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Issue 19, 2018

Issue 19, Vol 81: Te Ao Marama

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Features

  • Ethnocentrism, Te Ao Māori and the Church

    In 2014 my wife and I went to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, for six months to work. My wife is a nurse, so was involved with different NGO’s offering free medical care. I, however, was involved in a local church, where my role was to support the music team and be involved in […]

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  • Mana wahine… ko au?

    Here we are, sitting in the Matariki room at Te Herenga Waka. A group of Māori students sharing our ideas for the upcoming issue of Te Ao Marama. I’m writing a feature piece on Mana Wahine and feel warmed inside to be sharing the room with all of the tauira who surround the table alongside […]

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  • Looking back to the past, in order to sustain our future…

    Over 1000 years ago, Māori arrived on the shores of Aotearoa on great big waka hourua or double-hulled sailing canoes. They voyaged across Te Moananui-a-Kiwa, guided by the stars, swells, birds and moon. They came from the homeland as we know as Hawaiki, Havaiki, Avaiki, and Sava’i interpreted by many others of our relatives around […]

    by

  • Tōrangapū Māori: Meeting Our Māori MPs

    At this point in time every political party in the New Zealand parliament has a leader/or leaders with whakapapa Māori. Each Māori member in Parliament represents different tribal connections, constituencies, and a diversity of interests; each supporting different kaupapa across Aotearoa today. I believe it’s important to look at the big issues of today through […]

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  • INDIGENOUS EYES

    It often seems that an indigenous perspective embodies a ‘greater purpose’ or meaning towards its view of the world and the way things are experienced and interpreted. In many instances this is true because in numerous ways indigenous people express a value for all things beyond what is purely obvious or ordinary, but instead from […]

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  • He Taonga Tuku Iho, He Taonga E Huna Ana

    Paiahahā, paiahahā! Ka tū ki runga, ka tū ki raro, ka tū ki hea, ki hea, ka tū kia puta ki te wheiao ki Te Ao Mārama, tīhei wā mauri ora! Tīhei wā uriuri, tīhei wā nakonako, ka tau ka tau hā ko Rangi e tū iho nei, ka tau ka tau hā ko Papa […]

    by

  • Ethnocentrism, Te Ao Māori and the Church

    In 2014 my wife and I went to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, for six months to work. My wife is a nurse, so was involved with different NGO’s offering free medical care. I, however, was involved in a local church, where my role was to support the music team and be involved in […]

    by

  • Mana wahine… ko au?

    Here we are, sitting in the Matariki room at Te Herenga Waka. A group of Māori students sharing our ideas for the upcoming issue of Te Ao Marama. I’m writing a feature piece on Mana Wahine and feel warmed inside to be sharing the room with all of the tauira who surround the table alongside […]

    by

  • Looking back to the past, in order to sustain our future…

    Over 1000 years ago, Māori arrived on the shores of Aotearoa on great big waka hourua or double-hulled sailing canoes. They voyaged across Te Moananui-a-Kiwa, guided by the stars, swells, birds and moon. They came from the homeland as we know as Hawaiki, Havaiki, Avaiki, and Sava’i interpreted by many others of our relatives around […]

    by

  • Tōrangapū Māori: Meeting Our Māori MPs

    At this point in time every political party in the New Zealand parliament has a leader/or leaders with whakapapa Māori. Each Māori member in Parliament represents different tribal connections, constituencies, and a diversity of interests; each supporting different kaupapa across Aotearoa today. I believe it’s important to look at the big issues of today through […]

    by

  • INDIGENOUS EYES

    It often seems that an indigenous perspective embodies a ‘greater purpose’ or meaning towards its view of the world and the way things are experienced and interpreted. In many instances this is true because in numerous ways indigenous people express a value for all things beyond what is purely obvious or ordinary, but instead from […]

    by

  • He Taonga Tuku Iho, He Taonga E Huna Ana

    Paiahahā, paiahahā! Ka tū ki runga, ka tū ki raro, ka tū ki hea, ki hea, ka tū kia puta ki te wheiao ki Te Ao Mārama, tīhei wā mauri ora! Tīhei wā uriuri, tīhei wā nakonako, ka tau ka tau hā ko Rangi e tū iho nei, ka tau ka tau hā ko Papa […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • ‘Poūkahangatus’ Arotake Pukapuka

    I.

