Linda Tuhiwai Smith: Healing our trauma

This article was first published by E-Tangata

There’s growing recognition that historical trauma can be reproduced and passed down through the generations, where it shows up in a wide range of social harms seen in colonised peoples around the world — including family and sexual violence.

Healing that trauma is still a work in progress. 

In Aotearoa, a research project called He Oranga Ngākau, led by professors Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Leonie Pihama, is looking at ways to heal intergenerational pain and prevent whānau violence.

As Linda writes here, the way we treat historical trauma in Māori doesn’t work — and we need a kaupapa Māori approach.

Understanding the impact of historical and colonial trauma is the focus of much of our work. 

Twenty years ago, there was no recognition of the trauma being experienced over generations, or the trauma that comes from colonisation. A lot of people today still think Māori should just get over these things. Bury them and move on. Put all our sorrows away, and “mana” up.

But there’s a great deal of research across the world now that shows that trauma isn’t something that you just get over. It can be reproduced and passed down through generations. 

Trauma alters our practices, feelings, identities and our relationships. It alters our physical bodies. It affects our sense of place and worthiness, our feelings of value and of being settled.

One way of thinking about this is through the notion of a “soul wound”. This idea has been written about by clinical psychologists and health professors such as Bonnie Duran, Karina Walters, Tessa Campbell, Eduardo Duran and many others in the US. It’s the idea that historical trauma has a huge impact on your sense of wellbeing. And it affects the collective sense of wellbeing, too. 

In Aotearoa, we’ve been using something called the “trauma-informed care” model in our clinics and health organisations to try to deal with these soul wounds. Initially, Māori were quite excited about this approach, thinking: “Yes, this is for us.”  

But, in reality, the model is a very contained and constrained one. It came to us from western clinical practice in the UK and the US — where they were using trauma-informed care as a way to treat a very individualised, very singular notion of what trauma is. 

Using this model, many Māori get the idea that once they’ve had their therapy, they’ve been through a process, it’s been funded for so many hours, they’ve received the treatment — it’s done. They’re supposed to be better and they can go home. This minimises our pain. 

What we know is that by relying on western clinical practice, we’ve failed to bring in the essential sense-making element of healing.

The time has come for a kaupapa Māori model, where we use healing to address our intergenerational and historical trauma, and our family and sexual violence. 

This means more than just trying to describe our wounds, our hakihaki, our sores. 

There’s so much research already that talks about all the issues that we have, and all our problems. And that research is overwhelmingly unhelpful. Because, within it, there’s no theory of transformation or redress. 

What’s missing are the solutions. That is something that we address through a kaupapa Māori approach to trauma. Kaupapa Māori is for doing and living and taking action.  

Māori practitioners have philosophies and practices for healing trauma. That’s where the strengths and solutions lie. Not way out there somewhere in the wonderland of research, but in our own worlds, and with our people who’ve been experts in these areas. They have the thinking that will give us solutions.

It’s not like we’ve come late to this game. Many of our traditional processes had explicit strategies for excluding and exiling people who had done wrong, and also for reconciling them to themselves and to their communities. 

We had all kinds of processes and rituals that are restorative and make peace. We have concepts like utu, muru, and whakatika, which are about correcting and rebalancing. We have a whole vocabulary for pōuritanga and the different types of sadness.

Tears, hūpē, mamae — all those things are good healthy things in te ao Māori, yet they’re often seen in te ao Pākehā as inappropriate, or too much. But acknowledging pain is not a superficial thing. A kaupapa Māori approach honours the depth of the pain and the person who has had to bear it. It helps them mourn and farewell the trauma.

A kaupapa Māori approach accepts that while whānau are key for our wellbeing, they aren’t the sole or ultimate answer for every problem. Our whānau are also in stress and need support. 

We need to help people build their own whare, knowing that sometimes they’ve harmed their whānau so much that their whānau don’t want them back. Or that to go home again puts them back in a risky environment, so they have no real shelter. 

The answer may not come from whakapapa. It might come from the people who have chosen to be with that person. That doesn’t make them less Māori.

One of the most taken-for-granted things that happens in western clinical practice is writing up case notes. The notes are owned by professonal practitioners who are trained to write them in a particular way, without the patient’s involvement. 

The person has no control over how their journey is narrated. Their story is told solely by others. Then the next professional, a complete stranger, comes along and picks those notes up. The notes determine how they interact with the person, even if the story has been misinterpreted, which it so often is.  

We overlook some real basic practices like this, which are damaging, because everyone believes that’s just what you do. They’ve become part of the wallpaper. But what if the person who has experienced trauma was involved in constructing their own story? Had some control? 

These are some of the things that come into the light when we start talking about a kaupapa Māori approach to trauma.

There is also a lot we can learn about healing from other Indigenous communities whose responses to intergenerational pain can be so creative and outside the box.  

For example, some Native American people have asked themselves how they can heal from the long marches of forced relocation and abandonment of land that their ancestors were forced to undertake.  

One group of Choctaw women decided that their way of dealing with that is to walk their ancestors’ “trail of tears”. Each year, they walk part of the journey that their ancestors were forced to take to Oklahoma. 

For them, that is a healing process. Along the walk, they come to appreciate the strength and resistance and the love that their ancestors left for them.

This is called the Yappalli project, meaning “to walk slowly and softly” in the Choctaw language, and it was a partnership with the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute in Seattle to heal historical trauma.

Sometimes, in Aotearoa, we think healing is about a specific rongoā or medicine. But it’s also about action. Doing things. Political action is healing. The Crown saying sorry is not a healing strategy. That’s called an apology.

Other countries who negotiate agreements with Indigenous peoples often have a first line about reconciliation and healing. In Aotearoa, we went down another pathway where the big focus was on economic development. 

Our Treaty settlement process came out of neoliberal reforms in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Our people received small amounts of money that they needed to turn into much larger amounts of money. The intention was for iwi to obtain the commercial means to begin economic recovery, and for political parties to be able to say they’d achieved full and final agreements. 

Social and cultural concerns were separated out, as if they were at odds with the corporate entities and goals. Everybody talked about the wider cultural benefits that would flow to iwi from the economic activity, but our agreements are constructed in a way that makes it so difficult for that to happen.

So while our iwi have been amazingly creative with their negotiations, we have lost sight of the healing and reconciliation components of settlement.  

These still sit on the table as unfinished business. 

Realising the potential of a kaupapa Māori model to provide healing for trauma requires things that don’t currently exist in our health system. Proper resources. A connected infrastructure among our health clinics and providers.

The barriers to a lot of what we’re suggesting are not right at the top. They’re in the beliefs that are held by professional groups, policy analysts, teaching disciplines. 

One of the challenges of getting policy workers to take up our research on kaupapa Māori for trauma response is that they don’t understand what it takes to apply it in practice. We get lip service to the principle of rangatiratanga, but it’s not funded properly.

Many of our Māori health organisations, whether they are paid to or not, will provide a wraparound service where they try to support the whole whānau way beyond the individual’s time-bound and constrained treatment model. We see them searching intuitively for ways to heal. 

These providers are honoured for their work all the time. But we need to do more than “honour” Māori aspirations for self-determination. If they were properly funded and supported they would be even more successful. They would have the self-determining capacity to actually do the work.

It’s hard being Māori. It’s way better now than it was in our parents’ time, but it’s still hard. 

Some people are landing on their feet — they have their identity and their reo. But that’s not the reality for a lot of Māori. What we’re good at doing in Aotearoa is dismissing their pain, ignoring it, making fun of it, or reducing it. 

Fixing trauma isn’t something the Crown, or any agency, can do for Māori. Fixing requires resources, so we can bring our own healing back. 

He Oranga Ngākau is a research project led by Professor Leonie Pihama and Distinguished Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith. It is part of the He Waka Eke Noa group of projects that examine Māori cultural frameworks for the treatment and prevention of family and sexual violence. It calls for resourcing a nationwide training programme to implement kaupapa Māori approaches to healing.

As told to Connie Buchanan. This piece was made possible by New Zealand On Air’s Public Interest Journalism Fund.

Kaupapa Māori Theory, Research methodology, Practice and Expressions of Rangatiratanga

This Blog is a copy of a Presentation given in February 3rd 2020 as Professorial Lecture, Ngā Wai a Te Tūī, Unitec, Ōwairaka, Tāmaki Makaurau

Ko Taranaki, ko Kariori ngā maunga
Ko Waitara, ko Waikato ngā awa
Ko Te Tai o Rehua, ko Whaingaroa ngā moana
Ko Te Ātiawa, ko Waikato, ko Ngā Māhanga a Tairi ngā iwi
Ko Ngāti Rāhiri, ko Ngāti Māhanga ngā hapū
Ko Tokomaru, ko Tainui ngā waka
Ko Waitara tōku tūrangawaewae

