Waitangi 2024: Paraikete Whero

The Art of Resistance

Frances Goulton talked of the Paraikete Whero (red blankets) and the weaving of stories of loss and grievance.  The significance of the ‘paraikete whero’ took a while to emerge as I listened to the kōrero and as I have looked back at my notes and done some research, I am starting to piece together more knowledge. The ‘paraikete whero’ represents land for Ngāti Hine;

“During the 1800s the Ngati Hine rangatira Kawiti and then his son Maihi strategically led Ngati Hine through Te Wakaminenga, He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the subsequent Northland wars particularly Ohaeawai and Ruapekapeka. [….] Kawiti soon after the battle of Ruapekapeka saw that colonisation was inevitable in Aotearoa and he moved Ngati Hine from the Bay of Islands, inland to Waiomio. His son Maihi, who was a native assessor for the Maori Land Court, during his reign for the same reason, to shield Ngati Hine from colonisation, moved Ngati Hine further inland to the land blocks Motatau Block Nos 1-5. He lay down the Ture (law) of the Paraikete Whero which states that Ngati Hine are not to sell our lands.”

Taumarere, te Awa o nga Rangatira

 “Ko enei paraikete – he paraikete kōrero”

A group of wāhine including Frances took up the concept of the ‘“paraikete whero’ as a symbol of resistance. At the Waitangi Treaty hearing in Whangaparoa they supported the kaupapa in the background by sewing blankets. The blankets tell the stories of the loss of land and the injustices that happened. Blankets are also significant because they were used as a form of currency or as sweeteners; land was sold for a couple of blankets and a musket; blankets were given to the rangatira who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi on February 6th 1840. 

Just as an aside, but an important one, Frances pointed out that the use of the word ‘loss’ when talking about land, sort of implied that there was a carelessness about land, that it hadn’t been valued and was misplaced, when in fact the land was either confiscated outright as punishment for not supporting the Crown (Waikato and other rohe) or it was ‘exchanged’ through fair means of foul. We should be honest in our language and talk about ‘whenua raupatu’ – land confiscated or taken by force.

As Frances talked and wove her story, other members of the panel held up stitched swatches with dates on them;

In 1823 the first land in the rohe was sold for 2 blankets and 3 muskets – the date and the images are embroidered on a blanket which was held up.

In 1835 34 northern rangatira signed He Whakaputanga

In 1840 every signatory to Te Tiriti o Waitangi received 2 blankets and a pouch of tobacco. 

This seems very ironic today as the National Government seeks to overturn the ‘Smoke Free Aotearoa’ bill. The Crown were the first to give Māori tobacco which has become the cause of poor health for Maori more than any other group in Aotearoa and now they are exacerbating it by taking away measures that would have significantly benefited Māori in terms of health. 
In 1940 some Ngāpuhi wore red blankets as a silent protest over land issues. The blankets represented land confiscated. 1940 marked the centenary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and in the midst of war the centenary celebrations were looked to to raise the spirits and provide a sense of identity for New Zealand.

“The governor general and prime minister focused on the “great century” that had been with “benefits to both races”. Many Māori, however, including leaders like Kiingi Korokī, boycotted the celebrations. Ngāpuhi attended, but displayed red blankets in protest at the taking of their land.”

Ten of the most memorable Waitangi Days | The Spinoff

In 2017 red blankets that had been stitched at the tribunal were given to the negotiators in the hope that they would recognise that they were wearing the land that they had taken on their laps and consider what that meant. Maybe they would recall “I rire whenua atu, me hoki whenua mai” a catch phrase which means the land was taken, and so the land should be returned and which has been used over the years at occupations and disputes over land. 

Today with all that is happening to undo all the progress that has been made over the last 50 years, the humble blanket is still a powerful symbol of resistance. It is a reminder that we can make a stand and make progress. Weaving the stories of loss and grievance one stitch at a time. It is time to mobilise our people.


‘We’re not going to sit by’ – Northland wāhine Māori push back against govt agenda | RNZ News

He Whakaputanga – Declaration of Independence | NZHistory, New Zealand history online

He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni The Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand

Why did Māori leaders sign Te Tiriti? | E-Tangata

Māori and the 1940 Centennial | Maori Home Front

Ten of the most memorable Waitangi Days | The Spinoff

Waitangi 2024: Whakapapa

After wandering around Te Tii Marae and looking at the food stalls, the ‘merch’ stalls and the installations, I made my way up to the Treaty Grounds to find the Forum Tent.

I was lucky enough to arrive just as this rōpū of wāhine was about to share their kōrero.

Oh my goodness! What a panel full of powerful wāhine! Not just in terms of the roles they officially have but also the mana they have, the passion and the purpose that they have for their people and the kaupapa that sustains them. The title of this forum was Te Kāwau Koroki which translates as ‘The Talking or Singing Shags’. The Kawau has huge significance in te ao Māori and appears in kōrero tuku-iho and is referenced in whakataukī related to the habits and characteristics of the bird.

“Te Kawau-a-Toru was a sacred bird – a king shag, also known as a cormorant – loyal to Kupe. Possessing a huge wingspan, he was reputed to be ‘the eye of the ancestors’ – a special bird with insights into ancient knowledge.”  

