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Dr Margaret Mutu: Update from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meeting in New York - Saturday 12 May 2012

Dr Margaret Mutu: Update from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meeting in New York – Saturday 12 May 2012


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It has certainly been a very busy week here in New York with many meetings taking place at a range of levels.

In the Permanent Forum itself the session on WIPO (the World Intellectual Property (/Piracy) Organisation) on Thursday saw sparks flying as almost all Indigenous representatives attacked the Organisation. Although WIPO is made up of representatives of States, it is driven by multi-national corporates determined to take control and make money out of commodifying the cultures and knowledge of Indigenous peoples and perpetuating the heinous Doctrine of Discovery.

The Wai 262 claim, led for us in Te Hiku o Te Ika by Saana Murray and Dell Wihongi, was about protecting Maori culture and knowledge, including our language, and so Moana Jackson prepared a very strongly worded statement attacking WIPO and supporting the walkout staged by Indigenous representatives at the last WIPO meeting in February. The statement also attacked the New Zealand government’s on-going refusal to either adhere to Te Tiriti o Waitangi or to protect Maori intellectual property rights. It made recommendations about WIPO engaging with Indigenous peoples in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and resiling from the racist ideology that ‘everything is commodifiable and ownable as property’; asking the Permanent Forum to encourage the New Zealand government to engage more honestly with Wai 262 claimants and to acknowledge their authority to protect their traditional knowledge and contemporary knowledge. The statement drew strong support from Indigenous representatives from round the world.

Many other Indigenous representatives made equally strong or even stronger statements. Many called for WIPO to be disestablished. The North American Indian representatives had 100 t-shirts made condemning WIPO as the World Intellectual Piracy Organisation and distributed them amongst the delegations to wear during the session. It made a very impressive sight as the proceedings were being televised to an over-flow room although there were, of course, nowhere near enough to go round and many missed out on them (the Maori delegation all wore them). The discomfort of WIPO and the States became clear as they tried to prevent some delegations speaking. Unfortunately it appeared that the States had been able to get to at least some of the Permanent Forum members. As a result, rather than them all supporting and representing us as they are supposed to, some of them were more concerned with WIPO being able to get on with its work.

Concern at infiltration by states and non-Indigenous people that has been simmering for several months now finally surfaced in the Pacific caucus yesterday. A Pakeha who has backing from some Hawaiians had been causing havoc in the Pacific caucus and so after long discussions with our Hawaiian whanaunga that I have known for many years, we decided to raise it yesterday. We were very pleased that the Rapanui representative has now arrived and although the Pakeha had his Hawaiian backers attack us for questioning the Pakeha’s involvement, in the end it was the Rapanui representative who made it very clear that the Pakeha’s behaviour was totally unacceptable and made him apologise. However the debate also revealed infiltration from states and this is undermining the credibility of those participating in the Permanent Forum.

In the Pacific Caucus, there is some very disturbing evidence emerging of the struggles and difficulties being experienced in Rapanui, West Papua, Kanaky (New Caledonia) and Tahiti. Each are calling for decolonisation – removal of Pakeha control and returning these countries to the control of their indigenous peoples. Aotearoa and Australia, where Indigenous peoples are grossly outnumbered by colonisers, are a long way from being able to take back control of our countries.

Another issue that is causing consternation is a proposed UN organised World Conference on Indigenous Peoples scheduled to take place in 2014. It has become clear that this will be a conference for states to discuss Indigenous peoples, rather than Indigenous peoples discussing their issues, and that the states intend to keep the Indigenous presence to less than a hundred people whom they will approve. Resistance to such a clear violation of the UNDRIP, which all states have now signed up to, has been building. Yesterday we met with part of the North Amercian Indian caucus and resolved to call a series of World Conferences of Indigenous Peoples to be convened and controlled by Indigenous peoples and to be independent of the United Nations structures, including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. I have noticed a marked shift in the level of confidence in the UN and the Permanent Forum since my attendance here in 2009. It is a pity but not unexpected given the intransigence of states like New Zealand to ever properly address the issues that Indigenous peoples have been raising in the UN for over 30 years now. Nevertheless I am still hopeful that the report that the Permanent Forum draws up from this meeting will support us, especially on the abhorrent and heinous Doctrine of Discovery that so many Pakeha states, including New Zealand have relied on to take over Indigenous lands, resources and lives. We have continued to work with Valmaine Toki (the Pacific representative member of the Forum) and I will be speaking with her before I leave for home tomorrow to ascertain whether the states have effectively hobbled the Forum members.

