It’s been a while! The one year mark came and went and yes… I made no fanfare (well, not on here but if you’re on my facebook page you would have seen the post). I guess because it has, very much, become a lifelong journey for me. So Jan the 1st 2015 was very much like Dec 31 2014, and all of the days of that year beforehand.
Well – my average monthly plastic waste production for 2014 was 34gms. So far, this year I’ve been maintaining that. I’d say that the sooner I get a nice big PROPER maara going the better. I’m still loving on my hanging herb garden that my bro built me 🙂
But still… can’t wait til I can grow my own cabbage, broccoli, kumara etc.
My average waste collection on my daily walk down the beach was 5.4kg.
The biggest barrier? Well – for me personally – I found that travel, and sharing your living space, came with plastic. It’s MUCH easier to control your plastic waste when you’re at home, by yourself, with a schedule, rather than out and about. My response to that? Well – preparedness and open communication, really. You have to be clear and open about what is ok to bring into the house.
My highlight of the year would be…. Plastic free July – and participating in the “Buy one get one tree” campaign that our local cafe’s took part in. That was massive. Getting to go to Nagoya to support the cause of sustainability at the UNESCO Conference for Education on Sustainable Development (ESD) was also incredible – and the many, many marvellous people I’ve met while on my journey to become plastic free – hearing that they have felt inspired to take that path themselves has been a continual source of motivation for me. So for everyone who stopped along the way to say hi, who sent a letter of support or let me know that it’s inspired them to go plastic free, themselves – THANKYOU, thankyou so much.
Kia Ora Whanau – well my final blogpost for the 2014 journey is coming up, I’ve got a lot to cover, a couple of reviews, my trip to Japan, and my final tally, so it’s taking a little bit. I’m headed up to my marae, Hinerupe, to finish the post up. That’s the source of my inspiration and my puna of strength (and one day we’ll be wastefree too).
Anyways, I’ve been up there this past week, cooking, cleaning, and writing stuff up… and watching the things we do, the things we’d like to do better, and what some of our solutions could be, and this infographic bubbled forth. After sharing it on facebook I received some requests for it to be printed out so here’s the hi-res version.
Ngaa mihi o te tauhou paakeha everyone – hope you’re enjoying your summer, and will write again soon!
Been another bussssssy month! That’s not such a great thing when you’re in the business of picking up para. Lots of waste down the beach. BUT have also been a part of some fantastic projects around communities who have committed to exploring their kaitiekitanga as well… first things first. THE COUNT.
GOOD NEWS. August was my first zero tally! Wahoo!! No plastic bought, and nothing to throw away.
BAD NEWS. This month’s is pretty big – on the bright side most of it was, again, me working plastic from last year out of the house (that process is taking aaages). I see it pretty positively though. Every time I throw that plastic away, I know I’m not going to replace it with more plastic. Ka rawe. 🙂
SO September tally – 80gms.
So, purchased this month was one iphone recharge cord (to replace the one in the pic). Guts.
The rest is pretty much just divesting plastic out of my household. Yays.
And picked up so far this month? Well… actually this is just from two and a half walks down the beach – 12.4kg
SO total plastic footprint: -11.6kg 😀
A LOT OF EXCITING THINGS TO REPORT THIS MONTH.
Over the past weekend our family celebrated love and togetherness over and over again. New love was celebrated as new partners were welcomed into the family. Anniversaries were celebrated. My Uncle’s birthday was celebrated, a permanent memorial of love to his mother was unveiled and celebrated, my brother’s birthday was celebrated, my nephew’s birthday was celebrated, and… the greatest highlight… after 16 years and thanks to the change of some pretty archaic laws, my sister was finally able to marry the woman that has made her dreams come true, and loved her unstintingly through some pretty significant challenges. I gotta tell you – to have so many people that you love so dearly in a state of celebration and love and happiness for one another is a pretty big buzz! It was a pretty awesome celebration of being there for each other.
AND GUESS WHAT… My sis and her darling even made significant efforts to have the wedding be as minimal waste as possible.
It was a close, intimate ceremony at home, on the farm.
Gorgeous solar powered paper lanterns and fairylights made for a magic festive ambience.
Bamboo cutlery, recycled cardboard plates, cups that compost in under 45 days…
Earth. Composting. Portaloos. FTW.
Clearly signposted bins lined with bags that compost in less than 40 days… like the signs?
they’re made from REPURPOSED wood planks 😀 (Queen Repurposer in that shot, my sisinlaw Cleo Thorpe-Ngata – helps to have a kickass artist in the whanau)
The Lotusbelle tent for the wee’uns to play in all day/night long.
