It Feels Like Forever…

It feels like forever since I posted here. Really nothing has changed but everything has changed. I have moved house, bought and sold. I have a new job, full-time. My thesis sits idle, but I seem to work on it now and again. I am not even really sure if I have made the necessary changes or not. Are they looking for drastic change or only minor change?

I don’t feel confident that I even really know what is it in anymore, it has changed so many times inside of my head and out of my head. I am not sure which is which. All I know is that I want this do be completed, I am ready to move on.

So many good things are happening, but I feel held back now, sitting in the past of four years ago when this journey began. But I am not, it is the future and I am here. So what next?

I have learnt to weave korowai, something I could never have imagined in my entire lifetime. I have completed a tauira and now I work on the real deal, with this in place, I cannot help but feel my ancestors are preparing me for graduation.

My cloaking is nearly complete, but i still move in and out, I struggle to fit in and fit out.

korowai 3

Graduation

 

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The End is Nigh

So as I rapidly come to end of my journey, I am beginning to feel like the highland goat tied to the railway line. You know the one in song that ate the shirts off the line. I  am wondering if they will have mercy on me and cut me free before the train hits. It is really hard to tell. All I know is that one way or another the end is nigh. It has been a long road, and now I have to consider, what it was that I wanted the world to know. What is this journey really about?

I remember wanting the world to know that forgetting who we are, just isn’t good enough. That culture does matter, that being and belonging somewhere is important. That we are not all the same, that we are all different and culture blindness is a sickness. That the colour of my skin does not tell you all you need to know about me. That I am one of those “savages” and I love it. That no-one has the right to take my ancestors from me. That the shadiness that you sensed in me is my own self doubt about who I am. That my life purpose is yet to be fulfilled. That men and women can and should work together. That sex is not gender. That identity is not self. That collectivity is not oneness.

And who knows what else….. the end is nigh… untie me from the tracks…. set me free.

2011_False_Alarm_My_Bad

When it all goes quiet

I sit here in the heat

that comes after the rains have gone

the grass newly green glistening with the long forgotten showers

we begin to sweat again

I begin to sweat

to sweat on words and sayings

on knowledge and sharing

sometimes i am silenced

sensored

afraid of the heat

other times I want to be burnt

to burn others

often the heat is too much

I retreat

then the cool breeze returns

and so it begins again

The pressure to produce

I have just returned to Australia from New Zealand. My journey was again very rewarding. I return to the pressure of having to produce my journey of cultural recovery as an academic thesis. I know this is the path that I have taken, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

I have finally found my voice, although only young, it must now speak to the adult world about what it means to be from Maori descent. To be raised within the Western world with no connection to my taha maori is to have lived a life of grief and loss. I have never shed as many tears as I have on this journey and most of them within the last few weeks. But with the tears comes a relief, a sense of renewed energy to continue, to make it to the end. Then end .. is not the end.. once i write the words that the academic world so eagerly await. The Maori self will continue to grow, to move and transform my notions of self.

This is worth getting through the next few months of being tied to my desk with the pressure to produce.

Undercover

I just returned from the MAI doctoral student conference in Kawhia Nz and feel inspired to blog ..I have just realised how close the internet can make us but also how it can make us anonymous. It seems I have forgotten that my blog is not in my name so when I met some inspiring people in person I didn’t realise that we have already met. How fortunate that we can come together in person to connect and be within the same spaces. It actually makes me feel that perhaps there is a space for blogging on this journey. Perhaps if I be more generous and let go of the social fears that bind me .. This is the last domain of the domination of self by others. Thanks Leonie and Huka … Nga mihi for sharing and reaching out ..

Melissa

WiPC:E Hawai’i 2014 Continued

Presentation Day

With the words of Dr Tongarō in our minds we rested for the night to prepare for day two of sessions at Kapi‘olani Community College. The first session of the day was about the use of the Māori meeting-house as a metaphor for the principles of teaching and learning. The speaker Kimoro Taiepa, discussed how the tools needed for inclusive, safe, and best practice in teaching for Māori were present in all the aspects of the house construction. In this way he was demonstrating how the teaching of the ancestors was informing current practices and providing knowledge which is relevant to Māori people.

Ko au te whare ko te whare ko au

Ko au te whare ko te whare ko au

 

The second session of the day I was co-presenting with my colleague Jennifer Carter. The room was overflowing, and we had to provide extra chairs. The workshop was entitled “Unmasking Spirituality”, this workshop was from Jennifer’s PhD study which is exploring how spirituality is experienced within society which will inform how it can be better included into health and aged care settings to improve wellbeing. Participants were invited to draw or write their experience of spirituality. This work is inspired by Jennifer’s experience with aged care when her Mother was suffering from dementia. She noticed that there was no acknowledgement of the spiritual dimensions of being when the mental state of being was diminished. I enjoyed supporting Jennifer in this workshop and look forward to supporting her future work. Participants were grateful of the opportunity to be creative in the classroom and found ways to develop spiritual literacy through their participation.

