Politics & Culture
Stuff to do with stuff I care about.
Kereama Taepa grew up with a foot in two worlds. As a kid, he didn’t really notice there was a difference. He moved between the homes of his Pākehā mum and his Māori dad, soaking up the creative influences in both. One of his earliest childhood memories is drawing stick figures at his nana’s kitchen […]More
'People often have this very narrow view of what te reo can do. People think that Māori stories amount to myths and legends. But that's such a limited perspective. Our language has incredible range. We can traverse all genres and styles. We can do anything with te reo, and do it well.'
Standing on the periphery, it looks like two different and opposing worlds facing each other across a great divide. Which is, some days, exactly what it feels like to live in New Zealand.
Shame is one of the biggest barriers many of us face in learning Māori. The word whakamā means “to whiten” yet it’s so much weightier than that. Shame and fear of speaking Māori isn’t something that only affects shy people. Even the most confident speakers can lose their voice sometimes. I’ve heard people deliver powerful prepared […]More
Twenty years ago I graduated from Whitireia Polytech with a Certificate in Journalism. I scraped through with a minimum pass and a faint congratulatory smile from the head of the Journalism School, Geoff Baylis. He was a legend in his day, as a former editor of The Dominion who had been briefly famous for taking […]More
EDUCATION HAS LONG BEEN USED AS A WAY OF NORMALISING ONE SET OF IDEAS AND VALUES OVER ANOTHER. IT’S COLONISATION BY STEALTH. A BATTLE FOR OUR HEARTS AND MINDS, USING WORDS AND IDEAS AS WEAPONS. THAT’S WHY, WHEN WE SAY WE WANT HISTORY TO BE COMPULSORY IN SCHOOLS, WE NEED TO REALISE THAT THE CHALLENGE IS AS MUCH TO UNLEARN THE HISTORY THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN TAUGHT, AS IT IS TO TRY AND TEACH A NEW, “OBJECTIVE” HISTORY.
A few years ago, I worked as a quiz writer on a TV show aimed at secondary school kids. Trial runs before the show left us scrambling. The historical questions had been pitched way too high. Some kids weren’t even sure what century the Treaty was signed, let alone the date. As for what each […]More
IT’S NOT THAT ONE CULTURE IS BETTER THAN ANOTHER. BUT PĀKEHĀ NORMS AND VALUES ARE SO DOMINANT IN NEW ZEALAND, THEY’RE INVISIBLE TO A LOT OF PEOPLE. PĀKEHĀ OFTEN THINK CERTAIN WAYS OF DOING THINGS ARE NORMAL, WHEN IN FACT THEY’RE FOLLOWING CUSTOMS AND RITUALS THAT ARE BASED ON A SET OF VALUES THAT MAY BE ENTIRELY FOREIGN TO OTHERS.
There’s a saying, a whakataukī, that reminds us that the kūmara doesn’t speak of its own sweetness. My Nanama was big on that. Waiho mā te tangata e mihi: leave it to others to sing your praises. In te ao Māori, being full of yourself isn’t cool. Trouble is, most of the time, we’re living in a […]More
Last night I dreamed in Māori. They say that when you start dreaming in another language, that’s when you know you’re becoming fluent. I am not fluent. I am nowhere near fluent. But over the past six months I’ve begun to think that maybe, one day, I might be. I was enrolled in a rumaki course […]More