    First of all the name of this pukapuka, “Poūkahangatus”, is a hybridized word! Mixing Māori and the name of iconic Disney princess “Pocahontas”. How relevant right!? We love indigenous relevance, especially when it comes to wāhine Māori, feminism and empowerment. Which is exactly what this collection of poems vibrate, compelling you deep into the mind of creative writer Tayi Tibble. Born in 1995, Tibble has completed her Masters in Creative Writing and was the recipient of the Adam Foundation Prize. She has now blessed us with a collection of organic intelligence -Okay sis. Is she a bit of a Queen? Am I breaking the rules of being a good critic and overpraising her? Yes.  

    Everything about these poems speak into a reality in which, as wāhine Māori, we can relate to, because this is Aotearoa and Shakespeare is overrated. Freshly released in July 2018, “Poūkahangatus” brings a deep understanding of the world from the heart of a young, beautiful wāhine Māori from Wellington. Highlighting indigenous knowledge and experiences of contemporary Māori issues in a creative and captivating manner. Ruminative and introspective, our lady of Te Whānau ā Apanui and Ngāti Porou descent shares the thoughts of her old soul in pure poetic fashion.

    II.           

    Each poem delivers various tastes of beauty, femininity, indigeneity, politics and activism with love for the mundane, a conundrum of emotions, powerful sexuality and bitter sweet darkness. They tell you of a kuia aching with beauty, a crush on Hone Harawira, a pāua shell astray, wāhine from the ocean and Wellington boys, each in a tone of whimsical sassiness and contemporary reflection. They talk about colonization that plunges through several generations, through love, language deprivation, physique and the 1960’s influx of Māori woman to Tinakori road. There are no rules amidst this collection, with language so harsh yet so delicate, sensually enticing, sexy and powerful. The imagery bursts of old nannies and gummy smiles, willowy electronic folk bands, the Waikato wars and biblical references with an attitude and smugness. Hear the wails of karanga in the King Country, ride on a horse bareback and shirtless and mark time from the arrival of James Cook through to season seven of Game of Thrones. This collection will have you blushing, and cold and everything drizzling in between.    

    There is a fine balance in trusting each word that is beautiful and other words that are too bleak to appreciate, at least willingly, and still be mesmerised of the whole deal. As you read, disturbance and uncomfort will be felt as these poems speak of marginalised women, vulnerable women, oppression and the infamous white culture which is creatively constructed and deconstructed. These poems confront an issue of identity that is split between a Māori world and a Pakehā world. Tibble has chosen each word at the expense of her own discomfort, whakamā, distress, pleasure and amusement of both worlds –blaming, feeling guilty, feeling free, empowered but with an overarching hurt for a culture that carries loss and damage from the roots of colonisation.     

    III.            

    My reaction to “Poūkahangatus” was borderline fangirly before I even read it. I already knew what the title was phonetically mimicking, and I live for powerful and inspiring wāhine such as Tibble. I’m scheming for the perfect opportunity to gram it now. Hashtag woke.  

    Furthermore, this ensemble of mahi is a beautiful product of a young woman which is something that is usually undermined in mainstream literature, let alone being Māori too. This collection is unique, inspiring, it is empowering and comes from a writer who is confident and brave. Let us, no longer spiel literature that derives from English men but let us kōrero about this and all the beauty that comes with it.

