Indigenous = Ingenious
It’s so fricken cool to be indigenous right now
I watched the 2022 APRA Silver Scroll Awards last week, musically directed by Rob and Cilla Ruha. Needless to say, the ceremony screamed mana Māori motuhake - from it’s stage design, performance line-up, and the induction of our māreikura Tuini Ngawai and Ngoi Pewhairangi into the New Zealand Hall of Fame. You could’ve mistaken it for a Māori music awards ceremony, but the best thing about it was that it wasn't.
Māori owned a stage that has historically been a Pākehā dominated space. Our creative geniuses and incomparable talents were recognised as the best of the motu. Uncle Rob and Aunty Cilla and everyone involved indiginised a massive occasion in the Aotearoa music industry.
It would be ignorant to think that the pathway to get here was quick and easy, when in reality, this was likely the result of years of trials and tribulations as our people played the long game.
The game is a Pākehā one, and we are all players in it.
This awards ceremony to me felt like a massive win for Māori - it showed us that standing in our mana Māori motuhake with courage and perseverance pays off, and we can do it too. In fact, we need to do it.
You might be in a Pākehā dominated space now, like university or polytech, and feeling the pressure to assimilate to the Pākehā-dominated social norms rather than stand unapologetically Māori and assert what is tika and pono to you. I get it. I once stood in a business tutorial where I was the only Māori and instead of doing the ‘normal’ thing where people just unenthusiastically introduced themselves from their seats, I stood up and did my mihimihi.
Something that is so normal at home felt like the most uncomfortable thing ever. It made me never want to do it again, and from then on I made small compromises here and there in order to make navigating these spaces ‘easier’. It worked (though I never liked it) and I allowed the colonial system to do what it’s designed to do and try to snuff out my Māoritanga. Not a proud thing to look back on, but a massive learning!
Today, I try my best to stand strong in my mana Māori motuhake. I mean, that’s why I’ve dedicated the last three years to Te Pararē! There are kaupapa and spaces all around us where you can make a difference just by being unapologetically Māori.
When you find it hard, there are so many examples we can look to as inspiration today:
Tory Whanau (Wellington) and Tania Tapsell (Rotorua) the first wahine Māori mayors of their respective cities
Matewa Media release Frozen in Te Reo Māori
Māori wards are elected to local councils for the first time across Aotearoa
Poi were given to crowd at the Women’s Rugby World Cup opening
And so many more … so stand proud, be proud, because being indigenous = ingenius, don't ever doubt it.