Yesterday I heard a person say some very specific things against Maori people. Making statements like that if you gave Maori an inch then it is probable they would take the whole mile. It’s kind of ironic that this is exactly how Maori land loss occurred, but I’ll save that point for another day because today I want to focus on my main point, which is that these statements shared are redundant. Equally so are the views that ‘All pakeha need to go back to England.’ Both arguments have no merit and are founded in ignorance and are hardly the view of the majority of us. I’m Maori and everyday I wake up trying to give miles to someone somewhere, not take them. I’m proud of my pakeha heritage too, does that mean that I also have to jump on a boat and go back to England? Of course not, because that is a ridiculous line of thought. These uninformed opinions add nothing of substance to any debate or korero.

However what does add value are generalisations that are based on facts and data. For example, Maori die earlier. Maori incarceration rates are higher. Maori have, on average, lower education completion rates. Some of this is echoed in data from Hauora Tairawhiti. As someone who is Maori, it’s hard to not be affected by those stats. However, this is important for us to know, we need to know where we are in order to make a plan on how to fix it. Making uninformed generalisations about Māori does absolutely nothing other than create more division.

When I was running for council I had an older Pakeha lady say to me ‘I really hope you get into council. I’m not Maori, but my grandchildren are and they need their voice heard in council.’ At the end of the day, there are plenty of us who identify as both Maori and Pakeha, whether it’s by blood, or how we were raised or because of who we are raising, there are multitudes of us out there that have affinity for both sides of ourselves. Acknowledging my left hand doesn’t detract from my right hand. I take pride in the Pou at Kelvin Park, I’ve stood by Young Nick with my kids pointing out to sea, I’m proud of the Oneroa walkway and am happy seeing the many different faces along it’s length, I’m proud of the things that make us, us because they are also the things that make me, me.

Pictured my very English Great Grandfather, Albert Cookson and my very Maori Great Grandmother Hera Ua.

#Tairawhiti #LoveGisborne #LoveOurPeople