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July 23, 2018 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira |
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NT: Te Ara Tauira

Takatāpui and “found whānau”

It can be hard when you’re told your whole life that Māori aren’t or can’t be gay, whether it comes directly from relatives, or simply through lack of representation of people like you in both your Māoriness and your LGBTQIA+-ness. Finding out about takatāpui can be some kind of revelation: a word, made specifically to describe the intersection of being Māori and queer. A way to celebrate how your identities intertwine, in the face of people who want you to think they clash. Most literature on takatāpui are encouraging of whānau involvement; being out to whānau, speaking from a takatāpui perspective on iwi matters. But this is not always an option. It can feel like the only perspectives are that queer Māori either do not exist, or that Māori are somehow more homophobic than Pākehā, and the idea that because of the cultural focus on whānau and iwi, they have to accept you no matter what. These two extremes forget that most of us fall in the middle. Māori are not more homophobic than Pākehā, but we are not necessarily less either, and sometimes we have specific nuances that make dealing with homophobia different to Pākehā rainbow folx. Queerness is falsely seen as a colonial construct; hypermasculinity (the natural enemy of the gay) has become entrenched into Māori manhood; and Christianity (along with the ills that go with it) have been entrenched into Māoritanga. This means that “found whānau” is one of the biggest resources for takatāpui there is, and it is a sorely underutilized one.
If found family is a huge part of queer culture, and whānau is a huge part of Māori culture, then it doesn’t makes sense for us not to make our own version. I say we should.

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