Tirohia whakaroto

Auē! Ngā iwi e
Ka noho au i konei ka whakaaro noa
Me pēhea rā te huri a te ao katoa?
Ngā rongo kino e tukituki nei i te takiwā
Ngā whakawai e hau nei i ngā tamariki
Kua kore noa he ture hei arataki
Te mana, te ihi ka takahia mai
Kia kaha tātou ki te whakahoki mai
Te mauri ora me te wairua
Auē! Ngā iwi e!

Late Wednesday night our people lost a true taonga – a skilled leader, orator, activist, advocate, ambassador and tohunga Amster Reedy. At his tangi on Saturday, I sat and soaked in the mihi… and sure enough, as always, a theme emerged. Here was someone who was internationally renowned for his skill and knowledge in Te Ao Māori – and yet the measure of the man was in his unstinting support for ahi kaa, and in this measure he was celebrated repeatedly on his final day. He reminded us all that inasmuch as Ngāti Porou may boast a proud profile of achievement abroad, this amounts to nought if the source of all that we are sits neglected. Nō reira e te tianara – kua hoki atu koe ki te pū o nga mea katoa, ki te taha a o tātau tīpuna kua wheturangitia. Moe mai, moe mai, okioki atu.

After the tangi my cousin and I returned back to hospital where our new moko lay snoozing away. Only 48 hours old, our moko made his way into this world as Papa Amster bid farewell. There’s something about a new baby, that sacred space of purity – when you gaze at a small miracle, and realise the simple elegance of the notion that life, at its essence, is beautiful, and worth treasuring. Our new moko loves to be sung to, and while I stood revelling in his beauty the other night, the above song fell forth. Ngoi Pewhairangi composed this waiata in consideration of this world, and all that would befall our descendants. It’s a waiata that speaks to whakapapa, to past and future generations, to fears and possible solutions.

I thought of what had happened in the past week – of Uncle Amster, who carried so many of those values of our tīpuna – a man who truly honoured our ancestors in the path that he walked. I thought of bubba, and what world we were creating for him. I thought of the elections that were happening at that very moment, and even the political changes happening further around the world. I went to my friend’s place for the election results, and of course as we know…. National won. Disappointed, I returned home and again considered what was happening here, and around the world. I thought about the challenges for our indigenous whānau in Hawai’i, in Turtle Island, and elsewhere. I thought of the Scottish Independence referendum. Since then I’ve followed the commentary regarding the huge numbers of non-voters. Themes of disillusionment and hope danced about in my roro and so I sat with Ngoi to make some sense of it all….

Ka noho au i konei ka whakaaro noa
Me pehea rā te huri a te ao katoa?

There’s something weird going on around the world – it’s totally not playing along with my idea of what’s RIGHT. There’s a glimmer of hope for change… and then it’s dashed down. Take the Scottish Independence vote – First of all let me say, obviously, it’s not my country. I don’t live through the social and economic ramifications of the decision, and I don’t know enough about the economics to know what would have been in the best interests of those who actually live there – kei a te hau kaenga te mana kōrero mō te kaenga – and, unlike our election, they actually DID have a strong turnout – so perhaps this just wasn’t the time (and I write that with a sigh). I will say, however, that my romantic ego would have rejoiced in a YES vote. A big old “screw you UK, screw you 1%, screw you, you warmongering superpower, screw you, you marauding tyrannical overlords” would have appealed enormously to me. I certainly feel for those “Aye” voters that really believed in this cause, you were so very close… and that must have been heartbreaking. I was reminded of the Declaration of Arborath…

So what do we fall back to in such times? What solace is there when you feel your ancestors crying? You look within. You remind yourself that so long as you live your life in a way that honours them and what they stood for, you will never fully be under anyone else’s rule. You remind yourself that no piece of paper, or political arrangement, can hold dominion over your values or spirit. You hold on to that, you teach that to your children, and in this way, the battle continues until you have won.

And here is where I come to the next point. What is it… to “win”? In the case of Scottish Independence, the answer is a little more conclusive – arguments regarding social and economic outcomes aside – to “win”, for yes voters, is to achieve independence, and once that happens it will not be revisited. In the case of our recent elections… winning is a much more anomalous creature. We cannot not “win” anything as conclusively in this system – what we would win is time… a bit of time to put a few things in place that could ensure the survival of our native species (for now). A bit of time to retrieve and protect our natural assets (for now). A bit of time, perhaps, to clean and protect our waterways (for now). To look after our less fortunate, to protect our children. For now.

