Tag Archive: Maori

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

Advent word: Water

The Maori word for water, wai, can also mean tears or a river or a song. Doesn’t that make so much sense?
And when Mary’s waters break: tears, a river, and a song. #water #wai #adventwords2019


Images and moments from the Christchurch vigil in Melbourne hosted by the Islamic Council of Victoria at the State Library…    #chooselovenothate

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other religious leaders led those gathered in prayer.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

K and I meet early in the vigil when she invites me to stand with her family.

K: I think New Zealanders are taking it harder actually. Muslims… we’re used to it. When I first heard, I assumed it was Muslims against Muslims. I guess we’re desensitized maybe. Things like this happen to Muslims all the time.

T: But how awful… that this should happen so often that you could become desensitized to it. Things like this rarely happen in NZ.

K: For us, they are all martyrs.

T: Is it an honour, to die this way?

K: No… It is still a pain. It means a lot that New Zealanders feel that with us… are you from Christchurch?

T: No, Wellington. But I still feel it. What you need to understand about us is that once you’ve welcomed someone onto the marae, they’re not a guest anymore – they’re family.  I don’t need to have ever met them. This week all New Zealanders grieve because we have lost members of our family.

…we hug, and stand together through the vigil.

They say from the front, if you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you, and in this moment: all Muslims are hugged, all Kiwis are hugged. I hope you feel that.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowerschristchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

A group of us sing – Muslims and Kiwis together… Te aroha, the national anthem in English and Maori “…in the bonds of love we meet“, Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home and John Lennon’s Imagine… what an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Tutira mai nga iwi, (Line up together, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Tutira mai nga iwi, (Stand in rows, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Whai-a te marama-tanga, (Seek after knowledge)
me te aroha – e nga iwi! (And love of others – everybody!)
Ki-a tapatahi, (Be really virtuous)
Ki-a ko-tahi ra (And stay united)
Tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)



On the weekend of 24-25 September Whitley College hosted a conference called Constitutions and Treaties: Law, Justice, Spirituality – these are notes from session 2 of 9. We acknowledge that this gathering, listening and learning occurred of the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nations and offer our respects to their elders past and present, and all visiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island visitors present.



  • connections and alliances in the 1800s
  • implications of Te Tiriti (The Treaty) today
  • the need for constitutional change
  • the role of Pakeha as allies


Waitangi Tribunal Northland Enquiry Part 1, Te Paparahi o Te Raki: “Māori did not cede sovereignty to the British Crown in 1840…”

1826 – Ships built at the Te Horeke shipyard,  1830 sailed to Sydney and seized because they had no flag… Māori start seeking symbols of sovereignty…

1831 – Māori petition sent from Nga Puhi to King William IV.

1833 – Busby responds with “friendship and alliance” between Nu Tireni and Great Britain.

1826 – Ships built at the Te Horeke shipyard,  1830 sailed to Sydney and seized because they had no flag… Māori start seeking symbols of sovereignty…

1835 – Declaration of Independence and get a flag.

1836 – King formally acknowledges this.

1837 – Captain Hobson arrives, sent by Lord Normanby to acquire sovereignty.

Most Māori signed the Māori version of the Te Tiriti (500+), around 40 signed the English version. Where a treaty is created with indigenous peoples and is later in contention:

  • decision is made against the drafter
  • preference is given to the indigenous version

The Treaty sets out that:

  1. The Queen looks after Britons
  2. Māori look after Māori
  3. Māori have equal citizen rights with British

verbally – assurance of religious freedom was included.

There were wars through 1850s, 1860s and 1870s – New Zealand had the highest British military presence in the world at that time.

Need for constitutional changes:

ONGOING BREACHES Crown is recidivist – inherent in the systemic power of the institution.

There are 7 designated Māori seats in the NZ Parliament. This recognises the self-sovereignty of Māori as set out in Te Tiriti as providing for equal governance (rather than a minority preferencing which would assume e.g. Pacific Island people should have seats also). The number of seats is determined by the number of voters on the Māori Electoral roll.

Provision is made for a similar determination at a local government level – only two of 78 local authorities are/have set up Māori constituencies/wards.  Mayor Andrew Judd of New Plymouth lost his seat over advocating on this issue.

Anglican Church in New Zealand provides a model of three tikanga (systems of governance) – Māori, Pākehāand Pasifika – sharing equal authority but working in partnership. Each group meets in their own “house” then in the treaty house and make decisions by consensus.

There is a Kingitanga movement and also an Independent Constitutional Transformation Working Group – Matike Mai Aotearoa.

Need the ways of being yourself ‘self-determination’ – elections, processes, representation and also mutual spaces to meet and decide things together.