New Zealand king shag – First peoples in Māori tradition

There are also many whakataukī related to the habits and characteristics of the Kawau;

“He kawau moe roa, or ‘a long-slumbering cormorant,’ and this refers to the habits of the bird. One sees a kawau perched on a snag or elsewhere for a long time, motionless and perchance asleep, but that bird is attending strictly to its business; its all-seeing eyes will cause it to spring into action when prey or danger is at hand.”

The Cormorant or Shag: | NZETC

I can theorise from the references below why the panel was called Kawau Koroki as I didn’t quite get the explanation at the start, but after listening to them I know that they are wāhine with great insight, they have so much knowledge and wisdom about their whakapapa, their people, their kōrero tuku iho and they tell their stories with mana and passion. 

New Zealand king shag – First peoples in Māori tradition

The Battle of the Birds – Te Ao Mārama – the natural world

The Cormorant or Shag: | NZETC

Māpunga, black shag


Hinerangi Himiona was the first to speak on the panel. She is an archivist and she talked about how important whakapapa is and how fortunate she is for it to be something known and talked about in her whanau. She acknowledged that not everyone knows or has access to their whakapapa and as she said this I thought of the tamariki in emergency housing who are displaced and separated from their whenua. I remember one of the kaiako at a school I work in saying, 

“We have no idea of the whakapapa in those whare, the mana that sits within it and what their potential is.”

Hinerangi’s father didn’t think she needed to know their whakapapa as carrying that knowledge was the responsibility of the males in the family. She joked that her brothers were more interested in and had greater skills for fishing and hunting and that it was she who enjoyed learning about whakapapa. However, wāhine have been the holders and kaitiaki of whakapapa for generations, they sing it to their pepi through oriori, it is written in waiata and mōteatea and passed down as wāhine sing and play with their tamariki. Some of the greatest and most prolific kaituhi of waiata are wāhine Māori. So, I wondered, when did the idea of whakapapa being the responsibility of males come from? Is that the influence of colonisation and the diminishing of the mana and position of women in society?  Ani Mikaere discusses this in her article. Māori Women: Caught in the Contradictions of a Colonised Reality | E-Tangata 

“With the deliberate destruction of traditional Māori philosophies and values and the attempted replacement of them with those of the missionaries and the settlers, Māori have been “caught in the contradictions of a colonised reality”

When I think of my own family, it is the women who have held and passed on family history through safeguarding photos and artefacts such as school reports, newspaper clippings and stories. My Mother-in-Law was the fount of all knowledge related to the family connections and interactions and now she has gone, others in the family miss being able to go to her for the stories she held in her head. My mother died too young to pass on much and as a teenager, I wasn’t much interested in all those family stories. Fortunately, I have been able to fill in some gaps through Aunties and recently, we cousins (mostly female!) had a big reunion and most of our kōrero was around our family and the various stories we all knew. Maybe too little too late but it was something and we plan to try and share more before we get too much older!

Hinerangi suggested that almost every Māori would have someone in their whakapapa who signed He Whakaputanga and/or Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It might be a complicated and tenuous connection but if you find it then it is very special. 

She talked about paying attention and listening as your whakapapa emerges or is revealed often at special occasions where whanau come together; births, deaths and marriages, but especially at hui mate. That is when you hear the stories and make the connections. I wondered then about what I have learnt about tangihanga and how much the tikanga of hui mate is part of whakapapa or does the whakapapa inform and guide the tikanga?  

I also reflected that it is when people die that we realise we need to know our whakapapa before the knowledge goes with the person. Is there also a sense that as people are faced with death they have a need to share their knowledge so that it is passed on to the next generations? My Dad certainly did. After years of denying or burying the past as he was dying of cancer, he suddenly felt a desire to share what he knew with me.

We know that the stories that are told are often from the perspective of the person’s place in that story. We realised that as we cousins talked about family stories – we didn’t always agree with the ‘truth’ of the tale! The truth depended on who had told us the story initially and the role that we played in it as well as the age we were when it happened.  We also know that the stories told about Aotearoa have been mainly told from the perspective of the coloniser – ‘HIStory’ is the story of the conqueror (and it is usually male!). So we need to have people in the spaces where the stories of Aotearoa are told who can provide different perspectives. Hinerangi said that we need Māori archivists in whare taonga who can interpret the archives with a te ao Māori lens, who can work with their Pākehā colleagues to ensure that a balance is achieved as they display and interpret the stories. She referenced the recent defacing of the Tiriti o Waitangi exhibit at Te Papa. Numerous approaches to say that the exhibition didn’t represent Te Tiriti o Waitangi honestly, or with integrity have been made over the years including by the group who acted recently. If the museum had worked with Māori archivists they may not have made the mistake they did in misrepresenting Te Tiriti.


Defaced or corrected? The future of Te Papa’s Treaty exhibit – Art News Aotearoa

Hinerangi’s final offering to us was a wondering whether the Crown will show true Partnership and instead of exhibiting Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the He Tohu exhibition at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington, the individual sheets will be returned to the rohe where they were signed for the local whare taonga to display them along with the stories of the rangatira who signed them. An interesting thought, I wonder how that might play out and whether it would lead to greater awareness and understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi? 

Waitangi 2024

I have never been to Waitangi on Waitangi Day. We visited the Treaty Grounds as a family when we went on holiday touring Northland a couple of times, but I have never been there on Waitangi Day itself. I have watched the coverage on TV most years and wondered what it would be like to be there. What would I get out of it as Pākehā and a relatively recent immigrant from England? What might I contribute? Is it a place for me or would I be intruding?

