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Wāhine o Waipareira: Women of Influence - Whaea Mereana Stubbings

Monday, September 19, 2016

Wāhine o Waipareira: Women of Influence

Whaea Mereana Stubbings

“If I had my life over again, I would do the same thing.”

From a child that is brought up with the reo, and going to school as a five year old, my cousin was my teacher, when we left home holding hands, we would korero Māori to each other and as I got in the gate it had to stop. When I got home after school we weren’t allowed to speak Pākehā, we had to go back into the reo. The theory of my father at that time was, it’s only six hours of the day that you go to kura, but once you leave the gate at school “huri koe ki to reo.” In standard two, you were strapped for slipping up at times, and I’d done something that I was reprimanded for, and I remember this word to this day, she called me a little shite. My Pākehā school teacher. And of course it was a new word for me, I didn’t know what it meant, and I went home to my grandmother: “he kupu hou I roto I te reo Pākehā,” and she said, well, tell me. And I said: “you little shite,” and I got a blimmin hiding! Because I didn’t know that was a swear word. Today for our tamariki, I’ve only got to walk down the road to hear the changes of the reo with the Kōhanga Reo and the Kura Kaupapa that was introduced. I see a lot of changes that our tamariki are learning the reo, it’s tremendous coming from my background. Where it was to do with my husband and I, and our five children, we travelled overseas with his job in the army, I felt lonely for home and the only way I could communicate in my reo was through my babies, and they speak fluent Māori today. I remember my own husband, being Pākehā: “huh, what’s the point? What do you want to talk like that to them? Nobody’s going to understand them.” Including his own mother, one time she babysat for us, and the oldest one at the time was two and a half, and he told his Pākehā nanny he wants the pottie in Māori, and she didn’t understand him. She said: “Mary you’re going to have to speak English to your kids because I didn’t understand what he wanted.” And my husband tautoko’d his mother: “Oh yeah, you can’t tell her anything.” My answer to that was: “My babies came from my body, I came from my mother’s body, not yours.” I’m happy that I was strong enough to overcome that.

When I was 22 years old, and you had to be 21 for the voting, and there’s the Māori party and there’s the Pākehā party. My husband, well, you’re marriage vows at the time when you got married, you were obedient. Your obedience is to your husband. And by the time I was 22 and I could vote for the first time, I went under the Pākehā roll, and when it was realised I was in the Pākehā roll, my answer to that was, my obedience is to my marriage vows. Til I got a bit stronger. I went back into the Māori roll. So there’s a difference, now it’s more equality.

I found it hard to have five children and working at the same time, we had two mortgages to pay for our home. I was a nurse and I used to have to wake my kids up at six o’clock in the morning, get them dressed, turn the main power on in the house, get them ready for school. My husband and I were both working and we’d leave home at seven o’clock to go to our jobs and there’s my three kids in the house all by themselves. I used to tell them, don’t you ever open the door, I had to use scare tactics, I said don’t you open the door to the neighbour she might go and tell the welfare and the welfare will come and get you and you’ll never see mummy and daddy again.

It was about boundary making. As I see it today, no longer is the nanny in place for the mokopuna when they are in times of trouble and for confiding. There were times when I was in trouble and I dare not tell my mother and father because I knew I was going to be reprimanded for it, I’d rather go and tell my nan, because she had a bag of lollies, I’d tell her and then she’d take me home so I knew I won’t get a hiding from my father. How precious my nannies were to me. I had the best of everything - put it that way. I had nannies, they were my friends, they were there to pull my ears if I played up, and I learned at the sides of my nans. Today, where are the nans for our mokopuna who are getting into trouble now? Those kids that beat up that shop keeper? I think that our nannies and the mothers and the fathers who conceived those children, they should be the ones locked up, not those kids. I’m quite strong about that. Today, with our kuias and us as mothers, I don’t see that. You will see a mother, and I observe a lot of times, I see the mother sitting there with her little ones and for entertainment she gives the kid her car keys or her packet of cigarettes to play with and when they break the cigarettes or lose the car keys they get a hiding. Simple little things like that. Because if you don’t teach them, it’s not their fault. The nanny’s not in place. I don’t know I might be speaking out of turn, but I feel so sad, because we are losing our babies.

