Seven ways people power has been bringing joy and justice to Aotearoa this July
By Laura O’Connell Rapira
We’re deep into winter so to help warm us up from the wairua (spirit) out, here are seven ways that people power has been bringing joy and justice to Aotearoa New Zealand this July.
More than 10,000 people have shown their love for the whenua at Ihumaatao.
Since last Tuesday, more than 10,000 people have visited Ihumaatao to support the land protectors. Behind the scenes kaimahi (workers) are making sure every person who visits experiences manaakitanga (generosity, care, upliftment).
As reported by Te Aniwa Hurihanganui for RNZ,
“Three thousand sandwiches were made from sunrise to mid-afternoon last Saturday, as numbers at Ihumātao swelled to more than 10,000 over the weekend.”
Another RNZ reporter Meriana Johnsen shot this video of Mariam Arif and her tamariki (children), Faruq and Faris, performing a haka for Ihumaatao:
It has warmed my heart to see people from all different backgrounds — Muslim, Pasifika, Pākehā and Asian, students, musicians, artists, mums, dads, kaumātua (elders), tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people) — united for the kaupapa (cause).
Over 1,200 people have donated more than $50,000 for Ihumaatao with an average gift of $38 each.
ActionStation have been working with SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape) since November 2018, so when we heard that the police had arrived to the whenua (land) to remove peaceful land protectors we leapt into action. Our team had a fundraiser up by the end of the day and over the week following over 1,200 of you donated more than $50,000 with an average gift of $38 each to protect Ihumaatao.
This pūtea (money) enabled us to support over 100 people and several groups (Te Ara Whatu, Te Akatoki, Ngāi Tauira and others) to travel to the whenua. It also enabled us to purchase generators, gazebos, radios, braziers, firewood, tarpaulins and more.
People have been organising solidarity actions with Ihumaatao all around the motu (island, country).
Since news broke about the attempted eviction of Māori kaitiaki (guardians) from their own land, solidarity actions have popped up all around the country. Actions like the rally (pictured above) pulled together in just 24 hours by SOUL Solidarity Pōneke, ActionStation, Organise Aotearoa, Ngā Rangahautira, Schools Strike 4 Climate, Peace Action Wellington, Young Greens and Asians Supporting Tino Rangatiratanga.
There have also been solidarity actions in Ōtepoti (Dunedin), fundraisers organised throughout the country and new street art like this one from Himi Grace in Pōneke (Wellington):
Almost 50,000 people have signed the petition, and over 2,000 people have sent personalised emails to Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, and Phil Goff to protect Ihumaatao.
For the past few months, our (outgoing) Tech Director Vim has been working on a new tool that enables ActionStation members to create highly customised emails to send to decision makers quickly and easily. Since we launched the tool just six days ago, over 2,000 people have sent emails to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Finance Minister Grant Robertson urging them to purchase the land from Fletchers, return it to tāngata whenua (people of the land) and protect it as a heritage site for future generations.
SOUL’s petition on ActionStation’s website has also jumped up by an astounding 3,000 new signatures a day since the police arrived to try and evict kaitiaki.
It’s clear that there is a huge amount of positive energy and people power surrounding this beautiful and sacred land and its people, and we will continue to support SOUL in their efforts to protect Ihumaatao.
If you would like to understand the issues surrounding Ihumaatao in more detail, I recommend reading, sharing and supporting these articles and publishers:
- When worlds collide by Leonie Hayden for New Zealand Geographic
- The politics of Ihumātao by Morgan Godfery for Māui Street
- Our trail of tears: the story of Ihumātao by Vincent O’Malley for The Spinoff Ātea
- Ihumātao is Jacinda Ardern’s foreshore and seabed moment. And she’s failing by Morgan Godfery for Metro Magazine
- Taking a stand on stolen land: the past and future of the Ihumātao occupation by Tina Ngata for Overland
- WATCH: Ihumātao — ‘Don’t forget, the Crown caused this problem’, Moana Jackson for Te Ao with Moana
At least 300 people braved the Wellington rain to deliver an open letter signed by 17,000 people calling for tamariki Māori to stay connected to whānau and whakapapa.
For the past couple of months, we have been working closely with the Hands Off Our Tamariki network — a rōpū (group) of mostly wāhine Māori (Māori women) lawyers, researchers, midwives, social workers, mothers, aunties and grandmothers who want to keep Māori babies and children connected to their whānau and whakapapa (the long and never-ending connection from the deities to earth to our ancestors to us).
Following the release of a heartbreaking Newsroom video that documented staff from Oranga Tamariki attempting to take a child from their mother in a maternity ward, ActionStation and Hands Off Our Tamariki launched an open letter that asks that:
- Not one more child be removed by the State from their whakapapa context of whānau, hapū, iwi;
- Decisions regarding the wellbeing of tamariki must be made by whānau, hapū, iwi supported by Iwi and Māori organisations;
- The State hand over resources to hapū, iwi and Kaupapa Māori organisations to ensure the wellbeing of tamariki Māori;
- The State make a long term commitment to support the return of te reo, tikanga and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge originating from our ancestors) to whānau to support wellbeing for current and future generations.