…and what better souvenir to take away from a beautiful day like that than your own photobooth shots. Love you my sis. Happy happies.
I just LOVE my whanau for making these little efforts. I never expect people to do these things for me, and when they don’t it’s not like I scorn them – I’m quite realistic about where we’re at in our plastic consumption psyche and if it were otherwise then I wouldn’t be here writing this blog. As I’ve observed a few times now, it’s a journey, not a one-step destination. It’s the effort that matters. So Danni and Karena, thankyou so much, I really really do appreciate that you guys made the effort that you did. And that you feel affected by the journey I’m on… well that is ALWAYS an amazing and humbling thing to hear from anyone. Much love <3
When I first thought to do this, I really did consider it as a personal journey. Much like the day I sat behind a cattle truck in my car, and just decided at that point that I didn't want to keep pumping my weekly pay into that industry, or pretend that I wasn't propping it up with my constant investment. I didn't want to turn away from the fact that, through my consumption choices, I was responsible for the animals being in that truck, on the way to the abbatoir. So I changed my purchase habits. In the same way – last year when I decided I wanted to explore going plastic free – it really was a personal choice to front up to my personal contribution to what was happening to our oceans, to Toroa, to our whales, to our fish. All of it really. It was a personal choice but when my friend Marama suggested I blog about the journey I though “sure why not, someone might get something out of it”.
10 months later I’m amazed by all of you that have engaged in this discussion. It gives me hope for this cause, and for ourselves. Having connected with you all, I can’t imagine what this journey would have been without having you all to share it with. Your letters, emails, and comments of support (on the blog and in person) have really meant a lot, and I appreciate every single one of them. When strangers approach me to say that they’re inspired by the blog, well it just makes my day to know that even one person has considered, and made, a change in their lives. I beam, and feel like blowing a little kiss to Papatuanuku.
In the past month I’ve had a tv crew swing by to share this journey/kaupapa on Maori television (will link that when it’s televised).
I’ve also been nominated, supported, and then invited, by UNESCO, to participate in the 2014 World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, in Japan next month. This means more than I can possibly say. To be able to carry the kaupapa of indigenous rights and wisdom on sustainability to this type of a forum is a dream that I hadn’t even dared to expect coming true in this way. The global plan for sustainabile development education will be launched from this conference – another very exciting prospect, and no doubt a document that will influence countless subsequent movements for change across the globe. Thankyou whānau, thankyou tīpuna.
While I’m there, I’m hoping to be able to connect with as many environmental sustainability initiatives as possible, and to connect with our Ainu whanau as well (and learn more about their initiatives). I’ve started a few auctions to raise funds to enable this – if you’re keen on scoring one of my bags or artworks then here is the link to my auction list.
(Straight from Nana’s Bach to your shoulder 😉 )
And if you simply feel like donating, then thankyou, thankyou, ngā mihi NUI and here is the fundraising page.
Again, thankyou for everything – even if you’re not buying something or donating, just thanks for being there.
You know… I just read someone going OFF about Te Ururoa referencing Tūtanekai in his speech regarding same-sex marriage. Starting with the same old “I got nothing against gays BUT… (followed by ridiculous hate message)”. No coincidence that racist comments often start the same way.
So yes, there are aspects that are specific to each struggle. But we share TOO MANY important similarities for an anti-gay agenda to make any kind of sense in an indigenous space.
Because guess what, Maori… Tutanekai was BI. Handle it. And LOOOOADS of our tipuna were queer and it was ALL GOOD. You better believe that any move towards heteronormativity within Māoridom has happened as a result of settler colonization and imposed religious ideals. That’s not just true for us, but for many, MANY other indigenous cultures too.
Yes that’s right – many indigenous cultures have, within their own culture, traditional frameworks for a variety of sexual preferences. It was a natural part of our community and society. Notions of heteronormativity have been absorbed into our cultures as a part of the process of settler colonization. It’s important that the queer voice within our cultures and our histories be celebrated, and promoted – or we risk, as indigenous cultures, being misrepresented, oversimplified, and homogenised. Clive Aspin and Jessica Hutchings have produced rich research around this area for Māori.
Many other indigenous and queer academics have also written about it. It’s not new information.
As Andrea Smith writes:
“a conversation between Native studies and queer theory is important, because the logics of settler colonialism and decolonization must be queered in order to properly speak to the genocidal present that not only continues to disappear indigenous peoples but reinforces the structures of white supremacy, settler colonialism, and heteropatriarchy that affect all peoples”
You cannot form an argument for basic human rights to be afforded to one group, and yet withhold it from another. To argue that you should not subject to violent and hostile attacks, systemic bias, or any other kind of discrimination because of who you are rings true regardless of whether this is related to ethnicity or sexual orientation.
