Sunday 4th February: So Much More

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 Manual

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.

Food Resilience

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. 

Climate resilience 

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. 

Political Resilience

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.”

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.”

Dallas King

“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.”

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.”

Sunday 4th February: Hauora

“There is blatant racism and prejudice against Māori in the Health System.” 

Dr Rose Harris, a doctor based in Hokianga was prompted to be a doctor after witnessing the treatment of her mother as she was diagnosed and then treated for cancer. She agrees with Lady Tureiti Moxon that the disestablishment of the Māori Health Board which has only just started to show what it can do for Māori will lead to greater inequities for Māori and poorer outcomes. It is a move that goes against Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

“Abolishing the authority would be inconsistent with the Treaty principles of tino rangatiratanga, partnership and equity, the claim said.” 

Waitangi Tribunal bid made in attempt to stop abolition of Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority | RNZ News

However, she believes that it is for the very reason that it will lead to better outcomes for Māori, because it works for them that the government wants to dismantle it. As someone working in a rural setting she cannot see how a rural approach can work.

“We need to do more to whakamana our wāhine Māori.” 

Rose believes firmly that women’s health is an area that is hugely underfunded and misunderstood. We need to be confident and not whakamā about talking about our bodies, understanding them so that wāhine can have mana motuhake over their bodies and healthcare. I reflected at this point that this is another impact of colonisation and the thinking of the colonisers especially the missionaries. In te ao Māori a girl’s first menstruation (waiwhero) was seen as a cause for celebration not shame;

“When waiwhero first arrived, there would be the giving of gifts, which would be an awesome tikanga to continue today. Moko kauae would be given, ceremonial cutting of hair, piercing of ears. She would be introduced to new arts, learn karakia and waiata. There would be a hākari (feast), the community would get together to share kai. And there would be a ceremonial bleeding onto the whenua as a gift to Papatūānuku. This practice was about acknowledging the connection between people, land and ancestors. Our tūpuna believed our waiwhero, our menstrual blood, carried our ancestors. Bleeding straight onto the land is our gift to the mother, to Papatūānuku. I know some wāhine that still do that today.”

Decolonise your body! The fascinating history of Māori and periods | The Spinoff

Women are considered “tapu” meaning sacred during menstruation so the tikanga that is in place around what wahine can and can’t do during menstruation are not imposed patriarchal restrictions associated with uncleanliness or weakness but meant to protect wahine during their ikura so they can rest if they need to. Karamu and puka plants were boiled and used as a traditional medicine to help with period pain.

Hinetitama retrieved from

From a Victorian, colonists’ perspective, menstruation was seen as an unclean and negative time. Something not to be spoken about but hidden. This way of thinking worked its way insidiously and damagingly, just like the role of women in society, into the beliefs and practices of Māori. Traditional practices were frowned upon, legislated against (1907 Tohunga Suppression Act), and soon the tikanga and importance of those things was lost.  It is for this reason as well as the traditional dominance of men in the field of medicine that women’s health is relegated to second place and research into women’s health is not taken seriously. 

So, what is the solution? I talked about Moana Jackson’s concept of ‘Parallelism’ in a previous blog – the concept that there can be parallel systems that exist alongside each other like the Te Aka Whai Ora does with Te Whatu Ora. We also know that Māori don’t have positive experiences in hospitals, just like schools they are establishments with systems and structures that privilege a Pākehā way of doing things and they don’t meet the needs of Māori. 

Way back in 1918, following the deaths of so many Māori from the flu, Princess Te Puea had a dream to create a hospital for Māori at Ngāruawāhia. At the heart of her plans for Tūrangawaewae Marae was;

“Māhinārangi wharenui, a hospital for Māori by Māori that took a holistic approach incorporating tikanga (customs), rongoā Māori and Western medicine under one roof, designed aesthetically for Māori. Hērangi saw firsthand the benefits of having Māori surrounded by their culture and having that infused in their wellbeing.”

Ngāruawāhia locals want the kind of healthcare first envisioned by Princess Te Puea Hērangi 100 years ago

Only a few days ago, Kingi Tūheitia, broached the subject again at the Hui-ā-motu at Tūrangawaewae. He said that;

“In her (Te Puea) view, and the argument still stands strong today, that if Māori can see themselves in the medical system, then they will engage a little bit better. In that time in the 1920s there was a whole lot of mistrust and people didn’t want to go to the Pākehā hospitals because they felt there were some underlying things, racism.”

Kīngitanga calls for Māori hospital to fulfil the vision of Princess Te Puea – NZ Herald

So, what would a hospital for Māori look like today?  How would it meet the needs of Māori bnetter than our current hospitals? Is it, as some would say a separatist concept and one that priveleges oine race over another? So many questions to ponder and find answers to! 


Waitangi Tribunal bid made in attempt to stop abolition of Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority | RNZ News

Decolonise your body! The fascinating history of Māori and periods | The Spinoff

Ngāruawāhia locals want the kind of healthcare first envisioned by Princess Te Puea Hērangi 100 years ago

Kīngitanga calls for Māori hospital to fulfil the vision of Princess Te Puea – NZ Herald

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.