Years ago in the Rangatahi Culture Group with the Catholic Society, I joined my children in the culture group at Avondale, anyway, there was a hikoi to Te Kuiti, first time I’d been to Te Kuiti, because I’m from up north, and there was a kuia there, she did a moteatea, a moteatea is a history, a lament, and she stood on her tokotoko, little old kuia, after the whaikorero, and they’d powhiri’d us on, and there she stood on her tokotoko and started to do her moteatea. And she was talking about the kūmara. The kūmara came with the wakas. And if you cut the kūmara open you will see it has discolouration, like purple veins. The kūmara hasn’t changed its taste, it hasn’t changed its appearance, but the Māori people have changed. She related this to the introduction of contraception, if women didn’t want to have a baby they could have an injection, to prevent you having a child, and did the kūmara change its appearance and its taste? Now today the scientist is telling me it’s going to change the appearance of the kūmara to take that discolouration out in the middle. Don’t they realise the kūmara is a kai rangatira? The Pākehā wants to change the appearance because it doesn’t look good. And when that happens there will be no Māori. Māori has changed but the kumara hasn’t. Will it be worthwhile having Māori? I’ve always remembered that kuia, she was a kuia from the Barrett family, a kaumatua there by the name of Tiki Pareta, Dick Barrett, and this kuia came off that lineage. If the Pākehā change the appearance of the kūmara on the inside, there will be no Māori.

My heart goes out to people who are living homeless, because of the financial situation. We never felt hungry, because there was always kai. Then again, us as Maori, we were never put through, how to budget money, though I was, I used to be given six pence, six pence was big bucks to me, and out of that six pence, threepence, three cents, was taken out to bank. By the time I turned 18 I had a tidy sum of 15 pound. I thought I was so rich! But five pound came out of that for my school C. It goes back to me as a mother, I never settled for fifty percent where it was for our five children, I wanted a hundred percent. Today, skills are lacking in parenting, whether it’s to put money aside, our people have got no homes, no roofs over their heads. So you find with our kids, once they hit intermediate they wag school and then they lose the want to go to school. When I look at it, for me with our children, they are fully established, because I had a thing when they got married, started having kids, once that baby comes off the tit, you get back to work. And I will look after those babies from the age of four months old til they’re five. Our children are in their fifties now, early fifties late forties, there’s sixteen years between the first three and the last two. In that group of mokopuna of mine, we have 11 sets of twins and four sets of triplets, when people realized the multiple births, my mother’s a twin, my father’s a twin, my mother in law’s a twin, hence the multiple births, the Women’s Weekly magazine made contact, approached me about the story for these multiple babies and my answer to that was my mokopuna are not public property, they’re mine. Down came the money, for a story, 2,000 dollars. I looked at it and I said no, not public property. Until they can guarantee them a bed and a roof over their heads and a pillow to put their head down and kai in their puku, and another lot of money came down to 10, 000 dollars. I ended up telling them, my mokopuna are tapu. Money doesn’t buy what I’ve got, they’re my taonga, my jewels, they keep me going.

Future to me? My future lies in the hands of that fulla up there.

Every day is a bonus. I don’t celebrate birthdays, I don’t celebrate my mokopuna’s birthdays. I don’t give presents to them, but I’ve instilled in them, it’s a privilege to have a nanny, a koko and a pops, they call us kokopops. It’s a privilege to have us as your grandparents. When they have their birthdays I believe in voice contact. I’ll ring them wherever they are, if they’re not in front of me, and I sing to them.

