Yo GDC, let’s go PLASTIC-BAG FREE! (and ditch Capt. C)


So here is my oral submission to Council, this morning.

I’m going to speak to two issues today – the first one of which relates strongly to relationships.
Relationships with mana whenua are incredibly important to me, and should be to everyone – I would expect that they should be important enough to be in the largely publicised discussion document on the Long Term Plan and I was disappointed that they weren’t. It’s my belief that this is indicative of a flaw in the value of the mana whenua relationship, and the first issue that I’m going to address today will further illustrate that flaw.

I note that $700k over 10 years has been allocated for the Waingake Waterworks Bush Restoration. Whilst I support the explicit focus of this very important area it is my belief that this is nowhere near the amount required to reduce the threats and implement a sound restoration strategy.

The very beautiful Waingake Bush, surrounding the Arai River.

The very beautiful Waingake Bush, surrounding the Arai River.

I appreciate the response from council on this issue which notified the budget for this work was based upon the restoration needs of this area identified by the Wildlands Report of 2003. The available Wildlands report does not include the options and associated costs so I have no way of knowing if the cost estimate is as outdated as the restoration requirements – however the fact that the foundational document is over a decade old further underlines my concerns that the initial amount allocated for this project is grossly underestimated.

As stated in my written submission – I find the council expenditure of $2.6million towards the celebration of Captain Cook’s arrival here to be perverse given that in his first 36 hours he managed to murder 5 local Maori, wound a further four and kidnap 3 – this was not uncommon practice across the Pacific for Cook, and in fact was eventually the underlying cause of his demise in Kealakeakua Bay in Hawai’i.

The Death of Captain James Cook, by Carter

The Death of Captain James Cook, by Carter

What I had not written in my submission was that a number of those killed in Cook’s first visit to Turanganuiakiwa were actually from Orakaiapu, on the banks of the Arai River, and were Rongowhakaata.


First Sighting of Captain Cook by the Maori by Richard Wallwork

So can you see, how the allocation of $700k for the headwaters of the Arai River is not only underestimated but also incredibly inappropriate in comparison to the $2.6million commemoration of a date that resulted in the murder, maiming and kidnapping of Rongowhakaata ancestors. That you would give so much so celebrate this event is nothing short of a whitewash and historical amnesia.

I note that previous documents have only referenced Ngai Tamanuhiri as the relevant iwi, and wish to point out that while this may be the case for the headwaters, the majority of the Arai River runs through the heartlands of Rongowhakaata and is their sacred waterway. I appreciate that Rongowhakaata representatives are envisioned to be included in the advisory group, along with local Manutuke and Waingake representatives. Holding a position on an advisory group that sits alongside other community interests presents potential for mana whenua voices to be subsumed and belies the fact that as treaty partners, mana whenua hold distinct powers that should go over and above an advisory capacity that sits equal with all others.
With this in mind I wish to highlight and support GDC’s following policy to strengthen relationships and share decision-making with Maori:

By including all of the relevant sections of the Council in engagement processes we will support co-designed and co-located projects and processes.

I therefore wish to submit, in light of council’s intention to include mana whenua in an advisory capacity, that the Waingake Waterworks Restoration Project be a co-designed project between the mana whenua of the Arai River and GDC.

I wish to further note issues related to Gisborne’s waste management. Every year, New Zealanders use 1.14 billion petroleum based plastic bags. On average a plastic bag has 20minutes of use. However, they can take anything up to 1000 years to break down in the environment.

As a pacific country, and coastal community we are also direct contributors to the extreme levels of plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean, which is rapidly becoming acidified by plastic waste, and is killing fish, marine mammals, and birds at alarming rates. The World Wide Fund for Nature has estimated that over 100,000 whales, seals, and turtles die every year as a result of eating or being trapped by plastic bags.

I appreciate feedback from council which seems to communicate that according to the council’s annual litter survey – plastic waste and plastic bag litter is, relatively, not an issue in Gisborne, and is best addressed through educating people into using reusable bags.

Well, I have been carrying out my own research, on a weekly basis, for over a year now.

The rubbish I wheeled into council chambers.

The rubbish I wheeled into council chambers.

This took me all of 20minutes to pick up from Kaiti Beach, on the way here – you cannot tell me we do not have a problem with plastic waste on the beach.