In both instances we are experiencing a lack of wellbeing, or harm, related to control or restraint of love and acceptance. In the case of indigenous culture this relates not only to the love and acceptance afforded to our ways of being, but also the love of the land. As a HUMAN RACE we should be seeking to move closer to a space of positivity, love and acceptance. We need to do this in order to heal ourselves, and that includes becoming closer to the land, acknowledging that our own wellbeing and future depends upon the recognition of a wider experience – the wellbeing of the plants, of the trees, of the soil, the waterways, the fish, birds, insects and animals… the entire notion of biodiversity and ecological interdependence compels us to acknowledge that we must consider the wellbeing and rights of all that is around us, and not just from our perspective but from their perspective as well. Biodiversity tells us to acknowledge and allow for diversity in order to survive.
The land is suffering because of our incapacity to do this. The people of the land are suffering because of our incapacity to do this. It is in our interests, as indigenous people, to model the love and acceptance that we require for our land, toward each other. Hell the entire PLANET is suffering because of people’s inability to think justly, and fairly, and with love – it’s in our best interests as a SPECIES to change our attitudes.
So let me be patently clear on this point – if you participate in anti-queer agendas, you are moving further away from where we need to be as a human race, further away from where we need to be in indigenous rights, and further away from where we need to be if we have any hope of evolving into a population that exhibits sustainable behaviour. You think homosexuality will wipe us out? We’ve done just fine with it in our communities for 200,000 years. No, if anything’s going to wipe us out it will be our own ridiculous ignorance.
Still not clear enough? Then here: WE’RE ALL FIGHTING THE SAME FIGHT, SUCKER.
Taku mea e haramai nei, ē
He whakahou mai ki ahau, ē,
He torotoro i tō waimanu, ē,
E mau nei, kei te paheke, nā
E hua noa ana te ngākau, ē,
He haohao i aku mahara, ē,
Taria ia rā kia tuakina, ē,
Katea ia rā kei te marae, rā.
So today was a beautiful day. A niece of mine has begun her sacred lunar cycle, and I was so honoured to share that sacred space with her through the day – sharing stories of our ancestresses, of our divinity, of the incredible power that lies in this process. I shared my first time with her, what it was like… I shared what I knew of how it was for our Nannies. We talked about cramps and sickness and volume and length and all of the related realities. We spoke of our genealogical lineage that goes all the way back to our divine beginnings. We spoke of whenua (land/placenta), of kurawaka (sacred red earth)… we spoke of inspirational women, admired empowering wahine Maori art, listened to inspirational music, we sung, we prayed. We painted hue (gourds) and made cloth pads, while talking about the healthiest way to care for our whenua within and our whenua without.
We are fortunate to have remnants of songs and prayer that reference the divine power – and we’re incredibly fortunate to have people like Ngahuia Murphy, who’s seminal work on menstruation in pre-colonial Maori world, Te Awa Atua has collated these remnants to rebuke the dominant, dis-empowering colonial discourse and provoke a vital, and long overdue discussion around the reclamation of indigenous voice, most especially in relation to our sacred spaces. This woman is a taonga for our people and I have endless love and respect for who she is, the kaupapa she carries, and how she carries it.
I drew from what I knew to create our own ceremonial celebration today – and I would implore all women to do the same for our young wāhine as they step into this, the most powerful aspect of their femininity.
I’m late with my weigh in again… well I DO weigh in on time but inevitably the write up gets put off pending completion of a bunch of other tasks that were put off earlier. You know… work/writing/meetings/blahblah. Poor blog hasn’t been getting the attention that it deserves. Pat pat. You’ll survive.
SO…. 40gms 🙂 A packet of Huancaina sauce that a good friend brought as a gift from Peru added considerably… sigh. I couldn’t turn it away. Well I could, and I started to… anyways you gotta know the friend I’m talking about to understand.
So on to the tally it went. Oh and an old iphone charge cord that just doesn’t go. Some receipts, and some plastic that was stuffed inside a cardboard delivery box. I decided that I’m going to start weighing the plastic that I pick up when I walk Ella and Benny down the beach to offset that against my plastic waste measurement. A plastic footprint, if you will. So, as I only managed to get in two walks from that decision to weigh in, here’s what I picked up in 2 days – 5kgs. Some of the identifiable objects were jandals, ice cream containers, take away containers, drink bottles, caps, drink bottle rings…some polystyrene meat trays… a lot of plastic bags…. a nappy… a bong…
Yep…. so my waste production for July was 25gms – and I picked up 5kg of plastic from the beach for 2 days (and there’s no way I’m going to be able to do monthly amounts)…. leaving a footprint of -4.6gm.
