A dose of hope for May

Welcome to the monthly dose of hope your doctor didn’t prescribe. It comes at the right time, because temperatures are rising! Whether it’s online, on the streets, overseas or in the house, the heat is on when it comes to people power pushing for change.

11 min readMay 14, 2021

And it gets hotter. On Thursday, our government will announce Budget 2021 — their plan for resourcing services, programs, policies, and infrastructure. Our ActionStation community’s job is to hold them to account if their plan doesn’t bring us closer to the fair and flourishing Aotearoa we know is possible. Stay tuned in. If you don’t think the Government is making the right decisions, or if you think they could go further, faster: say something, do something, or start a campaign with our support.

For now, settle in, grab a cuppa, and soak in some nutritious people power to bring you back to good health.

🏥 A win for wellbeing for everyone 🏥

A group of seven kids standing and sitting on a playground, flanked on either side by two adults. Everyone is smiling and enthusiastic, holding out their arms and showing peace signs and thumbs up. One man is holding a rugby ball. A child in the centre of the frame holds a home made poster that says “Māori self-determination for health” that has been decorated in bright colours, including a rainbow.

We all need health care that works for us. Care that welcomes us through the door when we arrive. That greets us with the warm familiarity of doctors, nurses, and practitioners who know us, our whānau, and our stories. Care that’s available when we need it — in our moments of uncertainty and concern — and not days or weeks later. That understands not just our bodies, but who we are.

As Māori, we’ve always known the importance of our health, because our whakapapa (genealogy) depends on it. Our whakapapa cannot flourish if we don’t survive. And a working health system, at its most basic level, enables that.

Colonial laws like the Tohunga Suppression Act tried to detach us from our knowledge of our health, and the practices we used to care for it. The life’s work of inspiring Māori thinkers and leaders like Tā Mason Durie, Rangimārie Rose Pere, Dame Tariana Turia, and Whaea Keri Lawson-Te Aho have helped us cure that detachment. They remind us that taha tinana (physical health and wellbeing), taha hinengaro (mental and emotional wellbeing), taha whānau (social and family health), and taha wairua (spiritual health and wellbeing) are bound together, and rely on one another.

Whānau Māori visit doctors as frequently as tauiwi (non-Māori) families. And yet, our people are dying too young from preventable health issues. My partner’s whānau has almost no elders left. The younger generations are without the guidance and support of their grandparents. A racist health system that doesn’t enable our survival is a direct attack on whakapapa, and whakapapa is everything to us.

Imagine what we could achieve if our health system enabled everyone’s whakapapa to thrive. A way of looking after each other grounded in Te Ao Māori (the Māori world), and offering the best possible care on offer from the Western medical world. If every whānau in Aotearoa could receive care based on knowledge developed over generations and shared between worlds; of holistic care, effective treatment, and cutting-edge medical practice.

Princess Te Puea Hērangi held this vision 100 years ago. A healer and leader in the Kīngitanga movement, Te Puea used rongoā Māori to care for whānau during the 1918 influenza pandemic. She felt the tragedy as a quarter of her settlement at Mangatāwhiri died from the illness. In the aftermath of the crisis, Te Puea made plans for a hospital in Ngāruawāhia that would become home to rongoā Māori, tikanga Māori, and Western medicine.

To achieve this vision, we need Māori to be able to make meaningful decisions over our own health. Who better to look after our whakapapa than Māori ourselves? The Māori Health Authority will be able to make those decisions. A relational approach will mean the Māori Health Authority and Health NZ can work together to harness the strengths form both worlds to benefit everyone. By creating space for each of these sciences to thrive, and building bridges between them, we can create a system that gives every whānau in Aotearoa high quality healthcare that meets our needs. We can enable our whakapapa to thrive.

Our love and appreciation go to Bay of Plenty health professionals Emily and Annameke, who campaigned for the Authority to have full commissioning powers. And everyone else whose work brought the Māori Health Authority into existence. We acknowledge those from past generations, as well as those with us in Te Ao Marama (the world of life and light).

📚 READ: More about Princess Te Puea Hērangi, and what the descendants of survivors of the 1918 pandemic in Ngāruawāhia dream of for the Māori Health Authority in this excellent piece by Florence Kerr for Stuff.

📺 WATCH: Why Māori women aren’t accessing the healthcare they need, and how they new Māori Health Authority could fix that; A special episode of The Hui hosted by Mihingarangi Forbes with an incredible discussion panel of wahine Māori health professionals.

