He Maori ahau, I am Maori.. and so much more
Third week into the detachment kaupapa; I feel as though I've become more me by detaching and decolonising from certain things, as if I'm no longer locked in by external measures or expectations and allowed to determine for myself, by my own definition: who I am. Detaching from external stimulus to define our identity in the first week; last week’s post was about detaching from colonised whakaaro (concepts) of what ‘looks Maori.’ This conversation is so over done and overrated, can we talk about something else? A lot of people don't look ignorant, but are the personification of the word.. some people have all the gears, but no ideas.. Looks can be deceptive and although useful and valuable in context; not as a foundation to build our identity. Besides, if my tupuna (ancestors), saw me now - would they consider me Māori based on my looks? Probably not, but because I have their blood running through my veins and I am the result of all they have achieved and endured.. I am all of them! He Māori ahau, I am Māori.
As a continuation from last week, you should know that although I am Māori, I'm also so much more. I consider myself extremely blessed to belong to Pākeha (pale, fair skinned), non-Māori whakapapa (ancestry) as well. Which begs the question, does having less Māori blood in my body make me less Māori? I don't think so, for the exact reasons mentioned in the previous post, but that's just me (and my tupuna....). I don’t buy into the blood quantum system that has the audacity to limit my whakapapa to mere numbers and percentages. BQ - enforced by Pākeha in America to qualify Native Americans as belonging their tribe (ridiculous), which has affected other cultures too like our whanaunga (cousins) from Hawaii who, according to this system must have 'x' % of Hawaiian blood to claim their ancestral lands. One of the many tools used by the coloniser to condition us into letting mainstream points of view dictate cultural meaning. The effects are prevalent today, and one encounter in particular blew my mind. I was on flight down to Christchurch sitting next to a young girl and she asked if I was Māori, “yes, I’m Māori,” “but how much Māori are you?” Perplexed, I replied, “I’m just Māori.” She went on to tell me how her mum was half Māori and she was 1/16th herself. She also educated me on the Māori name for Rotorua, which was “Aotearoa.” Look no further for proof that from a young age and from being fed incorrect (colonised) information, we're conditioned to think, feel and act a certain way.
So why do we keep talking about it perpetuating the colonised perspective, the same narrative, the same points being discussed. It's halfway through 2017 guys... move on already, aren't you bored as bored as I am hearing the same yarn being spun different ways? We can't define cultural meaning based on the structure of a system designed to oppress it. Much like searching outside to define who we are as individuals; for Māori, only Māori whakaaro (concepts, principles, ideals, worldview, values) can truly define Māori kaupapa (philosophy, meaning).
Sweet, now park that up for a bit, keep that whakaaro (idea) in mind while we concern ourselves with something more productive, like I dunno.. knowing ourselves so we can serve our purpose of which we were born to do.. Be tangata pai, good humans or figure out how we can best add value to our lives and to the lives of others.. Find something we're passionate about to pursue with all our might.. In today's world we could have, do and be anything we want! There are books released everyday about topics we couldn’t even imagine, uncle Google has endless pages on any topic you could ever want to learn about - the resources we need are out there, we have the potential within us... why don't we have what we want or why aren't we who what we want to be??!
It's not in my whakapapa to.... What would so and so think... You know the excuses, we've all used them. Newsflash: It's not about them or those things outside of you. It never has been. Although when we base our livelihood on external variables, like other peoples opinions or definitions of our culture, it's easy to think so. Let's take a different perspective, take a step back and consider the likelihood of being born human for a sec:
1 : 400,000,000,000,000
(one in four hundred trillion)
We could've come into Te Ao Mārama (world of light) as a tree (awesome), a blue whale (sign me up), or a piece of metal in the device you're reading this on which are all fantastic things, but instead, we won the lottery of pretty much the whole blingin' universe and our wairua (souls) incarnated as humans! Capable of sharing ideas, creating beautiful art and machines, affecting positive change etc. Yet we waste our time numbing our mind, comparing our lives to someone else's, thinking things will make us happy, and discussing topics like how she doesn't look Māori because she doesn't have a tāmoko (Māori tattoo) and because she has blonde hair. Or she's not as Māori as him because her mum is Pākeha. Get outta town, joker. People used to say the Earth was flat once too, based on inaccurate knowledge and information; it's the same argument, different content. It's important to educate ourselves, but be smart about it: you can't learn all there is about a turtle and expect to apply that knowledge to knowing a lion and we can't define cultural meaning based on the structure of a system designed to oppress it.
The cultures and divine whakapapa (heritage) each of us belong to, in combination with our natural born abilities and skills, what we enjoy are 1 in 400 trillion!!? They allow us to serve the world in a way that is totally our own. When we detach from colonised and outdated measures, external definitions and the like, we allow ourselves the room to grow and become the 1 in 400 trillion miracle we truly are. My current interpretation; I am my whakapapa. I'm guided by my tupuna and their knowledge in what I do and how I do it; the outlet at the moment is writing and snapping photos which might change in a year or even a month, but for right now (the only moment that truly ever matters, because you create both your past and future based on the decisions you make now) it's what I've got and what I'm doing.
Use what you have (external).
Be who you are (internal).
Kia ora rawa atu,