But what then? Let’s say, hypothetically, that we did win, and had a center-left government. Let’s say we did win that bit of time to put safety measures in place (and by golly, did we need them). In 3, 6, or 9 years’ time another party will have come into power. No government, in this system, will hold power indefinitely. And even with MMP, historical patterns of left to right and back again have continued, and so it would swing back to right ideologies again – and they would then have their time in power to undo what was done, to re-work legislation and policy in a way that suits their ideological bent. This is what we do… we grab the power for the time we have it, and try to arrange our blocks as hurriedly as possible before we know the inevitable hand-over occurs. If we don’t like what the last ones did… we’ll just legislate it away. We move to and fro like some kind of weird political cha-cha – periods of progression followed by those of archaic regression.
(yes it’s more C-C/left and C/right but you get my drift)

I am NOT saying that voting is pointless… in case you missed the entire analogy – if one of the partners were not to push back then the cha-cha would simply be a march off the dancefloor. Without those periods of progression then we would simply fall into a steady decline. Our mokopuna will not thank us for that. I voted because we needed more time, for our Maui dolphin, for our koaro, for all of our native species, and I don’t have faith that this govt would enable the systemic change in time to save them. I voted because there are whānau around our islands who need help NOW… and a more caring government would be able to help them, sooner than this govt will consider shifting the power process. I will continue to vote in spite of my awareness of this flawed system – because I know that we are least likely to change that flawed system under a right-wing government.

Ngā rongo kino e tukituki nei i te takiwā
Ngā whakawai e hau nei i ngā tamariki

What I AM saying is that this system is not one that provides conclusive solutions, only solutions for a time. It provides for some progression – but that progression is always vulnerable. It provides short term protection, at best. Our disadvantaged know that, because they live with that reality every day. They’ve lived with it under Labour, they live with it under National. Our youth know that this government can do nothing for them – they’re not effectively represented anywhere. Hell – we tax them at 16 and don’t even give them the right to say how their taxes are spent until 18. Ask our most vulnerable to compare how their household fares under Labour or National and I’d be surprised if it amounted to much more than “shitty and shittier”. MMP and Māori Seats allow for important pull (and in the case of Māori seats rightful representation), but the overall powerbalance still swings center-left to center-right, with whānau and whenua suffering in between.

What I’m saying is that we can’t simply vote, and believe that the power of the day will provide the permanent change that is needed. More is needed, and it has to come from us, in our homes and communities.

Kua kore noa he ture hei arataki – the law will not guide us. The law will not change us. Only we can change us. And we are the ones that most need to change. No “New World” will come from a short-term power system. The change that is required, is required now, and must happen WITHIN US.
And what does that change look like? It looks like this:

If you have more than enough – you will share with those that have less.

You will understand that you are not in dominion over the planet, but rather an equal member of an interdependent system that includes the soil, the water, the trees, and all manner of insects, macroinvertebrates, microorganisms, mammals, air and sea creatures. All has its place and role, even you. You are not here to rule over this system. That’s nature’s job.

You will take responsibility for your actions upon others, and upon the planet.

You will fear less, and love more

Good news is you don’t have to wait until 2017 to elect that into power. You can elect that into power within yourself today.

Yes it’s scary that so many of us are apathetic at election time. But honestly – I’m even more scared that so many of us are too apathetic to make this shift, internally. Once we DO make this shift – we will most likely be more politically motivated toward substantive change, and ironically our realities will probably be defined even less by the overarching powersystems.

Kia kaha tatau ki te whakahoki mai… Te mauri ora me te wairua, aue ngā iwi e – The most fundamental answers lie not in the political power of the day, the answers don’t lie in the dollar… the answer lies within us, within our mauri and wairua. Find our way back there and we will find the true solution.

And it’s here that I return back to the memory of Papa Amster Reedy. Everything that is achieved OUT THERE amounts to nought if we are not taking care of IN HERE. By that I mean our mauri… by that I mean our wairua, by that I mean our whānau, and our ahi kaa. We need to return to our source for fundamental change. That is not dependent upon a party, or an election. That’s dependent upon us making a choice to live more consciously.

That’s what I’m going to be working on for the next 3 years, until I can vote again for a government that will be more likely to consider systemic change.

Mauri ora.

3 thoughts on “Tirohia whakaroto”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: