I am Hawaiian, Chinese and Haole. Whenever I am asked who I am I say I am Hawaiian, Chinese, Haole. At one point, when I was still small, I wouldn't acknowledge the Haole part, haole being my English, Jewish and potentially Irish descent. This would make my mother cry because essentially I wasn't acknowledging her mother or father who both have European descent. I love my mother and my father, this may not be everyone's case, but I love my mother and my father so I am Hawaiian, Chinese, Haole.
We have issues in our Native communities, we have issues in our communities. Even more importantly we have issues, personal issues, and we need to deal with them internally before we project them on others in our families or communities.
Below are 5 Actions All Natives can do to realize our own Awesomeness.
1. Own our personal experiences.
We all have our own journey, our own experiences. Not everyone has grown up with their elders, myself included. Not everyone even gets to grow up with their birth families. Some of us learn how to fish, hunt, do traditional crafts, learn bush/ocean survival skills and some of us learn our culture, or are at least introduced to our culture's through school (guilty here). The vicious part in our communities is when we start to compare our personal experiences to others (I have definitely been there, and still working through this tunnel). We need to identify our personal strengths and work with those strengths. We each have strengths in different areas and this is what makes our communities resilient. To be resilient personally, and in a community, we need to value our personal experiences, good and bad.
2. Compare ourselves to ourselves from yesterday (not the external environment).
After we start to value ourselves and our experiences the next action item is to keep the internal view going. Are we better than we are today from yesterday? Keep the focus on the inside. Do you know who you are? Do you know who you want to be, as a Native person? The only person who can define your "native-ess" is you. The only person who can value your "native-ness" is you. When we identify what experiences have built our character, what type of character we would like to build and what we can envision this character journey to go...we are all the more better to make ourselves resilient as part of an interdependent community.
3. Volunteer in a community we identify with, or would like to identify with.
I came home from school in North America, it was a hard time where I didn't really know what was going to happen or who I was. My mother was tired of me mopping around the house, so over it she just yelled at me "go volunteer!". I was taken aback by this, I didn't know what I wanted to do, I don't even know what I did but when I feel disconnected from community I volunteer. I have volunteered with planting trees, cleaning up streams, helping a friend move, dry dock for voyaging canoes and all sorts of things. These volunteer opportunities have allowed me to a part of a wider and diverse network, a network that is now one of my strongest supporters today.
4. Eat traditional foods, or learn and at least taste your traditional foods.
Not sure what your traditional foods are, get on google! I am Hawaiian and foods that comfort me when I am sick or need to feel home are poi, kalua pig, pipikaula, laulau and beverages like kookoolau and mamaki teas. These are foods that bring me back home, give me a clean feeling and allow me to share food with people I want to connect/reconnect with. Eat traditional foods of our lands. Make traditional foods available to our families. Plant traditional foods, in the ground, in a pot, as an ornamental and watch yourself grow.
5. Identify what makes us 'feel' Native.
I had an epiphany a few weeks ago when I was paddling with a recreation crew. I have had the honor to paddle, sail, currently learning to dance hula, learned some Hawaiian language, how to cook food in an imu (underground oven), dabble in cleaning fish and learn some chants and traditional stories but none of these actions makes me Hawaiian. None of these actions makes me Hawaiian, makes me feel Hawaiian nor will I ever hold above someone else's head that I am more X than the next because I have had those experiences. But the thing that makes me 'feel' Native, a Native Hawaiian, is participating in these communities. Participating in these communities have taught me how to work within a Hawaiian community and that is what makes me feel Hawaiian. Working in a Hawaiian community makes me Hawaiian. It is what allows me to identify as being a Hawaiian, this is defined by myself and not other people. Identify what makes you feel Native, own it, be righteous with it and although this may be perceived as a 'humble brag' you actually don't have to advertise what makes you feel Native.
Go be a fucking awesome Native, an awesome person and an even more awesome community member. Native people's are interdependent, we are an interdependent society. When we are at our best, our communities have the opportunity to be our best.
It has been one month since returning home from New Zealand. Heaps and heaps have happened and below are images with brief captions. Much of the time dealt with community outreach on the ocean in Haleiwa and Waianae, sailed to Pokai Bay from Nanakuli and visited Kamaile Academy on Oahu with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Was in the mountains with Limahuli Botanic Garden and Preserve in Hanalei, Kauai as Hokulea crew members and on ridges of Kalihi, Oahu for a Kokua Kalihi Valley plant assessment, reconnecting with members of Malama Makua, MA'O Farms, and connecting with new communities across America in Washington, D.C. via the Ford Fellowship Foundation at the National Academy of Sciences where the art pieces were a-mazing. It's a blessed kuleana and exciting to meet people from such passionate land and culture based points of view. check out these organizations and learn about the various ecosystems they strive to upkeep and perpetuate for our future generations on the ocean, mountains, ridges, on Army lands, on reclaimed agricultural lands for Indigenous Economic Development opportunities and in the Academy.
Cheers to all those who have made it possible to see our communities close to the land rise up!
It is taking sometime to put together the blogs for Te Papa Museum and after then sharing on Te Waka Hiringa a gathering for students in the Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. So in the time of collecting I am sharing a piece written during the noho. It was to explore the Joy of Writing which I hope (and know) is transmitted below. Mahalo for your time and attention :) Tena koe, Kia ora and Aloha. Me ka ha'aha'a - Indigenous Ecosystems (@kteabam)
Written at Te Waka Hiringa Koena 3 of 4 with He Waka Hiringa (Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge) at Wananga o Aotearoa (Kirikiriroa, Aotearoa)
He Waka Hiringa – Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge acknowledges excellence in indigenous practice and directs the benefits of those practices back into communities. This will involve a study of principled practice and the embedding of principle in your practice. This will culminate in the completion of a community project involving the application of your practice for community benefit.
Website: http://www.twoa.ac.nz/Nga-Akoranga-Our-Programmes/Tikanga-me-nga-Ahuatanga-Maori/He-Waka-Hiringa-Master-of-Applied-Indigenous-Knowl.aspx (copy and paste address in bar for more information)
Advisor: Shelly Davies email@example.com
Kaiako: Manulani Meyer
Parameters: hand write for 10 minutes non-stop, and if you can't think of anything write blah blah blah. No spelling or grammar corrections, just write, write, write.
My Favorite Place...
Even if you are not a write try this exercise out, write about your Favorite Place for 10 minutes uninterrupted. If you are open please share in the comment box. If you are more artistic express your Favorite Place for 10 minutes then post a video or photo of your creation.
This exercise for me was awesome and I hope that it helps facilitate writings and ideas I hold inside.
And back to the Te Papa and He Waka Hiringa blogs, to come :)
Cheers, Tena Koe, Aloha and Me Rongo.
Seminar At CSAFE: Center for Sustainability, Agriculture, Food, Energy & Environment (University of Otago, Dunedin, Aotearoa) [August 1, 2013]
An academic's life includes presenting research at home and abroad. As a visiting researcher from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) Botany Department, and potential student to be hosted at the University of Otago (UO) Center for Sustainability, Agriculture, Food, Energy & Environment (CSAFE), it is only proper to share who I am, where I come from and my interests (just as we would conduct ourselves in local communities). The only difference within academia is the presentation style can be classified as "formalized". Meaning standing at a podium or in front of a hui and sharing results of your experiences, in fact kind of reminds me of powhiri I have attended while in Aotearoa and being the only person in my party having to stand speak in my native language (as best as can) and sharing a song from my community.
Provided below is my academic "song". This presentation to UO CSAFE is an amalgamation of my Master's thesis research and future PhD endeavors I hope to delve into as a guest at UO CSAFE. Before continuing forward just wanted to thank my hosts for my time at UO CSAFE. It has been great personal and academic exchange. I look forward to my return in the near future. Ka pai.
If you are interested in more works which are peer reviewed and downloadable please click here.
Patterns and Processes of Plant Gathering in Culturally Vibrant Communities of Hawai‘i, Aotearoa and Rēkohu
In all the presentation was forty minutes with questions following. Questions from the audience were great and those in attendance seemed enthused about the direction responses from local community could take conservation.