While the meetings and work here have been demanding, our whanaunga from Hawaii and North American have looked after us wonderfully. The North Americans treated us to a sumptuous feast of their traditional foods, including buffalo meat, to honour us as their guests. They also took us downtown to visit various places, including the National American Indian museum and an amazing bookshop. We are hugely grateful to them. After a couple of days of hard work we went out to dinner with our Hawaiian whanaunga. We had a marvellous time catching up, laughing and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. It has been great for those of us who have worked with these people over several decades to catch up with old friends, and good to be able to introduce our Te Rarawa whanaunga to some of today’s great Indigenous leaders and thinkers who have fought long and hard on the world stage for Indigenous rights.

Nga mihi aroha

Margaret

 

(24) Comments

  1. apuesta deportiva

    Howdy! I know this is kind of off-topic however I had to ask. Does operating a well-established blog like yours require a massive amount work? I'm brand new to running a blog however I do write in my journal everyday. I'd like to start a blog so I will be able to share my personal experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

  2. Kalani Young

    Mahalo for clarification, Kamea. I am Kanaka and yes, I agree with what you're saying to an extent: your unsupport for Aupuni, ok I get that. To be kanaka does not mean you have to support nationalism, I get that, too. Also, kanaka claims should rest more with being indigenous than with nationalism, yes, agreed. I mostly agree with you and I think we should be critical of Pakeha involved in our indigenous struggle, yes I do. But, I also think that who ever is chosen to represent kanaka should be held to standards of political integrity that go beyond koko and skin color. In other words, I feel that the framing around indigenous identity here has devolved into an us (kanaka) v. them (pakeha) conundrum, one that is too simplistic and erases our manifold ways of defining ourselves as kanaka. I am kanaka through both my parents but also i trace my kanaka roots through my identity as mahu, as well. Can a man be appointed to serve as the chair of a women's studies dept? Yes, and I've seen it here at uw-seattle and he does a great job! I am in no way saying that I support Landow by bringing in this example as I don't know him. More, I see the sending of a non kanaka to represent kanaka as a problematic issue only if this impedes on the political and cultural integrity of the collective will of kanaka. In other words, his identity as non-kanaka isn't what interests me as much as his politics. If you think that he should give up his seat to a kanaka, because UNPFII is an indigenous forum, and he is not then I don't agree with you. If, however, you disagree with his politics and because you think only a kanaka should represent kanaka people at the forum, then that's a different issue, and I've stated elsewhere, that's what I'd like to hear more about. Is your contention with Landow's participation in tge forum based on race, his politics or both? What is it other than the fact that he's not kanaka that makes him an I'll candidate?

  3. Kamea

    'Ae. I want to also thank you Dr. Margaret Mutu. Mahalo nui loa for giving us an opportunity to become more aware of what is going on and to think about it critically. More often than not we are kept in the dark about things that affect us until it is too late - discussion is over, if you can call it that, damages are done. Mahalo nui loa.

  4. papa soli

    The so called Kanaka Maoli representatives should take an oath to support the Hawaiian Kingdom. Until such time they are Native Hawaiians, native Hawaiians who owes it existence to the generosity of america. And as such they will not bite the hand that feeds them. If anyone wants to Ho'opapa this issue, come home and we will discuss our difference. Until then leave well enough alone and respect our decision for Kai Landow to be our representative.

    1. Kamea

      Soli, you really think that Kanaka Maoli owes anything to America and that America has actually been so kind and generous to Kanaka Maoli? It has not. This is why we need Kanaka Maoli to represent us in the UNPFII. Your group's decision to appoint him as the representative at the UNPFII was a poor decision and it affects our people - not just your Kingdom group. It is inappropriate for him to be representing at the UNPFII and we will not "leave well enough alone". So no, I will not respect your decision because it affects me and other Kanaka Maoli in a negative way.

