Reflections

The Happy Bankrupt

"It's been said that bankruptcy happens gradually, and then suddenly. That's very true. It was my fault for making it gradual because I didn't face up to my tax bill right away." — Tainui Stephens.

A respectfully curious approach

“Any time we’re on the world stage, it’s Māori things front and centre. As if those things are in a strong and healthy state. As if we have a bicultural country.” — Keri Opai.

Pepeha for non-Māori

“I believe that it’s inappropriate for non-Māori people to use the same pepeha as tangata whenua. It is not a matter of mere opinion, of like or dislike, of right or wrong: it simply doesn’t make sense. It is a matter of indigeneity.” — Keri Opai.

Sisters on and off the field

“For as long as anyone can remember, the team has always had a chant of ‘Sisters!’ It’s often heard before a game or at the end of the halftime huddle, but . . . there was a time when it was shouted with little meaning.” — Rikki Swannell in 'Sevens Sisters'.

The right words to say

“I sometimes find myself on the speakers’ paepae at a formal hui. It’s always a daunting thing. Never to be taken for granted. Always to be reflected on.” — Tainui Stephens.

Staying in our lane

“When tangata whenua share their world with the rest of us, it doesn’t mean we should claim a special insight or position. If we do this, we risk being told to stay in our lane.” — Catherine Delahunty.

The food of our ancestors

“Research showed that taro was part of the Māori diet from the moment Polynesians arrived. It was known as kai rangatira, a food for important people and eaten on special occasions.” — Lana Lopesi.

The Roaring Wind: Joe Hawke

“When Joe Hawke was born in 1940, the only land remaining to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei in the entire Tāmaki isthmus, over which they had exercised their mana for some two centuries, was just 12½ acres of land at Ōkahu Bay.” — Professor David Williams.

Siding with the powerless

“We have to fix whānau, to fix family. And if we do that, there’ll be nobody in front of our courts. For me, that is the paramount thing to focus on within the justice system.” — Michelle Kidd.

A university where we can see ourselves

“I still remember the Year 13 dean who decided I didn’t need university pamphlets because, in his eyes, I wasn’t university material.” — Jemaima Tiatia, Pro Vice Chancellor Pacific at Auckland University.

Portrait of a Quiet Revolutionary

Moana Jackson was “our Māori Yoda". "He brought clarity to our struggle and wisdom to our kitchen tables, influencing generations of policymakers and jurists alike.” — Moana Maniapoto on the making of ‘Portrait of a Quiet Revolutionary’, made with the support of NZ On Air.

Stories worth telling

“Imagine. A book about people like me, and other people wanting to read about us. It showed me we were good enough already, worthy of success and happiness and love.” — Maria Samuela.

Learning from Moana Jackson

“I have never met a more inspiring person with a greater influence over so many of us for the good. Let’s hope that we can now be worthy of his generous challenges to us.” — Catherine Delahunty.

Don’s Last Post

“Don recalled discovering an enemy bunker and shooting the Germans inside. Inside a pocket of one of the dead he discovered a photo of the man’s wife and children. It devastated him.” — Tainui Stephens.

A day in the life of a Māori academic

“While the hijacking had taken things to another level, this was also just another day in the life of a Māori academic working within a colonial and patriarchal institution and society.” — Dr Elana Curtis.

Being part of Moana’s legacy

“Moana taught me, a young Chinese activist, the meaning of solidarity and what it means to be living on this land as tangata Tiriti who respect tangata whenua.” — Mengzhu Fu.

Threads of red

"I can’t stand it any longer. I send away for a DNA test. It arrives in a little white packet, and I’m excited. I tell my husband that I’m sure I have Māori in me." — Aimee Milne.

Finding my real voice

“I’d finally joined an environment where I didn’t have to use my Pākehā voice for the first time in my life.” — Siena Yates.

Moana Jackson: His legacy will endure

“If he hadn't taken on those fights, he could quite easily have buffered himself against the health issues. But he didn't. He didn't swerve. He didn't flinch. He just kept on going.” — Ngahiwi Tomoana.

The Matriarch of Māngere

“June was a matriarch of Donna Corleone proportions. Smoked up a storm, was a hotshot card player, and swore like a trooper. She had a shotgun under her bed.” — Moana Maniapoto.