However, the more I have learned about Te Tiriti o Waitangi over the last few years the more I have understood its significance as an immigrant, as Tangata Tiriti. This year, I had decided to try and get there anyway, but now the Government seems to be doing so much to diminish the mana of Māori, the language, the tikanga and Te Tiriti, I was doubly determined. It’s a long way to go for a day. Waitangi Day fell on a Tuesday this year which meant I still needed to work on Monday and then I would have to drive back 5 hours on Tuesday evening to get to work on Wednesday. Then, in a work discussion, our boss said something that made me think. We were discussing the flexible work arrangements we have and how if most of our work is online, we can actually do it from anywhere there is an internet connection! She even observed that I had indeed joined online hui from my campervan when I was using it as accommodation when an overnight stay was needed for my more remote schools where there was no alternative.

A few days later, Kua taka te kapa! (The Penny dropped!). Why not take the van up to Waitangi, book Monday as a day’s leave and then stay there for the rest of the week and work from my van? I had no school visits booked, the online hui, I could do from the van, I could go! We have friends who live in Kerikeri with a big section I could park at so I could see them as well. A win-win situation!

So, off I went. It was a long (very windy) drive up from Kirikiriroa to Whangārei where I had coffee with another friend then onwards with more wind that blew my little van all over the place to Kerikeri. I arrived with sore shoulders and almost numb hands from gripping the steering wheel!

What ensued were three days of a mind-blowing experience. I had Sunday when it was a bit quieter to orient myself when I explored the food stalls and markets at Te Tii Marae and listened to some incredible kōrero in the Forum Tent. On Monday, the pōwhiri for the Government was a highlight but I also listened to some more powerful kōrero in the Forum Tent. Tuesday saw me being picked up in Kerikeri by my ‘daughter from another mother’, Ellie at 4am and we travelled in the dark to listen to the Dawn Service and watch the sun rise over Waitangi. Then just wandered and took in all the sights, smells, sounds and feels of Waitangi Day. We discussed what we had seen and heard. It was awesome to have someone to share it with.

There is so much to reflect on so I have broken it down into ‘bite-sized’ pieces. Partly to help me process everything, but also so anyone reading this doesn’t have a six-zillion-word opus to wade through!

Sunday 4th February: Whakapapa

Sunday 4th February: Paraikete Whero The Art of Resistance

Sunday 4th February: Hauora

Floating Stones

I spent some time watching the ebb and flow of the waves on Lake Taupō after a summer storm this weekend. The waves had washed the pumice stones from the beach into the water and they bobbed up and down, swept powerless by the flow of the water until they eventually washed up back on the shore and came to rest. Floating Stones. As an immigrant to these shores, I still find it fascinating that stones can float. After years as a child and then as Mum of two boys skimming flat stones across rivers and lakes, marvelling at how they skate and jump across the water until they eventually sink, I still expect the pumice stones I throw in to sink, but they just bob back up and float. Funnily enough, I’ve never tried skimming them – I wonder what would happen? 

But what have floating stones and skimming stones got to do with colonisation or de-colonisation? I’m not sure yet, but I have ideas bobbing around in my head and I’m not sure yet whether they will sink into the depths or rise to the surface! 

Over the last few weeks, I have been trying to read “Colonising Myths Māori Realities” by Ani Mikaere. I say I am trying because when I first received it through the post at the end of last year, and eagerly picked it up to read, I found that my head was too full and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. The last two months of 2023 were a bit overwhelming, so I devoured light reading that didn’t tax my brain. 

Back to it, more refreshed, I have opened it up again. I am overwhelmed all over again – just the first few chapters have sent my brain into overdrive, so this post is an attempt to bring some order to my thoughts. 

As I have read I have inevitably drawn parallels with the education system as I know it and how the ideas relate to my mahi working in schools with kaiako and ākonga.  


Ani talks of the challenges in Higher Education and organisations generally when trying to develop a bi-cultural approach – the majority of NZers have been brought up and educated in an overwhelmingly mono-cultural and racist education system which in itself a microcosm of NZ society in general (p.8) 

Are our schools still mono-cultural and racist? Many are, many are multi-cultural which is an argument I hear a lot from kaiako who say we are not a bi-cultural nation we are a multicultural nation. It is true that Aotearoa New Zealand is home to many people from diverse cultures and we should respect and celebrate all of them. However, this is the only place in the world where Māori are indigenous and where te reo Māori is spoken. Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a treaty between tangata whenua and the Crown which enables all the other cultures to be here, we are first and foremost a bicultural nation and our systems and organisations should reflect that. 

She talks about the ‘bi-cultural’ nature of the Law Degree at the University of Waikato and how some students, especially Māori were attracted to the course because of the Māori content, others were interested and intrigued and willing and keen to learn more. 

“Many, however, do not appear to realise that the bicultural commitment is intended to be anything but tokenism.”  

p11 Colonising Myths Māori Realities” by Ani Mikaere.

Is this what many of our schools and kaiako think too? That a few signs, whakataukī, karakia at the start of the day, the odd waiata are enough? I know that many are trying to do more and truly intend to design curricula that are bicultural, but I know that many stop at the ‘safe’ parts. They are comfortable seeing the images and the trappings but don’t want to be confronted by more than that and really embed biculturalism across the whole ecosystem of their schools.  How do we go from ‘token’ to authentic?

