News flash


Healing the Hurts
of Capitialism
Azi Khalili &
Mike Markovits
Sunday, July 28

FREE Climate Stickers

U.S. Election Project

Thoughts on Liberation
new RC eBook


Kia Ora   (Greetings)

Dear Tim and Diane [Tim Jackins and Diane Shisk],

Koa koa mo te Matariki ki a korua (A joyful New Year to you both). In my tradition we are now in our New Year. It started with the first new moon in July, which marks the appearance of Matariki (the Pleiades star system) rising on our eastern horizon. There have been many ceremonies across Aotearoa [New Zealand] to mark the occasion, including among the peoples living on the numerous islands in the South Pacific Ocean.

I continue to enjoy working at the Maori university teaching Rongoa Maori (Maori philosophies and customary medical practices). I like sharing a big office with both Maori people and people from South Pacific nations. They keep things real about climate change and the submergence of their homelands.

I have been giving a number of talks about climate change for classes at the wananga (university) and writing about it from a Maori perspective. I witness an interesting phenomenon with Maori—a numbness. I know it is fear and grief. Ordinary people I talk to are afraid of the science describing where humanity is heading. Many of my extended whanau (family) are doing great work locally on environmental issues, but I cannot get them to factor climate change into their thinking. I think they are feeling overwhelmed—and I know they can discharge this.

When I think about the situation in Maori communities, my thoughts turn to the economic disadvantages that Maori have endured from losing natural resources because of colonization. We are still trying to get out from under that oppression. The reality is that most Maori are just working day to day to put food on the table.

All New Zealanders, both Maori and Pakeha (white New Zealanders), are up against a sense of apathy because of being a small country (although our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, did manage to make headlines across the globe).

Here in Aotearoa we are living in such beauty. Every day I drive to work with the ocean and Kapiti and Mana Island to my right and the Tararua Ranges to my left. It is one of many natural vistas that we New Zealanders take for granted. It also belies the truth of the environment: our weather has no idea what season it will be from one day to the next.

We are in winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and here along the Kapiti coast where I live we are experiencing a very warm winter. Local edible fruit is available out of season, and trees are blooming continuously. Some whanau I have listened to think that the warmer weather is a treat, and I remind them that actually it is not; it is a sign that we humans have speeded up global warming. Being in a “faraway” country in the South Pacific doesn’t alter the fact that we are part of the human race. The effects of climate change globally will be our experience, too, and burst our bubble of denial, numbness, and fear. I say this in a calm, clear voice. Sometimes my whanau want to argue with me, which is great because they are un-numbing and coming to a realisation.

I have been watching the United Kingdom activist group Extinction Rebellion and have been pleased to hear some RC thinking—about taking time to listen to each other, and cry if we need to, and how we should learn from Indigenous people and People of the Global Majority and follow their leadership. It makes me hopeful. I’m thinking about how to make Extinction Rebellion attractive to Maori. The history and people of this country would need to be central. (Extinction Rebellion in Australia and New Zealand is very white and middle class—good people.) I am going to try some things this spring.

Hemaima Wiremu

Otaki, Aotearoa

(New Zealand)

Last modified: 2019-10-17 00:30:36+00