Even better news though… is that at this stage of the month (late July) I don’t have any plastic waste and am looking at my first truly plastic waste free month. Weehee!
Also, of course, we had Plastic Free July. What started out in Perth a few years ago is now a worldwide event. Here in Gisborne we ran the “Buy One Get One Tree” initiative with 3 cafés – where they kept a tally of every time a customer brought in their own cup for a coffee. For each coffee sold in a reusable cup, the Women’s Native Tree Project planted a tree. Frank and Albies, Morrell’s Bakery and Verve Café all had a shot but it was Frank and Albies that went off the charts with a whopping 430 coffees for the month!
So here’s what that looks like in an infogram. easel.ly
Thing is… that’s only about 50 trees. In actual fact the nearly 500 trees that we wound up planting for Plastic Free July just wouldn’t of course, fit to scale on that size paper and isn’t that a beautiful thing. If we can make that kind of change in just one month, with three cafés, then imagine what you can do in a year – imagine what you could do with 20 cafés.
This was a pretty easy initiative to roll out – everyone was a winner, really. The cafés got some publicity, the Trust did as well. It was just bringing some synergy to what was already there, and adding some intent. You know… I’ve been thinking a lot about personal power – it’s kind of been a theme for this month. What we were able to achieve through that initiative shows us that we CAN make a big difference, a significant difference, with just a few different choices (or even just one). Here’s one of the planting sessions behind Ohako marae, where rakau were planted as riparian vegetation alongside the Te Arai River.
We can do a lot you know – just with a few small changes.
Here’s another thing that we can do that doesn’t take much but can make a big change… VOTE.
In case you didn’t notice – things are pretty crud. Our whānau are sick and goodness me but our whenua and waterways are very very sick. This government has levelled abuse at Papatūānuku time and time again. Asset sales, the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, RMA reforms, Freshwater Plans, The Maori Land Act review… all combining to create a more permissive climate for “development” (read: environmental devastation).
Know this: National government have a specific goal and it’s very simple. It’s called short term $$ gains for a very small group of people (and if you’re reading this blog you’re probably not in that group). All at the expense of our water and whenua.
Papatūānuku is under attack and our strongest weapon is coming up on September 20th. National are banking that you won’t use it. For gods sakes, let’s use it.
I get it… I know… we’ve been dicked over time and time again. Native Land Court. Suppression of Rebellion Act, Native Reserves Act. Foreshore and Seabed. The systems and agencies that surround us are biased…. They’re biased when they’re Labour, they’re biased when they’re National. The system is broken and we need to denounce the system. We deserve a better system, one that looks after us better.
Here’s the bitter pill: We have to participate IN the system in order to change the system.
And change has already happened. The beast our grandparents faced was very different to what we face today. It’s no walk in the park… but we have kōhanga reo, we have kura kaupapa, we have Maori seats, we have Māori Television and Radio – and many of these things were helped by those who kept standing up, re-engaging in the struggle, and fighting again.
We’re not beaten. And we’re not victims. We kick ass on the sportsfield. We kick ass on the haka stage. We kick ass in business. And we can kick ass for Papatūānuku too. The John Keys of this world… the Don Brashes, the Bill Englishes, the Judith Collins’, the Gerry Brownlees… they WANT you to feel beaten. They want you to give up. They want you to not vote.
It’s the same with our local councils. We have some very good councillors. And we have some very good people and groups working within councils. But boy do we have some wanker councillors too (and certainly they’re not going to be effectively regulated by environmental legislation). There are some that simply don’t seem to care about the environment unless they’re forced to – and then you have those who would rather serve their own agendas, permit activity that will benefit them and their families and friends and cost the land, cost us, cost future generations… and how do they get away with it?
Enough of us have stopped caring, stopped even looking, for those types to be doing this in broad daylight and getting away with it.
Here’s a few examples:
In Gisborne, we have a couple of VERY good water advisory groups. There are some people on there that care more about industry, but there are also people on there that care a LOT about our water quality. They’re informed and engaged, and are placing pressure on council to take decisive action regarding our waterways.
SO – Taruheru River. Flows through our town and it’s currently, often very very toxic. We have a Taruheru Restoration Plan. However – at the same time our Council is planning to flood the river using a weir so that it can be used as a flatwater sports facility (the feasibility study results still aren’t back yet by the way). Why are we even courting the idea of such large ecological impacts when we can’t even sort out our own wastewater issues?