In the waiting place

“The smoke floats around her like a deadly nimbus; but the irony still pinches. That one thing that put her here is the one thing that gives her any remnant of her own life now.” — Māmari Stephens.

‘You been playing up, boy?’

“I wouldn’t say the school was racist, as such. There were Māori staff, a makeshift marae on-site, Māori students excelling in pockets. It was, however, uncomfortably tolerant of racist rhetoric.” — Airana Ngarewa.

Fa’afetai lava, Luteru

“When Luteru swings low and wide to launch a ball for six, he might as well be channelling one of his aunties from Saoluafata.” — James Nokise on Ross Taylor.

Much to ponder after protest

“To the nurses: I can’t understand how you think you could continue to care for my husband with cancer, or a newborn grandchild in a neonatal unit, or visit my aunty’s home to redo her dressing on her leg, if you aren’t vaccinated.” — Joanne Doherty.

Bloodways of Papatūānuku

“Wai Pasifika is not just an examination of how to manage the substance that is essential to life on earth — but which blinkered materialists think of as a ‘resource’. It is also an approach to how to be in relationship with water.” — Kennedy Warne.

Cast adrift: My story of adoption

“Around 80,000 babies were adopted. Because of shabby practices, we can’t know how many of these babies were Māori, but I imagine every whānau has been affected, and has lost precious children.” — Kim Mcbreen.

The love of place

“We want the land and the beach to be left in peace. My dream is that one day the rich will be made to give up having to own the view.” — Catherine Delahunty.

Resisting the pull to go home

“We are the people that the restrictions and the mandates exist for. We are the reason why those working hospitals, shops, schools, movie theatres and cafes have to make sure their staff are vaccinated.” — Rangimarie Sophie Jolley.

Teine Sā — the feminist icons of Sāmoa

“Looking in the mirror, brushing your hair or wearing your hair out was said to draw the attention of the Teine Sā. That could lead to sickness, possession or even death.” — Lana Lopesi, in an extract from her new book 'Bloody Woman'.

When it all feels unstoppable

“So many men have no community, and my father didn’t have friends until he found the white supremacists online.” — Kim Mcbreen, on losing her father to a conspiracy theory.

Son for the return home

“Back then, Pacific Island students weren’t just going to universities to get jobs and degrees — they were going there to change the world, to free their countries, to take back their lands, to found their national homes.” — Pala Molisa on Albert Wendt.

Waiata mai

“I think you might be able to classify Māori as one of two kinds: whakamā and katakata. The test for which kind you are is whether or not you do skits.” — Aaron Craig.

Understanding the Māori universe

“The Māori world is, in fact, a Māori universe with all of the subtleties, idiosyncrasies and nuances of any culture." — Keri Opai, author of 'Tikanga: An introduction to te ao Māori'.

What I’ve learned this year

“When Māori are used as political football, someone has to make the tackles, and that’s what we try to do.” — Moana Maniapoto reflecting on the role of her award-winning current affairs TV programme, Te Ao with Moana.

Fighting Poison

“The story of SWAP (Sawmill Workers Against Poisons) is more than the terrible and the tragic. It’s also about racism, class issues, and a kind of leadership that’s so often ignored and underestimated.” — Catherine Delahunty.

Sometimes just a chat is enough

“Don’t feel you have to finish reading this article. There will be no great wisdom at the end. If suicide has touched your life, and in reading this you find yourself treading dark territory again, please pull out.” — James Nokise.

The heroes in our whānau

“The private heroes among our friends and family won’t save the world by their personal courage, but their presence in our lives give us the chance to save our humanity.” — Tainui Stephens.

Becoming Tangata Tiriti

“How does that maunga in Aotearoa that you’ve claimed to be ‘toku maunga’ become your mountain? And what gives you the right to claim that river as yours? It’s not ancestry. It’s not an inherited story. So, what is it?” — Catherine Delahunty.

Calling out hatred

“We have to make a noise about the bullshit, the bigotry, the terminally foolish, the wilfully ignorant. The dangerous.” — Tainui Stephens.

Mark Solomon: On leadership and life

"The Crown reckoned full redress was worth around $12 to $15 billion. Our advisers thought it was closer to $20 billion. We settled for $170 million — a lot less, but it allowed Ngāi Tahu to move forward, to rebuild." — Mark Solomon.