      1. Kalani Young

        Papa Soli's comment makes sense. To me, he is saying that if Kanaka don't support the restoration of our Kingdom (and the attendant decision of this contingency that does to appoint representatives), then they become Native Hawaiians who don't support the Kingdom of Hawaii and are then in position to concede power to US State hegemony, one that paints itself as a helping "hand" to the Native people of Hawaii. I have respect for Papa Soli and agree with him that the Kanaka question should be based on the issue of Nationality and not Ethnicity (while both are problematic). The Kanaka contingency decided that Kai Landow should represent Kanaka at WIPO. Shouldn't their decision to self-determine a representative be respected? Who decides who is Kanaka and who isn't and what are the metrics being deployed in these decisions? The history of colonialism in the Pacific and in Hawaii, in particular, is multiplex and full of competing interpretations. None-the-less, one salient theme throughout is that Kanaka did make room for differently racialized groups to be part of our lahui and ohana. I don't see this as the problem that eventually led to the overthrow! The problem was that particular haole or pakeha came into our lahui with racist ideologies that eventually led to the usurpation of Kanaka sovereignty (painting Kanaka as docile, backwards, indolent, stupid etc. as seen in political cartoons from the era of Queen Lili'uokalani). I think that we would be wise as Kanaka not to generalize all pakeha and kanaka and to articulate the limits of identity politics precisely at this moment of crisis. White domination in indigenous forums is but one problem. However, how are the other problems obfuscated here? For example, how might the anti-haole/anti-pakeha sentiment really be an internalization of racist-ideologies that borrows from white supremacy? The article does nothing to talk about Kai Landow as a person, what are his political interests and work and how do these things comport with what we as Kanaka see as important issues? I think we need to have a more nuanced discussion here not about identity but about politics. If there is any objection to Kai Landow because of his political positions, then that's a different story, one that I would like to hear more about.

        1. Kamea

          Listen Kalani, I support the restoration of the Kingdom, but I do not support Aupuni Hawaii, one of many of the different Kingdom advocacy groups out there. Simple as that. Just cause I don't support his group doesn't mean I don't support independence. Are you serious that Kanaka Maoli should be based on Nationality and not on being indigenous? If so, then why be in the UNPFII at all? Regardless of what you think Kanaka Maoli should be defined as, it already stands that we are the indigenous people of Hawai'i Nei. Why try to erase our identity which is so wrapped up in politics? If you are referring to yourself as a Kanaka and are actually someone wishing to be a Hawaiian "National", really, you're doing what Landow is doing. Misrepresenting yourself and saying indigenous identity does not matter - so if it doesn't matter, to him or the actual Kanaka that support him, what in the world is he doing there? What are they doing there?

