Septober Tally

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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.

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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

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SO total plastic footprint: -11.6kg :D

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.

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Gorgeous solar powered paper lanterns and fairylights made for a magic festive ambience.

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Bamboo cutlery, recycled cardboard plates, cups that compost in under 45 days…

IMG_2970 Earth. Composting. Portaloos. FTW.

IMG_2965 Clearly signposted bins lined with bags that compost in less than 40 days… like the signs?

IMG_2936 they’re made from REPURPOSED wood planks :D (Queen Repurposer in that shot, my sisinlaw Cleo Thorpe-Ngata – helps to have a kickass artist in the whanau)

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The Lotusbelle tent for the wee’uns to play in all day/night long.

IMG_3036 …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.

bags
(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.

Mauriora,

Tina

For Whom The Taika Roars (An Open Letter to Taika Waititi)

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Oh, joy, Disney’s turned it’s attention our way. In late 2016 we can look forward to the epic Disney tale of Moana – “Moana” is to tell the story of a spirited teenage girl and “born navigator” who sets sail in search of a fabled island in the ancient world of Oceania. Along the way, she teams up with a demigod named Maui and encounters mythical creatures and places” (LA Times). Awesome. Disney gets to play with our Atua now, as well. Taika Waititi wrote the screenplay, and the film will be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog). So, Taika… let’s chat:

An Open Letter to Taika Waititi.

Tēnā koe Taika, I hear you’ve written the screenplay for Disney’s new film about the voyaging traditions of our tipuna, through the narrative of a young woman named Moana, and her adventures alongside our Atua, Maui. Naturally, you’ll understand, given the many, many ways in which our stories have been misrepresented in the past and how these misrepresentations have been used to justify the removal of our children from their communities, the denial and degradation of our language, the profiling of our culture as romantic savagery, or of our women as exotic and/or promiscuous, of our men as primitive, lazy and barbaric, the theft of our land, and in general, to legitimise the warfare against our people and ways – that there might be a little bit of concern about the placing of our stories in the hands of others to tell.

So do we have anything to worry about? Well let’s have a brief glance at Disney’s track record with storytelling…

I’m going to start with Pocahontas. Who wouldn’t. Particularly pertinent, Taika, given your public spanking of Trelise Cooper for her culturally inappropriate use of First Nation headdresses on the runway:

Was it the 70s that Disney was portraying Pocahontas as the hypersexualised Hollywood babe with the playmate face, tight buckskins and Caucasian-ised hourglass figure that gets saved by the white knight (twice), was it the 70s when they were portraying First Nations historical and spiritual characters in ways that diminished and trivialised the culture and their historical significance and strength? Err… nah it was 1995. But hey, water under the bridge, right? I mean it’s not like we’re still suffering the consequences of Disney’s global mass-communication machine and their rampant production line of western-centred social narratives.

Except they continue to roll out, and profit from, the same culturally inappropriate merchandise. Except for the countless times I have worn my own hair in braids, and, as a Māori woman (or girl), I’d get told “Oh you look so Pocahontas” or even called “Poke-a-ho”. Except for the annual Halloween roll out of the “Pocahottie” outfit and the continued media throwbacks to that stereotype. What’s the other culturally inappropriate outfit we see at this time? Oh yes… the war bonnet. But you hate that kind of cultural appropriation, right, Taika?

Guess what:
pocahontas

But ok, that was a different crew. Let’s check out Aladdin – similar time (early 90s). That’s the crew that will be working on Moana, so how’d they treat Arab culture in Aladdin? Oh – yeah – hyper sexualised women, Princesses dressed in slave attire (because harem chicks are hot, doncha know?), highly criticized racist undertones, culturally inept references to Allah, and responsible for a multi-billion dollar merchandise market that continues to this day to profit from the perpetuation of cliché, culturally inappropriate stereotypes. (and again, more Jasmine-hottie costumes).

Not looking good huh. So how about Disney’s last sojourn into Te Moananui a Kiwa? Lilo and Stitch (2002) – purporting to support culturally centered notions of “ohana”, and apparently, displaying their cultural sensitivity by using more appropriate and culturally respectful bodyforms.


Yeah… still didn’t do so great – in fact heavily criticised in indigenous reviews for it’s uneven storyline, misinformed cultural tropes, and resplendent with racist, patronizing, and colonial undertones. Not so surprising, and in fact it’s to be expected when asking too much of an inherently racist money-making machine.