We also have a Waipaoa restoration plan. YET Council are granting consents for oil and gas exploratory drilling that is undoubtedly negatively impacting upon the tributary streams to the Waipaoa.
We have raw sewerage being flushed into our rivers. Our people are falling ill with Giardia. Giardia for crying out loud. When they flush the sewerage into our river, our council say that upgrading our pipe system is a priority. BUT when the vote went to council to prioritise the upgrade, all but three rejected it.
Mayor Meng Foon stood in front of a room full of people and lied last night – saying that we have solved the issue of the ‘para’ in the harbour. No we haven’t. The effluent pipe is still flowing out into the harbour. The wastewater is still being flushed out raw at the same regularity. Nothing has changed. Oh wait… now GDC tell us when it’s happening. That’s changed.
This last month we’ve also had a by-election – and lo and behold we have a fresh, young, Maori councillor. Hooray for better representation… Hooray for Maori getting out there to vote and most of all hooray for that being reflected in the results.
The system still needs to change – and just like we effected change in those instances above… just like we effected change to get support for kura kaupapa, kohanga reo and wānanga… we can change these decision making systems too but we need to back ourselves – like we do on the stage….
like we do in sports…
That’s how we have to approach voting, and making change with government. We gotta back ourselves… And you gotta participate. You gotta bug council, let them know that you’re on to them. You gotta keep getting up and fighting. It’s not easy – hell I’m still trying to get the wheels back on our bid for a plastic bag ban in our town (we WILL get there)….
Here’s the other really important thing I’ve got to say about this – yes, we have to keep pressure on the system to change… but we CAN’T WAIT FOR ANYONE TO SAVE US. No law will do that, if we can’t make that fundamental change, ourselves… in our hearts.
Go along to a tree planting project.. Minimise your waste. Take your own coffee cup, and refill your own water bottle. Start a small maara. Go and see if your local marae maara needs a hand. Go for a walk down to your awa. Find out what’s going on with your awa and whenua.
This is a matter of returning to ourselves. Our tipuna were one with the environment. It adorns our wharenui and frames our identity:
We sing of it… we pray of it… we weave it… we paint it… we wear it… we carve it.
So here it is… my review of menstrual products for non-plasty rebels. First of all – there are a LOT of reviews out there, and I’ve found most of them very helpful – it’s always a good idea to get a few different reviews from the likes of Plastic Free and Vegan , Beth Terry, and this SUPER detailed cool one by Lauren Wayne
Initially I tried the Natracare products – so – first things first. The regular (as in non-applicator) tampons are wrapped in plastic.
In every other way, though, they are much better than “mainstream”(haha punny) tampons. Certified organic, unbleached, non-GMO cotton. The pads, however, are NOT wrapped in plastic – and are fully compostable.
In both cases I found them quite comparable to any other tampon and pad, did the job just fine. I’m not a huge fan of pads, though, especially ones with wings. Maybe I’m un-co I’m not sure but they always seem to bunch and move about and the wing bit sticks to the base bit and gaahhh… it’s kind of like a sticky tape disaster except your undies are involved. Hōhā.
Now you have a few options here – you can make your own, by hand even. I’ve heard of others repurposing an old sock as well. Or you can purchase them online – Environmenstruals have a decent range or, again, at Commonsense Organics (I picked mine up from the central Wellington store although they don’t appear to be on the website).
COMFY! I’ve found mine to be pretty handy, actually. I did have a little problem with it shifting around a bit but hey… couply safety pins and you’re good to go. I still use mine for back up with my cup. Only thing is though – once they’re at full capacity you really need to be at home because you can’t exactly rinse/wash them out and then put a soggy cloth pad in your bag or pocket – not to mention it’ll probably be a bit awkward at a communal bathroom sink.
So THIS I was excited about. I looked at a bunch of options on Environmenstruals and decided to go with the Femmecup – I liked the measuring lines for tracking your flow and thought the little cloth bag was cute. Unfortunately it arrived wrapped in plastic (which made it’s way to my plastic tally for that month). Anyways – they’re usually made of latex, soft plastic, or in the case of mine (Femmecup) medical grade silicon. The cup is held between the vaginal walls, just below the cervix and catches the flow in the cup rather than absorbing it. Apparently they last longer than tampons but so far I have had to change mine more often in the first couple of days… although maybe that’s a user interface error 😛 . Just to be safe, I use my cloth pad on the first couple of days. They don’t dry the vagina out the way that some tampons can, you DON’T wind up putting bleached cotton with residual pesticides etc inside your whare tangata and you know what… it’s just better for you to become acquainted with the flow, texture, and colour of your Awa Atua. Really – stop putrifying it, that’s medieval patriarchal bollocks. I’ve never been a fan of how we treat our sacred sheddings as waste anyways – so I’m pretty happy to be using an alternative. I’m now at the point that I’m considering how to use it rather than simply disposing of it – so far I’m a fan for using it as fertilizer for a really kickass plant – like a Venus Fly Trap. I shall call her Gladys.