    Nā Lateshia Marie McFarlane, Ngati Porou

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  • Arotake Kiriata ‘PŌ’

    Suicide is a huge epidemic within New Zealand. The fact that so many people, especially young rangatahi, are suffering from mental health in our own communities, highlights how great of an issue this really is. It is a topic that is rarely spoken about, and an issue that is rarely addressed by mainstream media here in Aotearoa. It is a huge epidemic here in Aotearoa. I believe it’s something that we need to discuss a lot more.

    Last trimester, I pitched a film idea to my FILM311 class about potentially shooting a documentary that raises awareness for suicide and mental health – a very bold move on my behalf, but it was a risk I was willing to take. I titled the film (King and Parata, 2018) for two reasons. Firstly, “pō” can be translated to “night” or “darkness”, which can reflect the internal darkness those, who are struggling with mental health, face on day-to-day basis. Feeling trapped, alone and vulnerable. Secondly, “pō” in a more metaphorical term represents the underworld or the place of departed spirits. Thus giving the title a double meaning that reflects the tone and the theme of the film. Understanding that it was a sensitive topic to discuss, it was something I felt had to be done. Without no hesitation, four other students and I filmed, recorded, produced and edited the documentary over the course of six very emotional weeks. The film shared stories and experiences from four different interviewees who really opened up and took us on a journey through the encounters with suicide and mental health. As well as the emotions and feelings that they suffered from after losing a loved one. What really captures the audience and draws them in is the films’ harsh reality. That these are real people from our community telling real stories from their experience. Yes, it does put people in an uncomfortable position but that was my main objective from the get go. Being uncomfortable is the only barrier between us talking about it and sweeping it under the rug. Suicide is a huge epidemic here in Aotearoa. We need to talk about it. The Wait Is Over.

    Ki a koutou mā kua riro ki te tatau o te pō, ki te korowai o Ranginui, ki tua o te aria, haere, haere, hoki wairua mai. E kore te aroha e mimiti.

    Nāku noa,

    Nā Nohorua Parata

    Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Toa, Te Ātiawa

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  • Arotake Waiata

    Aotearoa has a diverse and small music industry, with many successful exports and a sometimes-hidden or soon to be discovered local talent. Yes, there is Stan Walker and the like but there is also much more to be discovered in the slightly less mainstream spheres. I’d like to draw your attention to two important Māori musicians of today creating in these spaces.

    Marlon Williams

    This globe-trotting modern Māori legend is critically acclaimed worldwide. Hailing from Ōtautahi, this Ngāi Tahu contemporary country/blues artist has toured the world several times now and has even been coined as ‘the Māori Elvis’. Country music might be seen as a turn-off to some, but Marlon makes it cool again. His songs range from the upbeat that will get you ready for a Friday night, to ballads that will be there for your next break up. These are melodies to melt to. If you ever get the chance to see him live, be sure to get tickets early as local shows always sell out. His latest record came out earlier this year and is well worth the listen. Make Way For Love is available on all the usual platforms and physical copies exist for those good people who still buy music.

    Soccer Practice

    Before seeing Soccer Practice live, the only Māori I’d ever heard spoken at a gig was co-har (koha). Soccer Practice have carved out a space where te reo Māori can be proudly privileged (and pronounced correctly) in New Zealand’s indie music scene. Their throbbing beats and electronic treats are matched with stimulating visuals at live show – something you’ll have to see for yourself. Hailing from Tāmaki Makaurau, they have had a run of successful shows nationwide. Keep an eye peeled on local gig guides as they are sure to be touring again soon due to a recent release: Kaua e Mate Wheke (available on Spotify now) Earlier this year they put on a stunning performance at the opening of Te Papa’s rejuvenated exhibition space Toi Art. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you are likely to going forward as they just got signed to Kartel Music Group (UK) who also represent the likes of Fat Boy Slim and Peaches.