But that was 10 years ago, things have changed, right? Wrong. Like I said… Disney still roll out and profit from merchandise from all of those abominations of stories. They continue to profit from the undermining of other cultures and the re-presentation of their stories in a way that disempowers the source and reinforces colonial and western norms. They continue to perpetuate clichéd gender and ethnic stereotypes at their theme parks.In fact, drop by Disneyland today and you’ll get treated to the kind of culturally offensive sensory assault that just might send anyone with the slightest sense of indigenous consciousness into a stroke-induced coma. Doesn’t exactly sing of commitment to indigenous rights and respect, does it.

Looks like your colleagues/contractor still find cultural insensitivity and racism super awesome innocent fun.

They continued, with their most recent film Frozen, to take from indigenous culture (Sámi), and make a cliche mockery of Scandinavian stereotypes, in order to appeal to US audiences and worldviews. The only thing that seems to be developing (sometimes) is the sense of agency and strength of the female protagonist – but scratch under the surface and you’ll see continued gender clichés, a systemic gender imbalance in the production of Disney films, and of course we’ve still YET to see any kind of challenge to the imposed norm of sexual orientation (who wants to put their money on Frozen 2 – Elsa marries Helga).

Yawn.

We already have our own rich storytelling culture, Taika. It doesn’t reposition itself to appeal to the racist humour and privileged wallets of our colonizer (as your chosen colleague has). It doesn’t perpetuate imposed stereotypical norms of gender, culture, or sexual orientation (as your chosen colleague has), or minimalise our kaitieki, or mock our ways (as your chosen colleague has). The story of our voyaging tipuna is not just yours to place into the hands of Disney – it belongs to all of our whanaunga across Te Moananui a Kiwa. It is rich, it is complex, and it is ongoing. The placing of this narrative in the hands of Disney is, at best, cavalier – and at worst a complete sellout. While we continue to promote and demand culturally appropriate platforms and relevant contexts for telling our own stories – the mass-consumptive power of machines such as Disney has the absolute ability to eclipse our voice and position.

I hope, I really hope, that we’re not going to find ourselves dealing with the same fallout experienced by pretty much every other culture Disney has cast their eye over. I hope you will be able to face the myriad of our whanaunga across Te Moananui a Kiwa who you are affecting with this story. I am quite sure the movie will be a sellout. I hope, sincerely, that you have not been.
Tina

Indigenous Rights = Gay Rights = Human Survival

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Oh yes he did.

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”

(I’m gonna say it… boom)

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.

Celebrations.

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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.

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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.

Mauri ora x

Julygust

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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.

weighin
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.

Plus… Huancaina.

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…

beachrubbish

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. pfjinfo
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?

Easy… Apathy.

Our apathy.

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.

Can we have a “Screwed System” Plan?

We say we value our rivers, but then Council consents to more intensive forestry operations, when we already have severe sediment problems.

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.

That changed when the people started to pay attention, and call for attention.

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:

patiki

ngutukaka

puhoro

We sing of it… we pray of it… we weave it… we paint it… we wear it… we carve it.

We have to step up for it.

Mauriora.

The Review. (About Bloody Time)

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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

NATRACARE

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.

Commonsense Organics stock Natracare, and in Gisborne you can find them in Manutuke Herbs.

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.

REUSABLE PADS

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.

MENSTRUAL CUP

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 :P . 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.

Mauriora.

The Very Late June Tally

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Now you guys know what my professors feel like (and if you’re reading this and are one of my students, that was not automatic licence for an extension).
Life has been crazy this past month, well life is crazy in general. GREAT crazy though – lots of new projects on the go, and wonderful events around the place. But first things first! June weigh in:

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25gms.

Made up of: A sticky plaster, a coffee lid (total brainfart moment while in a hui and someone was taking orders for coffees duuuhhh), the plastic wrap from my mooncup (review coming up next post!!), a latex glove that I’ve had since last year and used to keep the water off my sticky plaster (I’ve reused the glove a bunch of times but now it’s torn), the lid of a gingerbeer, the lid of a cider bottle, and a few receipts.

Doing ok! I rather suspect July will be not as good though – I totally flaked the other day on the way to a hui which I’d helped organise – I thought we’d be able to stop at the bakers to grab a loaf or something to take, you know… kōha, manaaki etc. Except the bakers were closed. There was only the 4square open and as I felt the clock ticking I stood in front of that damn shelf of plastic wrapped biscuits having the MEAN internal dialogue:

“Get over yourself Tina, you can’t go empty handed, that’s just not on”

“But I can’t! Look at them, they’re so… manufactured and plasticky!

“You’re going to be late. Cuz is waiting in the car. Get the damn biscuits already.”

