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June 3, 2019 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira |
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An Ode to the Aunties

Nā Jade Gifford


When most people think of friendship, they probably don’t think about their own family members. But when I was asked to write on the kaupapa of ‘friendship’, you know who popped into mind? AUNTIES. Yup you read that right. “Aunty”, “auntie”, “aunt”, “whaea kēkē” or “the kuia that you call ‘aunty’ because she’s low-key old af and at this stage, it would be weird not to”…. This is for you.


In Māori whānau, aunties play unique roles in bringing up children. Like the old saying goes—“it takes a village to raise a child” or, in my case, it takes AUNTIES, lots of aunties.


Aunties, in my opinion, are the most underrated friends in the world. I myself, as both a professional aunty and pain-in-the-ass niece, feel like I’m the best person to provide some insight into why this relationship is so hella special.


Reasons why aunty–niece friendships are the best:


  1. Remember those times when you felt sick at school but you knew your mum wouldn’t pick you up? The answer is 0800 PHONE-UR-AUNTY. Because you know she’ll be there before the nurse even has the chance to grab an ice pack… for your hayfever… (because those fix everything, apparently).
  2. Aunties’ houses are often places of refuge—specifically for wayward nieces and nephews. The best thing is there’s no shame or pretences; you can just rock up. Fight with your siblings? Go to aunty’s. A bad break-up? Go to aunty’s. Need help with your homework? Go to your fricken aunty’s.
  3. Aunties are not as immature as your cousins (JK, not all I have a one-month-old aunty lol (#justbrownippletingz)). So not only can they be your best mates, they can also give you parental advice on things, without the added judgement of actually being your parent.
  4. Aunties are the queens of “firsts”. I don’t know about you, but an aunty gave me my first ciggie, first drink, first talk about periods, first M-rated movie… Aunties make you feel safe to try new things because you know they’ve got your back one hunnit, and most importantly, they won’t tell your mum (because they’ll get in trouble too).
  5. Another reason is that anyone can really be your aunty. I probably have over 100 aunties, and that’s because the category is in no way limited to ‘parents’ sisters’. Your mum’s girlfriends, your aunty’s girlfriends, the older female relatives who you’re not sure how you’re exactly related to… All aunties. The possibilities are endless and also hard to keep track of, so you better bet that if a familiar looking Māori woman comes up to me in the supermarket, I’m definitely gonna say “Kia ora Aunty”.
  6. As an aunty, I get to have all my child-bearing inclinations fulfilled through my nieces and nephews. I get to watch them grow, teach them things, spoil them… and then give them back to their parents! Ummmm, dream or what? On the real though, my nieces and nephews bring so much light into my life. I literally have withdrawals just thinking about them. Okay imma stop now before I have a fat cry.


But anyway, those are the reasons why I think aunties are the best, most underrated people. And why I think my best friends in the world are my aunties and nieces—friends can come and go, but family remains, always.


And to the best aunty of them all, my Aunty Andy—thank you for all the laughs, the cries, and the aroha. Thanks for inspiring me to write this piece, miss you. Rest in paradise.

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