Septober Tally

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 😀


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 😀 (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 ❤

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.