        2. Kai Landow

          Aloha e, I have just found these comments and I am heartened to see Papa Soli's mana'o as he has just passed away. There is much more to the story of who I am and way I was part of the Hawaiian delegation. I appreciate your comments Kalani, e mahalo nui. But I am offended my Ms. Mutu's comments as she and I both know there are not only inaccurate, ignorant of the truth, but seemed designed to do harm to Hawaiian people. Ms. Mutu had a week to kukakuka with us, to ask questions and inform herself of our activities and position. She chose to attack us without warning and I followed the protocol I was taught by my Kupuna, like Papa Soli. E kala mai, which is to seek forgiveness for trespass, guilty or not. Moana Jackson and Ms. Mutu seem to have a lot of bitterness in there heart. We seek there wisdom, not their rancor, we seek their support, not their vitriol and mostly we seek their understanding. My community suffers greatly from oppression of the American occupation and it taxes us greatly to fight amongst others in the Pacific family. I have learned to be attacked because I do not have the Koko and I have had to ask myself should I turn my back on my ohana because some people believe in ethnic isolation? The concept that blood dictates knowledge, privilege and insight and that Pekeha [I assume you use it derogatorily here] can not be part of Pacific communities. The Hawaiian tradition is that of bringing people into the community, training them and sharing the burdens and kuleana of Hawaiian life. I have been asked by my Na Kupuna to be one of their representatives at the UN and I too have found that States have infiltrated the UN process. It is those interests that have created the Havoc in the Pacific and maligned my reputation. People on this page who are acting for the American state and know they are putting out disinformation. I am also offended by the use of Santi Hitorangi of Rapa Nui, my friend who did aim to settle a misunderstanding between us. but is not my adversary, but my brother. I also serve as an adviser to the Rapa Nui Parliament and so in all fairness these comments are a discredit to Pacific peoples. In short this is offensive and breeds conflict in the Pacific, Ms Mutu you have every opportunity to speak with me or my Na Kupuna and know the truth about me and our actions. I ask you not to continue this behavior and either Ho'o ponopono/ Ho'opapa. We had chosen not to speak on this as protocol of the UN, the Pacific caucus and traditional respect to colleagues. I can be reached at hawaiianembassy@gmail.com and will address any inquires. This saddens me beyond limit, that people would rather tear each other down that build up solutions. Auwe ke i.a Kai Landow

          1. M. A. Ka'upenamana

            "My community suffers greatly from oppression of the American occupation and it taxes us greatly to fight amongst others in the Pacific family." ??? You are a haole from New York, who still resides in New York. There is nothing in Hawaii that is your community, by blood or geography. Your colonizing, paternalistic, rescue narrative is not welcome by many of us, especially the wahine. BTW, Dr. Margaret Mutu is also a kupuna, and Kanaka Maoli recognize our Maori kin. So have a little respect, outsider.

  5. Kukauakahi

    Historically speaking, pakeha (haole) were given major roles in the operation of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the 1800s. Some of those pakeha, and their cohorts, led a coups d'tat in deposing the Queen (Lili'uokalani) thus terminating governmental operations, unlawfully placing Hawai'i in the claws of the american global empire and stealing the people's lands. Many Hawaiian subjects (those descendants of the then subjects of the Kingdom who are allegiant to that Kingdom) continue to work to reverse the mistakes of that century. But, as is observable at the present time, other Hawaiians haven't learned their lessons yet. Hewa!

    1. arnie

      I'm wondering if the UNPFII is the right forum for Hawai'i Kingdom politics. There are a lot of inherent contradictions between indigenous issues and those representing the Hawaiian Kingdom, particularly since dissensus between the various Kingdom groups can be so divisive. Although we mostly all agree on the history of the overthrow, the fake annexation, the surreptitious statehood process and the negative health indicators of Native Hawaiians that results directly from our history, I am unclear of what certain representatives of Kingdom groups (particularly those that carry with them the controversial baggage of fundamentalist religious values) can bring to UNPFII. I'm not suggesting that indigenous issues should be separate from political self-determination because UNPFII is the appropriate forum. However, until certain Kingdom advocates have more transparency as to what is being advocated in their platforms, it can be misleading for Hawai'i indigenous struggles to be misrepresented and co-opted by groups who are more invested in self-appointment, than by the solidarity of indigenous peoples struggles, locally, regionally and internationally.

      1. Kai Landow

        And who appointed you Mr. Saiki? what is transparent about you? Sadly we have found your relationships with State actors troubling. Sadly your attacks without any willingness to sit down with us to come to an understanding. Why is it that you choose to snipe at us and refuse to meet with us? Do you refuse so you can claim you dont know what our agenda is or create this false idea we are here to monkey wrench things? An apology would be a good start from you as you are very divisive. What "Group" are you part off? Some many questions and no transparency. Auwe...............

        1. M. A. Ka'upenamana

          And who appointed you, Mr. Landow!? You weren't voted in to any position. You don't represent me. And throwing accusations of divisiveness is pretty rich, when you are dividing and labeling Hawaiians as "State Hawaiians," "Hawaiians," and "Native American Hawaiians." As a haole/pakeha from New York, it's not your right to do that. Unlike you, Arnie Saiki is not a self-imposed leader. Arnie Saiki is a facilitator of communication between different Kanaka Maoli groups in and outside of Hawaii. He creates opportunities for discussion rather than feeling the need to leading discussion.