As we gather in this whare I feel honoured to again be on the whenua of the many iwi that connect to this place. To see, to read, to hear the many stories that derive from the whakapapa kōrero, that speak of the histories and the relationships of hapū and iwi to Ōwairaka. Of those that for generations have lived up and cared for this place and who have been sheltered, and nurtured by the whenua, taiao, puna, moana and the many kaitiaki of this place. It is an honour to deliver this kōrero here in this whare, Ngākau Māhaki, on this whenua, as a part of the research whānau of Ngā Wai a Te Tūī the first Māori research Institute within Unitec.
My journey here to this point in my personal, political and academic life was not, as with many Māori, a tidy one. Rather is has been through a myriad of experiences, events, life choices – my own and those made on my behalf by our tupuna – that have culminated in this day. From being raised by two parents who did not have the best experience in education but were adamant that it could make a difference for their children, to the extent that my father banned any of his children doing seasonal work at the freezing works because he was concerned if we did that we would never leave it. To living from the whenua, the awa, the moana – having māra kai, picking puha, harvesting kai moana from Te Tai o Rehua (Tasman Sea), catching tuna and netting whitebait by the bucket. Being connected and in touch with all that surrounded us and waking every day to the sight of Taranaki mounga, a sign always of the power of all that we live with. Growing up in time when every Native housing area had fruit trees and sharing kai was a norm. And knowing too those parts of life where we struggled with many things including the pain that my father and his whakapapa line endured as he struggled to make ends meet on Te Ātiawa lands while paying lease to be on his own whenua to a council that was in receipt of, and continues to benefit from, stolen Taranaki lands. To knowing what poverty does to our bodies, minds and spirit and what struggle against that can achieve in uplifting hope and aspirations for a better future. I was nudged along in my academic journey my tuakana who decided that no matter that I thought life was all sport and parties, made me enrol in an education paper extramurally at Massey university where I met many people who have over the past 40 years led movements for Kaupapa Māori.
It was, however, my move here to Tamaki Makaurau that brought the most significant change to my life. Within a few of months of arriving here I had been received into the Hawkewhānau and come to hear the stories of Ngati Whaatua Ki Orakei and Takaparawhau; I had my first journey to Waitangi and heard the stories and political visions of Te Kawariki and the many hapū and iwi that stood to challenge the crown and uphold Te Tiriti o Waitanga; I had become a part of a group Wāhine mo ngā Wāhine o Te Moana nui a Kiwa and came out fully as takatāpui; and when I walked into an office in the basement of the Department of Education that was the office of Linda and Graham Smith, and which began my involvement in the Māori Education group at the University of Auckland that has spanned by entire career.
Arriving in Tāmaki was a moment and place in time where the many knowledges of my Taranaki tupuna were sparked, where the connections to Waikato-Tainui and what it meant to live on Ngāti Whaatua lands came to play and my understandings of what had happened to the many generations of Taranaki iwi were transformed so that I could ‘see’ in a way that no schooling had ever enabled, that no state media had ever represented to us but in fact that every experience of schooling had denied and most media representations diminished. There have been many experiences since that time, that I don’t have time to share here, but they are experiences of knowledge awakening or which many of our people would refer to as mauri oho.
Mauri oho is important to our processes of decolonising our minds. It is more than an awakening. Mauri oho is a shift, a transition on a spectrum from mauri moe to mauri ora (Pōhatu 2011; Durie 2001). Taina Pohatu (2011, p.5) refers to mauri oho as being proactive and as “the point of being awoken from a particular state of mauri moe”. What, this indicates is that something or someone has spurred an interest within the person or as Pōhatu (2011) notes “something has happened to spark interest, a willingness to participate, make a commitment” (p.5). Takirirangi Smith (2019) also notes that “in times of stress, oho is used to describe the action and movement of the mauri oho means to awaken, enliven or to be startled into action” (p.18).
The title of this kōrero is ‘Kaupapa Māori theory, research, practice and expressions of rangatiratanga’. It is a necessarily broad title that draws on the idea that within our work there are multiple strands through which we can locate what we have called Kaupapa Māori. Kaupapa Māori as theory, Kaupapa Māori as research methodology, Kaupapa Māori as practice across many places and spaces are all expressions of rangatiratanga.
For many years, many people have been a part of Kaupapa Māori in its many forms and articulations. We know that kaupapa has multiple meanings, as foundation, as subject or issue, as platform, as proposal, as philosophy. The phrase ‘papa’ itself tells us there are layers. In regards to kaupapa as foundation, kaupapa as approach, Kaupapa as subject or issue the authors of He Pataka Kupu (2009,p.238-9) provide a range of ways of understanding kaupapa such as:
“He wāhi papatahi, he mata papatahi: ka rite te kaupapa o te rua ki te kaupapa o te awa”
“He whakaritenga ka whakatakotoria hei whai mā te tāngata e tūtuki ai tētahi āhuatanga”
“He take matua i whakatūria ai tētahi mea, i mahia ai rānei tētahi mahi”

What we know within te reo is that our kupu carry a depth meanings that can not easily be translated. The term and concept of kaupapa within te ao Māori is not new, and where we can, and do, bring such concepts into contemporary ways of understanding, the fundamental essence of our kupu do not change. What we see when our concepts are changed is a cooption of their essence for purposes that often do not serve our interests as Māori. Writers such as Carl Mika and Alison Green have argued that the cooption and redefinition of kupu Māori to fit the purposes of others, such as the Crown, leads to a misrepresentation both of the kupu itself and of the intention of the kupu. This reminds us is that our capacity as Māori to retain the fundamental control of the definitions of what it means to be Māori is critical. This extends to te reo, to tikanga, to kawa and all forms of mātauranga. This is an expression of mana motuhake and is an act of rangatiratanga.
I, and others, have argued for many years that kaupapa is of Papatūānuku. As such it is of these whenua. Kaupapa is sourced here. It is sourced in Papatūānuku, in Aotearoa, in iwi, in hapū, in whānau, in Māori. Its origins are our origins. Its foundation is our foundation. Its ukaipō is our ukaipō. Kaupapa does not exist separate from all that is Māori in these lands, all that is pure to these lands, all that is normal, all that is ordinarily of this place, all that is mana whenua, mana moana, mana atua, mana tangata. This is not a new statement. Tuakana Nepe (1991, p.4) eloquently asserted that Kaupapa Māori is sourced from Rangiātea, ngā kete o te wānanga.
Maori society has its own distinctive knowledge base. This knowledge base has its origins in the metaphysical realm and emanates as a Kaupapa Māori ‘body of knowledge’ accumulated by experiences through history, of the Māori people. This Kaupapa Māori knowledge is the systematic organisation of beliefs, experiences, understandings and interpretations of the interactions of Māori people upon Māori people, and Māori people upon their world.
Kaupapa Māori as an Indigenous body of knowledge is then sourced within mātauranga from atua and has been gifted through our tūpuna to us to utilise within te ao mārama. As such Kaupapa Māori is sourced within, and resourced by, mātauranga, reo, tikanga and drawn upon by tangata, and applied by tangata. If I was to add to the statement by Tuki that “Kaupapa Māori knowledge is the systematic organisation of beliefs, experiences, understandings and interpretations of the interactions of Māori people upon Māori people, and Māori people upon their world.”
It would be that such understandings and interpretations come also from our world to us through many forms of receiving understandings and knowing through both kauae runga and kauae raro, from both celestial and terrestrial, through interactions with the physical and the metaphysical, in feeling through kare a roto deeply, those ripples and waves that occur within our ngākau where knowledge and coming to know is fully integrated into our being, our thoughts, our behaviours.
As Takirirangi Smith (2008) highlights, “In order to know something for sure it had to be perceived and comprehended within the ngākau, the heart and internal organs of the human body” (p.6). Furthermore, he states that for our tūpuna the ngākau is the source of both emotions and motivation and is critical for learning and knowing he writes “although knowledge at most times was considered to enter through the head and be processed through the brain (the roro or processing point of entry), it had no lasting relevance until it was grounded in the ngākau and retained as memory” (p.6).
The power of such ways of knowing as defined by our ways of being, have been denied for 200 years through oppressive structures, systems,beliefs, ideologies of colonialism. A consequence of which is the impact of hegemonic thought and fear upon our own imagination, dreams, vision and aspirations. As Freire consistently reminded us, to know the word is to know the world, and to have the capacity to retain control over our lives. In this context I am drawing upon that notion to affirm that as Māori to know our words, to know our ways, our tikanga, mātauranga and reo is to know a world that is framed by distinctly Māori ways of knowing and being. That was central to how our tupuna knew their world, te ao Māori and has been a driving force behind the power of the many movements that our people have led as both the re-assertion of rangatiratanga and in the form of decolonisation, a process of seeking freedom from colonialism in all of its forms. I say this as over the past nearly 40 years we have seen the exponential re-growth and re-generation of Kaupapa Māori within Aotearoa after our people have suffered, resisted and survived extreme and severe acts of colonial ethnocide, epistemicide, and genocide.
It is equally important to context our contemporary Kaupapa Māori movements within the ‘re’ of regrowth, regeneration, revitalisation as they are a part of a wider whakapapa of each of ourwhānau, hapu, iwi and Māori community resistance movements. As a mokopuna of both Taranaki and Waikato I am in no doubt that it has been mātauranga, tikanga and te reo of Taranaki and Waikato respectively that informed how we lived for many generations prior to colonial disruption and which has informed movements and struggles for rangatiratga since that time within those areas, likewise for other whānau,hapu and iwi.
Within Kaupapa Māori the ways of our tupuna inform all that we do, as do the whenua, maunga, awa, moana, and all living things that sustain us as human beings and which enable us to live and for our whakapapa to continue through generations. This has been signalled by our tūpuna in whakatauki such as “Whatungarongaro te tangata, toi tū te whenua” when people perish, the land remains. In fact Indigenous Peoples around the world have been pronouncing for many years now that unless there is an end to such destructive ways of being there will come a time when the earth itself will remove us in order that all other living things may replenish and continue to survive.
As we hear with climate change, the pollution of waterways, the plasticisation of the oceans, the extinction of animal relations daily, there continues to be a failure to make transformative change on a level that will make a difference. I raise this as for a number of years we have seen more and more people-centric ways dominate what happens in relation to the earth and which are increasingly infiltrating our epistemologies as Māori. This is all a part of a epistemic struggle that we have been engaged with since colonisation. The struggle over knowledge, world views and ways of knowing.
This is not a doom scenario. As Māori we have lived with the consequences of colonial greed and obssessive appetite for extraction and wealth for generations. It is a call to understand that the wider context of these issues requires a decolonisation that moves beyond the piecemeal changes wtihin western institutions into all of our lived spaces. This is a key point within Linda’s book ‘Decolonising Methodologies’.
The situation we find ourselves in within Aotearoa is inherent to the colonising imperialist supremacist capitalist neoliberal agenda that began to impose itself in 1769 and which, irrespective of the illusion of terms such as ‘post-colonialism’ and more recently ‘post-Treaty settlements’, continue to dominate relationships and reproduce itself within this country. We continue to see, feel and be impacted upon by the rape of the land, and the poistioning and commodifcation of that which keeps us alive – water – and endure the inexhaustible extraction of all that sustains us. And these practices are presented back to us as acceptable even when we know that such systems will only ever benefit the few over the collective.
All of these things Graham Smith (2003) has referred to as new formations of colonisation. A critical intervention in such formations is for our continued assertion of mana motuhake and rangatiratanga in all parts of our lives. Within Kaupapa Māori theory, Graham argues that “a critical element of the ‘revolution’ has to be the struggle for our minds”(p.3). This struggle is one that also moves beyond knowledge to how we experience and live our lives. As Linda Smith (1999, p.23) states:
“The reach of imperialism into ‘our heads’ challenges those who belong to colonized communities to understand how this occurred, partly because we perceive a need to decolonize our minds, to recover ourselves, to claim a space in which to develop a sense of authentic humanity.”