Questions included a range of:
1Q: Are Native Hawaiians keen to continuing use of native or Polynesian plants, inclusion of post contact European introductions as well as the uptake of more recent introductions?
1A: Yes. It all depends on how experiemental an individual is, how much engagement they have with other communities and their interest in perpetuating hand gathering and traditional food processes.
2Q: In regards to the "Breadbasket" vs "Imu o nui" slide, will you be taking into account political structures in your research.
2A: Yes. Government dictates where we all are able to wander so it would be of interest to me (as a researcher) and communities I work within to be conscious of these relationships. Within Aotearoa I do not understand, in many respects, the treaty of Waitangi but for what I do understand of the political constructs in Hawaii it has taken me a lifetime to get to where I am.
3Q: Have your heard of whakatauaki work being conducted in Aotearoa, could this work be of benefit to your research in Hawaii?
3A: Yes. I am will be working with the Maori whakatauaki researcher and yes research occurring in Aotearoa related to whakatauaki can be applied in Hawaii.
4Q: What is the level of Government incorporation of traditional knowledge into educational systems? What is the level of interest of the people to incorporate this knowledge?
4Q: There is little incorporation by Government to include local voices. But there are Native Hawaiian programs that are exclusively available for Native Hawaiians as well as open to all citizens. The important thing is the individual want/availability to incorporate traditional knowledge within their family or make it accessible to their children. In Hawaii we have kohanga reo known as punana leo. It's hard work, you don't just drop your kids off and pick them up. It is an involved community where parents have to come together to take care of the facilities, fundraiser for the next years school session, and many are young parents. Family support is critical.
These were the shorts of the questions and answers provided. If you have any comments, concerns or questions yourself please contact here. To follow along click on the social media icons at the top of the page that best suits your communication preference. Cheers!!
Mahalo nui! Tena koe!
Kia ora tatou!
So just got back from dinner in Dunedin with a fellow researcher and recommendations provided by my host for restaurants to grind at were Italian or Japanese. I'm from Hawaii (which is heavily influenced, and visited, by Asian economics) so Japanese it was! I had my regular picks in my head already (mixed prawn and vegetable tempura, miso, with rice) and so did my partner (salmon sashimi and gyoza). We decided and ordered our meal in less than five minutes, then he said "Food should always be easy!". I nodded hesitantly. In my head thoughts were "well, what about the food we gather?". Of course my mind went there. Then he invitedly interjected my thoughts with "well that's not if we aren't digging it out of the ground or fishing it out of the ocean, processing, storing, curing..." and a great smile went over me cause that is exactly what I was thinking! Regardless of being in the most packed Japanese restaurant ever (outside of Sushi King during midnite special in Honolulu, yes look it up if you plan on visiting Oahu in Hawaii) all of our food had come from the land whether in a commercialized production line or not. Where else does our food come from, outer space? So, anyways, I was thankful for great food, beverage and mostly great company.
Relating to my experiences in the past two weeks the fruits (and vegetables) of the land and sea are deep, especially if you know what you're looking for and are open to what the environment wants to share. I had the great privilege of making connections at a marae in Karitane on the South Island. This is one (if not the only) hui who has rights to trade pounamu from their river. The great excitement in visiting this area was with my hostesses the Jackson whanau, who are phenomenal kaitiaki and warriors for te ao Maori, as you will shortly see.
The previous day to our marae visit one of my hostesses was guest lecturing a food science undergraduate ( year 1) class with an introductory, basic background, of Maori whakapapa to food (AWESOME!). In a nutshell, similar to Hawaiians, Maori are descendants of the land, literally. Maori and Hawaiians, as well as many other indigenous communities, have "creation stories" (yes those are quotations to emphasize these "stories" should be described more as genealogical charts) where earth mother (Papatuanuku / Papahanaumoku) and sky father (Rangi nui / Wakea) procreate. In te ao Maori this action created all the elements and realms known in our environment today (Tane, Tangaroa, Rongo, Tumatauenga, Haumiatiketike, Ruaimoko, Tawhirimatea) under the cover of darkness. In short Rangi nui and Papatuanuku's offspring were tired of living in the dark so Tane split the parents apart so light could shine into the world. Tumatauenga was upset at this action. Because none of the other siblings did anything to prevent the separation a whakanoa occurred where creatures of the land, sea, cultivated and uncultivated became available for food. During this time Tane became lonely so created Hineahuone from sand/earth and breathed life, or ha, into her (thus the pressing of the noses, or hongi).