I remember what my father said when my oldest brother turned 21, the Ngāti Hine’s came, the Tainui’s came, and the Kaikohe people where my mother comes from - this big 21st in Auckland. My father stood up to mihi his son but he paid homage to his wife, and this is what my father said, in Māori: “There’s only two things happen to a human baby - te rā i whānau, te rā i mate - in between - he karanga taonga. The child is whakanui’d on its birthday. And the child is not looking at your arms and your eyes, and hearing your heartbeat, he’s looking to see what you’ve got in your hands. And that’s what he called hami taonga. But he paid tribute to our mother, the one who brought his son into this world. We used to have a thing, my sisters and my brothers, every year when it was my birthday I would ring my mother up and say thank you for having me. And I don’t celebrate birthdays because for me - for future - every day is a birthday. And that’s a bonus for as long as I’m still blinking. Does that answer that?

Nga Pae o Maramatanga Conference Presentation

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nga Pae o Maramatanga Conference Presentation

By Haze White

Back in June the Wai Research team submitted an abstract for the Catalyst of Health project entitled ‘Te Haerenga Roa o Urban Whanau - Capturing Catalysts of Hauora’ to be considered for inclusion  in the 7th Biennial International Indigenous Research Conference 2016 (IIRC 2016), hosted by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga on 15-18 November 2016 in Auckland. 

This submission was successful and was a massive achievement for the Wai Research team, but more importantly was a testament to the power of our whānau stories. 
The Catalyst of Health project looked at the determinants of health and wellbeing of West Auckland whānau in the last 30 years. We interviewed 25 whānau whose stories provided massive insight into the evolution of successful Urban Māori. Many whānau attributed a big part of their cultural, community and physical wellbeing to Whānau o Waipareira.

Nga Pae o Māramatanga (NPM) conferences have been held to wide acclaim and have been integral in showcasing our indigenous innovation as well as the significant amount of novel Māori research. The conference presentation will be a first for Donna and Haze who are both eager to undertake the challenge. The team will be assisted by Dr Amohia Boulton of Whakauae Iwi Research who has a long history within Māori health and Public health research. Her extensive experience in the research field will play a key factor in crafting an interesting and informative presentation.

“It is an absolute privilege to be able to share the stories of our whānau who have been part of the landscape of West Auckland. Our whānau stories are like gems that help paint a picture of a past that many of us who currently reside in this area have not been privy to.  Their stories help give us the context to who we are today as the organisation of Waipareira, and also the direction we need to head into in order to be successful for future generations.” -Donna Te Whiu

Urban Māori court victory over iwi

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Urban Māori court victory over iwi

by John Tamihere

Heading the list of present-day Māori challenges is still the apparently hopeless task of persuading the Crown to deliver on the promises it made in the 1840 Waitangi deal. But there are other issues well within the means of Māori to resolve. And one of those is mending the rift between iwi leaders and urban Māori authorities — particularly when it comes to sharing the Māori fisheries assets.

NUMA (the National Urban Māori Authority) has been under the impression that the assets have been for the benefit of all Māori — and that Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust was obliged (in the wake of the 2004 Māori Fisheries Act) to see that $20 million would go into the hands of the urban authorities.

John Tamihere, a former Labour MP (1999–2005) and now the chief executive of the Waipareira Trust, outlines the recent developments in the tussle, which includes a High Court ruling favouring the urban Māori argument.

“In 1992, Māori unemployment was hitting 34 per cent, so we were all looking for ways of levering our people into jobs and new opportunities.

The Ohu Kaimoana Fisheries Settlement of that year was one of the first and biggest Treaty of Waitangi Settlements to take place. Overall, it amounted to $170 million.

Our urban Māori group said: “We are Māori and we are in the cities. We make up a large bunch of Māori, so we want to be participating in this economic opportunity.”

But that was denied, which is why urban Māori have had to fight for any sort of share in the settlement from Day One.

To cut a long story short, this went to the Privy Council twice and has been to the High Court and Court of Appeal countless times. From that, Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust was formed after significant litigation waged by urban Māori groups through the 1990s.

