Images: Georgia Nott / Moana Maniapoto / Alison Mau
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 kick off the series with musician Georgia Nott (Broods), journalist Alison Mau, and musician/artivist Moana Maniapoto.
What’s the one piece of wisdom that has been the most valuable to you throughout your life?
Moana Maniapoto: “You’ve got to stand for something. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” – Rev. Al Sharpton in the Detroit Baptist Church, many years ago.
Georgia Nott: That happiness is a bi-product of a higher, fulfilling purpose.
Treating happiness as a destination and telling yourself that you’ll get there by acquiring a certain material thing, a certain person, success or experience will always leave you unsatisfied. You find your purpose in the grand scheme of the universe and live for that instead of yourself.
It’s not to say you can’t take care of yourself and treat yourself. But to place your happiness on a pedestal like a final reward or destination is an empty goal.
Sometimes I still find myself thinking, ‘if I could just get here…’ or, ‘if I could just afford to have/do this…’ I’ll be content. I have to remind myself of my purpose and even though doing what I believe I’m ‘born to do’ is often confusing or scary or trying, it always fulfils me.
Alison Mau: I won’t back down. (Thank you Tom Petty, RIP.)
What has been your greatest challenge, and how have you overcome it?
Alison Mau: To understand that my voice is not less relevant, less important, than a man’s voice. Imposter Syndrome is a serious issue for many women and needs to be examined. I still struggle with it, but finally am able to acknowledge my experience and abilities deserve recognition.
It’s not much to ask, is it? That women should be equally recognised as talented and capable members of society?
Georgia Nott: I’ve had my fair share of anxiety in the past 5 years. I didn’t fully realise I was naturally an anxious person until I left home. I fell down a bit of a hole and lost a lot of confidence.
I came into the music industry as the most vulnerable version of myself I had ever been. I went on tour for the first time and spent every evening hyperventilating and crying over the phone to my now husband. I felt so out of place doing the one thing I thought I was born to do. For a while I wanted to give up but every time I played a show or met a fan I realised that there was still something going for me here. I still had something good to offer.
I went to a breathing therapist, which helped a lot. I started to accept that I couldn’t get rid of anxiety but I could acquire the tools I needed to manage it. I’m looking at where I am now, about to release this album – The Venus Project - Vol. 1 – that has had so many road blocks and I’ve had so many moments where I thought I’d never see this project come to fruition, and I’m thinking how much of a boss I’ve become!
There was a time I think I was good for nothing and now I’m about to release possibly the most important thing I’ve made in my life this far – The Venus Project.
Moana Maniapoto: Shyness.
Being surrounded by great thinkers and mentors who pushed me into the spotlight, either to sing, compose, speak, write or debate [helped me to overcome it]. When I first gained attention as a singer, I was the “go-to” for media comment because there were bugger all young Māori women with a profile. It was personally difficult but I coped because it wasn’t about me. It was about the kaupapa – and of course, there’s the Al Sharpton thing...
If there were one piece of advice you could give your younger self, what would it be and why?
Moana Maniapoto: Don’t listen to friends and lovers who undermine your confidence by saying you need to lose weight, your nose is too honky, lips are too big, you’ve got so many freckles, etc.
You’ll grow up and scrub up just fine when you need to. And you’ll bang into those same people once in a while and be glad that you were more gracious than they ever were.
Oh. And wine in cardboard boxes? Skip that bit and go straight to the bottled stuff.
Georgia Nott: I’d tell myself not to sweat the small stuff. The amount of time I’ve wasted crippled with worry over things I could never have control over…
I’m learning a lot about what is worth my energy these days. Doing a lot of mindfulness and meditation and yoga. It’s taught me a lot about self-love and although I know I’ll still have some obstacles, I trust that I’ll get myself through anything.
Alison Mau: Stop dating ‘bad boys’ – they will have a really good go at ruining your self-esteem.
Trust your instincts, step back and look at the treatment you’re getting and recognise gas lighting when you see it. All those times you stood your ground and then feared for your job – when you’re older, you’ll be grateful you did that.
What would you like your legacy to be?
Georgia Nott: I want people to know me as someone who is expressive and fearless. I want to be known and remembered as me. Truly me. And as someone who others can be their true, expressive, fearless selves around.
I will always try to be accepting and loving and give myself and others the room to find just how larger than life we all have the capacity to be. And of course, I will not apologise for myself and all the forms I have taken and will one day take.
Alison Mau: I don’t have any ambitions for a personal legacy.
I do hope that any work I’ve done will have a measurable effect on conditions for other women. That would be ace!
Moana Maniapoto: To make a difference.
And that my two children will be strong, confident, and kind; and they will question and challenge and stick up for the underdog and make a difference.
I’m pretty confident they will.Support Villainesse