⚖️ Liveable incomes for all ⚖️

Two images side by side. The one on the left is of seven arms holding up their hands with the text ‘7 out of 10 people in Aotearoa want the government to increase income support on a yellow background. On the right seven polaroid pictures of folks are hanging on two lines under the statement ‘We support liveable incomes for all’ on a turquoise background.

A future where everyone’s unique talents flourish means tearing down the walls locking so many of our whānau in poverty. It means making sure everyone — whether they are in paid work, have been made redundant, are living with a disability or illness, or are transitioning into a new phase of life — has enough support to live.

But for decades, people in government have neglected the key tools — like public housing and income support — that help families build the lives they want to lead. Held back by low incomes, high rents and insecure work, more and more of our whānau are pushed into poverty.

Next week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson have the opportunity to prioritise compassion and justice by increasing income support in Budget 2021. The Budget should direct resources into powering the big changes our communities need, based on what we value.

That’s why we’ve combined our power with 26 other organisations — including Save the Children, Auckland City Mission, and LifeWise — to call on the government to do exactly that. Last week we launched the Fairer Future action hub. It’s a place where everyone and anyone can take action to show their support for a future where every person and family has what they need to flourish.

Check out the website now for ways to build momentum for a fairer future for all, and take action for Budget 2021 to increase income support:

💪🏽 People with cervixes doing it for themselves 💪🏽

Four women standing in a line against a row of trees. Three of the women are holding self-testing kits, and one woman is holding a toddler who is holding a self-testing kit. They are smiling wearing colourful clothes, holding the kits out toward the camera

In March an incredible team of six women — Tracey, Francesca, Jordy, Vanessa, Natalia, and Kim — launched a campaign calling on the Government to make HPV self-tests available to everyone who needs one. Last week, the Government announced they would fund and resource this life-saving procedure.

It was made possible by the actions of many. People like kapa haka star Talei Morrison and her whānau, who built power, pressure and understanding about the need for self-tests through the #SmearYourMea movement. People like researcher and former practitioner Dr. Bev Lawton, whose longtime expertise and advocacy on women’s health has led to change. And people like Labour MP Kiritapu Allan who, by being open with the nation about her own diagnosis, created space for people to talk about what stopped them getting tested, and space for whānau to support one another. Kiritapu described the self-screening test as life-saving, and a game changer for prevention. Our thoughts and karakia are with Kiritapu and her whānau as she undergoes treatment.

And people like Tracey, Francesca, Jordy, Vanessa, Natalia and Kim. They launched a petition, spread the word via social networks and reached out to media. The petition has more than 7,000 supporters, and the team of six will deliver it to the Government later this month, pushing them to speed up the process. You can add your name now to join the call.

Self-tests are a great start. They’ll make it much easier for many of us to smear our mea. But we need to address the reasons many whānau put off their smear tests too. In a powerful 10-minute video, Trinity Thompson-Browne tells us what it’s like for survivors of sexual violence to need access to cervical health checks. Knowing health professionals will treat sacred parts of our bodies with care, culturally appropriate care available for every whānau welcoming who they are, and trauma-informed care are essential too. My hope, and belief, is that the Māori Health Authority will help us reach that reality.

Find out more about cervical cancer, and how we protect ourselves.

📣 Young people are leading the way to flourishing communities📣

People at the rally at dusk holding signs that say “keep us safe”, “end rape culture”, “stop victim blaming”, “babes against bigots”, and “I’ve got 99 problems and the heteronormative patriarchy is all of them”
Image Credit: Victoria University of Wellington Feminist Organisation

On a late March evening destined for rain, more than 500 Wellingtonians took to the streets calling for an end to sexual violence in our communities. A group of students and young community representatives started organising the rally just days beforehand. They felt the anger and energy rising in their communities over just how many people had experienced the hurt of sexual harm firsthand. They deserve better. As organiser Jahla Tran-Lawrence affirmed to the crowd, “we demand to thrive.”

The rally recognised that problems felt by the community need community-led solutions. In the words of Saidiya Harman, “care is the antidote to violence.” Drawing from evidence of what prevents violence and frees communities to flourish, the organisers made three demands to decision-makers, all demonstrating what care looks like in practice.