    2. papa soli

      What is your definition of "Hawaiian" Is it one of ethnicity or is it one of Nationality? How does one define the role of Gibson? It is true that the Hawaiian Kingdom was coopted by Plantation owners and missioaries but there were mai koko who supported the queen to the bitter end. And in conteprary times, We were honored to work with Mai koko Po'e. No leila be careful when you characterize Haoles who are willing to work with us to rid u.s.a out of Hawaii Nei. In your previous communication you have mentioned for your eyes only and now the whole world knows what your position is in regards to Kai

      1. Kapono

        Wow I totally lost respect for Papa Soli. UNPFII = For indigenous peoples. Is Kai indigenous? 'A'ole! Let indigenous people speak! Dis not da kine place for Hawaiian nationals. Dis is the kuleana for Kanaka Maoli which Soli used to be one but now he stay one sell out to da haoles. Its a matter of kuleana. Look it up. And no wat? Kai no more da palapala showing he's Hawaiian national. Hanai at age 40 no count. If you stay a citizen, show me da palapala. Sell outs. Much mahalos for Doc Mutu and Braddah Arnie

        1. Kamea

          I agree Kapono. This is a forum for indigenous people to have a voice. It is completely inappropriate for this Pakeha to be our representative when he only represents a small portion of Kingdom advocates. Not the appropriate forum for him to be in no matter if he was appointed by other Kanaka Maoli. That invites self-destruction. It is self-defeating. It is hewa! Hewa that our own people are selling out to be represented, or rather misrepresented, by this Pakeha. Well I say no more. The time is long over due and our voices will be heard. This Pakeha does not represent me!

          1. Kai Landow

            I would like to point out to those unfamiliar with what is happening in the Hawaiian movement a small group of "Native Hawaiian Americans" who mostly live outside of Ko Hawai'i Pae Aina have been trolling the web trying to bring the movement down. Kamea Blackman who lives in Florida and Kapono who is a fake identity for Maja Athena have been putting out disinformation about Aupuni Hawai'i and myself. Their best tool has been to pretend we are not transparent and we have secret agendas. I have spoken to at length with these "Ama Crabs" and yet my answers did not fit their propaganda. Arnie Saiki met with them some year and a half ago and fed them false info about our activities. I was asked by many Hawaiians and my Kupuna to go to the UNPFII to advocate for them. My kuleana was to facilitate to access to the UN by Kuiwi Kanaka and help them navigate this complex process. Every year I have brought more Kanaka to the forum and so expand their voice. It was this reality that upset members of the Hawaii caucus representing the University of Hawaii at Manoa [the same place attended by one of these monkey wrenchers] and a campaign to smear us began two years ago. Mr Saiki acted as point man for these attacks. So who is this Pakeha and why is speaking for Hawaiians? First everything I put out comes from our Hui and is approved by them, second Hawaiians have the right to expand their tools in the person of haoles and kokua them. Thirdly Maori's with all due respect do not have the right to enforce colonial policies of the American government. If there is a disagreement with our delegations position then put that out there. But be aware if you remove me, you remove Kanaka Maoli and what does that make you? I beg you to work together, I appeal for your wisdom and Aloha. We demand justice and an end to smears about us. If you had questions about us [and me] we do not hide, we answer all inquires and we work honestly for the people. The Irony is that we reached out to all these kanaka asking them to work with us, we offered to help them attend the UNPFII, we offed to support them to be Hawaiian chair. So what is really happening here and what hands are behind these attacks? Na Kupuna knew I would be an easy target, but we thought our brothers and sisters in Aotearoa would at least respect protocol. pilikia pau, hana kakou, wala au kaulike. Kai Landow Vice Consul Hawaiian Embassy in New York hawaiianembassy@gmail.com

