Liletina Vaka: The journey ahead

Tomorrow I will be flying to New York to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. And so I find myself in front of my laptop trying to muster up something to say about the journey ahead. Being me, this something may not be well written. However, it comes from a true place and with a lot of love. And with such a disclaimer perhaps I should begin...

The big black dog has been following me around since my recent move to Kirikiriroa, Hamilton. And this trip, boy has my anxiety grown in the lead up to this trip. I think it is important to talk to my experience of being Māori... of not knowing my language... the insecurities..the anxiety that I feel..share it, and grow from it. 

To place being Māori in the context of colonisation, to me means, to be Māori is to be healing. It's a journey of allowing yourself to engage with your people, your language, your tikanga. The effects of colonisation are far reaching and intergenerational in psychological ways we don't usually talk about because we're whakamā or don't know how to. To share my real thoughts about the journey ahead is to recognise and overcome my internalised struggle of belonging. For me, healing is about recognising what my tūpuna fought for and instilled in us, and ensuring my mokopuna can be proud and secure in who they are. 

In the lead up to this trip I have been thinking about my own struggles, my whānau, my nieces... our stories are not unique. 

Māori are 380% more likely to be convicted of a crime and 200% more likely to die from heart disease and suicide. We can analyse that on a micro scale and talk about everyday interactions, prejudice in a store, doctors visits, school experiences, external expectations... And on a macro level, a punitive system that was not made by our people, served to lock up our people as they make up more than 50% of the prison population, despite being only 15% of the general population. Our wāhine make up 65% of the women's prison population while in our youth criminal justice system we make up 71%. We're ready to talk about the link between crime and gang membership and aren't having conversations about the link between crime and state care. With more than 40% of prison inmates having spent their childhood in state care, critical questions have to be asked. 

The cost of this trip is a reminder of my privileged position and the responsibility that comes with that. And so with that reminder, and my collection of thoughts, I get ready for the trip. And although (or perhaps because) there's gonna be heaps of heavy critical talk I have also been thinking of all the strong resilient rangatahi I know that are doing amazing things.

The success, strength, and love of our people gives me so much hope. So too do my beautiful nieces with all the joy and happiness they embody. 

Liletina & Kahurangi, I love you.


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

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