Such resistance and revolutionary thinking continues amongst our people, for example Taranaki koroua Huirangi Waikerepuru states:
Ko Taranaki Maunga, muruhia Taranaki mountain, confiscated
Ko Taranaki whenua, muruhia Taranaki land, confiscated
Ko Taranaki moana, muruhia Taranaki seas, confiscated
Ko Taranaki tangata e tū tonu nei Taranaki mana still stands firm

(Waikerepuru in Hohaia, O’Brien & Strongman 2005 cited in Ngāwhare 2014. P.24)

Koro Huirangi provides us with both analysis and hope. That is a critical component of Kaupapa Māori theory and research, which is to (i) inform our theories and methodologies from a basis of our own understandings in ways that reaffirm the moemoeā, wawata, manawa ora, whakapono, tūmanako of our tūpuna; (ii) that enable critical Māori descriptions, explanations, interpretation and analysis that inform what Graham Smith (1997) referred to as the validation and legitimation of Māori knowledge, language and culture and (iii) to do in ways that provide transformative intervention and decolonisation. Being visionary and working towards collective wellbeing is central to our ways of being as Te Puea stated:
Mehemea ka moemoeā ahau, ko ahau anake Mehemea ka moemoeā tātou, ka taea e tātou,
If I dream alone only I benefit. If we all dream together we can all succeed together.

This brings me to the ‘expressions of rangatiratanga’ part of the title. In 3 days is the 180th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, in 2 days is the 180th anniversary of the hui held by our people at Tau Rangatiratanga in Waitangi where our tupuna went through a process of wānanga over the kaupapa of signing a covenant, a Treaty, a binding agreement with the representatives of the British Crown. We know that Te Tiriti o Waitangi has its origins in He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand) signed on October 28th 1935. In He Whakaputanga the term ‘ tino rangatira’ is translated by Manuka Henare as “the absolute leaders of the tribes” and ‘rangatiratanga’ as ‘authority and leadership’ and ‘independence’ as within the English title.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a crucial document in the articulation of Kaupapa Māori theory. It is a binding agreement between Māori and the Crown (and its agencies). It is a document that articulates our sovereign, independent rights as Tāngata Whenua. It is a document that is often considered by Māori as tapu because of the deep significance within which it is held. It has meaning to Māori that reaches into fundamental oral beliefs that the word once spoken must be recognised in its fullest. We can say therefore that each word in Te Tiriti o Waitangi has significance. Intentions and interpretations are important in the negotiating of meanings. This has remained a point of contention in regard to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the relationship of Māori and the Crown. From a Kaupapa Māori position the accepted validity and legitimacy of te reo Māori locates the Māori text as the primary one from which we need to take meaning and operationalise relationships and actions. This too is validated by the fact that the majority of our tūpuna signed the reo Māori text (Orange 1987; Simpson 1990). Te Tiriti o Waitangi is central to how we view a relationship with the Crown (Kawharu 1989). It affirms whānau, hapu, iwi, Māori as tangata whenua, and guarantees that maintenance of fundamental rights. This is encapsulated within Te Tiriti which notes in Article Two:
Ko te Kuini o Ingarangi ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangatira ki nga hapu ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani te tino rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa. Otiia ko nga Rangatira o te Wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa atu ka tuku ki te Kuini te hokonga o era wahi wenua e pai ai te tangata nona te Wenua ki te ritenga o te utu e wakaritea ai e ratou ko te kai hoko e meatia nei e te Kuini hei kai hoko mona.

Tino rangatiratanga, is an overarching element in Kaupapa Māori theory, research and practice. Tino rangatiratanga links us directly to a right to define and control what it means to be Māori in Aotearoa. Tino rangatiratanga is expressed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi in relationship to the notion ‘kawangatanga’ which is referred to in Article one and translated by Hugh Kawharu as ‘government’ and which others refer to as ‘governorship’. The relationship between these two notions is perhaps one of the most hotly contested areas in regard to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
The Waitangi Tribunal Report on the Motunui (which is Ngāti Rāhiri whenua of Te Ātiawa iwi) claim notes that under the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 there is recognition that there are differences between the Māori and English texts and that the Tribunal is required to decide on issues raised by the differences. In that report there is significant discussion in regard to the importance, and interpretation, of the term ‘rangatiratanga’. In that report the Waitangi Tribunal (1986, p.51) notes that in 1840 both iwi and Missionaries were conversant with Missionary use of the phrase tino rangatiratanga through the use of the term within the Lords Prayer.
Kia tae mai tou rangatiratanga.
Bring us Your Chiefly rule

Nōu hoki te rangatiratanga,
Through your chiefly position

Tino rangatiratanga is Māori chieftainship, self-determination, autonomy, sovereignty. Tino rangatiratanga is also an expression of mana motuhake. Mana motuhake is grounded in our tangata whenuatanga, our Indigenous position in Aotearoa. In reflecting on both Te Tiriti o Waitangi and mana motuhake, Annette Sykes writes “The Treaty is a symbol which reflects Te Mana Māori Motuhake”.
Within Kaupapa Māori to assert tino rangatiratanga is to assert our fundamental rights as determined within Te Tiriti o Waitangi. To do anything less, to work in ways that deny rangatiratanga and privilege kawanatanga is not acceptable. And I would say, is not Kaupapa Māori theory, research or practice. Graham Hingangaroa Smith notes that from this context the term ‘tino rangatiratanga’ is drawn and related it to Kaupapa Māori in the form of a ‘self-determination principle of asserting Māori control over Māori kaupapa (Smith, G.H. 1997) That was an underpinning assumption inherent in the developments of Kaupapa Māori educational initiatives.
What we know as Māori is that many actions in mainstream educational institutions are irreconcilable in regards to how we understand rangatiratanga. It is little wonder then that within the education arena this has been most successfully expressed in Māori initiated, driven and controlled contexts initiatives such as Te Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori, Whare Kura and Whare Wānanga.
For many generations we have worked to decolonise the academy and we have, and continue, to face resistance across the education sector. We have seen increased promotions of things Māori but little systemic or structural change. We have been flooded with ‘taha Māori’ type initiatives and changes which are piecemeal and continue to seek to ‘fit’ us within existing flawed systems and assumptions. Māori concepts are being used within mainstream Crown agencies, Ministries, NGO’s and a range of educational contexts with limited consideration of the depth of what those mean. In some cases our knowledge has been reduced to a term on a billboard. Rangatiratanga is being reduced to specific spheres of curriculum or ideas of success with no meaningful engagement with what constitutes a deep meaningful and intended relationship as envisioned by our tupuna in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Both He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni & Te Tiriti o Waitangi were, and are futuristic documents. Our tupuna had clear aspirations and visions for future generations, and sought to protect those through the assertion and protection of rangatiratanga and taonga tuku iho. This is yet to be realised or even envisaged by the Crown as the other signatory on behalf of all others that have settled on these lands. As such we have Pākehā institutions that have existed in Aotearoa for over 150 years who do not yet see themselves as an agent of the Crown with obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, or that continue to reproduce surface responses to those obligations through the co-option of selected components of tikanga Māori to give the impression of change. There are many recent examples of these points including
• Foreshore and Seabed – the largest contemporary land theft in the past 20 years
• The 2019 Waitara lands re-confiscation and freeholding of stolen Waitara lands
• The removal of Māori children by the Ministry For Children and failure to protect those tamariki and mokopuna.
• The co-option of Māori names for Ministry’s such as the Ministry For children – Oranga Tamariki – with no capacity to fulfil that name.
• Ihumātao and the ongoing failure of the Crown to return and protect the whenua
• Continued failure across Health, Education, Justice etc to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi
• Ongoing use of Māori concepts by Pākehā organisations and institution in reductionist and selective ways that do not fulfil the intent of the concept or practice.
• Failure to adequately support Māori initiatives such as whānau ora, Māori educational initiatives from kōhanga to wānanga.

