Merenia Hudson: Filling the Whare

“I want to see our whare full.” To see our whanaunga not debilitated by being home. For people to see our marae full of life, instead of only seeing it at tangi.

Last week my whānau decided to put on a potluck at the marae to share karakia, waiata, and kōrero over my (our) haerenga to the UN. This felt like the appropriate way to prepare given that my whānau, my marae, and my rohe are both the reason I am able to go as well as the reason for going.


Our haukāinga every day are asked to live in direct resistance to a dominant culture. It can feel equally life-giving and exhausting. Our rights to lands, territories, and resources are constantly being compromised. Our assertion of tikanga directly jars with the value-systems of the Western empire, and we continue to battle against the economic, political, and social realities that were never made for us to win. Sometimes this limits our ability to hope. Because we are so used to fighting just to get by, the freedom to dream, to aspire, and to progress courageously is perpetually tarnished. The vulnerability required to dare to hope for an alternative is a cost too high when shadowed by the histories of structural violence that perpetually disappoint. To me, protecting the experiences of ahi kā amidst systemic violence is how we as iwi Māori protect mana motuhake.  

Sustaining our rights to land, territories, and resources - and to a way of being embodied by our haukāinga - is as significant and inseparable from our struggle to protect tikanga, reo, or whakapapa; because it is ultimately the anchor for all of these things. 

For me, preparing to attend the Permenant Forum on Indigenous Issues is a time for me to sink deeper into the shadow of my whakapapa. 
To be reminded of the legacy of resilience I inherit through blood. To spend time with my whānau that relentlessly put body on the line to keep our marae breathing.
To collect and carry with me the collective mamae as well as the collective hopes.

We will be joining our indigenous whanaunga in filling a very different kind of whare. And in considering the restraints of oppression that manifest themselves in our structures today, I carry an aversion to entertaining the authority of those same structures.
 If our vehicles to liberation carry the same posture of elitism, inaccessibility, and commodification as the oppression around us, it fundamentally undermines the trajectory of where we go.

Yet, I know that the resilience, creativity, and devotion to assert mana motuhake is evidenced by our home families. That it is within us that our liberation will be realised and it always has been. We have not yet waited for permission but instead move forward with courage every day. I look forward to exchanging experiences of ahi kā across te ao, to inhabit a space of solidarity and understand more of the dynamic ways iwi taketake continue to resist dominant Western culture. To celebrate all the ways we will continue to keep the whare full. 

Photo cred: Cassey Locke  Wairaka Marae,   Manawa Ahi National Hui 2018

Photo cred: Cassey Locke Wairaka Marae, Manawa Ahi National Hui 2018

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences.

Posted on April 10, 2018 and filed under PFII 2018.