Ko wai au

Ko Ngātokimatawhaorua te waka. Ko Hineāmaru te tīpuna. Ko Tokerau te maunga. Ko Taumarere te awa. Ko Mohinui te marae. Ko Waiomio te whenua. Ko Ngāti Hine te iwi.


“Power doesn’t give itself up without a fight,” Kennedy Warne said, staring up at the monument to Kupe in gladiator-clad bronze. He was referring to the government, but as he talked, I was thinking of other things. A person, specifically.

“I used to think this country was progressive,” I said. “But I realise now that everything Māori have achieved and accomplished has come through struggle. Nothing we truly value in life comes without a fight.”

Kennedy nodded and a comfortable silence settled between us. We strolled around to the quote by Patricia Grace, hidden beneath the boardwalks like a piece of seaglass.

I love this city, the hills, the harbour the wind that blasts through it. I love the life and pulse and activity, and the warm decrepitude…there’s always an edge here that one must walk which is sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance

Inside me, something shifts. Cracks a little. 

I asked Kennedy if wanting to change people’s minds was something he deliberately set out to do in his writing and he didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely,” he said. “That’s the whole point. I want to be part of a movement for social change.”

The word he used was “nudge.”

Not drag. Not push. Not cajole, or frighten, or oblige. 


And I thought: Yes.