Since the beginning of last year, I have been divesting myself of plastic waste and taken an active interest in monitoring plastic waste in the Gisborne region, particularly on our beaches. To hear that the GDC has been actively educating people to refuse plastic bags comes as an absolute surprise to me because I have never once come across any sign, or person, who has communicated this message on behalf of the GDC. Most retailers still use plastic bags and do not ask. We have two major supermarkets, one of which uses plastic bags as a default the other which has plastic bags at the point of sale, with boxes a small walk away – and both of which have recyclable bags – however in my own observation surveys I have personally noted that the majority of users still rely on plastic bags. If, as the GDC response suggests, plastic bags are not a problem in our landfill, and they are not a problem in the annual GDC litter surveys – then WHERE are they going? Because we’re certainly consuming them.

Furthermore, in relation to the litter surveys, I understand that they are largely conducted on street sites, not on beaches, which is where the majority of littered plastic bags wind up. They don’t stay on the street waiting to be picked up.

The slides of rubbish that I have been picking up from the beach over this past year, which I presented to Council.

The slides of rubbish that I have been picking up from the beach over this past year, which I presented to Council.

I KNOW that we have an issue with plastic bag waste because I have been down the beaches, picking the rubbish up and I can tell you that we DO have a plastic litter problem and there ARE a lot of plastic bags on the beach. As opposed to your annual litter survey – I carry out a weekly litter survey when I walk my dogs on the beach and pick up the plastic litter, bring it home, sort it, wash it, weigh it and recycle it.

In a 20min walk on the beach I will average 5-6kg of plastic waste that I pick up. I have been weighing it since August last year and measuring the plastic that I pick up against the plastic waste that I create in order to understand my plastic waste footprint. As you can see – there are plastic bags here every single time, including PaknSave bags.

Globally, and nationally – plastic bags ARE an issue, this is not an opinion it is a fact – and our plastic waste does not just remain in our region either – it becomes the issue of other regions, it becomes an ecological issue that affects our ocean which we all have a stake in. Plastic bag consumption also fosters unsustainable behaviour because they are made from petroleum and in fact a car can drive 11meters on the petroleum required to make one plastic bag.


In short – the responsible answer is NOT to merely manage them as a waste issue but to manage them as a consumption issue, and turn the problem off AT THE TAP. They are an icon for unsustainable behaviour – so if we are to entertain any hope of having a sustainable future, plastic-bags cannot feature.
Bans come in many different forms and need not be immediate, absolute, or overly punitive – there are a range of approaches ranging from a ban on the sale of lightweight bags, charge customers for lightweight bags or generate taxes from the stores who sell them.

Major countries such as Rwanda, China, Eritrea,Taiwan and Macedonia have a total ban on the bag. In the United States there are 187 jurisdictions that have banned plastic bags, including two states (California and Hawaii) – in multiple jurisdictions across over 40 countries, plastic bag bans of one kind or another are being implemented. Here in Aotearoa Waiheke Island and Kaikoura have both committed to going plastic bag free, and weeks ago, Auckland Council’s Environment, Climate Change and Natural Heritage Committee unanimously moved to “Support making Auckland plastic bag free”.


It is therefore my continued submission that GDC support a journey towards a plastic bag ban for Gisborne region. This is a journey that can certainly be supported through proactive education, but must be with the explicit goal of divesting ourselves of lightweight single use plastic bags and thereby modelling responsible, sustainable behaviour.

I urge GDC to commit to reducing our plastic bag consumption through working with communities and business owners on a journey towards developing our own bylaw that will gradually restrict plastic bag use, and eventually ban them completely.


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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.

The details?

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.

20mins of plastic collection down our local beach in Gisborne.

20mins of plastic collection down our local beach in Gisborne.

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.

Airplanes - plastic, inside plastic, wrapped in plastic, in a convenient plastic pouch.

Airplanes – plastic, inside plastic, wrapped in plastic, in a convenient plastic pouch.

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.

Let’s soldier on. :D

Going Wastefree, Marae Styles

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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.

maraestyles (1)

Ngaa mihi o te tauhou paakeha everyone – hope you’re enjoying your summer, and will write again soon!

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.


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 :D


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…

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)

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.

(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.



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


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:

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).


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.

Indigenous Rights = Gay Rights = Human Survival


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.



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.

Mauri ora x