Culturally, I identify as being of Māori descent. I am part of the current indigenous culture to New Zealand (formerly named Aotearoa). I say that I am part of the ‘current indigenous culture’ because there were people here before my people arrived. They were known as the Moriori and truth be known, there were probably human inhabitants of this land before the Moriori as well.
My people played a significant role in destroying the bloodline of the Moriori. My people killed them off pretty much. That left us as the indigenous people here. And then the Pākehā came along – first the Dutch, then the English. The Americans and French also came here and made attempts to colonise my people. The English won hands down.
And then the English had a bloody good go at annihilating my people so that they could then become the indigenous people of this land. Obviously that plan wasn’t as well orchestrated as planned out. Many of us (Māori) no longer have a strong bloodline. There is thought that I also subscribe to, suggesting that eventually the English came to realise that the more civilised way to annihilate Māori would be to breed with us therefore ensuring our genes would eventually become so watered down that in centuries to come we’d no longer exist.
You may have heard rural people say “you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl”. Relating that to how I feel as someone Māori is the same thing. The Pākehā (white skinned people, generally the English and descendants) banned my native tongue from being heard. We were segregated. We were punished for being brown skinned. We were fed alcohol, tobacco filled with toxins, and other drugs all addictive and all lethal to varying degrees. We top all the unproductive stats across NZ like Diabetes Type 2, Heart Disease, Lung Cancer, Mental Health, Prison, Welfare, Obesity, Unemployment, Homelessness, Poverty, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence … I’ve missed some I’m sure.
We have been made to feel way less than “less than“. I grew up having been adopted at birth into a very British family believing and feeling like the biggest piece of shit on this planet. The media have played a pivotal part in ensuring that I would not feel good about myself as someone Māori. The arena of online News around this country still allows for comments that are at best misinformed and at worst, a vehement vomit of words that many of us Māori have heard all our lives.
And I feel pissed off about it.
I spoke with Kai Whakaorakai on Friday. I shared with her that one of the biggest things for me in relation to my journey with her was coming to comprehend that I was no less Māori for enjoying the sorts of kai (food) that I do.
See, here’s another eye opener about the damage colonisation and growing up in a prejudice environment affords those of us Māori – We’re stereotyped into believing that we ONLY eat certain types of kai. It’s usual to see fast food places such as McDonalds, KFC, Wendys etc – at least in some areas of NZ, filled predominantly with Māori and other brown skinned Pacific Islanders.
I was stereotyped into believing that my “role” in life was simply to be fucked non consensually, bring up a heap of kids that I didn’t want, be consistently beaten by probably a string of gang associated Māori men, and eventually either drink myself to death, smoke myself to death or eat myself to death – that’s if I survived being beaten to shit.
I actually believed that’s all I was worth
People – generally the Pākehā culture, harp on about so called Māori “activists”. I say bring on the activists, only nowadays activists are more closely thought of as terrorists if they’re not careful with how they word their out loud thoughts. That’s a generalised thought of mine – not fact.
Activists such as Dame Whina Cooper helped shape the person I am today. I watched her on a television possibly during the mid 70’s at Bastion Point. She was being carried away by Police for claiming her right to be on this land. Many others were also carted away during a land occupation and the land occupation went on for what seemed like to me as a very young child, forever. Eva Rickard was another Māori woman of pure influence in my world during the 1970’s. I aspired to be just like them one day.
My British family named me and it’s been a longing to be able to afford to change my name. For many years I did not know what name I wanted for the remainder of my life. And then I came across the most perfect name during a role play at a Treaty of Waitangi workshop of all places. The Pākehā construct of names is quite different to indigenous peoples. For example, in the Pākehā social construct of my name – Te Atārangi, is my first name. However it is not my first name. My entire name in English is The Reflective Land Walker. I am unwilling to share my entire Māori name at this point in time. However as you could appreciate in ref to my name in English, it does not equate to Te Atārangi. As much as I find this frustrating, I am working on being a flea up someones behind about the way those of us with non-English names are forced to wear our name in the official written form incorrectly.
I am also steadily working on the people who write the software for ‘government systems’ to enable their workers to also use macrons for Māori and Pacific names ie my name is Te Atārangi – not Te Atarangi. My new birth certificate uses the macron, I can’t see why other systems are unwilling to take on board the simple procedure. People – human beings, write the protocols for systems. Not ‘the system’, which is what I’m forever in a day being expected to believe.
I have recently had stage 1 of a tā moko completed upon my face. My kauae – chin, and my hotiki – forehead, were scribed in ink Tuesday the 24th of Jan, 2017. It was a very special occasion that marked more than my face. Why am I sharing this in what I call my “fat journal” instead of my private one? Well, I’m in the process of a ‘coming out’ period. You could say I’m coming out as someone Māori. Part of my coming out and coming home to myself process is about being more visible. With my tā moko, there’s no hiding who I am anymore. For those in the know, ie who are able to translate Māori symbols, my face now tells the entire story of my past, my present and my future. There’s at least one more stage to complete if not two. The next stage will happen later on this year or next year.
Where’s all this leading to? Visibility and my right to be seen. I have spent an entire lifetime covering myself over with food, being angry at myself, treating myself like the biggest piece of shit that ever walked this planet and so forth. It matters not what happened to ME – it matters what I did to MYSELF and, it matters what I’m doing FOR myself now. That is all that’s important. Here I am. I am here to stay.
The previous entry was a ‘weigh in’. I’m now sit on 154.3kg. I’m down 49.7kg over a period of 2 years. Getting under 160kg on a regular basis was incredibly difficult. And now I’m nearing the 140’s I’m starting to not only FEEL thinner, I’m thinking thinner too. The next two weeks are going to be crucial for me. It has been 2 days since I last weighed in and already I have consumed about a weeks worth of kai. My body so struggles to feel safe with less weight. All is not lost though. Tomorrow I’m at the gym – so long as I wake in time. I have a need to work up a strenuous sweat on the bike. OMG – I’ve just realised something! I almost weigh less enough to be able to hire an exercycle now! That will greatly assist me regarding cardio stuff. And, take the pressure off of me from needing to be awake and on the road to make it to the gym by 9am x3 times a week.