When I was preparing this talk I reflected on number of interactions and observations that I have had over the past year. One was when a government department asked if I would comment on piece of research they were about to launch. They had selected an external independent researcher and were looking at an issue that would impact on Māori in their sector. This had been preceded by another government agency contacting a Māori health provider to meet and give feedback on another piece of research being undertaken by a Māori researcher in the agency. Both discussions included the idea that they would be engaging in Kaupapa Māori research. Neither could provide any indication that they were, in fact, able to engage with tino rangatiratanga which is central to Kaupapa Māori research. And we should not be surprised by that. As anyone, Māori or otherwise, working for the Crown is not engaged in Kaupapa Māori research, why? Because they are an emodiment of kawanatanga, not rangatiratanga.
The Crown and its associated agencies do not enact rangatiratanga, only we enact rangatiratanga. What this means is that we need to challenge directly Crown and its agencies that coopt ‘Kaupapa Māori’ as a means by which to name their cultural activities whilst simultaneously refusing to operate in ways that align to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Furthermore, we need to continue to assert that Kaupapa Māori theory, research and practice is an expression of rangatiratanga. It is for Māori to define, to determine, to drive and to control. It is also ours to be responsible for and accountable to. If we are to do that fully then we must continue to take on the challenges that lie in front of us in living our lives as Māori in a Kaupapa Māori way that aligns with our tikanga, that voices our reo both as language and voice and which brings forward mātauranga Māori in all the contexts that we find ourselves in.
Continuing to assert rangatiratanga is critical to the future wellbeing of tamariki and mokopuna, where the Crown continues to fail in its role to be a good guest on our lands we will continue to provide ways of being that are of this land and its people. That has been the legacy left to us by our tupuna as guidance for how to retain the mana that is an inherent part of who we are as their mokopuna. As is noted in the Taranaki iwi deed of settlement (2015, p.54). The following whakawai, recorded by the Parihaka leaders in the twentieth century, foresees the restoration of autonomy, empowerment, and hope for a better future:
Nāu te pahua tuatahi, māku te pahua whakamutunga
Yours was the first plunder, but final response will be mine

References
Durie, E.T.J (1991) ‘The Treaty in Mäori History’ pp156-169 in Renwick, William (education) Sovereignty & Indigenous Rights: The Treaty of Waitangi in International Contexts Victoria University Press, Wellington:156
Durie, M (2001) Mauri ora: The dynamics of Mäori health. Auckland, NZ: Oxford University Press.
Kawharu, I. H.(ed) (1989) Waitangi: Māori and Pākehā Perspectives of the Treaty of Waitangi, Auckland, Oxford University Press
Nepe, Tukana Mate, (1991) E hao nei e tenei reanga:Te Toi Huarewa Tupuna, Unpublished Master of Arts Thesis, University of Auckland, Auckland: 4
Ngawhare, D. (2014) Living Memory and the Travelling Mountain Narrative of Taranaki, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Wellington: Victoria University
Orange, C. (1987) The Treaty of Waitangi, Wellington:Allen & Unwin Port Nicholson Press
Pohatu, T.W. (2011) Mauri – Rethinking Human Wellbeing, MAI Review. 2011; n.3:12p
Simpson, M. (1990) Ngä Tohu o Te Tiriti: Making a Mark The Signatories to The treaty of Waitangi, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, Wellington
Smith, G. H. (2003) Kaupapa Māori Theory: Theorizing Indigenous Transformation of Education and Schooling, ‘Kaupapa Māori Symposium’ NZARE / AARE Joint Conference Hyatt Hotel, Auckland, N.Z
Smith, L.T. (1999) Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, London, UK: Zed Books.
Smith. T. (2008) Indigenous Knowledge in the Pacific: Knowing and the Ngakau Unpublished paper, Auckland
Smith, T (2019) He Ara Uru Ora: Traditional Māori Understandings of Trauma and Healing,
Whanganui: Te Atawhai o Te Ao
Sykes, A. (n/d) Agents For Change, Unpublished Paper, Rotorua
Taranaki Deed of Settlement (2015) Taranaki
Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori (2009) Te Pataka Kupu:Te Kai a Te Rangatira, Wellington: Penguin Books
Waitangi Tribunal (1986) Report of the Waitangi Tribunal on the Motunui-Waitara Claim, Wai 6, Wellington: Government Printer,

Sharing Kaupapa Māori Online

Kia Ora koutou,

It has been a month since Aotearoa moved to Alert Level 4 for Covid19 on March 25 at 11.59pm. At the time we were engaged in a series of Hui that were led by Ngā Wai a Te Tūī in collaboration with Tū Tama Wāhine o Taranaki. As we settled into our nohonga haumaru (safe place/retreat) – which some are referring to as mirumiru (bubbles) – around the motu there was much discussion around how we could provide support to those confined to our whare in the form of sharing kōrero online. As a researcher who is fortunate to be a part of both Tū Tama Wāhine o Taranaki and Ngā Wai a Te Tūī (located at Unitec) key part of the mahi we had planned to launch in March and April was a series of Kaupapa Māori research hui as a part of two projects ‘He Waka Eke Noa’ – Māori cultural frameworks for violence prevention and intervention and ‘He Punaha Hohourongo’ – Developing A Family Violence Prevention strategy within Taranaki. Both mahi rangahau are supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The idea to start these hui online came from within our nohonga haumaru from my partner Marjorie who is both a Kaupapa Māori practitioner and a Phd scholar, and who saw the opportunity to bring together Māori academics, Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Graham Hingangaroa Smith together to share thoughts, reflections and insights on Kaupapa Māori to an online audience. These online kōrero are an opening discussion and are a contribution from Tū Tama Wāhine o Taranaki and Ngā Wai a Te Tūī to those that are working in Kaupapa Māori spaces as both practitioners and researchers. In particular to support those that are developing longer term Kaupapa Māori research and development within their own whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori organisations.

This blog provides links to each of the six korero:

Kōrero 1 – The foundations of Kaupapa Māori Theory: Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith
On this online video kōrero Graham Hingangaroa Smith discusses the emergence of Kaupapa Māori Theory from work undertaken alongside Māori educational initiatives in the 1980s. Graham will provide insights into the development of Kaupapa Māori Theory and the key elements of analysis that sit within the six foundational principles.
https://www.ngawaiatetui.org.nz/kaupapa-maori-online-series/

Kōrero 2 – Decolonising Methodologies: Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith
On this online video kōrero Linda Tuhiwai Smith shares thoughts on Kaupapa Maori, Decolonising methodologies and the need to continue to develop, articulate and apply our own methodologies as an ongoing part of our wider cultural renaissance and regeneration projects.
https://www.ngawaiatetui.org.nz/kaupapa-maori-online-series-2/

Kōrero 3 – Kaupapa Māori and responding to new formations of colonisation: Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith
On this online video kōrero Graham Hingangaroa Smith will respond to a series of questions on Kaupapa Maori and new formations of colonisation, reflections on what we need to considering now as Māori and Indigenous Peoples in this context of Covid19.
https://www.ngawaiatetui.org.nz/kaupapa-maori-online-series-episode-3/

Kōrero 4 – Kaupapa Maori Theory as an expression of tino rangatiratanga (Self-determination, sovereignty): Professor Leonie Pihama
On this online video kōrero Leonie Pihama will discuss her views on the importance of continuing to assert and expand Kaupapa Maori theory and principles within our work and the ongoing challenges in the assertion of tino rangatiratanga within theory and research spaces.
https://www.ngawaiatetui.org.nz/kaupapa-maori-theory-methodology-series-korero-with-professors-leonie-pihama-hingangaroa-and-tuhiwai-smith/

Kōrero 5 – Reflections on Māori and Indigenous Futures: Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith
On this online video kōrero Linda Tuhiwai Smith with share her current thinking in the articulation of new projects for Indigenous Peoples as we envision our futures, strengthening our relationships across the globe and the impact of Covid19.
https://www.ngawaiatetui.org.nz/kaupapa-maori-online-series-episode-5/

Kōrero 6 – Kei te ahu mātou ki hea: Kaupapa Maori Theory and Methodology: Where to from here? Panel: Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith; Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith; Professor Leonie Pihama with Professor Margie Maaka
On this online video kōrero Margie Maaka will chair a discussion with Graham Hingangaroa Smith, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Leonie Pihama the place of Kaupapa Māori Theory and Methodology in 2020 and beyond, the contribution it has to make to future developments for Māori and Indigenous Peoples and their visions for the future.
https://www.ngawaiatetui.org.nz/kaupapa-maori-online-series-episode-6/

As we move closer to Alert Level 3 in the next week I want to take this time to acknowledge those that supported and contributed to the online sharing including our kaikōrero: Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Graham Hingangaroa Smith; our chair for the closing session: Margie Maaka with Laiana Wong (UH Manoa); Our kōrero host on behalf of Ngā Wai a Te Tūī – Wetini Paul; Tū Tama Wahine o Taranaki, in particular Awhina Cameron and Ngaropi Cameron & Ngā Wai a Te Tūī Director Jenny Lee-Morgan for providing support for the series; and to my nohonga haumaru – Marjorie, Wiremu and Terehia Lipsham for providing the space and time as they waited patiently to get kai from the kitchen and walked quietly around the whare as we talked for hours over the past 4 weeks on our many Zoom Hui (Zui). Nō reira, ki a koutou katoa, tēnā koutou.

Kaupapa Māori Kōrero online is developed through research projects supported by the following organisations:
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Kia Mataara : Resources from Kia Mōhio Kia Mārama Trust

Tēnā koutou katoa,

This blog is to share the Kia Mataara series of resources on the history of Aotearoa and a range of political issues up to the end of the 1990’s. The Kia Mataara series was created by Kia Mōhio Kia Mārama Trust.

Last year I was given permission to digitally reproduce this series so that it could be made more widely available. This is the first public sharing of the resources in digital form with the agreement of those that produced the publications. Finding a full set of the publications took some time and it was Bronwyn Yates and Barbara Menzies that provided the set that is held by Literacy Aotearoa to enable the digitising of the series. The series was produced through the efforts of Kia Mōhio Kia Mārama Trust and the graphics for the series were created by Moana Maniapoto. What is clear is that this publications provide a Kaupapa Māori approach to the issues discussed and the form used (which would be now referred to as a graphic novel) was to ensure that the information is accessible.