    Nā Symon Palmer

    Ngāi Te Rangi

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  • Aotearoa

    An abundance of nature and culture are the first things to spring to mind

    The land of the long white cloud has left colonisation far behind

    If we say ‘bicultural’ loud enough maybe it will ring true, this time

    And we will all forget that to this day the Crown fails to uphold the treaty we signed

    Lost in translation we were told, kāwanatanga and sovereignty were supposed to be the same

    I’m just saying that you took everything and wrote the document, but the language barrier is to blame?

    If we really are a progressive nation, trying to write the wrongs of the past

    Why is it you can’t find New Zealand history being taught properly in a single high school class?

    If you want your Māori name pronounced correctly you are flat out of luck

    And people wonder why Taika called this country “racist as fuck”

    Do you remember Taika Waititi, our internationally famed director, representing us without fail

    Until he called us out for our issues, now he is just a brown Māori male

    “But Māori get scholarships, and that’s racist to whites”

    I have heard being said throughout my entire life

    Māori are more likely to drop out of school, and be from a low socioeconomic background

    We are over represented in every negative statistic in this country, studies found

    More likely to have poor physical and mental health than any race from any nation

    The only thing higher than that is our rate of incarceration

    There are many factors that contribute but systemic racism is key

    That is why before you play victim understand what they represent is equity

    If you are claiming inequality educate yourself on what privilege may be

    Understand that your scholarship was not being born into a minority

    This country claims to appreciate our culture so much they want the world to know

    I’m so glad the “Nau mai, Haere mai” billboards at the airports aren’t just for show

    Everyone can chant the haka with the all blacks when they are on an international stage

    Our language must be thriving you’d think after seeing it welcomed in this way.

    Let’s make Te Reo compulsory for schools to offer, and an ‘option’ for you to take

    Cue the mass hysteria “you will not force my children to learn this useless subject” they say

    The irony being it was the government that beat it out of our ancestors in the first place

    But as soon as a policy reform comes around it’s not government’s job to save.

    No one is forcing anything; Te Reo Māori will simply die out if no longer heard

    I’m sorry it has been ingrained that my ancestor’s language won’t get you anywhere in this world

    But it shouldn’t be up to you to take away the opportunity of future generations to learn

    Give back the voices of my tīpuna, let them be heard.

    It was never once we were warriors, our people are warriors every day

    Fighting for the language and culture this country tried to take away

    And for some it is easy to sit there and say all this is a thing of the past

    That Māori would have still fought Māori without the pakeha

    And we would have, but there was no need to eradicate a culture’s identity

    Now on our own land we have been reduced to a small brown minority

    You can sit there and say despite all this it is not my problem and that’s your conclusion

    But if it’s not your problem don’t sit there and criticize those fighting for a solution

    Be aware that history is the reason why our ancestors have birthed us into this fight

    Where we every day we are pushing to break the negative stereotypes

    To bring back what was lost to the land our ancestors once roamed

    Instil mana back into the whenua where the Māori call home

     

    Nā Te Mahara Swanson Hall

    Te Whanau a Apanui, Ngati Awa, Ngapuhi

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  • KAUAE

    There are struggles and benefits of every action you make.  Receiving a moko kauae was no exception to this. This article will outline the majority of the details that surrounded my decision to receive a moko kauae, and the ongoing aftermath of that decision.

    I grew up in Tūranganui – a – Kiwa, a small place with a population mounting up to a whopping 30,000 residents.  We all know each other or each other’s cousins. We all went to school together one year or another. We’ve all played each other in weekend sports.  It’s the town that never changes. I grew up seeing my kuia, koroua, aunties and uncles receiving the kauae or mataora, and so wearing tā moko on your face was becoming normalized.  Enough of our culture has already been ripped away, so gaining the strength to be able to perform this traditional art form is a way of taking it back.

    There’s a whole spectrum of reasons as to why a person will get a moko kauae.

