Sunday, 24 April 2016

Letter to an ANZAC

My thoughts on the 100th ANZAC Day. A letter to the soldiers who landed at Gallipoli in 1915,


I am told you fought and died for our rights.

But that is hard to believe.

You did NOT die for New Zealand citizens, because they did not legally exist until after your time.
You did NOT die for Human Rights... because in your time, no-one really knew what those even were.
You did NOT die for the women in Parliament, there weren't many in your time.
You did not die for Gay Rights, because in your time, Homosexuality was ILLEGAL .
You did NOT die for the Maori language, because outside of New Zealand, that wasn't even considered a language in your time.
You did NOT die for Muslim New Zealanders, in fact you wanted the Muslims DEAD!!!!!
You did not die for the poor beneficiaries, in your time, if you could not work, that was IT!!!!.
You did not worry about Maori because in your time, the Government still demonized Maori.
You did not die for Children's rights, in your time, there was DEFINITELY no such thing.
You did not die for Women's Rights, they weren't important in your time either.

No. You did not die for any of this.

In your time, you did not even die for your self..... NO... You died because the Generals made a terrible mistake which made sure they could have you and your mates slaughtered and get away with it.

My heart aches when I think of you.

My heart aches because your life was obliterated.

My heart pines for your smile.... but what makes me sad..... is on that day on that beach

I am quite sure you did not really think of me... or anyone that I know.

ANZAC.... I honour your memory... but I don't honour your terrible death.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Maori and Vegan

Tena Koutou

Yes. This blog entry is about kai, about kai-maanga (eating plants) and about Maori.

I pay tribute to journalist Amy Josianne Whiting who allowed me to articulate all these whakaaro.

They are my own and personal. All these whakaaro relate to hauora, to kai and to being Maori. People who love Papatuanuku will also enjoy reading this.

How close are you to your Maori heritage? Are you and/or your family heavily involved in the traditions and marae?
I am Ngapuhi, Ngati Maru, Ngati Whatua and Ngai Tai. I am connected to both my parent's Marae and the many marae of my Grandparents. For my whanau, I speak on our Marae and guide my whanau and hapu through our Maori Culture. I am involved in tangihanga and other hui at my own marae. Equally, as a Maori teacher, I share my language and culture as part of my profession on a daily basis.
What motivated you to become vegan? 
I have been vegetarian for nearly a year. In early January I realised that I actually have a low tolerance for dairy milk, and so decided to give up Dairy. I also don't buy eggs anyway... so the recent transition to a vegan diet was OK for me.
The primary motivations are the bigger picture, in terms of 1. My concern for Papatuanuku (Earth Mother) and my own environmental impact, a concern for Animal welfare and of course my own human physiology and health which is far more in line with a plant-based diet.

I feel great knowing, that simply by putting my fork in my mouth, I am helping animals, helping Papatuanuku and helping my own body by a very simple and joyful act of having kai. Quite simply I feel liberated from poisoning myself, and my tinana of products like meat, eggs and dairy that I just don't need.
Did you hesitate to be vegan because of your heritage, or did others advise against it? If so, how did you deal with it? Or how do you deal with it, if that sort of tension is still there? 
I am lucky. I was not discouraged. I am allowed to eat as a wish. Actually my whanau appreciate that I eat a plant-based diet and really relish and enjoy eating plant-based food with me. I love cooking for my whanau, who I live with. When visiting other whanau too, they also love when I cook for them.
I am also lucky that my partner also eats a plant-based diet too.
I mean.... initially when I was Vegetarian I thought "Veganism would be hard.. and I'd miss Dairy and Eggs".... and while such thoughts still linger... as well as cravings... discovering the Vegan alternatives is a massive help... Also, realising the toll that Dairy puts on me physically also discourages me from consuming it.... and of course.. with eggs... I just think of their 'production' and it stops me from consuming them.

I am happy as a Vegan as I write this today.
-Do you think there are pro-vegan elements to Maori culture? (Connectivity to nature/animals?)
Quite honestly, I really think it is a lot MORE than that.

Our culture denotes Human kind as kaitiaki or sacred guardians of the earth, forests, seas, rivers and all places where we walk and swim. As virtue of who we are, who our Gods are and our place in the Cosmos, we are sacred guardians.

That is the place of humanity, or 'te ira tangata'.

By virtue of that place, when one really looks at Maori culture... we should only eat a plant based diet.