In describing the creation of the Kia Mataara series Moana Maniapoto states:
“When I came out of university – this was the mid-80s – I worked for a trust and it had people like Jane Kelsey and Rob Cooper who were really into decolonisation. I was a bit of a freshie coming out of uni, so they mentored me. I spent two years with this woman, Barbara Menzies, she’s a former nun, researching and looking at colonisation, and we created these journals for schools and I’d do all the graphics.We looked at religion and spirituality, justice, land, there were 12 of these journals”. (https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/08-06-2019/the-wonderful-world-of-moana-maniapoto/)

We are now in week three of the rāhui in Aotearoa as a result of Level 4 requirements of Covid19. Rāhui refers to the putting in place a period of ritual prohibition and is the term being used by many Māori for the current period of being restricted in movement due to Covid19. Rāhui is a measure utilised to enable the closing or restricting of a particular space and in this time is a way to understand and think about our own cultural processes for ensuring wellbeing. During this time many people across all education sites are adjusting to new ways of creating and sharing information and knowledge. There has been an exponential growth of zoom hui (come to be known by many as Zui) and sharing of resources. It is then a good time to share this series and to reflect on the political issues raised within each of the 13 publications.

Nō reira, he mihi maioha ki a koutou o Kia Mōhio Kia Mārama Trust mō ō koutou mahi whakahirahira, me ō koutou whakaaetanga kia tuku ēnei pukapuka ki te ao. Tēnā koutou.

Kia Mataara an introduction

Kia Mataara Chapter 1

Kia Mataara Chapter 2

Kia Mataara Chapter 3

Kia Mataara Chapter 4

Kia Mataara Chapter 5

Kia Mataara Chapter 6

Kia Mataara Chapter 7

Kia Mataara Chapter 8

Kia Mataara Chapter 9

Kia Mataara Chapter 10

Kia Mataara Chapter 11

Kia Mataara Chapter 12

Mana Wahine Readers

Tēnā koutou,

This blog is not so much a blog as it is a means by which to support the dissemination of two online resources related to Mana Wahine that have been developed with Te Kotahi Research Institute and supported by Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga.

The idea to develop a Mana Wahine reader was generated from the many requests that Linda and myself have had to provide references or support in the area of Mana Wahine, both as theory and as lived ways of being. The concept of Mana Wahine is not new to us as Māori, as whānau, as hapū, as iwi, rather it is embedded within the whakapapa and whanaungatanga relationships that are themselves grounded within tikanga. Over the past 32 years there has been a steady increase in the writings and creative works by Māori women, each of which contribute to an affirmation of ourselves in our many diverse experiences and provide critique and analysis of our experiences as Māori.

What we have sought to provide in this collection is a range of writings on Mana Wahine from 1987 – 2019, including poems from Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Hinewirangi Kohu to open each of the two volumes. We close Volume two with new articles by Kirsten Gabel, Joeliee Seed-Pihama, Naomi Simmonds and myself, each of which draw heavily on earlier works. The cover images have been gifted by Robyn Kahukiwa and represent two commanding atua wahine, Mahuika and Hineteiwaiwa, who bring the power of their respective domains to the publications. The articles within the readers are as follows:

Mana Wahine Reader Volume One

Don’t Mess with the Māori Woman – Linda Tuhiwai Smith
To Us the Dreamers are Important – Rangimarie Mihomiho Rose Pere
He Aha Te Mea Nui? – Waerete Norman
He Whiriwhiri Wahine: Framing Women’s Studies for Aotearoa Ngahuia Te Awekotuku
Kia Mau, Kia Manawanui We will Never Go Away: Experiences of a Māori Lesbian Feminist – Ngahuia Te Awekotuku
Māori Women: Discourses, Projects and Mana Wahine – Linda Tuhiwai Smith
Becoming an Academic: Contradictions and Dilemmas of a Māori Feminist – Kathie Irwin
Towards Theories of Māori Feminisms – Kathie Irwin 66 Reflections on the Status of Māori Women – Kuni Jenkins
Getting Out From Down Under: Māori Women, Education and the Struggles for Mana Wahine – Linda Tuhiwai Smith
From Head and Shoulders – Merata Mita
Hokianga Waiata a Nga Tupuna Wahine: Journeys through Mana Wahine, Mana Tane – Margie Hohepa
The Marginalisation of Māori Women – Patricia Johnston and Leonie Pihama
The Negation of Powerlessness: Māori Feminism, a Perspective – Ripeka Evans
Māori Women: Caught in the Contradictions of a Colonised Reality – Annie Mikaere
What Counts as Difference and what Differences Count: Gender, Race and the Politics of Difference – Patricia Johnston and Leonie Pihama
Māori Women and Domestic Violence: The Methodology of Research and the Māori Perspective -Stephanie Milroy
Towards a Theory of Mana Wahine – Huia Tomlins Jahnke
Sacred Balance – Aroha Te Pareake Mead

Mana Wahine Reader Volume Two

Ngā Māreikura – Nā Hinewirangi Kohu-Morgan
Colonisation and the Imposition of Patriarchy: A Ngāti Raukawa Women’s Perspective – Ani Mikaere
Constitutional Reform and Mana Wahine – Annette Sykes
Claiming our Ethical Space: A Mana Wahine Conceptual Framework for Discussing Genetic Modification – Jessica Hutchings
Matauranga Wahine: Teaching Māori Women’s Knowledge Alongside Feminism – Kuni Jenkins and Leonie Pihama
Reclaiming the Ancient Feminine in Māori Society: Kei Wareware i a Tātou Te Ūkaipō! – Aroha Yates-Smith
Mana Wahine Theory: Creating Space for Māori Women’s Theories – Leonie Pihama
Te Ukaipo – Te Taiao: The Mother, the Nurturer – Nature – Aroha Yates-Smith
Echoed Silences in Absentia: Mana Wahine in Institutional Contexts – Hine Waitere and Patricia Johnson
Mana Wahine: Decolonising Politics – Naomi Simmonds
Te Awa Atua: The River of Life! Menstruation in Pre-Colonial Times – Ngāhuia Murphy
It’s About Whānau: Oppression, Sexuality, and Mana – Kim McBreen
In search of Our Nannies’ Gardens: A Mana Wahine Geography of Maternities in Aotearoa – Naomi Simmonds
Never-Ending Beginnings: The Circularity of Mana Wāhine – Naomi Simmonds
Poipoia Te Tamaiti Ki Te Ūkaipō: Theorising Māori Motherhood – Kirsten Gabel
Kapohia Ngā Taonga ā Kui Mā: Liberty from the Theft of Our Matrilineal Names – Joeliee Seed-Pihama
Mana Atua, Mana Tangata, Mana Wahine – Leonie Pihama

The key intent of these readers is to make these writings more accessible as many are in publications that are now either out of print or difficult to access. We acknowledge and thank the authors and the original publishers for agreeing to have these writings included. The whānau at Te Kotahi were focused on this work for some time, as what appeared to be a relatively straightforward ‘idea’ required much more that initially thought. Sourcing articles, contacting authors or their whānau, duplicating, transferring to new formats and then checking word for word was time consuming and even now we are not certain if errors have made their way into the final texts. As such, on behalf of the co-editors, it is important that we acknowledge the mahi done by those within Te Kotahi to see this project to it’s completion. We also apologise in advance for any errors that exist in the reproduction of the original articles.

There are many other articles that could have been included and which someone may wish to create as a Mana Wahine Reader Volume 3 or Volume 4. In fact, many more were suggested however resource constraints meant we needed to reduce the final number included. The funding support from Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga has enabled us to create resources that are free to download and therefore easy to access and to share.

We are honoured to have been able to reprint these writings to make them more readily available nationally and internationally.  Early 2021 these volumes will be made available through Te Tākupu publishers. 

Ngā manaakitanga.

 

Te Taonga o taku Ngākau:Ancestral knowledge and the wellbeing of tamariki Māori

Over the past 2 years I have had the honour of working with Drs Naomi Simmonds and Waikaremoana Waitoki, with Te Kotahi Research Institute (https://www.waikato.ac.nz/rangahau/) on a small research project funded by Cure Kids and the Better Start National science challenge. The research ‘Te Taonga o taku Ngākau’ is a part of a wider commitment that many Māori people have undertaken to contribute to the positive and supportive transmission of mātauranga Māori towards wellbeing for tamariki and their whole whānau. As such it is a part of a whānau ora aspiration. Whānau ora in this context is not about policy or programmes but is about our inherent desire for wellbeing within our whānau.

‘Te Taonga o taku Ngākau’ is a Kaupapa Māori research project that situates the wellbeing of tamariki Māori within the context of well and thriving whānau. The purpose of the research was to consider frameworks, values and actions for whānau transformation that exist within mātauranga Māori as share by whānau ourselves. Importantly, the research seeks to share ways in which whānau generate, through purposeful action, wellbeing from within mātauranga and tikanga Māori.

This blog is to share the Te Taonga o taku Ngākau report. It is a report that synthesizes the research with a specific view to prioritizing the voices, experiences, knowledges and practices of the research community that have shared their taonga with the research team. Please feel free to download and share.

Ngā manaakitanga.

Te Taonga o Taku Ngakau – Final report

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen : A Commentary

“The way I see it, if you’re a Māori woman and that’s all you are, that alone will put you on a collision course with, that society and its expectations. And if you flatly refuse to give up your Māori value system for an easier way of life, and you live in a society which is supposed to be bicultural and multiracial but isn’t – that’s a lie – then you’ll be in constant conflict with how that society is run and how it sees itself. That’s been my experience.” (Merata Mita in Head and Shoulders).

There is something particularly powerful about the voices of the whānau as they share the story of the life and works of their mother, Merata Mita. It is a narrative form that has sat at the centre of her work and her inspirational approach to her storytelling, both documentary and drama. In ‘Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen’ Director, Heperi Mita (Merata’s youngest son) takes us through a whānau journey that brings to the fore the many experiences that both shaped and motivated his mothers life and work. When whānau share their stories of those they love it is layered, like a well recited cultural genealogical template that is our whakapapa.

