’t exist, even if they are in plain sight, they disappear. People start to make excuses not to see them, or say their names, or any name or word from that culture properly so after a while those People’s cease to be a part of their line of sight. That is essentially how Indigenous People’s are ‘killed off’. Colonisation doesn’t just strip a culture of it’s land, water, resources, language, traditions, protocols and narratives, it strips a culture of it’s very essence; its mauri. Its wairua. A forgotten People is one who no longer has a voice, who no longer has a language, no longer has traditions, narratives, names, elders to pass down tribal knowledge or babies to whom that knowledge can be passed. That’s when a culture becomes dead. That’s when a culture is killed off. And yet it happens all the time. For the love of money. For the love of power. For the love of greed. For the need to control.

We must continue to fight to be seen, to be heard, to be present, to be alive. Not one of our People’s should be non-chalantly spoken about like we ‘were’ a People. Those days of being a dying race are dead. Our narratives, languages, names and traditions keep us present; keep us bound to Earth Mother and Sky Father. Keep us bound to the now. We must continue to write, sing, perform, and live our cultures. We must continue to be the hands and mouths of progress for our People’s. We must fight to ensure people in all manner of society see and hear us. We must continue to raise awareness, to raise consciousness, to raise our clenched fists and our voices. To raise our tamariki (children) and our mokopuna (grandchildren/generational) to be proud in their skin, in their Indigenous, Native, Ethnic, Minority selves – for we are not ‘The Maori people’, or, ‘The  Maoris’, or ‘The Hawaiian people’, or any other culture where the words ‘The … people’ are used. Those words signify a dead culture in any book. BE alive. BE your culture. BE Indigenous.

 

Something in the water

There must be something in the water for the only two females of my grandparents children to have been disowned by their children. It happened 11 years ago with my cousin, to her “donor”, and is now a reality, as of November of last year for my brother and I. What the hell was in that water?? And why did it not affect the boys of the family? Just a couple of the many questions I’ll never have answers to … and I’m ok with that. We’ve never had a good relationship with her, and to be brutally honest, the full weight of the whole ordeal has been lifted since my brother and I decided to let her go.

We. Are. Free.

The road is long with this story. Long and hard. It’s been hard not to have malice towards her over the years, and I only really kept in contact with her for the sake of my brother, because his relationship with her was already strained beyond belief. I practically used lard to grease the surface and slide the two of them in close proximity to one another until he was willing to contact her again.

But not anymore.

I used to think I could heal anyone and anything if I gave them enough love. Gave them everything I could. Gave them everything I shouldn’t. It didn’t work. Not with her.

I gave up being the constant reminder that her life was ruined once I was born.

Gave up being the constant reminder that a court case was what brought her name to disrepute.

Gave up waiting to be told how fucking great I was in public then told the opposite in private.

Gave up feeling guilty for things that were never in my control in order to have her feel good.

Gave up believing her lies.

The bullet to the skull was being told I was a product of rape, not love. If I didn’t have my guard down at the time I could’ve handled that … but you never expect that sort of thing the day after your wedding do you? No. No you don’t.

I just gave up. Gave up fighting. I realised it was fighting when I saw I was making my whānau struggle through the same relationship.

Manipulative.

Conceited.

“You would cut off your nose to spite your face” – Her

No. My nan raised me better than that. YOUR MOTHER RAISED ME BETTER THAN THAT!!

But no more. Whatever was in the water has been well and truly disinfected.

I KNOW who I am. I wear my scars proudly.

I wear them and share them.

Educate. Ponder. My knowledge to squander.

I KNOW that I mattered.

She is not you.

And you will never be her.

My brother and I

We. Are. Free.