Traditionally we mainly ate plants anyway.. Proteins like birds and fish were eaten at a time when these were plentiful and their habitats and bodies werent poisoned by pollution like they are today... Birds and Fish were eaten when there were enough to eat. There is NO denying that birds and fish are an integral part of the traditional Maori diet.

THAT Being said... modern problems like Pollution, Animal population depletion and even extinction have minimised the ease of access of Maori to the bird and fish as food that they have in the past.

And to be frank... nothing can be done to reverse that... BUT we can take guidance from our culture that tells us that Maori practices like 'Rahui' (culturally imposed prohibitions) can save these bird and fish populations.... but it makes more sense in modern times to have a permanent rahui on the collection and eating of birds and fish in our traditional diet due to modern pollution, which in many cases is sadly irreversible. And such Rahui would be in line with our role as kaitiaki... or put in a authentically indigenous sense 'How can one be the guardian of fish and birds... and Slaughter them to eat????"

THEREFORE, Only a plant based diet remains for Maori in terms of a sustainable option. In terms of improvement of health.

-What would you say to someone who said you couldn't be a vegan AND Maori? 
I'd COMPLETELY disagree and say

'Actually if one wants to preserve our culture, our resources, our whenua, our Atua, our fish, our birds, our hauora (health) and our whanau (family) as Maori.. our ONLY option is to be vegan.

If we want to survive as a people... with any chance..... if we want to chuck of the shackles of colonial oppression that have forced us on to these diets which have made us diabetic and cancerous... our only option as Maori is to be vegan.

If we really love our Moana (sea) and our whenua (land) and care about it being here after we die.... the only option for Maori is to be Vegan.

If we believe in our Rangatiratanga over our health, over the lives of of us and our babies, of our longevity and continuous living as a people... our only option as Maori is to be Vegan.

Oh... by the way... every single one of our kai like 'Fry bread' or Hangi, our boil up, our steam pudding can all be Vegan too, very easily.

And while we might miss eating kaimoana or kai from the awa (river) or ngahere)... being VEGAN ... means that all those precious animals who our ATUA charge us with looking after and caring for properly.. might just also get a chance to survive and even thrive... so it is better to NOT KILL and eat them if we really love them... I mean we love our own human kids and so we don't kill them .. and they are from the Atua...

what really is the difference with all the other creatures that Atua put on earth.

Yes.. a long winded answer.. but thats some of the things I would say.
-What is your favorite element of veganism?
Food is tasty and fulfilling and nourishing not just for my tinana (body) but for my wairua too.
And of course, what I eat helps Papatuanuku.
-Are there any other thoughts you have about this topic? Feel free to add anything!!

Only that, through writing down and articulating these answers I see that I really am passionate about this and that what I eat, means alot to me and the planet.

Just as a final plug, if you want to see some yummy Poly-Vegan recipes, then check out Corned Buffet and Vegan Polynesian

Note: My own personal journey with Veganism is up and down and not always easy. In fact I do go between vegetarianism and veganism. BUT... I  am clear as of the date of publication that the BEST Diet for Maori is a Vegan Diet and am totally committed to working to eventually and fully align my life to Veganism 

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Maori who discriminate against the faiths of other Maori

The 2nd of April 2016  marks 100 years since the Police arrested the Maori prophet Rua Kenana in Tuhoe Land.

Rua Kenana was arrested and history also tells us that 3 people died and a girl was abused in this whole tragic ordeal.

There is no doubt that this was a tragedy for the people of Ngai Tuhoe and Whakatohea, and the arrest of a man considered a prophet and local spiritual leader, for any group, would indeed be difficult.

Some accounts  say that the aftermath was equally difficult, and the movement never really recovered. Worse yet, down to today there has NEVER been any serious inquiry let alone any sort of acceptable apology to the people and now their descendants, for what took place.

THAT all being said... I want to personally explore the idea of, Maori preference and Maori discrimination of other Maori.

Specifically, the idea that Maori of the early 20th century could take on non-Maori concepts like 'Prophethood' * and that there is NO question of this.There is no doubting it and it is NOT critically analysed or even critiqued**. It is as if, it is totally acceptable that in the 20th century, some Maori spiritual leaders like Rua Kenana or T.W. Ratana took on the non-Maori concept of Prophethood and that this was OK.

No such notions are popular today, though similar leaders of Maori descent have emerged in the late 20th century and have prominence in the 21st century, people like "Bishop Brian Tamaki".

Again, for the wider Maori population none of this, in the main, at all raises many eyebrows. The idea, that Maori can take on and have deeply held beliefs that do NOT originate wholly from their own cultural practices and ideas is NOT a worry.

