• Thu, 22, Aug, 2019 - 5:00:AM

Why I stand with Ihumātao

Girl sitting at Ihumātao / Sarah Colcord

I wasn’t taught about the history of our country in the way that I should have been.

At intermediate school, we learnt about the Treaty of Waitangi in the most amicable of ways. We were taught that it was an agreement between the Māori and the British that allowed them to share land and governance. Then we soaked ripped sheets of paper in tea, crumpled them up and stuck them on the wall.

In Year 10, we learnt about the mistranslation of ‘sovereignty’ that caused the misunderstanding of what the Treaty actually states. Then we had debates about whether we would have signed the Treaty or not, if we were Māori chiefs.

Ihumātao made it clear how little we, as a country, know about the modern day impacts of colonisation. People have been protecting the land there for years, and the nation only just started paying attention.

I stand with the people of Ihumātao because they have felt more pain than anyone deserves. 

It’s a generational pain that gets passed down, and I see it in my own hometown.

In Manurewa, a couple of towns over from Mangere, Pakeha are just about a minority. Whereas school taught me the facts and figures about our country’s history, Manurewa taught me the impact.

I’ve seen bright kids drop out to support their families. Some people graduating with me this year will be the first in their families to finish high school.

There are PSAs on radio, TV and social media celebrating Māori/Cook Island/Samoan Language Week and yet some people of those descents feel they have to white-ify their accents when they go to work in an office job. 

It’s an unpopular thing to say, but New Zealand is founded on white supremacy. I know too many people — some of them Māori — that have suppressed their mother tongues, or sharpened their accents or adopted a European name to fit in. Myself included.

I stand with Ihumātao because I want people to be reunited with their culture.

Many immigrants, like my parents, have a hard time providing for their families — and they emigrated from China voluntarily. The communities of Ihumātao were forcibly driven out in 1863 with whatever they could carry. The poverty they were plunged into pervades today. 

Ihumātao is a taonga that should be returned.

We’ve taken away so many indigenous cultural grounds, and we have a lack of places where people of colour can exist without diluting their culture. Let this one stay.

I stand with Ihumātao because I hope Aotearoa can start to heal.

Ihumātao is the uncomfortable reckoning that we didn’t want, but we needed. I am moved by the conversations Ihumātao is encouraging across the country. 

People are finally realising the many crimes of the Crown. They’re self-educating. They’re recognising privilege. They are calling for more comprehensive history classes. Which is all well and good.

But right now we need to show up and protect our sacred whenua.

The address is Oruarangi Road, Mangere.


  • Ihumātao /
  • Colonisation /
  • Māori History /
  • Culture /
  • Aotearoa /
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