          2. M. A. Ka'upenamana

            Did Kai Landow, the haole from New York who lives in New York, just use the term, “Native Hawaiian Americans.” So now he's dividing Kanaka on the continent from Kanaka in the islands into different categories? Once again he is proving his divisiveness among our people, using the history of colonialism against us. My ohana lives in Hawaii and on the continent, and when we get together, we don't divide ourselves into the "Native Hawaiian Americans" and Hawaiians. We are all Kanaka Maoli. My son carries the koko, just like me, my father, and all my kupuna. We understand who we are. We don't need outsiders coming in and dividing and labeling us, causing so much pilikia. You continue to throw out accusations and insults at the Maori contingent and vocal Kanaka Maoli, indigenous people of the Pacific. It's time to take a good look in the mirror and try to understand what you are doing. You're insulting the very people you supposedly want to "help" so much. Well guess what? We don't need your help. We're not children. We can represent ourselves. And we're far more qualified to do it in every way. (yeah... that's DR. Mutu.. as in PhD holding Dr. Mutu) Try and understand that your colonial, paternalistic narrative is far more insulting than any words Dr. Mutu could ever write.

      2. arnie

        Respectfully, I thought I was careful in making a distinction between Kingdom advocates and the UNPFII, and in this thread, it will be easy to create further divisiveness if we attempt to over-emphasize the politics of indigeneity, and the kingdom. Since the focus is the rights of indigenous peoples in the international community, it seems that strategies for resisting economic and military hegemony, cultural genocide, environmental justice, gender issues are what is most central to the forum, and I'm not sure that the Kingdom groups are united when presented with the route of UNPFII as a platform for recovering rights. As mentioned I think Kingdom groups are united on their history, but the path forward seems more slippery and my response was not addressed at anyone in particular, it simply addressed that there be more clarity and transparency among the kingdom groups over their political positions to issues confronting indigenous peoples internationally.

        1. Kamea

          Arnie, I couldn't agree with you more. You did make clear the distinction between Kingdom advocates and the UNPFII. Apparently there are Kingdom advocates that are concerned with misusing the access that they have to the UNPFII to further their own group's agendas and NOT the self-determination of indigenous people, not to further the Kanaka Maoli. In essence, this is self-destructive. In fact with your statement about there needing to be more "clarity and transparency among the kingdom groups over their political positions to issues confronting indigenous people internationally" is exactly why this pilikia surrounding the Pakeha exists. I have found his actions and statements terribly inappropriate, and I believe that his involvement in the UNPFII calls for much more attention within the Kanaka Maoli community.

  6. Kapono

    Whaddup wit da Kanaka Maoli? Sending a haole to da indigenous forum? Hewa! Stuck on Stolkholm Syndrome much? No more smart Kanakas anymore so dey send da kine wannabe Hawaiian? Wat next? Send da forum one Aussie to represent Aboriginals? WTF man. Ain't colonization bad enough so u got to colonize da forum too wit da haoles hu say dey kanaka becuz some psychic told dem dey waz in der last life? Get real Hawaiian peepz.

  7. Keawe

    Thank you Dr. Margaret Mutu for posting this article. As a Native Hawaiian, we receive no news from our so called Hawaiian representatives unless you are part of their group. There is absolutely no transparency going on with the "Hawaiian" representatives. Any news that we, Native Hawaiians who support independence but do not support particular sovereignty groups, receive comes from the Native American, Maori and Tahitian representatives and not those who claim to represent us. It is absurd that a Pakeha would represent Hawaiian interests in an indigenous forum. That would be like a Frenchmen representing Tahitians there or a male representing females in a women's conference. There are roles for everyone to play and there is a great need for solidarity. But solidarity also means knowing that certain roles are tapu and if one is not indigenous or from that people or tribe, then their role is to support indigenous peoples by engaging their own community. Surely that Hawaiian group can find a role for the Pakeha somewhere else in another venue, a more pono venue, and assign a Native Hawaiian to attend the forum for them. It is a matter of whanonga pono that indigenous voices be represented in indigenous forums in the same way women's voices should be represented in women's forums. I think it is time that the Native Hawaiian representatives become more pono and matatika with their own claimed constituency and adhere to the matapono of indigenous rights and self-determination.

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