    In recent years I have wondered what I would look like with a moko kauae.  This was without expectation of getting one in the immediate future. The decision to get one was not decided on a whim.  Many years of wānanga, discussion, had gone in to the decision to receive my moko kauae. We had discussed the reasons for and against.  How it would affect my life as a young person in the big world. How it would affect my behaviors outside of home. Details right down to how I present myself to the world were discussed at length because I had to realize that once it was done, I would become another face associated with the Māori culture.  The fact that there are already so many stigmas and stereotypes about the Māori people makes it harder for me as a young Māori to know the right way to behave at every point in time in front of the public eye. Not only am I being judged as an individual, my whole ethnicity will be, because I wear it on my face.

    My mother and I have always said that when one is ready the other would support.  I would have never wanted to share this experience with anyone but her. For some, the decision was not theirs to make.  For some, the time and place were not theirs to choose. For some, the artist was not even known to them. I feel fortunate to have had a hand in specifying these details for my own experience.

    I received my moko kauae on the 30th June, 2018.  This was four years to the day that my family and I buried my grandfather.  I tāia au ki taku ūkaipō, ki taku tūrangawaewae, ki Te Poho o Mahaki. Surrounded my my whānau, kuia, aunties and uncles, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

    “Nau mai ki te Kāhui Tara”.  I pōhiritia māua ko taku māmā e te hunga mau moko kauae.  Engari anō mo te hunga kāre e mārama ana ki ngā tikanga e pā ana ki te kawe i te moko ki te kauae.

    There is a type of support person whose support comes in the form of getting one herself. This is loosely termed as being a “whāriki”.  The intricacies of the supporting role are unknown to most of the public and in turn, their views are often misconstrued based on their limited knowledge about moko kauae.   As I understand it, to be a part of a whāriki is to be under the same tuāpapa, the same foundations upon which you chose to receive a moko kauae.

    I never knew the effect this would have on my life.  To this moment I still get looks and feel the judgement.  Because of my age. Because of the way that I dress. Because of the things that I partake in.  There are real concerns out there about what a person carrying a moko kauae and the ramifications their actions have on the rest of the Māori people.

    Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that I didn’t do it for anyone but myself and my whānau.  If there are questions, I am open to them. Come and ask, before you judge.

    “Kua roa e ngaukino te mamae ki roto i te whatuamanawa i to ngarohanga atu.

    No reira kua tau koe ki te whatumanawa, a, inaianei kua taa koe ki te kiri.

    Anei nga tohu maumahara kia koe, e kore koe e warewaretia e matou, e kore e mimiti te aroha, e kore e maroke to puna roimata.

    Ko au ko Apanui, ko Apanui ko au.”

    Nā Tahua Pihema

    Te-Whānau-a-Apanui

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  • E mōhio ai koe ki a au, me mōhio koe ki tōku reo.

    He pūrongo arotake tēnei mō te pukapuka ‘He Kupu Tuku Iho: Ko te Reo Māori te Tatau ki te Ao’ – Nā Timoti Karetu rāua ko Te Wharehuia Milroy.

    Tomo mai ki taku ao Māori i runga i te reo pōhiri o ōku tupuna,

    te reo maioha o ōku pākeke, me te whakaaro nui o ēnei mātanga reo ki te poipoi i te reo, me te kaha o tā rāua whāngai i te reo ki te hunga e ngākaunui ana ki te reo.

    Nau mai te taringa, nau mai te manawanui.

    Nau mai, pānui mai rā e nga toa tauā e ngana nei ki te hauhake i te kai a te rangatira.

    Kāore pea te ao e mārama ki te nui o te tōtā kua heke i te rae o ngā tautōhito nei a Tīmoti Karetu rāua ko Te Wharehuia Milroy, mō te reo Māori tonu te take. Ko ngā kai ō roto, he tuinga ā-kupu o ngā rautau e arohanuitia e rāua ki te reo, ō ngā tini wheako whaiaro hoki. Hei tā Te Haumihiata, he oha nō ngā morehu koroua nei ki te hunga e kaingakau ana ki te reo Māori.