‘I never got to go home’

“My parents' dream of a better life collided with the cultural ignorance of mainstream New Zealand in the 1950s onwards.” — Fa'amoana Luafutu, who told his story of institutional abuse to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

‘We’re gonna need a whole new everything’

“It occurred to me as we drove around Westport that you might feel private about flood damage. We looked at the piles of rubbish, carpet, toys and clothing and we said we would hate to have strangers looking at our sodden mess.” — Becky Manawatu.

Farewell to a woman of fire

“Like the Hawaiian atua Pele, portrayed as a goddess of volcanoes and fire, Haunani-Kay Trask could be volcanic in her thinking and writing, a lava flow of protest.” — Kennedy Warne.

Chronic Kaupapa Fatigue

“I’ve known many individuals who grew old before their time because of the energy they expended, and the risks they took with their health or their domestic happiness, all to be able to serve a vital kaupapa that uplifted the wellbeing of the people.” — Tainui Stephens.

Policing the Dawn Raids

“The attitudes of the special squads which had been formed to do this work was appalling. The latent racism, usually judiciously concealed, was blatant and paraded for all to see, with constant talk of ‘getting the coconuts’.” — Tā Kim Workman.

Thursdays with Georgie

“Georgie had a way of asking questions that would make those in power squirm. 'Where are the women?' 'Where are the Māori?' Then she would do something to answer them.” — Adam Gifford on Dame Georgina Kirby, who died last month.

A maker of stories

“Each night, there will be a sentence or a paragraph that moves me, sometimes causing tears to flow. It happens whenever I read Patricia Grace.” — Kennedy Warne on one of the country's most beloved writers.

When Pākehā are not in charge

“A lot more of our people are beginning to realise that social change led by Indigenous wisdom is about how we organise and how we treat each other, as well as what we’re fighting for.” – Catherine Delahunty.

Return to Ōtata

“We were here to get to know the place — and let the place know us.” — Kennedy Warne remembers a day on Ōtata Island with a group of rangatahi.

Remembering Richard Nunns

“He looked more Pākeha than any Pākehā I knew . . . But his was a life deeply immersed in te ao Māori. He was one of the best taonga puoro players in the world. A leading force behind their revival.” — Moana Maniapoto on Richard Nunns.

Truth, lies, and stereotypes

“Stereotypes affect, and infect, all of us — including those of us who suffer because of them. They don’t just live in the heads of those who use them to hammer us, but in ours as well.” — Shelley Burne-Field.

Our stories about Cook

“Our stories of Cook need to explain why we need a Māori Health Authority and why such a thing isn’t apartheid or racist. Our stories of Cook need to provide ways for people on city councils to understand why there is such a broad call for Māori wards.” — Alice Te Punga Somerville.

Things have to change

“For two weeks, my co-parenting partner and my daughter and I lived out of a car. It was just the worst feeling you could imagine.” — Apanui Koopu, on how MSD decisions made things worse for him and his whānau.

Flies in milk

“The reason this female ancestor of mine is a mystery is simple. She was either Indian or what was then called Eurasian.” — Catherine Delahunty.

The Māori mascot

“The rangatahi Māori interns were like mascots. We were there to entice funding bodies into handing over more money.”

This doesn’t make us less

“We can be Māori and reo-less at the same time. It’s not ideal — especially in the hidden places we never talk about — but we can keep our heads held high. This doesn’t make us less.” — Shelley Burne-Field.

Rejecting the System

“We don’t need to try to shape ourselves to fit Pālagi measures of success. Because we will never win, if we just play by those rules.” — Dahlia Malaeulu.

The Dawn Raids of 1974

“No one was safe. The police just went to addresses where they knew Tongans lived, maybe tipped off by a disgruntled neighbour. And the checks were indiscriminate.” — Joris de Bres.

Underground History

“We learned of the arrests from frightened kids who came into our classrooms, wide-eyed and anxious. They talked about special police squads raiding homes and workplaces.” — Professor Welby Ings, on being a teacher during the Dawn Raids era.

Tripping over Te Tiriti

“Much of our practice is repeatedly addressing the resistance to well-documented facts. Some people just can’t believe that they have been spun a toxic yarn about our history.” — Catherine Delahunty

‘I follow the trail of blood’

“In these fields, the tūpuna lie where they fell in the swamps or in unmarked graves hastily dug by survivors, with the dead piled up around them. I swear I can sometimes hear their voices.” — Joanna Kidman.