[reference provided by S. Jackson; Adapted from "God, man and universe. A Maori view" by M Marsden, 2003.]
Major Maori values, as shared by Sam Jackson who hosted the lecture, include whakapapa, tapu, noa, mana and manaakitanga. Before any event or trip into the forest or ocean for gathering as kaitiakitanga of natural resources Maori provide a karakia, a mechanism to ask for permission to take food (physical/spiritual) from any of these realms. In all marae there is a clear separation of what is tapu and noa. There is a clear example of no food in the wharenui, a tapu area where ancestors dwell, and the wharekai, a noa area where food is prepared and consumed. The key here is to keep the sacred, sacred and the profane separate. Another example is the local custom of never placing hats (which rest on a tapu area, your head) on to a table (a noa area used to eat). The placing of a hat on the table has the potential effect to whakanoa what is tapu. Food is used to whakanoa areas, events, anything. This is one reason why there is always so much food around Maori and other Polynesian communities after large celebrations, gatherings, etc.
To protect resources rahui are placed in areas which have been affected by tapu, such as death or natural crises. Rahui prohibits food gathering in areas and are marked by pou, usually two on either side. Rahui can also be used to monitor take, such as to restrict access in areas for stock replenishment. Rahui are important because they protect the mana of the food. Intrinsic to the food itself is who and how the food is prepared, these actions adds to the mana of the food but also to the host and servers of the dishes. How food is presented to manuhiri or anyone is a "symbol of prestige of the land and the people".
Why did I just review my class notes with this post, because it's sets up our visit to the marae, and the slideshow above :)
As we entered the pa visitors were preparing to be welcomed on to the marae. As a visitor I entered with them along with my host, S.J. After the official mihi and hongi there was a break for tea in the wharekai, complete with pies, cakes and fruits. Following we took a short walk back outside of the marae fences to listen and view more genealogy displayed in clay, carvings, pou, in the mountains and the ocean by our hosts. A kaumatua took me aside and shared further genealogy of her people as she was brought up with it pre-war times. She then took us up to the urupa to view the whakapapa of her people on the headstone (about 3-4 meters tall) of one of her ancestors.
After all these adventures our Jackson whanau was keen to go for a wakaama or stand up paddling session. From the urupa we could see surfers bobbing about the curling waves. In prep to head out we met up with our host at the local school, where the outrigger and other ocean crafts were based. The tide was out, it was a super low tide, so we decided to go for a walk to check things out. Prior to walking out some paua shells were given to the family so traditional rattles with shells could be made and used during Maori focused youth camps they host. We placed some gravel rocks between the paua to have a play, it sounded good. We hoped to find more shells to place inside to create more natural, or "traditional", tones. On our arrival to the boat ramp the entire estuary bed was exposed, out went paddling anything. The water was waaaay outside exposing the clams and mussels. With the permission of the kaitiaki and instructions we began our search for shellfish. Anne-marie, S.J.'s older sister, completed her PhD in this area, with the community in fisheries management, and so was well aware of the shellfish limits. She was even part of an effort to decrease the daily quota possible for gathering shellfish in order to preserve stocks. So, with no bag, we collected coccles and pipi.
The next item for collection was rimu, to be used for the creation of games. On the side of the estuary a large piece had washed up on the rocks so we grabbed it and brought it over to the next beach. Our host, who knew the traditional parts used, first suggested making the blade of the seaweed into a bag (see video) for cooking the clams and mussels. After the bag was completed he moved on to fashioning a ball (pic on right) out of the stem of the seaweed with a knife. It was SO NEAT!!! We soon each made our own ball out of other found seaweed material on the beach (ranging 5-10cm in diameter). Since the adventure started at the estuary it had been a good three hours, so we decided to turn in and release our host so he could host the real visitors at the marae :) On the way back to the car, with a plastic bag in tow, we collected a few more shellfish to share with family and friends as well as to cook the next day for evening tea and well below quota.