    Inā te maha o ngā pukapuka kua whakarewahia e te tira Perehi ō Te Whare Wānanga o Tāmakimakaurau heoi, kaore ōna rite ki tēnei rourou mātauranga a ngā koroua nei. Ko te nui o ōna hiranga e mau nei ki tōna tuāpapa ara ki ētahi o ngā kai ō roto, e kīia ai ko te tikanga-ā-iwi, te wetereo, te mana, te tapu, te wairua, me ngā take kōrero o ia rā. Koinei ētahi ō ngā kaupapa whāiti e hōhonu ai te ruku a ngā ruānuku matararahi nei. Ko te mea mīharo rawa atu, koinei te huatahi ō te tokorua nei, kāore e kitea he kohinga kōrero pēnei nā i runga i ngā pae pukapuka o te ao.

    Ko ētahi o ngā kai ō roto e aro ana ki te ao hou me tōnā reo. Hei tā ngā kaituhi, ko te nuinga ō ngā kupu e kaha rangona ana i ēnei rā he mea waihanga o roto i ngā rautau tata nei. Ehara i te mea i kapo noa mai i te rangi, ehara hoki i te mea i ahu mai i te reo tawhito, ko tō rāua, he āta whakaarohia te momo wairua o te kupu me tōna kaupapa, koirā e mana ai. Kātahi te whakaaro ataahua ko tēnā. E tohu ana tēnei i te āritarita o ngā arero Māori ki te whanake tahi me te ao hurihuri. Kia kaua noa e mau ki ngā āhuatanga ō rātou mā (kia kaua hoki e whakarērea) engari kia ngātahi te katete atu. Ko tāku i kapo mai i ngā kōrero ā ngā koroua, e whakapapa pounamu ngā wai o ō rāua manawa i runga i te mōhio, e ora pai nei te reo Māori ki tēnei reanga ōku, me te reanga ō runga ake (takiwa o te 14-45 tau). Inā te nui o te whiu tao ā ngā pakeke mō te kino o te reo a ngā rangatahi, me te kino ō ngā waiaro hēoi, anei ngā mātanga e mīharo ana ki te rangatahi, mō te pīkoko ō te ngakau, te hia kai o te arero ki ngā hua o te reo Māori me ōna katoa. Nei ngā rangatahi e whakatairanga i te reo, e kawe nei i te reo i roto i ngā mahi o ia rā, ki ngā tōpito katoa o tō rātou ao. Kāore tēnei reanga e tino mihia e ngā pakeke…Anō nei kua whakawhiwhia ki te tohu hōnore nui ktk.

    E hoa mā, me he tūtara kauika kua pae ki uta, e hao nei te hoki ki tai.

    Taihoa te ao e manawanui mai ki tō tātou nei reo.

    E noho ana au ki te poho o tōku whare ō Te Tumu Herenga Waka. Kōtahi atu taku wairua ki te whenua taurīkura, ki roto o te rohe pōtae o Tūhoe. Panekire maunga tēnā koe, Taiarahia maunga tēnā hoki koe, kei ngā uri o ngā maunga whakahī, ngā poutokomana o te Panekiretanga, nei ā mihi e kore e ngū.

    Nā Kalany Shelford

    Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Aitanga-ā-Māhaki, Te Arawa

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  • INDIGENOUS EYES

    It often seems that an indigenous perspective embodies a ‘greater purpose’ or meaning towards its view of the world and the way things are experienced and interpreted. In many instances this is true because in numerous ways indigenous people express a value for all things beyond what is purely obvious or ordinary, but instead from a multifaceted point of view.

    Being raised in Aotearoa New Zealand as an indigenous Māori offers a lot of experiences and knowledge for a person’s growth as an individual, but furthermore as an artist as well. This is because you become influenced by so many things throughout your upbringing that are in some cases uplifting but then in other instances feel deeply diminishing. Māori have always had the qualities of strong and fluent performers because the ability to express oneself is cemented within a Māori lifestyle. Storytelling through an oral manner is simply a natural way of life that continues to play a role in the way Māori deliver on performing arts stages today.