Anyways – the cup is a little finnickity to work out at first, but once you get your technique down it’s ok… you need to fold it and then twist as you insert. It’ll form a seal between the walls. Like I said… I’m still using a cloth pad for back up on days 1 and 2 but after that I’m all goods (reading through some reviews while writing this, I’ve seen a couple of more technique tips that I may try out). I’ve certainly enjoyed getting to know my flow better and of all the options this one will give you the most information on how much you’re shedding and what that might look like. Observing your blood can give you valuable information about your health and fertility.
Another option is sea sponge – I haven’t used one myself but here is a GOOD review on them by Raising My Boychick.
So there you have it, folks – no need for us to be using those toxin-loaded, GM cotton, petroleum plasticky baddies in or anywhere near our whare tangata.
I tēnei rā whakahirahira o ngā moananui, ānei rā aku TINO mihi ki o tātau whanaunga i runga i a HōkūIe’a runga i a Hikianalia. Mā Ranginui, mā Tāwhirimātea, mā Tangaroa, mā Hinemoana koutou e manaaki, e tieki, i runga i ngā ara o o tātau tīpuna. Nā koutou i whakarongo, i whakahoki ki te karanga a Hinemoana kia tū mai tātau, kia mau ki ngā taonga heke iho hei ara tōtika, hei tauira mā tātau katoa. Nō reira e ngā karere o Kiwa… ka mau te wehi – haere pai atu, hoki pai mai.
On this day, World Oceans Day, I would like to acknowledge the incredible work of the Polynesian Voyaging Society in raising awareness about the health of our oceans. We are people of the sea. It was the cry of our oceans that set me on this path, and it is the cry of the oceans that these incredible voyagers have responded to in the most profound and inspiring of ways. Since the 1970s our Kanaka Maoli whanau have worked tirelessly to restore our voyaging traditions, and that is a call that resounded across the pacific to many of their relations and to is in Aotearoa. A few years ago a flotilla from across the pacific set sail to circumnavigate the Pacific, and carry the message of our obligation to care for our oceans. Now they are taking that message even further and circumnavigating the globe. The voyage is called Mālama Honua, which means to care for our Earth, and they will carry this vital message of the need to protect our natural and cultural treasures across 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports, and 26 countries.
Travel well, dear cousins, Uncles, Aunties. Bear the call of Hinemoana across the oceans, gather the tide of humanity to answer her call, to live to our fullest potential as consciously loving children of Papatūānuku. May the stars and tides guide you true, may the winds favour you, may Hinemoana and Tangaroa care for you and bring you home safely to your whānau. Mauri taiao, Mauri tangata, Mauri Ora.
It’s been a wonderful month for learnings, not so great for plastic waste. Both for the same reason: International travel.
I was VERY fortunate to be selected to present at the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education (WIPC:E), as a part of a larger delegation of 48 people from Aotearoa. As a group we travelled over to Hawai’i and stayed on the west coast for a few days, hosted by an amazing ohana there, before moving on to the conference in Honolulu for a week.
I’m just going to say now that it is REALLY hard to travel without using plastic. Not impossible, but I learnt a great lesson. Travelling non-plastic requires diligent preparation. Especially when you’re travelling in a group and you don’t necessarily have your own transport, itinerary, or eating arrangements.
Plastic on planes…. ohhhh the plastic on planes. The condiments that come plastic wrapped, next to the plastic wrapped cutlery, and the plastic wrapped serviette, all provided inside their own collective plastic bag… and the plastic wrapped blanket… and pillow… and earphones… And the consistent offerings of water in plastic cups. Do a girl’s head in. I’m writing to Hawaiian Airlines in the hopes that they’ll consider aligning themselves a bit more with the statewide move to reduce plastic waste.
So anyway I did what I could, where I could. I tried using the same cups/cutlery where possible – but like I said travelling in a group without your own itinerary or transport made things difficult. I didn’t bring my plastic waste home with me to weigh so let’s just say yeah, nah…. May has been the big ole plastic fail.
With that out of the way, I have to say, Hawai’i has been the most inspirational and transformative journey I have ever been on – and I’ve done my fair share of travel.