The fisheries settlement that was firstly signed off was a Māori-wide settlement — it wasn’t an iwi settlement.

But the people who got the muskets first did best initially. What the modern-day iwi chiefs did was line up their QCs as their new muskets. We had to play the same game and, even though we got muskets late and couldn’t afford as much ammunition, we did pretty well.

Then, in 1999, I went to parliament and helped write the law of the Māori Settlements Act 2004. In that legislation, I accepted and always have done, that the local people should have the major say over our assets. But that’s subject to them never forgetting us in the cities and suburbs.

So, in regards to the Pūtea Whakatupu Trust, I accepted that the Fisheries Commission could continue to appoint our directors, but it was clear in the Act that it was for urban Māori and that the directors should come from urban Māori.

Once that legislation was done — and I was gloriously thrown out of parliament — iwi interests seized on taking it over by appointing their iwi mates.

That meant we were always outvoted 2-1 on the three-person trust. They backdoored us and took back control of the trust money. And the $20 million earmarked for urban Māori has never come our way.

Māori rights in fishing were actually better when we never had any quota. Right now, in deep sea fishing, it is Koreans and Russians who fish our quota.

And inshore fishing? It ain’t Māori doing that either. The only jobs that Māori get after 25 years of this settlement is driving trucks and cleaning and skinning fish on a trawler. After 25 years of this settlement asset, we don’t know what the iwi have done with the money.

What we do know is that they own 44 per cent of the industry, but no Māori is allowed to go anywhere near middle or senior management — and no kids are given a cadetship to learn how big business works.

If you go to a Māori Fisheries Commission AGM, they are predominantly non-Māori there.

Basically, for a lesson in how NOT to use a settlement to advance a people, look at fishing.

As the one genuine urban Māori representative on the three-person trust, my approach was to destroy the quorum by walking out of meetings before votes could be taken. I didn’t like the way they were spending all our money on paying for scholarships for well-off kids.

In the 2004 legislation, we put in a twilight clause to allow us to review where things were in 10 years. That allowed us to try to get some common sense that this trust money would be deployed in the urban Māori population.

But we got locked out of the review. We never got any invites. We were excluded from the conversation about a trust that was only set up because of us!

And, instead of seeing that urban Māori had a say, they attempted to take over total control — even though 85 per cent of Māori don’t live in the homeland.

So that forced us to go to court. The end result of that court case is that the judge found the process of excluding us from the review was not fair or right — and that Te Ohu Kaimoana’s application of the law was wrong. The court said they must appoint directors with urban Māori experience — not just puppets for themselves.

So they are now obliged to consult with us. But they have a right to appeal to the Court of Appeal, so that is a possibility. And, given their propensity to spend money without any accountability, it becomes an even more distinct possibility.

The judge ruled that costs for the latest court case should be paid out of Te Pūtea trust. But that’s not fair. It should have come from the iwi, not from the urban Māori pocket. After all, we won the decision.

What happens next? We have already asked the Fisheries Commission whether we can meet them in light of the directions from the High Court. But they have their own little game in play. They will advise iwi about a report they will take to the minister to amend (or otherwise) the legislation. Once again we have been excluded from that.

If there is anything in that review that is prejudicial or discriminates against us again — then, of course, we will litigate that.

Every step of the way, these guys try as much as they can to make it very difficult for us.

But here’s their problem. Whether it was the Māori land marches, or the march to get an independent Māori Statutory Board, or the first kōhanga reo, or the first whare kura — everything came from the urban Māori activists. None of it came out of these guys who have seized the chequebook.

There is this new aristocracy that has arisen from these compensation chequebooks. And because they've been able to out-persevere and out-spend their own poorer cousin, they think they can beat us the same way.

Well, we’ll soon see. If they continue down this track you will see significant litigation against them for being so bad at being stewards of our assets. They have set up a distribution scheme that replicates social welfare rather than providing Māori with economic opportunity and advantage.

That’s exactly what they’ve done with the urban Māori money. And we can’t afford that any longer.”