    There tends to be two ways in which someone discovers a deep relationship with performing arts and that is either because they have been impacted by a performance of some sort, or they themselves want to impact performing arts in some way. Both these reasons come to create a passion for developing art that will inspire and have the potential to change audiences’ opinions around certain issues. This I believe, corresponds with an indigenous perspective of performing and furthermore for Māori as well. This being because we vividly see when observing the projects created by indigenous cultures that they constantly breathe a need and an urgency to be heard, to have a vital say. It is as if every moment of the showcase is an opportunity to influence and connect with others on a level that is rarely attained in reality.

    For Indigenous cultures, performing is a valuable tool which is grasped firmly because for many reasons, performing arts is not interpreted simply as acting or pretend, but is a form of treasured communication which speaks their ideas and beliefs in a way that has provided a source of identity for the people of these cultures like Māori. There is a whakatauki that comes to mind which is “Ki te kore te reo, ka kore hoki te Māoritanga~ If the language dies, so will my Māoritanga”. This proverb enlightens one’s knowledge of how essential language as communication is to Māori and their survival as a people, because within language, you find identity but also a sentimental source of belonging.

    It is through a play’s storyline and dialogue that Māori are given a medium to intricately weave knowledge surrounding their cultural identity. But also exert a voice promoting resilience and self-representation, on a platform that seeks to share the main ideas in a way that intrigues but also educates those who are watching.

    It was a man named Erving Goffman who expressed the idea that- ‘Life is a never-ending play’ in the way that we all act both as audiences and performers towards each other every day. From this we can strongly realise that there is an array of content that Māori would have the inclination to depict on a stage setting based on the lives they’ve lived. Māori have held a similar role to numerous other indigenous cultures for much of their existence which involves an intense impact from adversity and loss. A performance stage is a vital environment where indigenous cultures can express some of the most confronting and unsettling themes and discussions in a space which seems to have the ability to suppress conflict. It is this which offers a power of sorts to indigenous performers- A chance, which allows these discussions to be encountered openly and freely. And it is from this that we come to observe that perhaps despite the nature of the history that has been endured by indigenous people, Māori like many other indigenous cultures reveal that a challenging history may just create an incentive, or ‘a spark’ within to create art that speaks beyond what is seen onstage but rather symbolizes aspects that have been left hidden for a long time.

    There is a phrase “putting our faces in our places” which has been expressed within a Māori mapping class that I’ve been a part of this year and analyses how places can be decolonised. This phrase fluently reflects the important role indigenous performing arts has towards manifesting a cultural mark within a space that in the past may have felt less embracing for indigenous people. When there is an abundance of places that expose a limited reflection of diversity it can lead those who experience resistance within these spaces to question where they belong and whether there is a space for them to thrive in at all. The spaces within performing arts at times mirror these situations, as the theatre craft can often project an overwhelmingly westernised image or depiction of how performances and plays are exhibited and should be understood.

    I see these types of encounters as experiences that surround Māori from the moment they embark on their educative journey within a variety of environments  because as mentioned before- our lives themselves are a play There are many instances where a dilemma is exposed within westernised spaces which leads to indigenous people having to make the decision of whether to act unfazed and go with the grain’ or be willing to go against and express themselves in a way which embraces who they are. Whether it’s by simply speaking within their native language, being the single indigenous face within a room or in this case, a part of an ensemble in a performance, it is this which catalyses a change of lens and influences others to see through a different pair of eyes.

    Indigenous depictions of performance all embody something more than a presentation of a story but essentially a sense of ‘Wairua’ that comes from the respect and integrity that has been given to the project and resonates simultaneously with both the performers and the audience. This for me is what makes performing arts so special and unique as there are only certain moments where a performance creates an ambience that connects with people emotionally regardless of what ethnicity they may derive from. Performing for indigenous people encompasses an awareness for all facets both physically and spiritually which consequently offers valued meaning to the final piece of work. This can be reflected within Kapa Haka. Waiata or seeing a Māori piece of theatre, as each if these examples exert not only the visible elements of emotion but the intangible features which leave a lingering effect long after the final line has been read.