As we moved away from the airport and toward the west, our eyes were glued on the landscape and the beaches – The West Coast of Oahu is, without a doubt, breathtakingly beautiful, in land and in people (it has the highest Maoli population on the island). There’s an undeniable majesty to the whenua, but it is beset by a number of challenges. The refineries, wastewater plants, and the incredible number of cable systems crisscrossing the landscape reminded us that our tuakana fight the same ngangara as we do in Aotearoa. Our first sight of a homeless camp drew a gasp from some people on the bus, but then moments later came another, and then another, and just like that we realised these communities are another part of the landscape, particularly so for Wai’anae, where these camps have been set up and supported as a means of channelling homeless away from highly visible tourist centers of Waikiki and the North Shore.
It didn’t take long to learn that, like so many other nations that have a colonized indigenous population – the native communities in Hawai’i experience the greatest social and economic challenges – their lands are targetted for toxic landfills, surrounded by chemical research facilities, military training grounds GMO crops and pesticide test crops. Wai’anae is Oahu’s largest native community and has more homeless than anywhere else in the state.
And, like so many other nations that have tried to overthrow indigenous will – there is a deep, profound resilience within the people of the land. A strength underpinned by whakapapa, ancestral ties to the land that are inseverable by nature of their divinity. For all of the anguish I witnessed at the continued barrage of the government, I was inspired the unstinting resistance, the pride, and the resolute nature with which many of them stand their ground, and build toward a new future.
So for the first few days we were hosted by these guys – Ma’o Organic Farms. A non profit organisation based in Wai’anae, they grow organic produce, employing local youth, and linking them into tertiary education – while also promoting sustainable lifestyles, cultural values and community connectedness. We spent a morning working on the farm in various areas, each of the groups led by youth, and I have to say I was blown away by the strength of their character. A truly amazing outfit. They are promoting the values of sustainable practices, championing the incredibly important cause of food sovereignty, providing local youth with an education and income, work ethics, and a skillset that will provide for them and their whanau for the rest of their days. All of this in addition to a growing organic landbase.
Just when I thought I could get my head to stop spinning at the awesomeness of it all – I get to go out to dinner with Kamuela and meet his good friend Kevin Chang and powerhouse of a wife Miwa, who is the Deputy Director for KUA, an umbrella organization for a number of the grassroots environmental initiatives happening across the islands. Check out their website and prepare to be seriously blown away by some of the amazing work going on over there.
Here is Kamuela talking about the Ma’o Farms approach to resistance through food sovereignty and education.
And here’s another seriously inspiring talk on clever resistance:
Hawai’i has a LONG history of political resistance, and like our people, have had to make a stand, and hold their ground, numerous times. But it can’t always be about saying no. We need to plan our “Yes” strategy. There is a time for making a stand, and there is a time for moving ahead… and we need to be clever, and strategise, about that path ahead – because if we don’t chart our own progress, then progress will become something that happens TO us. We need to be divergent in our resistance, and arm ourselves no only with flags and placards, but also with pens, with the tools of the maara, with the knowledge of our own ancestral healing systems, with the skills of negotiation.
This resonated so strongly with me – from the creed of my whānau:
To the values of the indigenous sustainability program that I deliver – the harnessing of modern technology, the resurfacing and reapplication of ancestral knowings, the faith in a divine thread that links us to our purpose and to all things – to all that surrounds us – the positive, collaborative, progressive approach to forging our path ahead in this world in a way that maintains our identity, our integrity… the obligations we have to our tipuna to carry their ways of being, and knowing, and doing, forward to our descendents in a way that is meaningful and respectful. This is everything that I am about, so naturally my heart sung every minute that I spent around this kaupapa.
From there I went to WIPC:E – and again, there were many, MANY fantastic experiences, and wonderful workshops, and connections, and how can one not be warmed and inspired when they’re surrounded by so many empowered, gifted, intelligent, indigenous relations.
On our first night in Honolulu we went to the Bishop Museum for the Aotearoa evening. The absolute highlight for me, that evening, was seeing the awe inspiring Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe – who, as the CEO for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, wrote to Senator John Kerry asking for legal advice on the sovereign status of Hawai’i – which, according to the USA was formally and legally annexed in 1898 – however the legality of the events surrounding the annexation are still highly contested, and in any case the Kingdom of Hawai’i is still acknowledged, even by the US, in a somewhat grey manner – and many consider the state to be a sovereign nation under illegal occupation by the United States. Crabbe’s letter to the Secretary of State – in demanding final transparency – was an act of political resistance the likes of which has never been seen from within a state agency. This is history in the making, and the type of savvy, powerful leadership that is required by our people in this climate.