Whakapapa is both identity and stories. It is a cultural framework through which we come to recall who we are, where we are from, the collectives to which we are connected and to whom we are responsible. It is a series of layers that go as long, as deep, as high, as wide as we determine as Māori. This story, in my view, is inherently one of whakapapa kōrero, of storytelling that is deeply embedded within and emboldened by the influences of our connections and relational way of understanding our place and our role in the world.

In the opening sequence Hepi speaks to his role as an archivist and the place Merata’s films play in the creation of spaces to enable the telling of this country’s stories. Stories, that even today, many seek to deny and to silence. For years Merata Mita struggled in a space where Māori voices were denied, Māori stories were deemed insignificant and where Māori women’s place was contested, sometimes even by our own men, where colonial notions of gender worked to marginalise the fundamental essence of Mana Wahine. Merata worked relentlessly and unapologetically in those spaces with a hope that “once the work shows you are capable then prejudices of race and sex may fall away” (Merata Mita).

Across her works, Merata actively engaged issues of colonisation, racism, sexism and classism, and represented examples of the intersection of those issues before many even considered the ways in which such multiple intersecting oppressions impacted upon our people. Her commentary within interviews about her work highlight a desire and intention to bring forward all of those issues when it was far from acceptable to do so, including issues that were deeply personal. As is so clearly articulated by all voices in the film, her work has also been critical in the remembering of the courage and strength of Māori and Indigenous nations that live in a context of colonial occupation. As her reflections on the documentary ‘Bastion Point Day 507’ highlights,
“What courage, what strength what commitment what dedication to stand and say, in the face of our army and our police and the rest of the country howling for their blood. What extraordinary people. From that day forward I have been fearless because its as if you’ve become part of something greater its like a rebirth its kind of like when you fear nothing, when you lose your fear about anything it makes you that much more powerful you get so much more strength” (Merata Mita)

The work of Merata Mita has been a powerful critical influence for many Indigenous Peoples. It has also been influential in the ways that Māori and Indigenous films and storytelling has evolved over the past 40 years. This documentary tells us of the life of a mother, a film maker, an activist, a mentor, a storyteller, a change agent. It tells us of Mana Wahine, of tino rangatiratanga (self-determination), and of work driven by an aspirational vision for a future where all of our tamariki and mokopuna can live fully as Māori on our own lands. It also reveals to the world the struggles that she as a Māori women filmmaker and her tamariki endured in order to be a part of the transformative change that is needed in Aotearoa. As Merata voiced, “When you come up against that kind of racism, you know… so raw its probably one of the ugliest things you have to experience in your lifetime. But the fact of the matter is that when you have children you have an investment in the future and so you come out fighting again”.

That is a message that is all too common in the experiences of many Māori activists and their whānau across a range of struggles and movements in this country. Being at the cutting edge of challenging the status quo, in order to seek change for future generations, often comes at a high cost. And most often that cost is borne by whānau. As we weave through the stories shared by Hepi, Rafer, Richard, Rhys, Awatea, Eruera (to whom the film is dedicated), we hear of painful experiences that the whānau have carried, such as police violence during the production of films such as ‘Patu’, we also hear of the involvement of whānau throughout each of her films and reflections that highlight a deep sense of aroha and respect for the work that Merata brought to the world. We are also reminded of the centrality of whānau to the work. Both as support and as inspiration. The reflections shared are testament to the powerful contribution that whānau make to the act of sharing forward the stories that are of those Māori women, Māori people that put themselves at the forefront of the struggles of our people. This is something Merata did many times with films such as Patu, Bastion Point Day 507, Te Hikoi Ki Waitangi, Mauri and others. We hear also of the life influences that are integral to her work including the bringing forward of her cultural and spiritual understandings within films such as Mauri (1988) where the audience experiences a broad range of cultural, political, emotional and spiritual responses, aligning to her view that “wairua is an active force in filmmaking” (Merata Mita).

What ‘Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen’ presents us with is not only the story of the first Māori woman to write and direct a feature film (Mauri 1988), which in and of itself shows us that powerhouse of a Māori woman she was, it is a story of the perseverance of a Māori woman to bring our stories, our images, our histories, our struggles, our people, ourselves to the screen in order to challenge the world to become a better place for our tamariki and mokopuna.
“Our land get taken the fisheries and forests get taken and in the same category is our stories. What we see on the screen is only the dominant white monocultural perspective on life, we need to see our own,we need to see our own people up there, we need to be able to identify with our own race, we need to see each other up there and we need to go out and do it.” (Merata Mita)

This is a documentary that opens the door for many who have not seen the extensive collection that is the work of Merata Mita, and encourages us all to seek out her works as a way of understanding many of the issues that we currently face here in Aotearoa. These are works that context racism, sexism, classism as inherent to the ongoing systems of colonisation. As the current debate over the inclusion of Māori history within education continues to rage, we are reminded that in order to move forward in Aotearoa we must come to terms with our past. The influence of Merata’s work in the context of decolonisation is internationally renowned and validated as evidenced through her close relationships with Indigenous filmmakers such as Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki), Hawaiian Sovereignty leader and scholar Haunani Kay Trask and Sundance Indigenous Progamme leaders Heather Rae (Cherokee) and Bird Runningwater (Cheyanne/Mescalaro Apache), amongst many others.

Decolonising and Indigenising the screen has never been solely about image, or the narrative. It is about the essence of what it means to be Māori, what it means to be Indigenous. It is fundamental to challenging dominant colonial imagery and representations. It is about telling those stories, framing those images and shaping our understandings in ways that align to our cultural, spiritual, emotional and intellectual ways of being as Māori and Indigenous Nations. It is about our right to be self-determining in all spaces, including film. What is clear from is that for our stories as Māori and Indigenous Peoples to be heard we must tell them ourselves. We must see ourselves and we must create those images through our own lens. That has always sat at the centre of the decolonising intent of Merata’s work. An intent that has been honoured in this documentary by those that most count. Her children.

Merata: How Mum Decolonised The Screen opens in Cinema’s nationwide in Aotearoa (New Zealand) on ‘Mothers Day’, May 10th 2019

Production company: Arama Pictures
Director: Heperi Mita
Producer: Chelsea Winstanley
Executive producer: Cliff Curtis
Director of photography: Mike Jonathon
Editor: Te Rurehe Paki
Featuring: Merata Mita, Rafer Rautjoki, Richard Rautjoki, Rhys Rautjoki, Awatea Mita, Eruera “Bob” Mita, Hepi Mita, Alanis Obomsawin, Jesse Wente, C.M. Kaliko Baker, Tammi Haili’opua Baker, Heather Rae, Bird Runningwater, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, Sterlin Harjo, Pauline Clague, Blackhorse Lowe, Taika Waititi
In English, Maori
95 minutes
https://readingcinemas.co.nz/movie/6899?fbclid=IwAR1nfPrsgBJo6SfM377R_tznIxa506J1ZCtneqsPl9qHhi1SFPxSGAUXeq0

An open letter to Aotearoa from Takatāpui and LGBTIQ whānau

Dear Aotearoa,

We write this letter to voice our profound concern at the hatred and abusive bullying that continues to be targeted at Takatāpui and LGBTIQ people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Over the past few months we have seen continued homophobic and transphobic attacks upon our communities. We should not have to, and will not, tolerate such abuse.

We ask those that live on these lands to stand with us against all oppression that is targeted at people who do not conform to outdated views of sexuality and gender identity. We ask that you do not tolerate hatred in any form and to speak up when you see and hear it.

We ask you to remember we are your mokopuna, grandchildren, tupuna, grandparents, whaea, papa, mothers, fathers, tuakana, teina, tuahine, tungane, sisters, brothers, cousins, whanaunga, friends, colleagues, neighbours.

We wish to speak now to Takatāpui and LGBTIQ people who, like us, live with the homophobic and transphobic comments that are made by people who want to do us harm. In signing this letter we are voicing our aroha for you all, for us all.

We stand visibly so that you all know that we are here. So that those rangatahi and young people who are looking to see people who will stand up for Takatāpui and LGBTIQ rights know that we are here.

We stand visibly so that those who may be struggling with issues of acceptance know that we are here. That we are Takatāpui and LGBTIQ. That you are not alone. That being Takatāpui and LGBTIQ is something that is beautiful, strong, political, cultural, social, fun, loving, caring, intelligent, sacred, honoured, and powerful.

We stand visibly so that you see that we are from all over the country, that we are from all cultures and ethnic groups, that we do all kinds of work and that we are everywhere.

We are visible so you see us and so that you know we are here and we will speak back to all that continue to perpetrate pain and trauma on Takatāpui and LGBTIQ people because of who we are and who we choose to live our lives with as lovers and partners.

Being visible at a time when there is an increase in homophobia and transphobia is an important stand to take by those that can take such a stand.

One of the key aims of such abusive bullying is to silence those who are victimised by the impact of the hatred. But we will not be silenced. Nor will we let such views go unanswered.

If we are to make this country safe for Takatāpui and LGBTIQ people and their whānau then we must say no to homophobia and transphobia, and we must do it now.