We stopped for tea, where I was able to share more about my purpose and goals for this visit to Aotearoa, then went to go visit pou which marked rahui for a paua seeding operation both Sam and Anne-marie were engaged in throughout the South Island coastline. At both beaches we gathered shells to put into the paua for the creation of the rattles. This was our last stop aside from the scenic ride back home where the family shared some breath taking views of Dunedin (the weather was perfect).
On this day Tangaroa provided everything we needed, not wanted (food, knowledge, quality time with whanau). The tide was low exposing sea creatures and vegetables which allowed us to play with and be part of the seascape. This day will benefit not just us but others who will be engaging in this blog and their youth camps. We were also able to build relationships with each other and the marae hosts, them solidification and affirmation and me having a great introduction with the community.
The gifts of our lands are deep...hohonu
Even with population increase, encroachment from outsiders and alienation by our own The gifts of our lands are deep...hohonu. It is important to have gratitude for host culture protocols (which I hope was demonstrated in the story following lecture notes) and host culture environment. "The environment is a present and constant reminder of genealogical connections, of tapu (sacred) and noa (profane)"- S.J.. There are, of course, barriers to integrating or perpetuating gathering from the environment. Obviously there is the contamination of ecosystems through runoffs, removal of forests, human "waste", eutrophication of waterways, diversion of waterways, and the list goes on. Other less prevalent barriers are the fragmentation of local community (and there for knowledge, or interest there of), the restriction of once dynamic hui that followed the seasons to a single area and government seizure of traditional food and community gathering areas.
All challenges aside aroha / aloha is the greatest tool we have in re-establishing these fragmented areas of knowledge, community, landscape and in effect health systems to support our Nations. All challenges as side The gifts of our lands are deep especially when we remember who we are and where we come from, our whakapapa, mookuauhau, our genealogy.
Sam repeatedly thanked Tangaroa for the gifts we had received through out the day. And the greatest gesture of Aroha I experienced was through Sam, a vegetarian, who gathered, cleaned, processed and prepared the shellfish with her elder sister so that everyone else, kaumatua, whanau and manuhiri, could enjoy the gifts of Tangaroa. Ka pai Sam!
Make you wanna move your dancing feet!
Well at 0 degrees Celsius(or 32 degrees Fahrenheit), it's the only way to keep warm. And yes this is the track I was dancing to.
It was a Friday, just after getting home from Tai Wangana that I got the text at 2:30PM. In coming to Aotearoa I had made no hard-fast plans in order for spontaneous events as these to occur. The text was basically:
"In Rotorua at the moment. Not going to Auckland now. Just hanging in the hills. Getting my son and two others from Hawaii prepared to do a 4 day hike around Lake Waikaremoana. Where you at?"
It was the moment I had been waiting for. To head up to Te Urewera and get in the forest with Ngati Tuhoe. Both of which I didn't know much about before going on this trip, except that Tuhoe were mean (epic) outdoors men that were successful fighters of their land with great warrior culture, historically and in contemporary times. So I blindly made my nakedbus plans to arrive in Rotorua that evening 9pm. From there we headed out to "Tuhoe land" (as I refer to it endearingly) and prepared our packs for the next 4 days and 3 nights. With a viral cold running for over a week I got put down to rest while other's packed my bag (something that highly irritated me, but I was the guest and did as I was told as a good manuhiri). We woke up at 6am and headed out at 8am for a 3 hour drive to the bush then a 4 hour trek to camp. As we "burned daylight" we needed to get to Waiharuru hut by 4:30pm before the sun went down and cold set in.
