I had concentrated so much at this point that my concentration faltered and I only really got soundbites from the next few kōrero. However, as I have reread my notes and tried to make sense of them, there are a few connections or trends that I can see, so maybe I’ll try to pull those together.
- Whakapapa and stories – a response to stress, a way of building resilience
- Tino Rangatiratanga – sovereignty – food, climate, political
- Strategising – mobilisation
- Te Taiao – Maramataka – reconnecting
Reina Tuai Penney
When we are attacked we go back to our whakapapa and our stories. We go back and reclaim our spaces, our names and our tupuna stories.
Reina is tuakana to Rose – her elder sister. She is a lawyer and was also a coordinator of the hīkoi from Hokianga.
She described how as they walked from Moutukaraka, as they went through different places each one had a story. Land that was still in Māori hands, land that had been taken by the Crown land and also land that is in private hands. Pā sites where Māori had defended their mana over centuries, urupā where their tupuna lie, wāhi tapu, and papakainga.
Kua tai te ihiihi!
They felt the spiritual power, the essential force growing as they listened to the stories and connected as a collective and as the hīkoi grew in numbers.
They were welcomed into Omakura and the kaumatua told the story of the past, how the land was taken and the fight that the hapū put up to resist. It was a story of passive resistance as so many of the kōrero around the motu. When the Crown came to take the land people laid down on the ground to protect the wāhi tapu from being taken.
We have different ways of resisting now and as a lawyer, she talked of making the system and systems work for the good of Māori. Some good government structures are worth using to get what we need – we need sometimes to play the game and fight from within.
She talked about the ‘deceit of consultation’. How things like ‘cultural impact assessments’ and surveys being used by officials to say that they had consulted with hapū and iwi. I wondered then about the lip service that some schools and other organisations pay to ‘consulting’ instead of talking to people and then listening to what they have to say instead of ticking the ‘consultation’ box.
Hoki mai ki te kainga
At the end of the day, though, we have to take back control. We have to make it happen ourselves. Go back to our kainga (home) – there is a role for everyone. Funnily enough, I was listening to Shane Jones talking to Mahinarangi Forbes on Mata this morning and he made the point that we are in 2024 with a rapidly growing population of immigrants which could further threaten the place of Māori. He is astounded that Māori leaders believe that the answer lies in 1835 with He Whakaputanga or 1840 with Te Tiriti o Waitangi. He said that Māori need to move on from the victimhood mentality and adopt the adaptability and innovation of their ancestors. We can’t keep blaming colonisation, relying on the past as an excuse for our current situation. For him, Tino Rangatiratanga and Mana Motuhake is about identifying the current challenges and coming up with solutions.
He aha o koutou whakaaro? What do you think?
Nyze Manuel is a trustee of Karangahape Marae, she is also kaiwhakahaere of Taitokerau Border Control and a business owner employing local whānau. Her kōrero was about resilience. She whakapapas to the people who wrote He Whakaputanga. She talked about how Māori are always in a reactive space but we need to move into a proactive space to build resilience into our collective approaches rather than relying on our ability to draw on our innate personal resilience. In a way that echoes what Shane Jones was saying – draw on the innate characteristics of tupuna, and be proactive. She talked about different sorts of resilience which I will try to summarise.
The whenua will look after us if we look after it.
Te Taiao is at the heart of food and feeding ourselves. Te Taiao is our pātaka kai (food cupboard). We need to be aware of the tohu (signs) that tell us how the land is doing, how healthy it is. Whether it is the whenua – Māra Kai, or the moana – Mahinga Kai, our food stocks are diminishing either because Te Taiao is no longer nourished or because it has been overused or because it has been taken for other uses such as building.
We can have food sovereignty if we go back to what our ancestors did and use the land and the sea well. We have to look at how we can better protect our kai which means looking at how better to protect Te Taiao. In the past ‘rāhui’ were used to protect the kai. This was a gift from the tupuna to protect the supplies. We should exercise those tools now. Rāhui provide the time to replenish stocks – it’s gone in a moment if we overfish or plant the wrong things.
Our tupuna watched and listened to observe the tohu that indicated when to plant, when to harvest, when some things would be plentiful and others may not be. The Maramataka was important. Nyze talked of tupuna observing the kōura walking from one area to another and that whilst they were on that hīkoi, they shouldn’t be fished as they were more vulnerable.