“Being a bicultural teacher is part of being a professional in the context of Aotearoa”   

p.11 Colonising Myths Māori Realities” by Ani Mikaere.

Teaching in context means teaching in a way that gives credence to mātauranga Māori, Māori perspectives, tikanga. So when it comes to designing learning it needs to have more than a Māori image, or a story or a whakataukī at the start. 

As Moana Jackson says;

“It will never be enough to simply redecorate the colonial house by placing kōwhaiwhai panels over the door, or make it less alien by filling it with brown faces.  It needs to be dismantled and then rebuilt from the ground up as two houses with a marae ātea between them where issues common to both can be worked through in accordance with an agreed tikanga.”

We have to shift hearts and minds. Educate, inform, unlearn old histories, relearn true histories. Without an understanding of how those structures and systems have colonised Māori and how colonisation has led to the dire social and economic situation many Māori find themselves in, we will continue to tweak and be tokenistic. However, kaiako all over the motu are open to learning, they are mostly a product of an overwhelmingly mono-cultural and racist education system, that selected carefully the histories that were taught so that a vast proportion of adults in Aotearoa have a very distorted understanding of the history of this land. When I and my colleagues share the real histories, they react in several ways;

  • Shock and horror that they didn’t know but a desire to learn more (most)
  • Shock and horror and resentment, guilt, or shame. (some)
  • Shock and horror and then immediate denial (some)
  • Shock and horror and vehement rebuttal (not many)

They probably accurately represent the Pākehā population as a whole in their reactions.  Nevertheless, many kaiako are embracing the challenge of learning more about Te Tiriti o Waitangi, about all the histories of Aotearoa New Zealand. They are embracing the hītori, mātauranga Māori, te reo Māori, the pūrākau and they are truly embedding these things into the learning experiences they are designing for their tamariki. The learning is deep and meaningful and it promotes critical thinking, looking at different perspectives and challenging long-held beliefs and knowledge. 

Cultural Safety

Ani talks of when she first started at Auckland University as a young Māori lecturer. In a hui she suggested some ways that other lecturers could show more respect for Māori – simple things like pronouncing names and kupu Māori correctly, having an open door policy so they were accessible to students. Afterwards she was taken aside and told that she needed to watch her tone when talking to her colleagues as most of them were not accustomed to working “‘with women, let alone young women’ – then a pregnant pause, which I took to mean,’let alone with young Māori women.”

She went to the University of Waikato because it had a commitment to being bicultural and the Law School offered a course that pledged ‘to teach law in context and its commitment to biculturalism”.  She discusses in depth the challenges and benefits she encountered both as a lecturer and for her Māori students.  One of the key challenges was feeling culturally unsafe. What does that mean?

We are a bicultural country and schools and workplaces should be spaces where we can see that we are in a bicultural country. What does that look like, sound like and feel like?  How good would it be if the next generation of tamariki to come through our education system were not products of a monocultural system but a bicultural one?  What difference would that make to our society, to our world views and the way that our systems can be fundamentally changed so that tauira Māori, kaiako Māori, and kaimahi Māori don’t feel unsafe?  I have two wee kōrero that help me to understand how Māori feel culturally unsafe. One from my mahi, one from my personal experience.

The first was when a young wāhine Māori who I was learning te reo with told me of her experience on her Midwifery course. They were having a class about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the conversation turned to how as midwives they could honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi and also give mana to the culture and tikanga of the wāhine they were supporting. She said that some of the students became very aggressive, questioning why they should do that. She and other Māori students felt that they were put in a position of having to explain and justify which inevitably led to the other students directing their anger at them. This was not a safe space for them to learn. They felt that the air was being sucked out of the kōrero as Pākehā students took up all the space demanding explanations and challenging what they were hearing. In the end, they asked if they could have a separate space so the Māori students could learn and discuss the kaupapa on their terms with a Māori tutor and the Pākehā students had a different class which met their needs more appropriately. 

The second relates to some mahi I have done in a school. We were learning about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the impacts of legislation on the country generally but with specific reference to the Education System so we could understand how that had affected our whānau Māori. This mahi went on over several months as it is complex and it is challenging for many Pākehā hearing it for the first time. A few sessions in, one kaiako Māori asked me why she had to sit through these sessions when she already knew all of this, her whanau had experienced the impacts personally, it had had long lasting effects on who she is and who her whanau are.  Having to engage in the kōrero, the questions from other kaiako, explain and defend the history that they had never known and deal with their guilt and insecurities on hearing it, heightened the mamae she felt on a daily basis. She is a staunch and fierce wahine Māori and I have a huge respect for her. She helped me understand in some small way what feeling culturally unsafe meant. 

I heard a Māori educator talking a few weeks ago about needing to be inside the system to be able to change it, but he also acknowledged that that is hard – emotionally and psychologically – continually standing up for his beliefs, fighting for real representation, authentic honouring of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the systems of the organisation, supporting other Māori, to bring real change and not just changing the wallpaper. 

As Ani Mikaere says;

“I cannot accept that It is my responsibility to carry the guilt of the oppressor (or silence myself) for the sole purpose that the oppressor will not feel badly. No one has ever offered to carry the pain and anger of being oppressed for me!  Trying to force me to be responsible (at fault) is a powerful tool intended to silence.” 

So what is the solution? 