Thousands of Maori can be Mihinare (Anglican) and there is no backlash or questioning.

Further to this, I am NOT suggesting that ANY of this is wrong, unfair or bad. It is NOT. 

I find beauty in the fact that there are thousands of Maori Christians. There are hundreds of Maori Buddhists too, and I suspect that Maori are part of many if not all religious groups present in New Zealand. This is amazing and demonstrates a great beauty and diversity that I greatly admire in a very genuine way.


That all being said, I can't help but wonder something as I write this blog entry late at night.

On several separate occasions in the last 2 years, myself and other Maori Muslims that I know have been in the media (TV, Radio and Social Media) and the comments, particularly online about many of these appearances have generally been overwhelmingly negative and critical. Worse yet, it is not just the viewers and commentors online, but even SOME media outlets that have deliberately gone out of their way to paint Maori Muslims in a negative light.
And even if a media outlet does NOT go out to paint Maori Muslims negatively, the commentor-brigade regularly makes sure to comment and insult as vehemently as possible, sometimes even making actual threats of violence to Maori Muslims.

And sadder STILL, This negative behaiviour is NOT questioned!!!!

Yes, the discrimination against Maori Muslims is NOT questioned or critiqued and no one seems to be making loud noises about the fact that it is wrong, well, no-one except Maori Muslims themselves.
That's not to say that people don't think discrimination against Maori Muslims is wrong.

Maori TV did an amazing story about Maori Muslims. And the story was well put together and showed Maori Muslims in a very positive way.
But just take a look at that same story on social media and you'll see the commentor-brigade hard at it again speaking generally in a negative, discriminatory tone.

Again, there is no attempt to say that discrimination only targets Maori Muslims. It is not something that is easily stopped and everyone, no matter how ignorant is entitled to their own opinion and view and each view has a level of relevance and validity.

It is just interesting to note, that no one criticises the discrimination or even questions it's existence.

No one calls it bigotry if is directed at Maori Muslims. But it is called bigotry and even racism and discrimination if it is directed at Mihinare, Ringatu, Ratana or even Destiny Church.


I just want this to be noted and pondered upon. I want YOU as a reader to think about how this post makes you feel, what it makes you think.

Are you a Maori who identifies with a faith?

Maybe you are? Or maybe you are not Maori but know about religious discrimination.

Maybe you are a Maori who agrees that it is OK to discriminate against Maori Muslims, so long as no-one discriminates against YOUR own church.

Or Maybe, you are a Maori who secretly laughs at any and all Maori who don't just hold to the ways of our tikanga tuturu and our kawa only. Amongst THIS number are people who think Maori should just pray to IO, or Tane and Tangaroa and to pray to any other God is to show that you are really lost and "don't know your identity".

EVEN More interesting, is that SUCH a line of 'NOT knowing one's identity' or being lost is very very regularly thrown at or slandered against Maori Muslims, but Maori Christians never ever seem to get the same line thrown at them. Even though there is NO DOUBT ANYWHERE, that neither Islaam nor Christianity are exclusively Maori let alone were present in their current forms, amongst Pre-Contact Maori.

These points are very interesting to note, to ponder and to think about.

This whole blog entry will probably be used on a regular basis.

This blog entry is also an invitation to begin to question discrimination.

The reason being, that 100 years ago, No-one seemed to question that a particular Maori religious group were unfairly targetted... and in effect severely discriminated in a way that had far-reaching consequences. That discrimination has effects even today.

And NO-ONE really stood up to it even then, We see NOW the results of NOT standing up against discrimination of a Maori religious group. They and their leadership and membership were vilified. No-one said anything.

Let us hope that SUCH discrimination were it present today for that or other Maori religious groups begins to be stamped out, because people actually SEE that it is wrong and actually


* This definition you'll notice is taken from a dictionary, and in the main explores Post-Contact Non-Maori ideas of Prophethood. THAT, being said, both Muslim Readers and Maori within Academia recognise that a particular and uniquely Maori Form of Prophethood was extant Pre-European contact. Maori Acedemia assert that such instances were there and Muslim Readers assert Religious texts which point to Divine messengers amongst all peoples. THIS part of the Blog entry obviously focusses on the emergence of Prophets in a Post-Contact Maori world though, which is separate and distinct from those 'Prophets' in the Pre-contact world.

** It is possible that such has happened, and that academic rigour and research may well have been applied to the 20th century Maori notions of Prophethood. The ASSUMPTION of this blog is that such rigour and critique is NOT widespread and not general knowledge of the wider Maori populace.