“But… but… what about some mandarins!”

(Walk over to the mandarins, which are dry and also have plastic stickers on them)
“GAAAAHHHH”
(Return to the biscuits)

“Get. The damn. Biscuits.”

“But the plaaaastiiiiiic”

“Get the biscuits, get in the car, weigh the plastic at the end of the month, fess up to it, and I promise from now on we’ll do a heap of home baking just for hui and manuhiri.”

Eventually, on that promise to myself, I reluctantly dragged myself, sulking at myself, to the counter with a packet of Ginger Kisses. Sugary ginger kisses of deceit.

Do you know what really sucks? They didn’t get eaten, didn’t even get opened… and I can’t take them back with me so I’m going to have to just… add some penalty grams or something to the July tally.

I baked like a mofo for the next two days. I’m still baking.

As an aside: When I got into the car with the ginger kisses and a big pout, my cousin was so devastatingly sweet about the whole thing – saying she would have driven us to find another bakery, that we could have gone into town, and yes we would have been late but I could, probably, have called. Lesson learnt – People get what you’re doing, and most of the time they’ll be cool with the little complications it makes. So don’t freak yourself out. And be better prepared.

And mistakes are ok. Really.

Here’s a clip I want to share with you – it’s my very good friend, Ngapaki Moetara. Ngapaki has recently moved here from Wellington, and is on a journey, which she’s sharing on her facebook page TuRongo Rongoā A journey about detoxifying her life, and learning how to grow her own food, and make her own rongoā (medicine) for her and her young whānau:

Gorgeous, nē? And you know what I love about it? I love her openness – that mess of a rongoā station is an absolute heart stealer to me – because that’s what people need to see – the realness of it. We have our messy days – hell we have messy LIVES. But we’re still here, we’re still doing what we can, when we can, however we can. It’s not a flawless story – reality never is – but that’s where the beauty begins. Those beautiful flaws that make the rest of us smile and feel a little bit more comfortable. We make a commitment to do a bit better, and to never give up, and we soldier on.

Here’s another one of my favourite wāhine, along these lines:

Marama Davidson – Yeah I intentionally chose a pic that looks like she’s about to have a bladder eruption from giggling. Cause how cool is that.

Marama is a strong, valued political voice in Aotearoa for women and children, for ethnic minorities, for indigenous rights, and for the environment. She is a tireless campaigner of social justice, a social media BOSS and a devoted mother… but probably one of my favourite qualities of hers is her unstinting honesty about the messiness of life.

A few cases in point:

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Here’s her gorgeous maungakakahu.
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Which of course set a bunch of us to post back our own growing laundry mountains in support and gratitude:

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And here was mine, at the time:
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Ah the solidarity when we realise we’re not the only ones with messy couches.

And then there is this, this, this

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I can’t say how much my heart sings to hear women remind each other of these truths. The truths of our humanity, the truths of our irretractable divinity, the solidarity, support and understanding we can offer each other.

There’s another aspect to it – KNOWING WHAT MATTERS. There’s a whole lot going on in the world right now. Sometimes maunga kakahu just needs to be there for the day while you sort a few other things out. The other day I had a LONG list of to-dos. A few phonecalls, some unexpected complications, and at the end of the day I looked at the list and not one thing had been ticked off.

But I DID do this:

I’m pretty good with the fact that that’s what I did get done.

Now, nobody’s saying live slovenly. But the bare truth of the matter is – it’s HARD staying on top of everything. People often ask me how I handle and juggle everything – and there are varying responses akin to a) being single b) not having children or c) not really knowing but somehow I fluke it. All of those have elements of truth but the wider truth is probably this:

I don’t, really.

I mean, to say I handle and juggle everything would be to infer that it all stays up in the air and me on my feet and that just isn’t the truth.

I fall over, often. I’m late with stuff, often. Sometimes I miss appointments (I try not to but it happens). My house is… seriously… piled up with books, books, paperwork, books, and laundry… and there’s a LOT of filing to be done. There are days when I feel strong and there are days when I feel incredibly weak and just want to hide from, well, everything. There are projects that I’ve not yet gotten around to that I intended to start a long time ago.
Sometimes I have a good old cry.
Somedays I accidentally grab plastic (as you’ve seen). This month I knowingly did. :(

But I always, always, get back up the next day and give it another go.

And that’s the best you can do for yourself, and a wonderful gift to give others, too. Give yourself permission to be flawed, to be beautifully flawed. To learn from those flaws, and commit to working on them. You’ll see… everyone else will post their messy couches too. :)