Just for some background I am born and bred in Hawaii, the land of sun, rainbows, beaches and "lovely hula hands" (please read Haunani-Kay Trask's article for better context, available in her book "From A Native Daughter"). As a previous watershed assessment garut (Hawaiian Pidgin for "pee-on") I built up defenses in my hiking schedule such as never go out during winter because of possible flash floods, which I have been in, and the general threat of cloud cover and dumping rain in the mountains. So heading out in the Southern Hemisphere during winter with projections of 12-0 degree Celsius (54-32 degree Fahrenheit) weather I had my trust placed in my hosts. Anyways that is what I came to Aotearoa for, to learn ethnobotany / ethnoecology of Maori, about Maori interactions between the flora/ecology and the people. As for gear I had no pack, shoes, or sleeping bag. A big mahalo to my hosts for providing me necessary equipment to survive beyond comfortable in Tuhoe elements :)
We started our journey and things were fine. As we entered the forest Ru, who dropped us off at the starting point, came in with us. We walked for about 15 minutes then the head man got off of a small bridge and started to pick some watercress. He handed ithe small bushel over to Ru, while they both remarked how little watercress there was at this time of year. Ru wished us luck and pushed off for home. We continued on and it was a forest I have never seen. If you have ever wondered what it was during the time of the dinosaurs this forest is it. The towering tree ferns the large trees and crystal clear streams were breath taking.
The walk we were setting off on was the only great walk of the North Island in Aotearoa. It is the only patch of Native bush remaining All of the other great walks take place on the South Island. with one other river adventure on the North Island. It was unbelievable to me that the whole forest was native. No gorse, no weeds, no concerns of encroachment by invasive species (more on an "invasive" species concept to come), all foreign concepts when coming from the "capital of endangered species". But there are similar challenges such as removal of native bush, commercialization of land and globalization of the daily routine.
The great thing was our guide is Tuhoe and so is his family. When walking around he asked "Do you have something like this at home?", I answered "it looks like 'ie'ie is it kiekie?" He said yup. Later on as we grabbed scrap wood to throw on mud patches to keep our feet wet he got mud all over his hands. He laughed and wiped them on the trunk of a tree. I looked at the bark and got excited, it was familiar. In my broken Maori I asked, "Is this rama or ramarama? We have a similar bark but we call is lama?" Again he said yup. It was the start to my learning of the forest.
We got to our "hut" in time and initially when I thought we were going camping I immediately thought tarp, tent and outside, but apparently not on great hikes in New Zealand. Our hut was flash! Complete with 40 bunks (which we didn't sleep in), stainless steel sinks with running water (rain catchment) and a wood fire stove (which we did sleep next to). It was a nice experience not to camp in the freezing weather outside. Our guide went straight into fire building mode grabbing wood (which is sling-ed in by the Department of Conservation) and making our fire to cook dinner on the stove. This seems like an easy task but the wood was soaked and more skill was necessary than throwing some gas or flames. Being sick I was worthless in preparing the food so after the fire was established I kept it stoked, adding pieces and learning about the different wood densities available in the area. I learned which woods were good for cooking and of course they were the natives. These fire lessons continued over the next few evenings and by the last evening it was apparent that fire building skills were peripheral out here but a necessary survival skill.
The next few days were a crash course in plant name identification (Maori and English when available), retention of properties and traditional uses as well as modern adaptations. I learned over 20 plant names while in the forest and discovered a couple interesting fungi along the way. I was impressed by how much this 23 year old knew but after learning that he hunts (boar, deer, possum, birds), fishes (free dive, pole, spear) and prepares his meat it was obvious of course he would retain much information of the forest within his everyday practice. He would stop and "pop quiz" me on what plant it was, giving me a little more insight and experience every time we went over the plant more than once. Beyond just knowing names, uses and applications I also began to recognize the patterns he observed over long periods of time. Phrases such as "these plants flower in spring, so much for winter", and "the fruiting of this tree is off which affects the feeding pattern of the birds" it was apparent that he also had intuitive observations of climate change events. These are directly affecting behaviors he has observed and learned from his forest community over time. I thought this brilliant as scientist's themselves struggle to put these types of puzzle pieces together. But the thing is how will these "climate change" patterns affect the diet of Tuhoe. Granted that deer, possum, boars and trout are introduced species by Pakeha but people of the land have adapted over time with these species and learned their ways as well. As I learned more plant names I was as if I was recognizing a whole other community that surrounded me and supported Tuhoe for generations. It was an intimate setting.