Ngā manaakitanga,

1. Associate Professor Leonie Pihama, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Māhanga, Ngā Māhanga a Tairi, Director, Te Kotahi Research Institute
2. Dr Alison Green, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Ranginui, CEO Te Whaariki Takapou
3. Dr Elizabeth Kerekere, Whānau a Kai, Ngāti Oneone, Te Aitanga a Mahaki. Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Founder/Chair, Tiwhanawhana Trust
4. Usufonoimanū Pesetā Betty Siō
5. Annette Sykes, Ngati Pikiao Ngati Makino, Te Arawa, Activist Lawyer
6. Julia Whaipooti, Ngāti Porou, Senior Advisor, Office of the Children’s Commissioner
7. Dr Tawhanga Nopera, Te Arawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa
8. Sharon Hawke, Ngāti Whatua
9. Maree Sheehan, Ngāti Maniapoto-Waikato, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Musician/Composer
10. Associate Professor Mera Penehira, Ngāti Raukawa, Rangitāne, Ngai Te Rangi, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi
11. Phylesha Brown-Acton, Director, F’INE Pasifika Aotearoa
12. Te Ringahuia Hata, He uri nā Te Whakatōhea, Tūhoe, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui
13. Renae Maihi, Filmmaker
14. Gina Cole, Writer
15. Laura O’Connell Rapira, Te Ātiawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Rarawa, Director of ActionStation
16. Joel Walsham, Artist
17. Frankie Hill – Musician and small business owner
18. Kristin Smith, Co-director Kūwaha Ltd
19. Lexie Matheson ONZM, Academic Equity Leader, AUT University
20. Sarah Jane Parton, postgraduate student, Victoria University. Tongareva (Cook Islands), Tahiti
21. Scout Barbour-Evans, parent, student and youth worker, Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa and Ngāti Porou
22. Geraint Scott, Train Driver
23. Sally Dellow, Senior Scientist Engineering Geology
24. Manisha Morar, student, Tauiwi
25. Emilie Rākete, Ngāpuhi and Te Rarawa. Postgraduate student and community organiser
26. Kendra Cox. Te Ure o Uenukukōpako, Te Whakatōhea, Ngai Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou. Community organiser and social work student
27. Sandy Hildebrandt, BA, BSc, PGDipSci – Environmental Management
28. Kate McIntyre, community organiser
29. Merran Lawler, Kaiarahi, Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga/National Network of Stopping Violence Services
30. Chaz Harris and Adam Reynolds, co-founders of Promised Land Tales
31. Aatir Zaidi, Chairperson EquAsian
32. Kassie Hartendorp, Ngāti Raukawa, ActionStation and Tīwhanawhana Trust
33. Whetū Bennett, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Hāu, Tainui
34. Fetū-o-le-moana Teuila Tamapeau, Makefu (Niuē) , Fagaloa (Sāmoa), Content Publisher Auckland Council and Freelance Digital Moana Navigator
35. Henry Laws, community organiser
36. Tabby Besley, Managing Director InsideOUT
37. Toni Duder, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu and RainbowYOUTH
38. Morgan Butler, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Tainui and Te Rarawa
39. Anne Waapu, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi
40. Nishhza Thiruselvam, Eelam Tamil, postgraduate student, community organiser, Tauiwi
41. Hans Landon-Lane, Performer & Communications Advisor
42. Jack Byrne, human rights researcher, TransAction
43. Will Hansen, history postgraduate student and Lesbian and Gay Archives of NZ trustee
44. Bell Murphy, Feminist Self Defence Teacher and PhD Candidate in Gender Studies
45. Kay Jones, Independent Contractor, Facilitator Wellington Bisexual Women’s Group
46. Angelo Libeau, Crisis Support Worker & Development Coordinator – Rape Crisis Dunedin
47. Max Tweedie, New Zealand AIDS Foundation
48. Tommy Hamilton – re.frame project collaborator
49. Stace Robertson, All of Us Project + re.frame
50. Anya Satyanand, The Prince’s Trust New Zealand
51. Nicole Skews-Poole, activist and campaigner
52. Robyn Vella Facilitator Auckland
53. Sam Sutherland, Computer Analyst
54. Philip Wills (Kāi Tahu), Student
55. Bronte Perry, Technician
56. Val Smith, Educator and Artist
57. Christian Rika, Digital media specialist, Ngāpuhi me Ngāti Porou
58. Associate Professor Dr. Taima Moeke-Pickering, Ngati Pukeko/Ngai Tuhoe, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
59. Murphy, Journalist
60. Dr Clive Aspin, Ngāti Maru, Suicide Mortality Review Committee
61. Matai Smith, Rongowhakaata, Ngai Taamanuhiri, Ngāti Kahungunu, Broadcaster
62. Steve Lovett, Elam School of Fine Arts
63. Elizabeth Wiltshire, Cross-Agency Rainbow Network
64.Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho, Lecturer/Researcher, University of Otago, Wellington School of Medicine, ​ Ngāti Kahungunu; Rongomaiwāhine, Rongowhakaata; Ngāi Tāhu; Ngāti Manawa; Ngāi Tūhoe; Ngāti Pahauwera; Ngāti Irakehu, Ngāi Tarewa, Samoan, Tahitian
65. Ricardo Menéndez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator
66.Dr Huhana Hickey MNZM MInstD, Crown director, consultant and advocate, Tainui (Ngati Tahinga),Whakatohea
67. Matt Jackson, HR Manager
68. Te Miha Ua, Ngāti Te Kanawa, Ngāti Uenukukopako, Ngāti Rangiteaorere, Ngāti Rakaiwhakairi, Wairarapa Moana Hapū, Te Runanga o Awarua, Ph.D Candidate and Public Servant
69. Peter R F Thomas, Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi
70. Eriata D Peri, Te Mahirehure
71. Laura
Dr Donna Campbell. Ngāpuhi and Ngati Ruanui, Senior Lecturer, University of Waikato
72. Dr. A.W. Peet, NZ citizen, Professor of Physics, University of Toronto
73.Riki Anderson Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tamatea, Ngāti Marau, Lead Te Atakura Coach, Te Pae Mātauranga ki te Ao
74. Wetini Paul, Community Based Researcher, Te Whāriki Takapou, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāi Tūhoe
75. Dr Lynne Russell, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu, Senior Research Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington
76. Samantha Higgs, Early Intervention Teacher, B.Ed, Dip. Tchg. ECE, Grad Dip. Ed Psych, Grad Dip. Early Intervention, Pākehā/Tauiwi
77. Creek Waddington, Ngāti Pākehā /Tauiwi (Irish, mostly), radio presenter with Quilted Bananas collective
78. Suzi Paige MBA, Operations Manager and Entrepreneur
79. Zoë Elizabeth Hayes, Ngāti Uoneone, Ngāti Tautahi, Ngāpuhi, Funding and Resource Coordinator at Rape Crisis Dunedin
80. Associate Professor Terryann Clark, Ngāpuhi, University of Auckland
81. Lex Davis, Te Rarawa, Trustee Kauhkura Charitable Trust
82. Dr Nathaniel Thomas Swire, Medical Practitioner

We thank all who have added their names to this letter since publication. We have closed that option now given the time that it takes to continue to update however please make yourselves and your support visible in ways that work for you and share the letter with those in your whānau, communities, networks.
Ngā manaakitanga.

Wild West festival denigrates Indigenous Peoples

Press Release: Te Wharepora Hou, Māori Women’s Network

Contacts for comment:
Tina Ngata
Mera Penehira
Tia Taurere

The promotion of a Wild West Festival in Waimamaku has raised the ire of many in terms of cultural appropriation and racist portrayals of Native American people and culture.

Tina Ngata who has been a consistent voice in regards to issues of cultural mis-appropriation notes that “The American West was not “Wild” to anyone but the colonial invaders – who then attempted to settle it by means of genocide, including bounties for Native American scalps, mass displacement, forced marches, massacres, the theft of Native American children, and purposeful infection. This is not a period to be festive about at all, and there is literally no way to hold a “Wild West Festival” without being racist and colonial. From the concept to the costumes, this is a thoroughly offensive, redneck event. “

Promoting the festival over the week, organisers posted images of people in costumes including images enacting shooting Native Americans. pretend Tipi, people in ‘black face’ degrading African Americans and images of people wearing headdresses, alongside a statement calling for people to “visit our reservation”.

For many generations Native American people have been dealing with the impact of the invasion of their lands of which the idea of the ‘Wild West’ is a part. They have been challenging these forms of racist representation which denies the genocide of Native American Peoples and the ongoing denigration of Native American women.

Associate Professor Leonie Pihama of Te Kotahi Research Institute considers this as another example of the racism that exists within this country and is expressed daily, she states “this is another example of how insidious and deeply embedded racism is in this country.” Furthermore she notes “the event organisers are promoting and reproducting the demeaning of Native American Peoples and in representing sacred cultural garments as costumes and belittling the ways that Native American People live. Saying “visit our reservation” is a disgusting indication that these people have no idea that Native American nations were forcibly removed from their lands and placed onto reservations and today the denial of Treaty rights for many nations continues to impact.”

Associate Professor Mera Penehira who teaches Indigenous Studies at Te Wānanga o Awanuiārangi who also responded directly to the organisation on social media commented today; “this represents an appalling lack of judgement and results in the furthering deeply entrenched racism that has no place in Aotearoa. We need to actively resist and speak out against this! It is not ok!”.

Tia Taurere from Te Taitokerau who lives in Vancouver working with Native communities made the following statement to festival organisers:
Waimamaku Wild West Festival. As a mother of three Native/Maori children, married to a native man and living on Indian land (No te Hokianga!) it is disturbing to see this event disrespecting our Native American/Canadian Turtle Island brothers and sisters. The false portrayal of ‘Injuns’ from Hollywood and Halloween prospering off this sacred culture as a ‘costume’ continues to oppress the indigenous peoples. Indian reservations are not sideshows to come and have fun but often places of poverty and trauma as survivors of genocide. Please do your homework and understand how deeply disrespectful this is to native people!

In an open letter to the festival organisers Tina Ngata made the following comments:

Hey Waimamaku Wild West Festival

I see you have a super colonial shin-dig planned and you’re censoring the comments on your own page. That’s ok we will just share the heck outta your page.

So first of all – the period of time you are commemorating here for your festival is one of genocide. The West coast of Great Turtle Island was not “wild” to the nations who already lived there. It was already occupied and well known. And there were no reservations.

