Archive for December, 2020


This afternoon I got to hear some of a fantastic panel session moderated by Sandra Kailahi, on the panel was keynote speaker Ngāhuia Te Awekōtuku, with Sheridan Waitai, Leali’ifano Dr Albert L. Refiti, Nigel Borell and Zech Soakai.

I came in late but these are some fav snippets for listening and learning, I’m sorry they’re not attributed!:

  • “Decolonising” is a new word but this is something we’ve been negotiating since first contact.
  • Not all knowledge is taught in the same school (or held in the same museum)
  • Know me/us for our joy before knowing us for our trauma.
  • Our youth are defined as “troubled” instead of resilient.
  • Message from youth: “We could do so much more if people believed in us”
  • Success is so often measured by tertiary education but we have many paths that are not seen as ‘less than’
  • Whakapapa got us here, but whakapapa will get us further.
  • It’s a practice: play the game, beat the game, to change the game.
  • We need to leverage space to talk about our truth.
  • Connections with others around the world has been invaluable. Other people of colour. Our ideas, ways of thinking and doing are heard and valued.
  • Stuff has travelled so far, had an amazing story. They are rooms full of dead things. We need to sing the vā and ask: how do we receive this here? Sing ancestors to the present. Wake them up. We need to articulate that and make plans.
  • Exhibits can be enriching. We can feel embraced/represented. But not by telling it in the Master’s voice. We need to seize the doing.
  • Need to establish relationships/partnerships that aren’t pass/fail but allow for narrative, vision, space… where we are all experimenting together and able to try, learn, and try again.
  • They are a visual representation of self. Take your things home.
  • When/if Pacific lands are lost to climate change, what role might museums play in preserving taonga of a place that doesn’t exist anymore? How can they be guardians to preserve and protect so that people can visit and remember.
  • Can the word ‘decolonised’ even be applied to spaces like museums? The collection might be decolonised but the structure remains >>need to make a commitment to opening other avenues.
  • If you cut up a text that shows violence but if you read a text, read with the grain. What’s unemphasised? I try to read the two texts together, see how they can address or talk to each other.
  • It’s different for Māori and Pacific people they can always address directly – land taken or land given back.
  • 1500 guides were trained for Te Māori.  The guides felt safe, there were aunties and koro around but they were deterrents too. To touch tapu or to be around it, some saw it as a house of dead things. A trophy house. From the other side, to see weaving or wood carving… there can be joy, learning, and ownership.
  • If you work within an institution you must celebrate the small wins e.g. paradigm shifts. If the mauri of an object means it has to be worn. That’s it’s remit. If you can’t see it on display, someone might be wearing it. Be brave. Know what you have to achieve.
  • 2 Māori contemporary curator appointments in the 1990s… there’s still only 2 roles. Allies need to advocate.
  • The kaupapa is of collecting the odd, exotic, the other, curiosities. We need a reiteration of beautiful, exquisite ‘other’, to decolonise that, to see Te Māori and Pasifika as here.
  • Decolonising? That’s work for the pālangi and pākehā. I’m already overworked. It’s enough to work to protect and pass on our knowledge. Our absent partner. That’s the ‘other’.
  • Decolonise oneself, claim all your ancestors including the armed constabulary from 1860s… Norwegians, Germans… we are all of them.
  • Act like you own it. It’s your whakapapa. We don’t need to decolonise… we didn’t ‘colonise’ it. Be ready for you to be colonised by us!

kōrero/speak #advent2020

My friend Maria and I spend the afternoon in the garden. The broadbeans are spent, it’s the end of their season and we sort the remaining pods for food and seeds to dry. We hold the end and the beginning of life in our hands.

kororia/glory #advent2020

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. We pray for the changing things, and the things that stay the same. We pray for the uncertain things, and the ones we’re sure of, the known and the unknown. We pray for the paradox. So we are not alone when we’re alone.

karakia/prayer #advent2020

whanaungatanga/fellowship #advent2020

There are there 4 themes of Advent: peace, hope, love, joy… it occurred to me today how grateful I am that those things aren’t around all the time. They’re not single-use gifts or something we put on a shelf and admire. They are practices, they are feelings. The word ‘advent’ means coming. This is a time of year where maybe we’re cleaning our house and making food to say: “Come in, come in” to hope… to love.

Maybe these are gifts you have to give. Maybe these are gifts you desperately want to receive. We cannot promise that you’ll have them all the time, but we can promise that they keep coming.

hanga anō/rebuild #advent2020

Whenua, in te reo, means land and is the same word for the placenta. That which nourishes. That which we come from, that to which we return.

It is a tradition to plant the placenta and umbilical cord beneath a tree, in a special place, in the place you come from. You are intimately connected to the land. The tree grows as you grow. The landscape is changed because of your presence in the world, because you put something into the land that nourishes it and then the land produces the food that nourishes you in turn.

You will always be connected to this place.

We are children of Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother. How often, when faced with a decision and uncertain what to do, do we go home, connect with where we come from, listen to and learn from the land to get perspective and clarity?

What remains when land and sky are gone? What endures? Listen to the story you were born into.

Whenua/earth #advent2020

The Māori creation story begins with nothingness. ( Te Kore).

It is a long dark night. (Te Pō)

From here two of our Māori gods Ranginui, the Sky Father, and Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother, emerge.

Rangi and Papa lay together in a tight embrace. They held each other so tightly that no light could get through and the world was in darkness, and their children are born between them. 

For a long time, the children exist in a dark cramped uncomfortable space. They talk of the “potential”, the speck of light seen beyond.  What could be beyond?

The brothers made a decision and tried to separate their mātua. Finally, it was Tāne who lay on his back with his legs facing up. With total focus and strength, he pushed and pushed. Ranginui and Papatūānuku didn’t want to be separated from each other or their tamariki. In this crucial time of separation, te wehenga, the tamariki spoke with respect to their parents while helping.  Rangi and Papa wept for each other rather than being angry with their tamariki. The separation of the parents by the children resulted in the movement from darkness to the world of light (Te Ao- Mārama) and humans flourished on the Earth. However, Rangi still mourns the loss of Papa and drops tears which become dew and Papa’s sighs go up to the sky, which become mist.

In the end, the brothers became Māori Gods, guardians, or atua of particular domains.

In the cycles of our own, day in and year out, little births and deaths – what does the knowledge of our bigger creation narrative offer?

There is life beyond the darkness that seems to be all we can see. We can make a decision that things will be different, and choose to act before the new Way is visible.

We are strong, in our minds and our bodies. We are agents in bringing about our own becoming and shaping our lives into what we want them to be.

The old ways cease to be, but we learn new ways of relating to one other and ourselves.

Whakapakari/strengthen #advent2020