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Looking Back Gives a Reality Check

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

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I sat one day thinking about some of the things that I have learnt as an adult and questioned myself as to why it took me so long to learn these things? Why did I not hear about them sooner? And of the things I did hear about, why did I not search out the details?

There is no reason why some of the most liberating information - albeit an account of historical trauma - as 'another' colonised indigenous population on this planet, should not be more commonly known and at an earlier age. Where there is despair, there is a starting point. Where there is fear, there is motivation. Where there is fight, there is resilience. Where there is sacrifice, there is love. Where there is value, there is sustenance. The wisdom of our ancestors journey, their plight and their subsequent uprisings, for which there were many, can fuel our tamariki forward.

Don't get me wrong I had an amazing 'woke' childhood and upbringing raised by two educationalists, one of whom was a futurist - a man before his time - who imagined a far greater future for all tamariki Māori, for all indigenous children in fact. It's why I think I became (more) conscious to the realities faster. They raised us with a critical eye and ear "...don't believe everything you read or see in the media about us. Always ask questions. But who decides and who benefits?" Critical discussions of political issues of the day were as constant as bread, butter and jam at our dinner table.

Our parents took us across the world guest lecturing at Universities and presenting papers on indigenous pedagogies, dual cultural heritage frameworks, cultural curriculum design, all led through an indigenous lens before By Us, For Us or By Māori, For Māori was even a catchy phrase. My futurist Father had an undying, uplifting and optimistic love for all tamariki, no matter whose they were and no matter the circumstance they were born in to. He always knew Education is a pathway to transformation. I miss him everyday!

The lessons he shared with us through simply living are immense. His existence was dedicated to serving our people. To ensuring the education of Māori children was empowering, led by us and was based on our tikanga, values, worldview - giving absolute prominence to the power of ourselves and our knowledge systems over and above anyone else's! Mana motuhake wasn't just a concept to my Father, alongside us, our Mother and probably pig hunting, it was what he breathed for.

So I thought I wasn't going to inhibit my children from knowing these things earlier on in life or from always remembering who their clever Koro was. So I put together the attached paper '362 Years of Colonial Acts'.

Arm them and armour them with information to understand WHY mana motuhake. What is it? What did it look like 100s of years ago for us, to then ponder what should it look like now for them? Why should they care? How did our people get here? Did we do this to ourselves, or was it done to us, or both? Is it more complicated than this - of course it is, and then sometimes it isn't - depends on how I feel any given day, and what happened in yet another zoom about the wellbeing and development of ourselves as iwi māori, Tiriti partners (as they say) descendants, people of this land, people of the wai, people of the sky.

No matter the sector, and there is so many we have to 'jump' in to each day we still need to fight, advocate and educate those on the other side of their table. While they have the luxury of only having to sit at one table we have to traverse Health, Education, Justice, Whānau Ora, Tourism, Wairua, Wānanga, Environmental, Water, Climate Change, Technology sometimes in the space of 24 hours - the wheels keep spinning but we continue to land in the same destination.

As long as we don't own, design and lead, we will never have mana motuhake. We will just continue to 'receive' the limitations of someone else's lack of imagination when they use the word 'benefits', or even worse - 'privilege'. And they think we should still be grateful for this? That is never going to contribute to our great great great great great grandchildren realising their mana motuhake. The spin of less than 1% of the budget for direct Māori investment has made too many of our people complacent and the lack of exposure to the realities of the last 362 years as a start, doesn't help.

In the attached document, you can see the plights and then the uprising, flowing and ebbing like the tides of our wai. The water that has watched us for over 800 years, where stories of our history is imprinted forever in its many eyes and infinite memory. If only we could as easily see it together, and learn from it. You'll also see we haven't had a good uprising for 17 years. I feel like an alarm clock should be ringing somewhere - but that's a different kōrero for a different day.

We remain resilient. We have had to fight for so long. The fight seems to have always been with us that's possibly why we had to jump on our (amazingly crafted) waka over 800 years ago to arrive in Aotearoa.

When our ancestors signed the Treaty of Waitangi, what started out as a leap of faith by our intelligent and open-minded tupuna ended up in generations of fear and fight. The fight continues and each generation will play a role in regaining ground and leaping to the next destination on the journey toward mana motuhake in a modern world.

So this is for my children. It's by no means an exhaustive list of events that I hope to encourage their curiosity over, but it's a starting point. You're welcome to share it with yours too. They can dive into any of the events and explore for themselves - create their own list of interest just like they will create their own destiny. I'm just content to know that whatever my children create will be informed by the foresight, intelligence, creativity and aroha of their Koro.

At the end of the day we're all just trying to give more to our children than our parents gave to us. At every level I've got some big shoes to fill.

"Tikanga will guide the way"

"Freedom, strength and success comes from within ourselves, our language, our whakapapa"

"Every iwi will have their own way, and that's ok. They must."

"Our Kuia have the answers, they are our first and last teachers"

These are all words of my Father. I hear his voice everyday, and I am forever grateful for his teachings.

I hope I can be one of those Kuia one day Dad. Love you Forever!

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