When I think of schools, I think of the things that we can SEE around school that make it seem like there is an attempt to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, to meet their obligations as a Crown entity to be bicultural. Things such as bilingual signage, a mural that tells a local story, Māori imagery, karakia, waiata, kapa haka, te reo Māori on the classroom walls.  They embrace the ‘safe ‘ bits and ignore the parts that challenge them, that make them uncomfortable;  the things that we can HEAR and FEEL are more difficult to achieve. But they are the things that make a real difference and a more sustainable difference. We need to fundamentally change constructs within our organisation, even dismantle the system all together and start again. Our education system has been and still is one of the most powerful constructs that has impacted negatively on Māori since colonisation.  Dismantling colonial structures is essential if we are to have better outcomes for Māori. As long as the structures and systems privilege the majority there will be no change. The majority have the loudest voices and the most power and they will hold on to it with all their might! Who is brave enough to do that and what does it look like? 

In this kōrero Ani Mikaere – The Power in Our Truth Ani talks about there being power in the strength of an idea – once out there it tends to percolate and eventually re-surface a bit like my floating stones. She is talking about the concept of ‘Parallelism’ that Moana Jackson proposed in He Whaipaanga Hou in 1988.  Seen as an extreme idea at the time, Ani suggests that Parallel Structures now seems to represent the middle ground, indeed a bare minimum of what should be and it has been implemented in both Health and Education. The Māori Health Authority is an example of a parallel structure. Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa are examples in education. Systems that work in parallel but provide for the specific needs of Māori. 

Ani talks about how in the Criminal Justice system too there has been a lot of mahi done around tikanga, programmes to support rangatahi, te reo lessons etc. We have done the same in the field of education – I have talked already of all that schools are doing. But more structural change is also happening. Te Mātaiaho is the exciting and brave new curriculum that puts Te Tiriti o Waitangi front and centre, the Aotearoa New Zealand Histories curriculum seeks to tell the many stories of Aotearoa New Zealand and not just the whitewashed colonial history.  BUT can these things fundamentally change the systems? Do they really make them ‘bi-cultural’? The intentions of them have to be implemented with fidelity, kaiako and school leaders need time to understand them and implement them. The language in Te Mātaiaho, the whole whakapapa of the framework is beautiful. However, some kaiako have struggled to use the language, to pronounce the name of the curriculum itself – Te Mātaiaho – let alone the kupu in the framework. Some kaiako genuinely find pronunciation of Māori kupu hard, others simply refuse to try. I come back to the quote at the top;

 “Being a bicultural teacher is part of being a professional in the context of Aotearoa” (p.11)

In her documentary  “Portrait of a Quiet Revolutionary” Moana Maniapoto asked Moana Jackson whether having more Māori MPs in Parliament has made a difference. In response, Moana Jackson talked of how incrementalism can become stasis – it can consolidate injustice. Incrementalism is often so slow that no impact is made. An increase of Māori in the system will alter neither its function nor its purpose as long as that system exists. 

As in Parliament, there are more Māori kaiako, working both in mainstream schools as well as in Kura Kaupapa. Some of them in mainstream schools work in a Rūmaki setting, others in English Medium. Have those increased numbers made a difference? Are those schools more bi-cultural? Do they break down barriers and enable Māori tamariki to achieve success? Definitely, in some schools it has but the pressure on our Māori colleagues is huge. As I have heard from many of them, they cannot bear the load alone. They shouldn’t have to be the ones always defending, arguing, justifying, explaining, sharing stories, teaching te reo Māori, running Kapa Haka, leading waiata practice, baring their souls and being vulnerable. It is too much. 

Moana Jackson talks of ‘the carceral imperative’, something that Andrea Smith calls the ‘logic of genocide’, this follows the premise that as indigenous people disappear, the colonist will supplant them in their own lands. How was this done? War, legislation, sickness, assimilation, incarceration. These are all ways of making people ‘disappear’. Our education system was designed to assimilate Māori, for them to adhere to the expectations of being a good British citizen and to limit their academic expectations. Indeed, the Director of Education argued in 1931 that the aim of Māori education should be to turn out boys to be good farmers, and girls to be good farmers’ wives consigning Māori to the working class and to servitude to the Settler community.   We need structural change to reverse the ‘disappearing’ of indigenous people, not wallpaper. 

So, is Parallelism a solution for improving educational outcomes for our Māori tamariki? Is it a way of embracing biculturalism and will it provide culturally safe spaces for Māori to learn.  Ani Mikaere believes it can and will. 

“These considerations have led me to the conclusion that for some purposes, Māori and Pākehā students would be best taught separately. This would enable Māori staff to employ the energies where they are most needed amongst Māori  students it would also require Pākehā lecturers to take responsibilities for Pākehā students’ learning and in helping them through the problems that they have with such material.  It should not be the job of Māori staff to expose ourselves and our students to Pākehā students’ feelings of guilt and racism. It should be added that the approach that I suggest here would not preclude Māori and Pākehā streams from coming together for particular topics or even to discuss the topics upon which they have both been lectured separately. A healthy exchange of views should still be possible and desirable and could be factored in through the use of tutorials or regular combined lectures.” 

Colonising Myths Māori Realities” by Ani Mikaere.

What might this look like in our schools?  

It’s taken a long time for my stones to float to the surface and they are still bobbling around! I can see how this might work within schools but is having a Maori and a Pākehā stream, as some have suggested especially in regard to the Māori Health Authority, a form of Separatism? Is it an exclusive system that privileges Māori to the detriment of Pākehā? Is it equitable? How is it different from academic streaming? Or single sex schools? I might have to leave those stones to float a bit more! 