Nyze knows first-hand what climate change looks like and how it impacts our people. One of her roles is to help coordinate kaimahi and first responders from hapū all over Ngāpuhi in an emergency, whether a virus or a national disaster. She talked about how Māori knew not to build their whare in certain places as they had observed the impacts of high tides, storms etc. They warned contractors about building in those places but still, they went ahead and they were some of the houses damaged in the cyclones. I notice when I drive through the Waikato from Kirikirirroa to Hauraki after the rain how much of the land is under water. The road is elevated and it is like driving along a causeway with water on either side as far as the eye can see. Settlers in the 19th century thought all they needed to do was clear the swamps and plant grass and they would have rich pastures. There was a reason that Māori hadn’t cleared it already! They gathered kai from it – fish and kōura, wātakirihi and other plants, and waterfowl and they knew through observation how the tides worked and the annual tohu for gathering that kai.
Nyze described a kaumātua who lived at Matauri Bay. Despite waves coming over his house during the cyclone he didn’t want to leave. Many of the old folk don’t want to. This is a response to so much of their land having already been taken, they don’t want to give up what they have left. But how do we protect our kuia and kaumatua? How do we build climate resilience into our planning? These people are very resilient but that doesn’t make them safe! How do we enable them to stay where they want to live but protect them when there is a problem?
Not surprisingly given this panel of wāhine, she says it’s mainly the women who are strategising and coming up with practical solutions. Those solutions don’t have to be complex, but they do need to be practical and doable. We need to know who to call, what to have ready, know how to help, know who to help. A magnet on a fridge with key numbers on – for those who are isolated, who they need to call to get help, and for those who are helping a list of who will need help when disaster strikes. Survival packs need to be distributed to each home.
Finally a call to everyone. We have to vote! To take back what is ours we need to build the leaders of tomorrow, we need to mobilise but it has to be a multi-pronged approach and it has to be together – Kotahitanga!
Tū mai, whawhai atu tonu. Ake, ake, ake!
Auriole Ruka – Wahine Narratives
Auriole is Pou Manawhakahaere – General Manager Governance and Engagement for Northland regional Council. She started quietly, nervously, saying that she had wondered what she was going to say and then worrying about what right she had to stand up and kōrero. She said she had a severe case of ‘Imposter Syndrome‘.
I wonder, does ‘Imposter Syndrome’ come from a Pākehā worldview – is it another example of how wāhine Māori have been colonised? For Pākehā women does it stem from a belief that we shouldn’t be where we are because essentially it’s a ‘man’s world’? We are the products of a patriarchal society and that patriarchy was then imposed on Māori through colonisation. Wāhine Māori played a pivotal role in Māori society before colonisation; Ani Mikaere discusses this at length in her e-Tangata article.
“Both men and women were essential parts in the collective whole. Both formed part of the whakapapa that linked Māori people back to the beginning of the world, and women in particular played a key role in linking the past with the present and the future.”Māori Women: Caught in the Contradictions of a Colonised Reality | E-Tangata
As she spoke, Auriole gained momentum and confidence. “We look to our mokopuna for strength – I know I can do what I need to do when I have to do it.” I thought that was an interesting idea. As well as gaining inspiration from our ancestors, we gain strength and resilience as we consider our mokopuna and the world that we are safeguarding (or not) for them. I don’t (yet) have mokopuna but I do have two sons. However, as I was talking to Ellie on Tuesday we talked about whakapapa and whanau. She came to Aotearoa as an 8-year-old with her family, her sister was 3. We brought our two boys over when they were 12 and 8 respectively. I’ve often wondered since I have learned more about the importance of whakapapa and knowing who you come from to develop a sense of identity, what the impact of a move across the world has had on our boys and their sense of identity. I asked Ellie how she felt, what connection she had to her family back in the UK and how that framed her thinking. I won’t go into details but one of the things she shared was that in her mahi here in Aotearoa when she worked in Corrections for a while supporting rangatahi who are incarcerated to re-connect to their iwi, hapu, tikanga etc (I know, she is well aware of the irony of a young, very white Pākehā wahine working in this field but she worked alongside and took guidance from a Māori colleague). This Māori colleague has several children though he is only in his early 20s and one day they talked about whakapapa. He talked about the importance not just of looking back to his ancestors but looking forward to his mokopuna and how that gave him a sense of meaning to how he lived his life. Ka mua, ka muri. We look backwards to inform our future but also look forward to make sense of our present, plan for the future and draw strength from those yet unborn.
Ka tū au, ka rire
So as Auriole thinks of her mokopuna she rallies and becomes even more confident. We will stand and fight for our tamariki, our mokopuna, so we need to shake off the imposter syndrome. Shake off the ‘pūngāwerewere’ off my back referencing the spiders that Dame Naida Glavish said were coming to Waitangi. Our future, the future of our whanau is what motivates us and gives us strength.
Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi starts with whanau and then looks to those who are struggling. We need to put our own life jackets on before helping others. You can’t help others if you are not well and strong yourself. So, what was her plan? How did her iwi support themselves and others?
They set up a Trust and now they are thriving. They strategised, made plans, and came up with solutions. The simplest things make the most money.
But we also need to accept the challenge that Tariana Turia laid down to promote the importance of the 1867 Māori Representation Act.
“We need more opportunities as a nation to examine racism, to understand our diverse cultural perspectives, to engage in cross-cultural conversations.”https://www.nzherald.co.nz/kahu/dame-tariana-turia-we-need-a-better-way-of-dealing-with-racial-issues/BXULTC75UJQDYM56GKSXBDGTH4/
So, what does that look like? It’s about getting all our people onto the Māori role, then getting out to vote. We have to mobilise our rangatahi to disrupt the government. Likewise for Pākehā – it is the older generations who vote and they are typically, although not all, right-wing voters.
It’s hard, she says, to sit and listen quietly when dickheads like David Seymour get to stand and speak in our space.
“I am no longer an imposter, I stand, I fight, I serve.”
“Kia u ki o tatau korero tuku iho – mahia!”
Dallas is a lawyer from Hokianga and her kōrero echoed that of previous speakers – when we are under stress, or attack or are unwell, we need to go back to our ancestral stories, go back to the land of our tupuna, be informed by the taiao, instead of becoming overwhelmed and anxious – ka hoki koe ki tō whenua – go back to your land.
“The repercussions of what the government is doing are huge.” The challenges we face at the moment are huge. The attack on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, our reo and our way of life by this government is what has mobilised tangata whenua as well as many tangata tiriti allies, to protest, to be here at Waitangi. “The repercussions of what the government is doing are huge.” Events such as in Gaza and other places around the world that threaten indigenous peoples are also growing. There is not just physical war but the silent and insidious war of misinformation – the leaflets that are being sent out inside local papers written by despots are rife.
“It is a symphony of disruption and distraction that is targetted and intentional.”
Agencies in Te Whanganui a-Tara make decisions on our behalf without knowing the stories and the context of our rohe. For example, NIWA has a privilege and power that allows them to make decisions about our taiao that are not relevant to our rohe. We need to be proactive in these spaces, and get ourselves in amongst them so that we have a voice and can influence by bringing a te ao Māori perspective. So, as well as our kōrero tuku iho we also need to look to our maramataka for accurate predictions about our taiao. Mātauranga Māori has a huge part to play alongside Western science in supporting decision-making that will improve outcomes for our people.
“Pai te rerekētanga”
We also need to accept and embrace differences, different perspectives, and different knowledge. We shouldn’t be afraid to allow everyone in the room so we can wananga and make the right decisions.
Mariameno Kapa-Kīngi – MP for Te Tai Tokerau
“You can’t just sing ‘Maranga mai’ and then moe!”
Mariameno talked about the ‘mahi before the mahi’ – that you don’t achieve things without a lot of hard work. When a forum tent like this was first suggested, it was their own iwi who refused it, but eventually, it happened and it has become an important fixture of Waitangi. A space for kōrero, for sharing of whakaaro, for ‘ordinary’ people to have a voice.
Mariameno shared that her mokopuna had been born during the night and reflected on that. Birth is the time when women hold the balance of life. We provide a portal; ‘he tapu anō tērā’. At the moment of birth a woman holds her own heartbeat and that of another life within her – every time it is a miracle. Between your breasts and between your legs are powerful places. Then the cord is cut and whilst those lives are now separate they are inextricably bound together. I love this whakaaro, it is raw and it is a truth. It speaks to the status of wāhine in te ao Māori as life-givers, nurturers, and storytellers keeping the kōrero tuku iho alive, relevant and safe to be retold for future generations.
Of her electorate win and the success of Te Pāti Māori, she said;
“Giving our whānau something to vote for that looks, sounds and feels like them. We are taking our place… our motuhake place.”https://tehiku.nz/te-hiku-radio/tautinei/41624/mariameno-kapa-kingi-our-new-te-taitokerau-
Being MP for Te Tai Tokerau and the first Māori woman to be so is a responsibility and a privilege. But, she reflects, it is not hers alone.
It was a journey to get to this place and many people were on that journey and contributed. Mariameno carried a tokotoko which is styled on a Japanese Bokken – a Japanese wooden sword used for training in kenjutsu, that was made for her. It took time to make and a lot of work. Like her tokotoko, there was a lot of work done to get to the point in her journey.
She acknowledged that we’re all in different places at different times. Our journeys may be the same but they are also different. But reaching and achieving goals is done through hard work and working as a collective.
“Ko tēnei te wā.”