Memories from the Mahia Peninsula

“I was very sick with pleurisy and wasn’t expected to live. But Tangitangi, a woman from Ruatorea, wouldn’t give up on me and sucked the fluid out of my congested lungs through my nostrils — giving me life.” — Derek Fox.

The big beats of history

“The thing about the big beats of history is that they’re often signs or reminders that we must now reimagine the society we live in. Momentous history requires momentous change.” — Tainui Stephens.

Lost in translation

“There’s often been a gulf between our multilingual Pasifika and Māori students and their teachers, who are mostly middle-class English-speaking Pākehā.” — Kim Meredith.

Telling Niue climate change stories in Niue ways

"In the age of climate change, it cannot be clearer that when Indigenous people don’t have control in the relationship they have with their land and bodies of water, ultimately the health of the planet is put at risk." — Jess Pasisi.

Will it end with us?

“In her mind, the real tragedy of her story wasn’t what happened to her. The tragedy was that her story wasn’t unique. The tragedy was that stories like hers invariably involved Māori children as the protagationists.”

The beauty and the violence

“This is the way it was for us. The two sides of our lives. The beauty and the violence; the richness and the poverty; the love and the hate. Everything, but nothing.” — Stan Walker, in his new book 'Impossible — My Story'.

The grind of racism

“Racism is wearisome. Literally tiring. It does not create a pearl after years of grinding. It creates sickness, fear, anxiety, sadness, resentment, and worry.” — Shelley Burne-Field.

Not all of us find our way home

“From the outside, my life looked positively magical. But this perfectly curated image that I had crafted on social media, hid the reality of what life was really like for me abroad.” — Patrick Thomsen.

This Pākehā life

“I decided to enrol in an immersion course at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, in South Auckland. My friends were impressed, commending me for my ‘bravery’.” — Alison Jones in her new book 'This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir'.

Finding my way home

"The people I once loved 11 years ago had changed. They had experienced their own joys, growth, traumas and regressions. Distance had grown between many of us." — Seuta'afili Dr Patrick Thomsen on coming "home".

I am doing this for our seas

"The lack of white settlers in the Moana doesn’t mean that colonisation didn’t happen. Instead, corporate colonisation meant that corporates extracted natural resources and labour." — Tulia Thompson.

Peace, love and happiness

“Adults submitted work to a group of adults. Everyone presumed they were there, not to have their genius confirmed to them, but to become better writers.” — Becky Manawatu.

History demands a personal reckoning

“You can’t be Pākehā and believe that you’re not personally responsible for the colonial oppression of Indigenous peoples. No matter who your ancestors are.” — Leah Bell.

That funeral director from TV

"I was a whāngai kid — a pretty common practice used by Māori families to make sure their children are brought up okay." — Francis Tipene, in an extract from 'Life as a Casketeer'.

The story of Olsen Filipaina

Rugby league great Olsen Filipaina (Sāmoan-Ngāpuhi) died last week, on February 10. Here's a piece we ran about him in 2020, extracted from 'The Big O', by Patrick Skene.

The gift we gave ourselves

“Are these proposed changes the gift that we wish to give to the future generation of Sāmoans?” — Moeata Keil on the controversial changes to Sāmoa's constitution.

The colonial problem

“The origins of the racism that is tearing the United States apart has deep parallels with New Zealand, and the origins are the same.” — Aaron Smale.

The centre is where we belong

“I realised my only ticket back into the area was to line some landlord’s pocket with 40 percent of my income and take one of four bedrooms in a rundown flat on Sussex St (his 12th property, fyi).” — Litia Tuiburelevu.

Oh Canada!

“Canadians are inclined to point to racism as something that exists in the USA. ‘We are not the USA!’” — Tainui Stephens.

We owe so much to Huirangi

“Huirangi met every test of his strength, courage, integrity and leadership to secure the rights of future generations to the language of his tipuna.” — Andrew Robb on Huirangi Waikerepuru.

What will our rangatahi inherit?

"If I was a teenager today, I’d be anxious about the world I’m about to inherit. A job, a home, a family, clean air, and fresh water are well on their way to becoming luxuries." — Tainui Stephens.

It shifts, it changes

“Our world is changing so fast that many of last century’s realities are today not just irrelevant but even non-existent.” — Kennedy Warne.