Whatever we do though, we could do worse than adopting Moana Jackson’s quiet approach by gently prodding and pointing people in the right direction, calmly, without judgement but also holding ourselves to account so we don’t lose sight of our goal of biculturalism. In schools, we need to make time to imagine the future and all it should be, then decide on multiple strategies to achieve it with honesty and integrity constantly holding a critical lens to our actions. 

Throw a stone in the water and see if it floats. Or skim one and see how far it goes. 

Taakiritia te Tuakiri

I am unsure where to start, but I feel that I need to get some scrambled thoughts out of my head and onto paper.  When I heard that the ‘big hui’ at Tuurangawaewae was going to take place, I was determined that I would go. Tuurangawaewae is just down the road, I have stayed there before, and I wanted to stand as an ally and an accomplice to listen to the kōrero and learn. Then the date was announced and I realised there was something familiar about it. I checked my calendar – bugger it! The same day as a trail running event I had entered and trained for. Should I pull out of the event and go to the hui instead?  I was conflicted but decided in the end that I should honour the previous commitment, but that I would still be able to read the post-hui commentary, watch the live stream (after the fact), and listen to any other kōrero that was recorded in social media. 

As I have sat here over the last few days and read the articles written in the aftermath of the hui this weekend, as I have scanned the snippets of the kōrero on the Kingitanga FB page, and scrolled through the Twitter feeds, inspired by the kōrero of the rangatahi and jotting down key sentences and ideas by the main speakers, I have maybe confused my thinking even more! There is so much to take in!  So, I am going to come back to what I know best, my comfort zone – and that is language to try to organise some thoughts.  I am not a fluent speaker of te reo Māori – far, far from it. In fact, I know only a very little, but I am learning slowly and as someone who is ‘language curious’ (I speak French fluently and have more than passable Spanish) I love exploring language and making sense of it.  

The hui used these phrases or mantras throughout;

Taakiri tuu te Kotahitanga

Taakiri tuu te mana motuhake 

Taakiri tuu te tuakiri 

Nowhere were these phrases translated as far as I can find. I am confident in the meanings of ‘kotahitanga’, and ‘tuakiri’ , sort of confident with ‘mana motuhake’, but far less confident with ‘taakiri’. So I turned to te Aka Māori Dictionary to see what I could find; 
Taakiri = to unfurl; to open; to strike – deeply affect emotions, to move; to flick (as a whip); to snare, to dawn;  to fly back (as a spring)

The complexity of te reo Māori and the richness of the nuances and contexts for the use of words is one of the things I find beautiful about the language but is equally, something that frustrates me no end! How am I supposed to know which meaning to choose? 

Unfurl’ gives me a sense that this hui is the opportunity to launch awareness about coming together as one, self-determination, and identity as a people.

The idea of ‘deeply affecting emotions’ also works – how powerful are the feelings when we come together as one, when we have self-determination, and when we feel strength and pride in our own identity? 

And then ‘dawn’, this is a bit like ‘unfurl’ in a way, but more poetic. This is the dawning of the strength as a unified people who are controlling their own destiny and who are confident in who they are. 

So, I have decided not to get hung up on the actual translation – I know well that it is often impossible to translate the deep meanings of concepts from another language simply by looking at the words. It really is all about trying to see the world from different perspectives and being open to the richness of cultures. I am an English woman, I have been in Aotearoa for 16 years this week. I have lived in France and Spain and travelled widely. I can see a little bit of the essence of other cultures through the windows of their languages as I have learnt them, but my outlook and my understanding of the world will always be predominantly from an English, western perspective.

And so,  I have decided to take some ideas, words, soundbites that have stood out to me from what I have read and try to make sense of them. I have tried to group them around those three key concepts of tuakiri, mana motuhake and kotahitanga but they sort of leech into each other – the edges are blurred.

Tuakiri – Identity

“The most contested piece of raupatu is the paa tuuwatawata of our childrens’ minds.”

Dayle Takitimu

A ‘paa tuuwatawata’ is fortified paa. An intended consequence of the raupatu o te whenua by Crown forces as they fought their way through the Waikato, was the loss of language, culture, tikanga, economic independence, and identity. This has had ongoing traumatic impacts on the lives of Māori ever since. Children grew up not knowing their language, their history, their culture and without those they lost their sense of identity. As well as the colonisation of the country, there was a colonisation of the minds and hearts of tamariki and mokopuna. The only way of reversing this is to immerse them in te ao Māori. For me as an educator, one way of supporting this is through education – providing opportunities for kaiako to ‘unlearn’ and ‘relearn’ the history of Aotearoa New Zealand so they can pass it on to their tamariki. Dayle Takitimu also said, 

“Education is kryptonite to racism; if you teach people the facts, if they can understand things from the perspectives of the other, the hate and the mistrust ebbs away.”

“The power and revolution for change belongs to the hapuu. Conscientise the people to take responsibility for their own change.” 

