Women are creatures of wisdom. Call it intuition, experience, insight, a hunch, whatever… the world would be a better place if women were listened to more frequently. To mark International Women’s Day, we’ve gathered together a collection of wisdom from Kiwi women from different walks of life. Today, we continue the series with journalist Hilary Barry, actor Lucy Lovegrove, and journalist Mihingarangi Forbes.
What’s the one piece of wisdom that has been the most valuable to you throughout your life?
Mihingarangi Forbes: It’s not really wisdom, but my mum says, “If you spot it you’ve got it”. It means that if you can see something in someone else’s behaviour, you are recognising that behaviour from within yourself. If you don’t like it, then you need to make some changes!
Hilary Barry: My dad used to often tell me, “Be true to yourself”. It’s a piece of wisdom I’ve always taken with me. I’ve never followed the crowd or needed to fit into a particular social group. I’ve been nerdy and naughty and silly and serious and, well, just me.
Lucy Lovegrove: “This too shall pass.” During a difficult time in my mum’s life, Pop took her out to look at the stars and told her this. To me it is so comforting, as it reminds me to really enjoy and be present for the joyful moments, and provides comfort and a sense of hope during the tough ones.
What has been your greatest challenge, and how have you overcome it?
Mihingarangi Forbes: Being comfortable being me!
I came out fair skinned, my mum (Pākehā) says my grandmother (Māori) didn’t immediately believe I was my father’s child. Mum says my hair was so blonde, it was almost grey. That’s interesting because my dad (when he had hair) wore a big brown afro, while my mum was brunette too.
Growing up, I didn’t really resemble my sister or my brother – I was literally the white sheep of my family. My best childhood friends were Māori and Samoan and while we didn’t talk about skin colour, unconsciously I think we picked each other because we had similar identity struggles. I certainly picked them because they never questioned who I was. From my teenage years and through learning te reo Māori I began to understand that the “struggle is real” and it was all around me.
In the last few years, I feel like I’ve become much more balanced and grounded in my identity as a New Zealander and as a descendant of Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Paoa. My involvement in the New Zealand Land Wars documentary last year Stories of Ruapekapeka was a bit of a personal awakening, it certainly has got me yearning for a greater understanding of our nation’s past.
Lucy Lovegrove: I believe the biggest challenge I have faced is learning how to look after myself. Not just in a practical sense – that is eating and sleeping – but in an emotional and spiritual sense. I found that making a list of all the things that brought me emotional or spiritual release has been really useful for dark moments; an easy reference for times of little energy and willpower.
Hilary Barry: I think as a young person I faced up to my own parents’ mortality at a young age. My dad was quite ill from my late teens and my mother battled cancer in her early 40’s and again in her 60’s. That experience has made me live each day to the fullest.
If there were one piece of advice you could give your younger self, what would it be and why?
Lucy Lovegrove: Don’t compare. Don’t be jealous of the lives, accomplishments, and journeys of others. The life you’ve lived so far, the challenges you’ve faced and the triumphs you’ve earned have made you who you are and have set you on your journey. Respect that, appreciate that, and live your own life free from negative comparison.
Hilary Barry: Don’t worry about what other people think of you. As Dr Seuss said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Mihingarangi Forbes: Don’t give all of yourself away. I’m telling my daughters this now as they’re teenagers and will soon enter relationships. For me it’s one of the most important things that my children have well balanced relationships. I want my daughters and my sons to behave and act with respect and aroha.
What would you like your legacy to be?
Mihingarangi Forbes: I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to think I could leave a legacy!
I’d like to be remembered as a good listener, a smart thinker, a generous mother, a supportive friend, and a loving wife but I have work to do. Outside of these goals, if I could contribute to a more diverse, better informed, and fairer broadcasting sector then I’d be a happy woman.
Lucy Lovegrove: I would love to leave a more sustainable world behind, and contribute to initiatives that further this probability. I'd also like to leave a kinder, more tolerant world behind and hope to bring this on with my own personal interactions.
Hilary Barry: As long as a couple of people thought I was a pretty good sheila, I’d be okay with that.Support Villainesse