 

The next session of the day was presented by Stephen Te Moni, and was about the benefits of Haka for realizing the wellbeing of Māori. This is not the stereotypical Haka that we see on the rugby match, it is so much more than a war display; it includes songs, poi dancing and traditional chants. His thoughts on this were interesting to me as I have been engaging in Haka as way of strengthening identity. His focus was on the physical benefits including the strengthening of joints rather than just muscle building as people are doing in contemporary society. Mr Te Moni suggested that the way forward was to make Haka a way of life, as it once was. This includes diet, a commitment to exercise and a striving for excellence in performance. We were all invited to learn a Haka that would represent our time in Hawaii.

 

Learning Haka

Learning Haka

 

The presentation for which I was funded entitled “Auto-ethnographically Locating the Cultural Self” was after the daily lunch break.The session went very smoothly as I talked through my study and the writing processes that I use. I then facilitated the participants through their own activity to produce writing from their cultural selves. I asked the group for feedback on their activity and to share their writing. The feedback that came was overwhelming. Participants expressed a deep gratitude for my work and the ability to participate in such a workshop. One participant became emotional as she talked about her journey of healing her cultural self, and the internal personal and social struggles that she had been through. She was grateful that this time had enabled her to acknowledge her personal growth as a cultural being, who is connected to her ancestral Indigenous knowledge.

As the day continued on, I was somewhat relieved to have completed my presentation commitment. I went on to learn about the needs of Native Canadian students within the education system, and why Indigenous teachers feel that they are failing their kids by forcing them into a colonial system. Finally, I learnt about the relationship to Māori dance movements to the activity of the birds in New Zealand. Each movement corresponds to a particular bird species; this has helped me to understand the origin of the movements, enabling greater appreciation for Kapa Haka and the way it is performed.

The formal sessions concluded with the final keynote presentation of the day, it began to rain and the outdoor venue was becoming difficult for the sound crew to manage. We moved in doors for cultural performances from the many immigrants that call Hawaii home. It was getting late so the CEO for Hawaiian affairs, Dr. Kamana’opono Crabbe, graciously sponsored our evening meal. We moved outside again for the finale of traditional Tahitian fire stick dancers, some as young as 5 years old. It was an awe-inspiring end to an amazing day.

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WiPC:E Hawai’i 2014

Arriving in Honolulu
I arrived in Honolulu, full of anticipation of the days to come. Having experienced WiPC:E before and reviewing the schedule, I knew that it was going to be a challenging week. While WiPC:E creates a safe space full of positivity and rewards for those who put in the effort, it is also a time for the joining of a collective consciousness, which is alive with the hopes of the ancestors; it is a spiritually transformative space. Immediately we were introduced to the philosophy and spirit of Aloha. Aloha, is often associated with the greeting of hello, it is much more than that. Aloha, is to love, to take care of and have compassion for something or someone. This was ever-present throughout the conference and my stay on Oahu. The thoughtfulness and care extended to us as visitors of the Kānaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) people, was never ending.This concept of aloha reminded very much of what I am learning about my Māori self, and the importance of aroha. These foundational cultural principles establish ways of knowing, being and doing within the communities. Without the lived understanding of these concepts it is difficult to move towards an embodied understanding.

The Opening Ceremony
Day one of the conference commenced early in the morning on the beach in Waikiki, with the arrival and traditional welcome of the official dignitaries from many nations via canoe. We gathered to the calling of the conch and the beating of the drum. As the visitors arrived they were greeted by spear throwing, known as Kāli’i, to honor the visiting dignitaries from the many Indigenous nations. We then walked to the Waikiki shell following flag bearers, to witness to the Hula Pahu, dance of welcome and the Papahana ‘Awa, the Awa ceremony.

Walking to the Waikiki Shell

Walking to the Waikiki Shell

Shoes off Hawai'i

Shoes Off …

Keynote Presentation 

The first keynote speaker Dr Taupōuri Tangarō, a most eloquent and engaging speaker, discussed the Indigenous Figure 1: Participants Walking to Waikiki Shell student experience of tertiary education. Dr Tangarō explained the internal battles of the student, which must be won to ensure success. He explained these experiences through the ancestral stories of his homeland, and included the associated Hula with the story. Advocating that the way to support Indigenous students is through connecting them with their cultural heritage and the stories of their ancestors. His words really spoke about my journey as a PhD student and how along the way we must fight our own shadows, we confront the monsters within ourselves, and we must be strong, stand and fight those battles to be successful. To do this we need to the right tools, those tools are shown to us by our ancestors and are held within the stories of the past.

 

 

Opening Keynote

Opening Keynote



To be continued. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Du Bois

Wow I have really enjoyed reading Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk.

So honest and poetic. If only I could write like this. I wonder what has happened to Academia, I feel so constrained by the rules of writing and thinking.

“Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line. I pray you, then, receive my little book in all charity, studying my words with me, forgiving mistake and foible for sake of the faith and passion that is in me, and seeking the grain of truth hidden there”. Du Bois
The colour line… it is so hard to dissolve.

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder”. Du Bois

Such power in these words.

I have spent the evening searching for ideas about self. I have found it so hard to put a complete essay together. So many half papers that never get to the point I’m trying to make. Oh well keep pushing on… till next time.
Melissa

Update

Hello, It’s been a while. I have been swamped with writing, trying to work towards confirmation. It has been a long process. I have been through a lot since i last posted here. I will try to start updating and posting more often now.