Farewelling Tallulah

“I’m sad to see our Little Miss slide listlessly into a final acceptance that her magnificent animal frame is on its last legs. She writes the last page of that Ngāruawāhia chapter of my life.” — Tainui Stephens farewells a dear friend.

The Anniversaries of our Amnesia

“I’m starting to understand that amnesia may well be one of the main organising principles of colonisation. A selective forgetting is an important part of how power maintains its privileges.” — vivian Hutchinson.

Leaving home

“In the memory, there is just my mum, standing on the verandah, smiling, waving. I was annoyed she wasn’t crying.” — Becky Manawatu on leaving home.

The iceberg below the surface

“The people who have marched before me, who have occupied spaces before me: their feet taking steps for change, their bodies on the line, their voices hoarse with conviction . . . they are the iceberg below the surface.”

Hearing the ocean speak

“We have come here to speak about protection of the ocean. We come in the planet’s most uncertain hours to sing a redemptive tune. And what is it we are protecting the ocean against? Regrettably, us.”

The one place I felt safe

“I did not want to go home. Because I knew that when I went home someone was going to be angry, someone was going to fight, and someone was going to get hurt.”

Ihumātao feels like how I wish Auckland felt

“I can’t think of a time I’ve been in such a mixed group. There is a vibe of considerateness, gentleness. People are careful with the kids, and with each other. If you make eye contact, people say 'Kia ora', even if you don’t say it first.”

Witi Ihimaera: A writer’s memoir

“You must continue your education, son, I don’t want you to be a servant to anyone, man or woman, Māori or Pākehā. Your father and I didn’t raise you to help us on the farm.”  

The problem with white saviours

“There was an imbalance — visually, strategically, and hierarchically. White people on top, founding, leading, paying. Indigenous people beneath, benefiting, smiling, grateful.”

A taniwha in the city

Te Routu o Ureia is not the only site in Heritage New Zealand’s official list that has a taniwha connection. But it is the only site that carries a taniwha’s name.

Hemi at Hiruhārama

James K Baxter’s Jerusalem Daybook “had woken something, disrupted something, in my placid Pākehā existence. Like the water tank in Baxter’s story, bullet holes were appearing in the walls of assumption and belief.” — Kennedy Warne.

The singing island

“There is no airstrip. To get to Takū, you book a passage on the supply ship — if it's sailing. Last year, not a single ship visit was made. Cut off from outside supplies, the islanders relied entirely on their traditional food sources: fish, coconut and occasional taro."

Merata — a son’s tribute

“My hunger for the past came out of a need to process my own grief, rather than a desire to study the history.” — Hepi Mita, on making a film about his mum, Merata.

The history I wasn’t taught

The 150th anniversaries of several brutal events in our local and national history has prompted Ernie Barrington to dip into the history books — to remember “episodes that call out to be remembered and not to be airbrushed away”.

Maria: A Love Story

“Maria Thompson became a part of the Jackson household after my son’s grandmother, June, found her on the streets and took her home. She stayed for over three decades.”

Still more stories to tell

"I seek home in others’ hearts, and ask their permission to write of it. I look for aroha in their stories, for it is love that helps light things up when darkness threatens."

The Unforgiven

"The big challenge is how we as whānau and communities confront this terrible darkness, this sad duality that creates such a tragic legacy. There is no quick fix. It requires an open and honest conversation.”—Moana Maniapoto

Steven Adams: When Dad got sick

"It was 10 o’clock at night and this massive family was crying and then laughing and then crying and laughing again. I don’t know if it’s a brown thing, but if you’re not laughing at the hospital, no matter what the situation, you’re doing it wrong."

‘I’m still a mum, aren’t I?’

"We were the last mothers of that generation. The last to go through before the cradle-to-grave welfare state came crashing down around us. After that, single mothers were further stigmatised — and life got much harder."

My story, my shame, is tragically common

“The #MeToo movement hasn’t flowed through our Pacific communities as publicly as it has elsewhere. I think a big part of that is that the ones who’ve hurt us are our family. So outing our assaulter hurts us in new ways, and brings back the old pain.”

One tough mother

Remembering the mother of the nation, Whina Cooper — a tough, uncompromising mother who understood the power of protest and the political fray.

‘He’s the one who came home’

“The same courage that saw us move back to Tauranga Moana after an absence of many generations is needed again to take this next step. To finally be invested completely in the whenua of our ancestors. Our branch of the Bidois whānau will have a foothold again.”

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