Mereana Pitman

I think this follows on from what Dayle Takitimu said about education and the impacts of colonisation of minds and hearts. For 150 years, Māori had limited or no access to their histories, or it was so traumatic that they buried it deep in the recesses of their minds. They were persuaded that it was detrimental to speak their own language and that English was the only way forward. Through the legislation that followed the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the New Zealand Wars, Māori were disenfranchised, treated as second-class citizens, and became dependent on the State.  It is essential that to exercise mana motuhake, they become conscious of what happened, are informed and can use that knowledge to bring about change. I know I have a responsibility as Tangata Tiriti to support that conscientisation, be there as an ally,  provide space to listen, for kaiako Māori and other Māori friends to develop a critical awareness of their social reality through reflection and action. I need to be critically aware myself too – who am I and what part have I played in that history, what part can I play, how can I reflect and take action without appropriating or taking over?

Mana motuhake – Tino rangatiratanga

“We’re at that point in history where the decision isn’t tino rangatiratanga or not, it’s tino rangatiratanga or nothing.” 

Donna Awatere Huata

I have to confess that this is another of those concepts that I am not entirely clear about. When I am asked, I say self-determination autonomy, the ability to have control over what is ours. Te Aka dictionary defines it thus; 

self-determination, sovereignty, autonomy, self-government, domination, rule, control, power.

But how is it different to Mana motuhake?  Te Aka dictionary defines it thus;

separate identity, autonomy, self-government, self-determination, independence, sovereignty, authority – mana through self-determination and control over one’s own destiny.

Very similar definitions so how do you differentiate?  Natalie Coates said,

“Tino Rangatiratanga is born in the whenua, it’s not something Tauiwi have, it belongs to us.” 

Why as Tauiwi don’t I/can’t I have self-determination or independence or control over my destiny?  One of the commenters suggested an explanation that I think helps me. They said that tino rangatiratanga is about us extending our absolute power and authority over that which has been handed down to us by our tupuna. It is something that is inextricably linked to the whenua and Māori connection to the whenua. Being Māori is about whakapapa, it is about whose waters you descend from (Nō wai au). 

Tino Rangatiratanga is a core tenet of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and one of the most contentious concepts, partly because, like me, the Missionaries in 1840 didn’t understand the concept – there was no one English word that explained it, so it has been poorly interpreted ever since the Treaty was drafted. Ever since then politicians and most other Pākehā really can’t get their collective heads around what it means and strive to interpret it based on their worldview, their experience and their knowledge (or lack of) history. People find it a threatening concept because when we don’t really understand something we feel like whatever it is, is taking away our power. The tino rangatiratanga of hapuu existed well before Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  It is not a right created by Te Tiriti but it is affirmed as part of it. 

So, where am I going here?  Maybe I’ll move on to the next concept to help continue the kōrero…


One of the whaikōrero that really touched me was one from Te Atamihi Whanga Papa, one of the rangatahi. When you hear young wahine speaking with such eloquence, passion and strength, you know that there is hope for the future. Ka mau te wehi! He momo ia! 

The kaupapa for her kōrero was around Kotahitanga. She talked about how rangatahi need to be able to flourish in two worlds; te ao Māori and te ao Pākehā. They need to be adept in the dining rooms of their marae as well as the boardrooms of the nation. They must be vocal speakers on the paepae as well as across the globe. They need to have the skills to be stewards of their culture, their whenua, and their whanau. 

“We need to be ‘decision-makers’ not ‘decision-takers”. 

How powerful is that? But wait, there is more, and this blew me away…. 

“We need to move from the unimaginable to the inevitable.” 

But how do we do this? she asked. Through kotahitanga. Together we can build the skills for mana motuhake – living in our own way, on our own terms. We need to come from a position of strength – we will be stronger together.  There has been plenty of kōrero in some of the social media strands about who speaks for who – who does the Kingitanga represent? Some questioned what right he had to call the hui. He doesn’t represent all hapuu and iwi. There are historical differences between iwi and hapuu regarding the Kingitanga. But the message that came through strongly was that hapuu and iwi from across the motu should be united in the face of the threat from this government and put aside historic differences. Why?

Tina Ngata, in her recent blogpost says this about why so many people turned up at Tuurangawaewae this weekend both physically and following on the live stream;

“I want to acknowledge and centre what drove thousands to meet at Tūrangawaewae:

That there is a specific and increased threat upon Te Ao Māori from this government and their proposed actions.

There are issues that arise out of our enduring colonialism, which we discuss every year, but thousands showed up because this government represents a new level of threat, one that needs a stronger response.”

So what is my role as Tangata Tiriti? How do I support the move for Māori to regain tino rangatiratanga, to find strength in their identity, to work together? Many Pākehā turned up at the weekend, many like me couldn’t make it, but we still tautoko the kaupapa wholeheartedly. We are here as allies, we stand together, alongside Māori with integrity, humility and honesty and the courage to listen and act when needed. I need to be a good treaty partner. What does that even mean? I’ll send you back to Tina Ngata to inform you on that!  What’s required of Tangata Tiriti? She explains it far more eloquently than I can. I need to read it again too, keep on reading it so the ideas become embedded in my being. In the meantime, I will read as much as I can, listen carefully and actively to those wiser and more experienced than I am, and be there when needed. An ally and an accomplice.

From Ally to Accomplice

It is December 2023. National, Act and NZ First gained the mandate in the October elections from the good people of Aotearoa to form a new Right Wing government. I won’t go into the politics and the systems that enabled them to get there, nor the role of the Media, Social Media, external fringe groups and well-funded organisations such as Topham-Guerin that may or may not have infiltrated them to sway public opinion. That is for commenters far more expert than I. 