Artwork by Aysha Tufa

I’m spending my weekend popping in and out of varied sessions of the Footscray Arts Centres West Writers Forum – the description for a workshop I made it to today reflected on language:

As our world grows smaller and people become more familiar with one another through daily cross-cultural interactions, what stops us from finding ourselves or losing ourselves in each other’s stories? Is translation the final frontier in creative writing? Can we achieve fluid creative and cultural exchanges through the translation of stories? Or will some things always remain lost in translation? Join moderator Mridula Nath Chakraborty in conversation with academics Sanaz Fotouhi and Dr Nadia NiazLily Yulianti Farid and Josiane Behmoiras for this panel.

 Lots of different ideas came through –

The minute you write – let it go.
It will mean something different to every reader.
You can put forward your intention for the words
but that may or may not be picked up.

Josianne Behmoiras

Contextual translation is more important that word-by-word.
You need to translate meaning to a medium your audience can understand…

The interpreter makes their own “work”.

Dr Nadia Niaz

The original word in Buginese “Mukkunrai”
had to remain to carry the meaning – the English translation
“female” doesn’t capture all of the cultural meaning.
(on the title of her short story collection)

Lily Youlanti

All of us find ourselves constantly
translating and transitioning,
asking: “Where do I sit?”

Sanaz Fotouhi

This quote got shared; Charles Simic’s take on the magical absurdity of translating poetry: “It’s that pigheaded effort to convey in words of another language not only the literal meaning of a poem but an alien way of seeing things … To translate is not only to experience what makes each language distinct, but to draw close to the mystery of the relationship between word and thing, letter and spirit, self and world.” (and the article I found it in from The New Yorker mentions many of the panel-referenced works re the translation movement in Japan).

This panel of five had cultural tails in the following languages: French, Hebrew, Latino, Turkish, Kurdish, Buginese, Bahasa, Urdu, Bengali and more I’m sure… a lot of the focus of the session was around translating into English and how you break into, speak into, build an audience amongst English (white middle-class) readers (they are mostly the ones buying books/running the theatres/festivals/publishing houses, etc.).

I found myself thinking about Te Reo Māori (the native language of New Zealand where I am from) and how few speakers there are – there is a need to find reasons to use this language.  What might it look like to translate poems – not word for word – but their meaning.   This kind of interpretation lends itself to crafting something new. What does it mean to take the words I have written to be grounded back into where I come from? What might I discover through that process? Like the Treaty of Waitangi we will end up with 3 versions: original English, Māori translation and then a translation of the Māori back into English… apologies to anyone fluent in Māori who reads these as I’m bound to make gaffes in grammar and word choice… {if you want to collaborate on correct translations get in touch!}


I sit down in the middle of the river

The river sits in the middle of me

Won’t you come and sit by the river?

Sit by the river awhile with me


Enoho au ki roto i te awa
Aparima enohoana ki roto iho
Haere tahi i roto ki te awa?
Haere mai ki te Mātāpuna a muri ngākau ahau


I sit down in the middle of the river
Aparima* sits always at the heart of who I am
Will you keep me company at the river?
You are welcome at the Source that sits at the heart of me

(* Aparima is the name of the river that I identify with in my mihi, it denotes the acknowledgment of place/where I am from)


There is Room at the Table (originally written as a song to welcome asylum seekers/boat people coming to Australia, used at a Welcome Picnic outside a local detention centre)

There is room at the table x3
Let them in, let them stay

There is room at the border x3
Let them in, let them stay

There is room in our hearts x3
Let them in, let them stay

There is hope for a new tomorrow x3
Let them in, let them stay


He wāhi anō kai roto i te tēpu mo tētahi atu tangata?
Haere mai ra, haere mai ra, haere mai ra
Haere mai, nau mai, e ngā iwi e

He wāhi anō kai roto i te rohe mo tētahi atu tangata?
Haere mai ra, haere mai ra, haere mai ra
Haere mai, nau mai, e ngā iwi e

He wāhi anō kai roto i te to tatou ngākau mo tētahi atu tangata?
Haere mai ra, haere mai ra, haere mai ra
Haere mai, nau mai, e ngā iwi e

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou ka ora te manuwhiri
Haere mai ra, haere mai ra, haere mai ra
Haere mai, nau mai, e ngā iwi e


Is there space at the table for one more person?
Welcome, everyone is welcome

Is there space at the border for one more person?
Welcome, everyone is welcome

Is there space in our hearts for one more person?
Welcome, everyone is welcome

We will all contribute what we have and there will be enough to share
Welcome, everyone is welcome


What is notable about the differences in the English translations?

What does such an exercise tell us about the significance of interpretation in translation?

If you look up mihi (tradition Maori introduction – reference in poem 1) and karanga (traditional Maori welcome – style observed in poem 2), does this change your understanding of these poems meaning? How?

Any reflections on Simic’s idea that: “To translate is not only to experience what makes each language distinct, but to draw close to the mystery of the relationship between word and thing, letter and spirit, self and world.”?