On Tuesday 30 July, at least 300 people from all around Aotearoa travelled to Wellington to deliver that open letter in the pouring rain. Solidarity actions were also held in Christchurch, Kaikohe, Waitākere, Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Napier, Ruatoria, Dunedin, and Palmerston North.
If you would like to better understand this issue, then I recommend reading or watching these:
- WATCH: Breakfast TV interview with Leonie Pihama and myself explaining the rationale behind this movement
- LISTEN: ‘Hands off our Tamariki’ heads to Parliament by RNZ
- Yes, we are the Stolen Generation by Aaron Smale for Newsroom
- Stop trampling on the mana of children by Khylee Quince for Newsroom
- WATCH: New Zealand’s own taken generation by Melanie Reid from Newsroom
- The Māori problem by Aaron Smale for Newsroom
- Uplifting children is not a Māori problem. It’s a colonisation problem by Tina Ngata for The Spinoff Ātea
- The children come first: A day at the Oranga Tamariki hui by Leonie Hayden for The Spinoff Ātea
- WATCH: The role of Whangai and Adoption in Aotearoa by Marae
- Hundreds rally to call for change at Oranga Tamariki by RNZ
And finally here is a piece that I wrote called: The call from the hui was loud and clear: give us back our kids. It describes what we know about the way children and babies were treated prior to colonisation, and outlines how we can return to that reality if the government is willing.
Our Tauiwi Tautoko volunteers have been taking effective action as Treaty partners.
Thanks to grants from Dr Emily Beausoleil, Netsafe and Luminate, we have been running free 10 week long training programmes in Auckland, Wellington and shortly Christchurch. We weave together online learning and in-person gatherings to provide volunteers with the tools, community and courage to participate in online conversations about Māori land, language and culture with evidence-based listening and messaging techniques.
This week, we provided our volunteers with messaging guides and a time and place so they could work as a group to facilitate more informed, thoughtful and kind conversations about the calls that are coming from te ao Māori (the Māori world) right now to protect whānau and whakapapa. It was wonderful to see our (mostly Pākehā) volunteers taking effective and coordinated action to dismantle racism in Aotearoa. Ka rawe! (Awesome!)
You can read more about our approach here: How ActionStation trains an army of keyboard warriors to promote love over hate by Mobilisation Lab.
Lucy made an incredible submission for better mental health education in all schools.
And last, but certainly not least, this week Madeleine (our Whānau Wellbeing Campaigner) and I had the privilege of supporting Lucy (23) as she made her submission to the Health Committee (a cross-party group of MPs tasked with making recommendations to government on health) calling for better mental health education in all schools.
Two years ago, Lucy started her petition with ActionStation because she had struggled with her own mental health in her late teen years and was scared to seek help for fear of judgement. It was only after she hit crisis point that she started to speak with friends and realise that many of them struggled too. She started to strongly believe that having open conversations about mental health at school would reduce stigma, help young people to stay well, look after each other, and feel empowered to seek help when they need it.
More than 10,000 New Zealanders signed her petition because they agreed. Mental health has been a focus for the government over the last two years, but she says there is still a need for vast improvements in mental health education. Alongside an effective system to help people with mental health problems, Lucy says we need to be proactive in giving young people the tools, space and skills to live mentally healthy lives. You can watch her submission in full here.
Whānau, I may live in a bubble but to me it feels like we are in the middle of an indigenous and rangatahi (young people) led uprising.
All around the country young people are stepping up to run for local government, while more and more Māori are uniting in their calls for government to devolve decision-making power and resources to iwi, hapū, and kaupapa Māori organisations across health, justice, and social welfare.
And while I’m exhausted from the long hours and hard work, I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. The possibility of a world that puts people and planet before profit. Of a society that places care, community and compassion at its core. The possibility of bringing to life the more beautiful and just future that our hearts know is possible.
Progressive political change relies on many people coming together for a common purpose. It is not led by one organisation, but thousands and thousands of people contributing in different ways: the people who make kai, writers, videographers, artists, first aid respondents, community wardens, gardeners, community organisers, people on the front-line and many, many others. We want to honour everyone who is doing what they can for whānau, whenua (land), and collective wellbeing.
Here at ActionStation, we do a lot with a little, and we collaborate effectively. Our small team work hard to make sure that the sacred energy you entrust us with when you sign a petition, send an email, donate a dollar or turn up to a rally is pointed where it will have impact. We are one part of a bigger movement, and we take the responsibility you place in us very seriously.
I know that not everyone is in a position to do so, but if you can give a koha on a regular basis — weekly, monthly, fortnightly — we promise to put your gift to good use. Regular donations enable us to respond rapidly, build new technology to mobilise the masses quickly, support young people like Lucy to lead change, and to build and maintain trusting relationships so we can serve those on the frontline and this movement. Regular gifts are the fuel that keep the ActionStation waka (vehicle, canoe) moving.
Share this blog post with friends and whānau.
Even if you can’t donate, please know that we sincerely appreciate everything you do for this community, and for our shared vision of a fair and flourishing Aotearoa.
With love and determination,
Laura, Eliot, Kassie, Madeleine, Andrés, Ann, Ruby and Yvonne — your ActionStation whānau.