What I can talk about is the impact it has had on me, how it has made me feel and how I can see that it has made others feel. The sense of weight that descended on election night, the dread of what was to come, was unfathomable. In the days and weeks that followed as we waited for the final counts of Special Votes and then the ‘negotiations’, I swung between hope that the humanity of the NACTs and NZFirst would come through and then despair that they would live up to all they had ‘promised’. I am an optimist at heart and try to see the best in people and situations. it was not to be, when the final deals were revealed it was worse than I could ever have imagined. 

The pettiness of repealing pretty much everything that Labour did in the last Government, everything that sought to build some equity for Māori, the use of te reo Māori, co-Governance in Health and Waters, measures that support the poor and disadvantaged and seek to start the redress of the imbalance of generations of colonial legislation. I have spent a lot of time (more time than I should!) on ‘X’ and ‘BlueSky’ and Facebook talking with like-minded people, sharing articles but also pushing back against the racist rants of others. There have been some excellent articles that I have read and shared more widely. In this article from e-Tangata, Deb Te Kawa warns that there is a real danger that the policies of the coalition ‘create a racial situation that will have severe consequences for Aotearoa.’  She goes on to say that ‘The electorate voted for minor changes, not reform — and certainly not a culture war.’

This culture war pits people against each other when we should be coming together to improve outcomes for all but more importantly to lift outcomes for Māori. The debates will be and should be robust, but they will also be vicious and personal. Deb Te Kawa says she is confident te ao Māori can endure these debates. She starts the article with this statement;

“Te ao Māori is more durable than a rock that’s been pounded by waves for thousands of years.” Many rangatira will relish the debates but she believes the Pākehā community will struggle, they are ‘uncomfortable with the politics of struggle and conflict’ whereas “Te ao Māori’s relationship with the state since its inception has been one of constant and enduring conflict.  

There is an increasing call from the right wing for ‘fairness’ and ‘everyone being treated the same’, and criticism of ‘race based’ schemes that provide an unfair advantage to Māori.  Their voices shout the loudest and it is their voices who have emboldened this colaition and their supporteers. It is the age old lack of understanding between ‘Equality’ and ‘Equity’.  In this article for the Spinoff, Emma Wehipeihana states that “We’re done with being asked to justify our ‘privilege’”. The Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme (MAPAS) is the scheme that supports Māori and Pacifica students to get into Medical Schools in Otago and Auckland. (It is, by the way, the route by which Shane Reti and his daughter got into Medical School)  Under this government it is under threat mainly because of their belief that we are all the same and there should be no favouritism shown. She is concerned that ‘in pursuit of benign-sounding slogans like “fairness” they will attempt to distract and position us against each other. They’ll do things like dog whistle to immigrants about how Māori get unfair privilege, while worrying loudly about the impact of immigration on public infrastructure and job availability. They’ll act as if rationing social services is fair, while hoping we fight among ourselves for the crumbs.”

At the end of the article, Emma reiterates the words from the title – Māori have had enough of explaining their right to exist. It is up to us now to learn about the history to understand why Maori are underserved and disadvantaged, to understand what the socio-economic, cultural and psychological impacts of colonial history have been on Māori. 

“Being kind is out. Being strategic is in. In the words of my Tukorehe cousin, Anahera Gildea – author, artist and aunty – we don’t need allies, we need accomplices. See you on the protest line, e hoa mā.”

For me, as someone just starting to find my place as an ally and what I need to do, this really resonated – be an accomplice – be there, actively supporting, doing, on the front line, not just standing by on the side supporting but not getting my hands dirty. Stand up and be counted but do it alongside, take some of the weight.  When the call to action came, I was there. On the protest line, holding my placard alongside many who I didn’t know but who felt the same way – Māori and Pākehā. Also alongside many who I do know, who I work with, who I have studied with, who are my friends. 

I met the wahine on her own as I walked home. She was standing proud on the roundabout at the end of my street, waving her hāhi Tino Rangatiratanga. I went to talk to her and asked her why she wasn’t with everyone else. She said that she had realised on the way there that it didn’t really matter where you stood as long as you stood. I reflected after that maybe her belief, her sense of identity in who she was and what she stood for meant that she didn’t need a crowd around her to validate her. She just knew that what she stood for was right.

This put me in mind of a podcast I listened to recently. Alex Barnes was a guest on Taringa Podcast. He talked to Paraone Gloyne about being an ally. Paraone described him as a “Pākehā pai”. He talked in the podcast about how it is important to hold onto who we are, our own identity, not try to be Māori but to hold fast to our values and be proud of who we are. He used the kiwaha – ‘Maumau te pango’ but switched it up to ‘maumau te mā’. He explained that if we don’t know who we are, if we don’t understand where we come from, our own culture and how we are here, we can’t engage well with anyone.

So that got me thinking too. In my desire to learn te reo Māori, to immerse myself in all things Māori, in learning all I can about the history of Aotearoa and especially the Māaori history, am I losing sight of who I am, am I abandoning or denigrating my own cultural heritage? Ever since I learned about how the English colonised India, Africa, what they did to the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish, when I was a teenager, I developed a deep sense of shame about being English. I knew that I also had Irish heritage so I latched onto that and claimed ‘Irishness’ not realising at the time that my Irishness probably stemmed from Englishness and my ancestors were actually originally colonisers!

So, I think I need to do some deep thinking about who I am, where I come from, and come to terms with it without carrying shame for it but acknowledging it so that I can stand as an ally and an accomplice with integrity, humility and honesty.