    An essential way that this can be defined is through the performance of ‘Troilus and Cressida’ directed by Rachel House which took place at the Globe theatre in London and within Aotearoa as well in 2012 . When studying this version for a Māori theatre paper based on ‘theatre of Aotearoa/New Zealand’ I vividly remember seeing the members of the cast forming a huddled embrace with each other, arms looped over one another’s shoulders, shedding tears of appreciation. This moment was not an aspect of the actual performance, but it was a type of performance which was overpowering in terms of the lasting effect it initiated. This presentation of ‘Troilus and Cressida’ was the first Shakespearean play to be entirely translated, devised and performed in Te Reo Māori by Māori actors and it is this occurrence which undoubtedly would have given an immense sense of fulfilment to those who viewed the play and for the creators especially. To have such a prominently English playwright like Shakespeare being interpreted and shared by an indigenous ensemble working alongside the Globe theatre signifies such a powerful reflection of potential for indigenous artists within a westernised craft like theatre. It was this piece of work which indicated how successfully Māori could adapt and form an admirable bridge between indigenous and non-indigenous perspectives.

    I had the opportunity to interview Te Puawai Winterburn who for me was a valued figure of support to build on the discussion about indigenous experiences within theatre while additionally involving the aspect of standing as Wahine Māori. Through listening to Te Puawai’s words it was moving to find a sense of direction and inspiration within her responses. What was especially interesting was her work on the play “He kura e huna ana” written by Hohepa Waitoa and directed by Nancy Brunning which came to Wellington this year in June. This play is a true landmark within indigenous theatre as it is the first play of its kind to be toured around Aotearoa completely in Te Reo Māori, thus the ability to express theatre within a language so deeply personal proved to be a poignant moment for Te Puawai and the ensemble who developed the production. Te Puawai’s complete honesty and transparency when discussing the questions, I had, thoroughly shed a humble light on her presence as a Māori woman within the industry but more importantly as a mother to a young daughter. I understood in that moment that this is what being present within a westernised craft is about, it’s about representation. There is a sincere value and need for Women to represent each other not only within the world but on the stage as well because it is not just ourselves we stand for, it’s for those still yet to be seen. So, by collaborating with other Māori performers such as Te Puawai, it becomes really clear that an indigenous stance with performing arts is nourished by unity because all indigenous performers bear the same vital responsibility and that is to be pillars for one another.

    I recently watched a screening of Merata Mita’s documentary ‘How mum decolonised the screen’, directed by her son Hepi Mita and there was a moment from her film ‘Mauri’ where a young boy stands on top of a hill waving a blanket through the wind like a flag which was deeply touching because at that point I became aware that I was seeing more than just a single boy on top of a hill with a piece of fabric, I was seeing an indigenous figure. There was a Māori being exhibited before my eyes but more importantly there was a performance showing what it means to be indigenous within performing arts and within the world. There are many circumstances when indigenous people may feel isolated and out of place within environments that seem to hinder indigenous expression and perspectives. But what we need to maintain is this- at least we are there and at least we continue to exist, because the single figure standing upon the hill is all of us and represents something more fulfilling, ‘a greater purpose’ so to say. We all contribute and symbolise something important because we convey how indigenous cultures can share perspectives through their eyes by adapting spaces into places where we can thrive and belong.

    “We try hard to maintain a level of integrity, that is part of being Maori and telling Maori stories”

    – Merata Mita-

    -Many thanks and gratitude to the Editor and team of Te Ao Mārama for their generous guidance, Te Puawai Winterburn for her inspirational words and Awatea Mita and Heperi Mita for the valuable assistance.

    Nā Te Aorewa Areta

    Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui

    by

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