It is called “wild” because the invasions began in the east and the racist, bigoted invaders considered Indigenous people as little more than animals with no rights, which meant the land was, in their eyes unoccupied, awaiting “discovery” and settlement and therefore “WILD”.

The period of time you are referring to as the “Wild West” was one of rampant invasion, land theft, rape, and massacre.

It is the period of the “Trail of Tears” where tens of thousands of Choctaw Cherokee and Seminole after having their lands stolen under the Indian Removal Act, were force-marched by militia to lands thousands of kms away. Thousands and thousands died JUST IN THIS INSTANCE and there were plenty of these instances all over Great Turtle Island.

THAT’S how reservations started. By true landowners being pushed off their territories and forced to live in small plots of land so that settlers could farm their land.

“Come see our Indian reservation”. Good lord.

Other ways settlers “conquered the Wild West” was “Indian scalp bounties” – yep the national and state colonial governments paid the white settlers you are celebrating for the skinned top of a Native American head.

Oh and of course the time honored colonial practices of purposeful infection, and rampant child theft. Even IF you survived the massacres and forced marches thousands of miles from your home, you were often subjected to horrid, infectious conditions, and men would show up to literally take your children from you to places where unspeakable horrors were done to them in under the pretence of making them “less wild”.

That is the “Wild West” you are having your “fest” about. That is the “Indian Reservation” you are promoting here. Honestly by the looks of some of you I don’t think you will care even when you do learn more. I mean… BLACKFACE? Really?

So anyway – go learn some fucking history and quit perpetuating racist stereotypes, Waimamaku. You’re coming across as a bunch of uneducated rednecks. Stop with the warbonnets. Have you even read anything since 1960?

And whānau Māori participating in this… wake TF up you should damn well know better it’s for you to pull this colonial BS up. Shame on you. Gross.

More on this kaupapa by Tina Ngata can be found at : https://thenonplasticmaori.wordpress.com/author/tinangata/

A day in Twitter-Verse

I have been recovering from a puku illness that worked its way through our whare, beginning with Rangipua, my mokopuna. She shared it freely and without a care in the world as mokopuna do when they are deeply loved. So we sat today and she watched ‘Pipi Mā’ and ‘Dora Te Matatoa’ and I read and dropped occassionally into twitter-verse. The first tweet to catch my attention was from Sandy Grande. It was a powerful Op.Ed providing critical discussion about the looming Thanksgiving Day on Turtle Island titled ‘Don’t Forget Indigenous Struggles On Thanksgiving. https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/dont-forget-indigenous-struggles-on-thanksgiving/1797268060304676/

It is somewhat ironic that the next story was of the missionary who deeply embedded in colonising practices was killed trying to forcibly enter Indigenous lands. On TV3 Newshub told us;
“An American missionary has died after trying to preach to a tribe known for its hostility to outsiders”. Interesting terminology “hostility to outsiders” when in fact the Sentinelese are protecting their territory and their people from outside invasion. TVNZ went a step further with their introduction “An American man has been killed by a stone-age tribe” – Seriously “a stone-age tribe” – what kind of imperialist reductionist view does that journalist have to write something that reads like it comes straight from a James Cook journal- yes another invader 250 years ago – who sadly our people did not kill on invasion. Did anyone even consider that he was killed by a nation asserting their sovereign rights as he attempted to invade their lands? No, it is more dramatic to use colonial denigrating phrases than to describe people in ways that are self-determining. Radio NZ gave some hope, introducing their piece “An American self-styled adventurer and Christian missionary has been killed by a tribe on a remote island where he had gone to proselytise, local law enforcement officials say.”
https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/376542/christian-missionary-killed-after-going-to-remote-tribe-to-proselytise

The article further describes the island as home to “what is considered the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world”. Yes that is bordering on “stone-age” but quickly recovered with the statement that “Mr Chau was killed by members of the Sentinelese community using bows and arrows, according to multiple media accounts.” Yes this is a community of people who are self-determining and sovereign on their own lands and who chose to be so and where the countries nearby respect that decision. I was thankful to Tina Ngata who on her ‘The Non-Plastic Māori’ twitter wrote
“Sentinelese: Making Indigenous territory great again.”

The next thread in Twitter-verse highlighted the many partial or flawed media reports, and responses, to the Auckland Pride Festival Boards decision to not include Police in uniform in the parade. Well, to be entirely honest I was pretty disgusted when they agreed to that a few years ago given the ongoing embedded homophobia, transphobia and racism within both the Police and Corrections. And I have never attended a Pride Parade since.

The issues surrounding the inclusion or otherwise of the Police and Institutions of Incarceration such as Corrections are not new. In 2016 No Pride in Prisons (now People Against Prisons Aotearoa) made a clear statement protesting the inclusion of Corrections staff in uniform when there is clear violence perpetuated against transgender people in prisons. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11592972

We should be thankful that there was a group of young activists willing and courageous to stand up to their own community, the Takatāpui and LGBTIQ community, and challenge that decision. They did so at their own personal risk and continue to be a significant voice for the wellbeing of all within Māori, Takatāpui and LGBTIQ communities. As we saw in 2016 the issues raised by No Pride in Prisons led to Corrections being called to task in regards to their failure to deliver.
https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/323603/corrections-not-welcome-at-auckland-pride-parade

The systemic racism in the Justice system began with the building of Prisons on stolen whānau, hapū and iwi lands, to incarcerate our people. Māori experience a long line of colonial imposed racist laws in this country, and continued systemic racism across sectors. What continues to concern me is the dramatizing of the issue by the media in ways that construct the Police as an Institution as the victims of exclusion. The Police are not victims. Our people are the victims of racist systemic oppression. The Police are not victims. Our people are the victims of homophobic, transphobic oppression.

For clarity of the Auckland Pride Board position I include here their recent press release
“The Auckland Pride Board remains committed to creating a space for our rainbow communities to feel safe celebrating their gender and sexual identity, despite some institutions pulling out from the Parade in recent days.
“The 2019 Auckland Pride Parade was always intended to be a place to cultivate our roots in activism and protest. We have always welcomed business groups and institutions who wish to participate in a way that works for the safety of all members of our Rainbow community”, says Cissy Rock, Auckland Pride Board Chair.
“The Auckland Pride Board remains committed to delivering an event that places the visibility and safety of our Rainbow community at the forefront, while ensuring every organisation that wishes to participate works proactively with the Board to meet those standards.
“Unfortunately, institutions such as the Police were not able to compromise with the Pride Board despite months of consultation with the community that highlighted more work needed to be done in order for participants to feel safe with the Police’s presence in the parade.
“The Pride Parade is so much more than its corporate sponsors or Government institutions. It is about our Rainbow community coming together to both celebrate and fight for a future where everyone is free from systemic discrimination.
“We remain open to finding common ground with institutions that are working towards ensuring they are truly Rainbow inclusive, but have yet to get to that point. True allyship by institutions to our community is listening to its affected members and compromising where possible. If members from our community are highlighting concerns around discrimination by those institutions, we expect them to work to address them, and that may include making compromises regarding their participation at the Pride Parade.
“We will resume our work towards creating a Pride Parade and Festival as soon as we come to an agreement with our members about the way to move forward at the upcoming special general meeting.”

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1811/S00221/auckland-pride-remains-committed.htm

I ended today with some sadness, in Twitter-verse, reading this poem by Laura O’connell Rapira, and I share it here with her permission.

A POEM FOR OUR TIME
Who do you call
When the people paid to keep your brown body safe
Make you feel erased
Because they love their uniform
More than they love you
What do you do
When you’re afraid
And the newspapers say
You’re a muppet
A lunatic
This is what inclusion looks like, idiot
Go back to your fringe
What do you do
When your brown skin gets you arrested
And put in prison more often
By people in blue uniforms
But blue uniforms are considered
More important
Than brown bodies
Your phone company thinks so too
So does your bank
So do the people on Facebook and Twitter
Look, there’s a rainbow car coming It says ‘Safer Communities Together’
Maybe they can help us?
Oh, they drove past
I guess there’s no room for bruised brown bodies
In the rainbow

To those corporate sponsors that have chosen to remove their support based on a misguided notion of what constitutes inclusion, diversity and exclusion. Lets be clear, it is not for corporate entities or their representatives to define for us what inclusion means, nor is it for the Police to cry victim or foul when they have failed to make substantial systemic changes to protect our people from racism, homophobia and transphobia. To assume such a position merely reinforces the position taken by the Auckland Pride Board, that such Institutions continue to only make superficial changes that serve their interests. The Police are not victims. The Police are not being excluded. They are being asked to up their performance in regards to the Takatāpui and LGBTIQ community. And they have failed to do so. Painting a rainbow on a car does not make that a different kind of Police diversity car, it is still a car that Takatāpui and LGBTIQ are placed into for arrest. Just like painting koru and the word “Pirihimana” on a Police car does not make it a ‘Māori-friendly’ car, it remains a Police Car. As I hashtagged tonight on my final tweet this day in Twitter-verse #OnceAPoliceCarAlwaysAPoliceCar.

I remember Pride when it was in its earlier form from 1992 as the Hero Parade. It was about community. We went on those early parades to take a place for ‘Wahine mō ngā wahine o Te Moana nui a Kiwa’ and for ‘Lesbian Mothers’. We marched with twin sons in a pram and then with all three of my eldest tamariki. I remember my tamariki as they grew up standing on step-ladders in Ponsonby Road so they could see friends and whānau on the parade. And then reading letters in the newspaper the day after about “those people” that take children to a parade of “obscenities” and thinking “oh that’s us, those are our children.” Where it is great to have financial support it should never be tied to giving away the fundamental reason for why the Pride Parade exists, to celebrate ourselves as Takatāpui, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Intersex, Transgender, Queer and our whānau, friends and colleagues that support us fully.