🌇 For Wellington City Council to implement a new vision for Courtenay Place, Cuba Street, and the nearby area that is accessible, people-focused and builds community

🍻 For Hospitality NZ to work with hospitality staff, management, and patrons to create a city-wide strategy to keep bars, clubs and restaurants free from sexual violence

💸 For the Government to increase funding to local prevention organisations, and to fund community-based initiatives.

Action hasn’t stopped since the rally. Students Ella Lamont and Sophia Harrison took their demands directly to Wellington City Council, with the power of 3000 people who shared their stories of sexual harm through an online survey. You can follow the progress of the Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence and get involved.

ActionStation campaigner Madeleine and I were proud and honoured to support the organisers in their leadership on this kaupapa. Check out this moving photo-essay from the event, and read Maddi Rowe’s reflections on their experience organising the rally.

🐑 Victory for animal wellbeing 🐄

The SAFE team and supporters in 2019 outside Parliament delivering their 30,000 strong call to end live export. There are about forty people standing in a group, many of whom are holding signs that say “end live export”. Some people are holding illustrated images of chickens and cows.

Animals are conscious and curious. Like us, they feel emotions like fear and love. All of us love to see animals happy and well cared for.

People across Australasia have called for an end to the trade of live animals for decades. A review of the trade in 2019 confirmed that animals were being hurt. ActionStation members supported the team from animal rights group SAFE, who took a 30,000 strong petition to Parliament. Last year, ActionStation member Liz launched a petition on OurActionStation supported by more than 12,000 people, calling on her local councillors to stop the export of live animals from New Plymouth port.

These people-powered actions pushed the Government to announce a ban on all exports of farmed animals by sea. Now, over 100,000 sheep and cows will be spared the long sea journey and uncertain future every year. While it’s a huge win for animal welfare, SAFE is still calling for faster action than the two year phase-out period. You can support their call to protect animals here.

🌏 We’re taking action for freedom for all 🌏

A collage of images from the Trade Aid and World Vision Sign for Freedom campaign — petition signing on a university campus, sticker saying ‘I took action against modern slavery’, and a street poster that starts, ’40 million people globally are in modern slavery.’

At one point or another, many of us have wondered whose hands sewed our clothes, assembled our gadgets, or made our children’s toys. Our globe is highly networked and interconnected, and it can be difficult to know where the things in our lives come from. All of us want to live in a world where everyone is paid fairly for the work they do, and can work safely, with dignity.

But the lack of regulation in long and hidden global supply chains mean that, without us even realising, some products we buy are made by people forced into modern slavery. New Zealand has no basic checks in place ensuring transparency in these supply chains.

That’s why the folk at Trade Aid and World Vision have joined forces. They want a law that clearly shows businesses where the risks of modern slavery occur in their purchasing, compels them to report on those risks, and to take action to address them.Over 100 companies signed an open letter calling on the Government to create a Modern Slavery Act. More than 20,000 people have joined the call to legislate against slavery, and protect people across the global community.

Add your power to support a Modern Slavery Act and Sign for Freedom now.

✏️ Education for justice transformation ✏️️

Three groups of people at different tables engaging in conversation.

Are you passionate about a Tiriti-honouring, compassionate, justice system? Based on healing, restoration and accountability? Are you itching to take action but not quite sure where to start?

In June, our friends and allies at JustSpeak are starting an online learning collective about transforming the justice system. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded folk and learn the history of how justice is done in Aotearoa. Together, the collective will explore the ways politicians use fear and division to shape a system that fuels their own interests. And how people-power can reshape it to serve our whānau and build our communities.

Over six months, you’ll hear from guest speakers on issues such as mass incarceration, community justice, and what it means to decolonise the justice system. You’ll have access to useful, engaging resources including articles, talks and podcasts. This is a space for building community, for learning from, with and about each other, and to pick up the tools you need to make real changes to our justice system. The course is free, and is open to everyone. Sign up to join the learning collective now.

Phew, that’s all from us for now.

Arohanui ki a koe, me tō whanāu hoki.

Kassie, Madeleine, Ruby, Eliot, Ann, Yvonne, Ali, Max and Andrés — your ActionStation team.

P.S. It’s time to free Palestine. Get involved with groups in Aotearoa here and here, and check out how you can support the wider call for justice.

P.P.S. We know a dose of hope goes a long way, so we have made this email into a blog post you can share with friends and whānau.




Community campaigning organisation bringing people together to act in powerful and coordinated ways to create a fair and flourishing Aotearoa for all.