As we exited the forest there was the comment, "this is the driest I have ever seen the track". In these statements I personally reflected about how would the people adapt and this is the question that many scientists are asking, "how will people cope with climate change?". What I observed in this short track around the lake is that no matter what, the people who rely on natural resources for food, will adapt to the changes because they must. I was impressed by the knowledge and preservation of traditional techniques still held within Tuhoe community and much respect to those elders who continue to pass on the knowledge. My appreciation of Maori knowledge of land and culture continues to amaze me. It is awesome to observe and experience just some of the extreme conditions (weather, isolation, food options) Maori embraced in deciding to live in Aotearoa.
My mom, after returning from New York told me "Baby everything there is black and white, when I got off the plane in Hawaii everything was in Technicolor". If mom was around today I'm sure she would classify Te Urewera forest as HD (High-Definition Television). The vibrancy of the greens in the forest were incomparable. I love my island home but I had never seen such vivid shades of green from the lake to the top of the mountains. Even the frost glistened of blue and white sparkles, which reminded me of my grandma's Christmas decorations (all white and blue sparkles).
The knowledge that Tuhoe is similar to this analogy. Tuhoe are unique in their circumstances of the 2013 settlement and they are currently preparing to celebrate this momentous occasion. As our guide exclaimed, "I never thought that in my lifetime Tuhoe would hold sovereignty of the land, but it happened. We estimate 4 generations for the transition period but ofr others it will take 4 seconds, 4 minutes, 4 years, 4 decades, each will have their own timing." In the beginning of our journey we went to get Ru to drop us off. While there we heard that a new addition was brought into the world just a couple days before. I asked what the baby's name was and Ru explained that it meant "the smell of the bush (forest)". I didn't understand what that meant but on the fourth day I was alone in the forest and there it was the sweet scent of the ngahere and I understood after the previous three days. "The smell of the bush" is the sweet fragrance of papa, of sovereignty, of life to Tuhoe. This baby is the first in the generation to hertheir land since the 1864 invasion by the British Crown. As recounted our guide shared, "With a name like that we are obligated to teach her everything about the forest. She will be taught everything of the forest. It is our responsibility to teach her the ways of Tuhoe." It will be a great generation to be apart of, whether teaching, learning or continuing on to the next for Tuhoe. It was a great moment for myself as well to be apart of this time. Such a time of new beginning, or a continuation of a proud and privileged history and future of Ngati Tuhoe.
It has been a couple of weeks since arriving in Aotearoa and everyday has been incredible. I originally stated that my visits to Aotearoa have been based in Indigenous Art and I don't know how I thought this trip would be much different even though my qualifications training is in the Natural Sciences of Botany (the study of plants).
Professional activities completed up to this point include but not limited to:
- being hosted as a Visiting Academic/Artist for one week at Waiariki Polytech within the Art Department (Rotorua)
- Attendance to the Auckland Maori Artists Forum/Conference 2013 (Auckland)
- Attendance of the He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research Conference 2013 (Hamilton/Waikato)
- Attendance of a Matariki (or Makahiki in Hawaiian) Presentation by Dr Rangi Mātāmua at the Hamilton School for Girls, and
- as a Guest speaker at Tai Wananga, helping year 9-11 (8-10th grade) students on a Project Based Research plan of their Traditional Food and Bush Gardens.
The day after I arrived in Aotearoa was Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, also known as the shortest day of the year. Simultaneously this time period celebrates the rising of the Pleiades constellation (Matariki). Currently this time in New Zealand is used to celebrate all things Maori: language ( te wiki te reo Maori), culture (Matariki) , those who have passed and those who will come in the future.
As Makahiki in Hawaii has allowed me to practice and engage with traditions it is of great excitement to me to be present during this time of year in Aotearoa. There are gaps in our Hawaiian knowledge of Makahiki but there are different from those of Maori understanding of Matariki. Through cross cultural dialogue, similar to experiences of the Hokule'a, we as Islanders in Oceania have the ability and capacity to rebuild our understandings of culture which was outlawed and put on the shelve during times of hard colonization.
As a visiting Academic/Artist to Waiariki Polytech I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was not my first time to the campus. Upon my arrival students were preparing to exhibit their BFA projects and prepared for marks given by their tutors (lecturers). The work coming out of Waiariki Polytech Art Department is highly conceptual, applicable to everyday life and allows for the audience to critically think about their role in 2D, 3D and 4D spaces.