“It took a resistance — and not just a resistance for its own sake — it took a resistance from one who plays equally well in both worlds: one who would [don] the suit and a malo; one who is educated at the academy and reared in the lo‘i kalo; one whose mind is firmly set in the present and whose spirit is free to roam the past. Sir, my children will know your name, and so will their children, and so will their children after them. This is my honor to you.”
A letter, yet an act so powerful, your name is immortalised.
From Oahu I went to Moloka’i to visit with ohana from Ka Honua Momona – again another inspiring initiative that is returning back to their ancestral practices as a form of provision, education, and re-connection to their ancestral roots.
Two years ago we hosted the Ka Honua Momona ohana here in Gisborne, and connections were made there that will never be broken. This whanau have a deep, spiritual, profound connection to their identity that is bolstered through engaging with their ancestral practices and developing indigenous education systems by revitalizing natural and cultural resources. After being welcomed to the fishponds by my Moloka’i sister Kauwila, we were taken to present to the Moloka’i community on our pathways and work. I was incredibly humbled by the warmth and beauty of the Moloka’i community, will never forget my time there, and cannot wait to go back to connect with the ohana again.
Mahalo, Hawai’i – in you I saw the strength of our collective tipuna – the ties that bind us are rooted in our shared ancestry, the maara that was seeded in the days of our Atua.
We are resilient, we are innovative, we are determined, and we will thrive.
40grams – up on last month. I let myself down a bit this month by being unprepared – I came back from some time away and was out of dogfood, it was late and they didn’t have biscuits at the dairy so I got a dogroll for Ella. I also accepted some crayfish that a student gave me after dropping her home, and then after removing the whitebread plasticbag that it came in, passed it on to a good friend. It’s a little bit frustrating that other plastics are still working its way out of my household from last year. My bathroom is MUCH less… plasticky (?) than it was in January. There are, however, a couple of items (mostly gifted stuff from previous years), that, with my heightened awareness of toxins, I will likely NEVER use, so I can’t see the point in holding on to them, and can’t repurpose, but hate to just throw them into the wastestream. To be honest I feel a little guilty re-gifting them too.
“Here, have some cancer causing agents. Who loves ya.”
So… I need to make my mind up about throwing this stuff into the wastestream – or giving it to someone. Maybe I’ll send it all to Simon Bridges. He’s quite fond of pollutants.
It’s been a BUSY month. Fighting petroleum/oil drilling in our region – TAG oil, to be specific, thanks to good old Simon Bridges, has been granted exploratory permits, and after a VERY lacklustre consultation process our local council granted them resource consent to begin drilling.
They only had a few weeks within which they could drill (they’re not allowed to drill in the winter months) – so we scrambled and searched for ways to hold them off until this week. First act of resistance… was karakia.
We went to the drillsite, connected to the whenua, and offered karakia to Papatūānuku for her to prepare herself for what was to come. This was not for the oil companies – this was between us, and our whenua. We prayed to her so that she could prepare herself, and we prayed to Ranginui for more rain (because they couldn’t build their drilling platform or ford when it was raining). Some of our akonga were confused, they thought we were going there for a protest against the oil company. It opened the floor for discussing the many different forms of resistance and activism. Just holding hands and giving everyone a space to discuss their hopes, and offer their own prayers in their own way, is a potent act of resistance.
Well, must have been… the following two weeks saw TORRENTIAL rain, a couple of cyclonic weather patterns, and high enough water flows to hold them off. We now have a few months to formulate a call for a review.
Also spent this month putting together a presentation for WIPCE, in Hawai’i – where I’ll be speaking on the environmental degree I’m very blessed to be given the task to facilitate and deliver. Well, environmental sustainability, governance, leadership, succession and resource management degree (or we can just call it a kaitiekitanga degree). Was also attending to my own studies, and delivering another presentation at the National Permaculture in New Zealand Hui. Ahhhh such a beautiful group of people speaking my language of connectedness, progression, care for Papatūānuku and interdependence. Very empowering, and soul-nourishing weekend there. Then back home, tutorial, and then off to run the Tū Marae challenge – great team-relay from Takipu Marae to Mangatū Marae – 20km all up. Wonderful day – 154 competitors ranging from 8 to 80 years. Loved seeing all the beautiful whānau teams especially all the nannies and koros running/walking with their lil mokos beside them. Too cute. I got the 5km hilly run leg. Hard work but great to connect with the whenua that I usually drive through. Even got to pick up some plastic along the way.
Mel, Me, and Char on the last leg (and my last legs…)
And here are all the whānau, warming up – and warming my heart 😀
And so, in keeping with my own doctrine of loving yourself so that you can care for others, I had to take some time out to just catch my breath when I got back home this past week… which meant hanging out with Ella and Benny, and tending to my treehouse.