People & place: Nadja. Rotorua - Te Papaioea, 2016.

On my most recent trip back to Aotearoa (NZ), I had a lot of travelling on the cards. I traced from the north shore of Tāmakimakaurau (Auckland), to Kirikiriroa (Hamilton), to Tauranga, to Whakatāne, to Poroporo, to Rotorua, to Taupō, to Te Papaioea (Palmerston North), to Pōneke (Wellington) and almost everywhere in between.

I picked up my friend, Nadja, on the side of the road. She was heading down to Wellington, ohh yeaaahhh! Although the car I was driving was wonderful, it didn't have a sound system, so I was glad to have some company. Nadja was from Germany, and we had a good kōrero (talk) on our 4-hour ish trip down the country. Nadja isn't on any social media, she's borrowing her mum's phone to take photos with on her trip (otherwise wouldn't have a phone), and has been in Aotearoa for about five weeks - she is a rockstar.

- “You have a lot of signs here,”

Nadja's response, when I asked what some of the differences were between Germany and Aotearoa. She showed me photos on her phone; signs from hostels and backpackers she had stayed at, the majority about cleaning up after yourself etc. and she thought they were hard case (hilarious). Another notable difference, she said, "people are so nice here, they are so polite. For example, if I wanted to ask you to wind your window up, you people say, “could you please..., or would you be so kind as to wind up your window...” if I was in Germany? “Wind your window up.” I'm not being rude, I'm not angry at you, it is just very direct."

I asked Nadja what it was like to travel as a German - I warmed up to it, relax - I was curious to find out if she feels the taumaha (burden, weight) of the actions committed by the Nazis, generations before her. Being Māori, I've learned the perspective of my people, the oppressed people; so I was drawn to understand what it would be like for Nadja, (and probably many other Germans and other iwi (tribes, peoples) around the world), whose whakapapa (origins, ancestry) is woven together, with a dark history of oppressing others. Nadja agreed that in some places and spaces, she does not proudly claim her German whakapapa (heritage), because she's aware that some people may liken her to a Nazi, simply by being German. I could empathise with my new friend on that front; being held accountable for the actions of the generations before us, or being measured by the same standards as a minority group. We had a good kōrero, and I told Nadja I was heading down to Wellington the next day, but she was a girl on a mission, flying out later the next day! What a way to live.