I also got to work with first year students who taught me how to harvest, prepare and plait a food basket. Similar to lauhala weaving it was my first time working with harakeke fibers for purposes related to my traditional food research projects. In Hawaii we make food baskets out of coconut leaves and these are used to hold sweet potato, taro, pig and other vegetables from rolling around in our underground ovens. The processing of the kete was fairly straightforward but the time I most appreciated was those of the first years who walked me through. They were interested in making connections to Hawaii, interested in the processing of natural materials and eager to change their lives from what they understood it to be from viewers on the outside. One young Maori man, Tyrone, was very engaging with my in dialogue. We spoke about pre-conceptions of Maori as lazy, intoxicated and abusive of their families. I shared that we have similar stereotypes as Hawaiians in Hawaii but their is much work to do to support and dis-spell these understandings of our people. He shared of his work in his pa, working with multiple counsellors his family and members in council in order to support his whanau. It was at this point I realized my point of the day was not to make a kete but learn and exchange with other people who come from similar backgrounds. Tyrone finished his kete and went back home. He is enthusiastic about school and looks forward to following in his father's foot steps as a master carver.
It has been a couple of months working up to getting over to Aotearoa (New Zealand). This trip is my fourth and my previous experiences have prepared me for this moment:
In 2006 I had been invited to speak in Australia for the Society of Wetland Scientists conference. Right over the way was Aotearoa. Prior to pushing off for Aotearoa and Australia a Maori artist group came through at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Hawaiian Studies during my undergraduate. The lady who was warm and soft was June Grant one of the leading first generation Maori Artists. I told her of my plans in Australia and she invited me to stay with her in Aotearoa.
After the conference I flew to Auckland, caught a bus to Rotorua and met up with June. The next morning she took me around the village and to introduced me one of her relations, Richard Kereopa. At this time he was an undergraduate art student at Wairiki Polytech working on revitalizing the tradtional art of Maori weaving or raranga. Richard was only to host me for the day to visit an art school in Hastings but the days went by and at the end of it we were still together having heaps of fun, exchanging views on being Maori/Maoli (truly from a place), what it means to have whakapapa/mookuauhau (genealogy) and the politics surrounding these ideas.
I returned again in 2007 with a Native Hawaiian art group from the UHM Center for Hawaiian Studies. As a group of 6 we drove from Auckland to Wellington and back over a course of two weeks visiting at least one Maori art school, one Maori artist and an art museum each day. Our assignment during this time was to create one art piece per day relating to our experiences on this journey. The finale to this excursion was the first Maori Arts Market, which Hawaii's Maoli Arts Market is modeled after.
In visiting all various Maori artists and art schools we were able to compare between teaching styles, teaching emphasis and the works students created. Some schools were focused on communicating a story through imagery, others emphasize the experience the viewer has with the piece, others focused on technique and of course there were those who needed to keep the bottom line in the front of their minds. In this experience I learned how tricky and political art can be, and more over how overtly political Maori and Maoli art is. Besides this there was one thing clear: that Maori had created a cognizant support system where the previous generations nurture the upcoming generations to ensure community success, in partciptaing with this trip our Maoli advisor was also cultivating a supportive relationship between Maori and Maoli as well as between generations.
In 2010 my return was for the Te Tihi Indigenous Artists Gathering....now in 2013 it is my first time coming to Aotearoa as an artist and scientist. Both Richard and I are PhD students, he being a tutor at Waiariki Polytechnic and me a visiting artist/academic to the school for the week of June 24, 2013.
This blog is set up to share experiences from Aotearoa and abroad with home and beyond. In reference to previous trips I will be cataloging my food habits and natural resources that are valued.
My goal on this trip is to set up the next three years of my PhD with the University of Otago, fulfill my obligations as a visiting artist/academic at Waiariki Polytechnic and attend the He Manawa Whenua Conference at the University of Waikato in Hamilton.
Ka pai and Kia Ora!
is related to my N8v doctoral lifestyle journey