NZ Liturgy 1970

NZ liturgy

While I was away Ched had me reading Maori prayers everynight from the English-Maori NZ Liturgy 1970 – thought I’d have a play reading one of our favs aloud, pic is from a spot along the Wellington City to Sea walk, and the background is a recording of birds singing from silver beech trees in Abel Tasman National Park (thank you to the Dept of Conservation).


This is a picture of a sand dollar which we picked up in the car park of a garden nursery (not sure how it got there!).  Similar to snowflakes and fingerprints each one is said to be unique…

Mum sent through this whakatauki today (Maori proverb) that she uses in her kindergarten.  These were her words for me as her child, an encouragement of my specialness and value as a one-of-a-kind individual.  Just want to share the positive affirmation –

You are important. What you have to say, what you think and what you feel are important and worthwhile.

kia maumahara ki toou mana aahua ake

cherish your absolute uniqueness

                                                           (photo of Mount Taranaki, Richard Crowsen)

Maori continued with the task unarmed and, to a person, they declined to respond to aggression when removed. Go, put your hands to the plough. Look not back. If any come with guns and swords, be not afraid. If they smite you, smite not in return. If they rend you, be not discouraged. Another will take up the good work. If evil thoughts fill the minds of the settlers and they flee from their farms to the town, as in the war of old, enter not . . . into their houses, touch not their goods nor their cattle. My eye is over all. I will detect the thief, and the punishment shall be like that which fell upon Ananias. When the ploughmen asked Tohu what they should do if any of their number were shot, he replied, ‘Gather up the earth on which the blood is spilt and bring it to Parihaka’ (Scott, pp 56-57).


February 6th  is Waitangi Day in New Zealand, the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty  of Waitangi in 1840. To the British this achieved full sovereignty and government of the country but Maori  thought, while giving authority to govern, they would still be entitled to manage their own affairs in their own way.  Similarly to Australia Day on January 26th being known as “Invasion Day” to the First Peoples of that nation, Waitangi Day is often attended by protest as well as being a celebration of nationhood.

What perhaps not enough New Zealand settler descendants may know is that there were Taranaki chieftains who never signed the Treaty of Waitangi, steadfast in their refusal to acknowledge foreign sovereignty in preference for maintaining their own way of life on their own land – the pa at Parihaka became a sanctuary for Maori forced, fought, deceived off their land. Likened forerunners to Ghandi  and Martin Luther King, Te Whiti and Tohu ran a campaign of non-violence spanning 40 years sheltering the dispossessed.

The Waitangi Tribunal[1] published “The Taranaki Report: Kaupapa Tuatahi” in 1996 saying, “ If war is the absence of peace, the war has never ended in Taranaki, because that essential prerequisite for peace among peoples, that each should be able to live with dignity on their own lands, is still absent and the protest over land rights continues to be made.”  Contrary to the belief held by many New Zealanders that in an acknowledged first equal language, proportional representation in government and other policies we might be considered advanced in our journey of equality and reconciliation, in fact we are the only colonising country where there is no land held and managed autonomously by the indigenous population (Ch.8 Parihaka).

The title of Dick Scott’s book is a quote from Te Whiti, Chieftain at Parihaka who says:

Ask that mountain – here before us, it will be here when we are gone – that mountain as witness, can we honestly say that we have done everything we can? That everything is ‘right’?

These are the questions we need to ask ourselves and the stories that should continue to be told if we are to participate in the journey of healing between the people and the land.

It is often difficult to know where to start in confronting these issues, I have more questions than answers yet I have hope.  I have ordered a T-shirt from the Emmaus Rd community, on the front it reads Arohamai which means “sorry” or “forgive me” and on the back are a list of some of the injustices as occurred over those 40 years and are carried yet in our dreams and bones today:






In her Booker Prize Winning novel The Bone People Keri Hulme writes, “I was taught that it was the old people’s belief that this country, and our people, are different and special. That something very great had allied itself with some of us, had given itself to us.  But we changed. We ceased to nurture the land.  We fought amongst ourselves. We were overcome by those white people in their hordes. We were broken and diminished. We forgot what we could have been, that Aotearoa was the shining land.  Maybe it will be again… (p.364)

I will wear this T-shirt as an act of public witness, as a peacemaker wanting to put things right personally and as someone who believes the people of New Zealand are different and special and in faith that the mountain will stand to see a shining land, whole and restored, again.

[1] The Waitangi Tribunal was established in 1975 by the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. The Tribunal is a permanent commission of inquiry charged with making recommendations on claims brought by Maori relating to actions or omissions of the Crown that breach the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi. The full text of The Taranaki Report: Kaupapa Tuatahi can be found on the website http://www.waitangitribunal.govt.nz/.