Are we there yet? by Marama Davidson

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Tena koe my childhood self.

This is from me, your grown self. Its 2011 and I look around me for your dreams. Did the dreaming survive and flourish? Take me back to your time, childhood self when your young innocence was the start of shaping my future. What did that early time in your life look like?

Ah I remember now – the 1980s.

In the 1980s, your parents were still very young and they were busy negotiating the perpetual hangover of colonization which had seen earlier generations severed from their papakainga to live in the cities. In those harsh earlier times, your grandparents were oppressed into thinking that your turangawaewae was no longer a place to stand. Your parents didnt have their mother tongue, land and traditions. Lucky for you, my childhood self, your parents still had their mother pride. This undeniable imprint of whakapapa is why, in your childhood, you saw your parents yearning for their mother identity, tongue, land and traditions.

So this became your dream too, young girl.

In the meantime, your parents did their best to feed, clothe, house, educate and inspire you. None of those provisions were ever guaranteed. Do you remember those many times that our whanau kept getting evicted for not paying the rent, our sparsely furnished homes and our second-hand clothing? Do you remember taking a packed lunch to the movies because the ice-creams and pop-corn would blow the budget or Dad hitching everywhere because it was the cheapest way to travel the country?

You didnt know you were poor because you were living an otherwise enriched life and you never really went fully without. You didnt understand it back then, but your parents spoke to you about different support systems and backup that the government had put in place. These things saved your parents from the brink many a time. It was tough, but it could have been more brutal.

Ah, that was another of your dreams: we should all be able to live life fully, instead of scraping a survival.

Do you remember the shame you felt whenever your parents argued on the streets with strangers who wanted us Mowries to go home to Bastion Point? Do you remember your mother slinking off to all the black womens movement hui? Do you remember feeling a constant stirring about what your parents were fighting for? You didnt pick up on the detail, but you picked up on the essence, the wairua, the agony, and the strength of your parents, and many others fighting with them.

So that shame that you felt was not about being embarrassed by your parents fighting in the street. It was for a stinky world that saw your parents bearing the burden of battle. Yes, you remember another dream now you dreamt for a world where no-one had to fight for the right to be M?ori, especially in our own place – our Aotearoa!

Okay little girl – I am glad your dreams did not desert you. It is testament to the loving whanau you were blessed with that you maintained your grip on these desires. It is testament to some true warriors that so much good mahi has happened for iwi and hapu around the motu. Yes, some of your dreaming has been realised.

As a young girl your parents took you away from the city and returned you to live on your ukaipo. You grew up under your maunga Te Ramaroa, working in the wharekai of your three marae Matai Aranui, Pa te Aroha and Moria. You swam in your awa, Whirinaki, cared for your moana, Hokianga and learnt waiata from your hapu Te Hikutu. You were one of the lucky ones. Your parents yearned and you received: a beautiful childhood.

It was a childhood so beautiful that it stabs my heart when I see some of the childhoods around me now: moe mai ra nga mokopuna kua hinga. Colonisation has robbed too many of our love for ourselves. How can we love our tamariki, if we are filled with self-hate? We are taking our own taonga and destroying them. I know this was not in your dreams, my childhood self, but historical trauma has worked its ugly approach – since the times when your grandparents were punished for speaking their mother tongue: punished for speaking their own mother tongue, punished for speaking their own mother tongue.

As my grown self, I applaud the gains made by our warriors: our reo warriors, our artist warriors, our marae warriors, our academic warriors, our political warriors and our whanau warriors. We are constantly redefining and reclaiming our identities, traditions, and aspirations. This decolonisation, reclamation and realisation are key to protecting our mokopuna. This is the key to our tamariki coming in from the cold, being fed, nurtured and inspired. It will take generations and time to turn around, but there is hope already.

I am sorry not all your dreams have been fulfilled, childhood self, but my grown self promises not to give up.

I too have dreams for our future and I ask you now, my elderly self: e kui, how are we doing?

Have we continued to grow our own kai and stayed strong in our protection of Papatuanuku so she keeps giving us life?

Have we heralded our mother tongue so it has become common-place for our mokopuna to speak their reo rangatira everywhere?

Have we created great learning places for my mokopuna and inspired in them a hunger for learning everything they can about the world?

Have we figured out that the best place to invest is with our tamariki taonga so not one of them go hungry or hurt?

Have we claimed back our own authority to be who we are and helped our whanau to love themselves and each other?

Are my mokopuna happy? Do they feel respected? Are they kind to others?

I hope so e kui. I hope the world grew up..

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Are we there Yet? Series

From now until the election in November, TangataWhenua.com will be releasing a series of articles that focus on the wish list of Generation Xers; their hopes, dreams, aspirations and vision for New Zealand society.

These articles are foreshadowed by almost 30 years of experimentation, especially in relation to economics and race-relations. Generation Xers follow directly after the Baby Boomers and were born between1965 and 1981.

In some ways, Xers came of age or are the children of the revolution that occurred in New Zealand society between 1984 and 1996.

In 1984, following the civil unrest of the broader protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Maori demands for recognition of the Treaty, the Springbok Tour and the downturn in the global economy, the Fourth Labour Government came to power.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Ka mau te wehi to korero Marama!

    As a tama o he whanau pakuru, the reclamation and integration into te Ao Maaori has for me been a long journey that will continue for many years to come.

    Korero like this re-invigorates our wairua & places the onus on us as the kapene of our waka – if anything is to be realised or achieved by us then it must be led by us and defended at all costs for tatou taonga. Our tamariki and mokopuna.

    Mauri ora.

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