Hoake tātou! Everybody, get on the waka

Me he manawa tītī!

and…….Oh kuuuummmmon.

Today, or yesterday, or every day, John Key said this:

“Obviously like any language, (Māori) is a series of words, and of course if you can understand those words, then I can understand what they’re saying”

Choice, John Key. Choice. That didn’t really make sense grammatically though did it (they or I?), but hey, talking good is not eveyone’s strength.

Sorry everyone, for kicking off a post with a quote from him-most-truly. I am going to move on reeeeaally quick, I promise.

John – love the honesty! “what they’re saying”, keep up the othering why don’t ya.”Series of words” – yeah nothing much to it really. “Any language” – nice and dismissive, with a pinch of a diminishing smirk. Te Reo Māori is just like any other language. Piece of cake. Others, them, those, not me. Not my issue. cause’ “I’m John Key, and I can understand things”, “I know words”.

Ok, like I said, moving on.

When I read or hear quotes like this, I feel really defensive. I feel offended. I feel protective. I feel disappointed and angry. BUT Ko tēnei te wiki o Te Reo Māori!!!!, so I ain’t going to let anyone, especially not John Key get me down. Here is why.

I’ve started this important week of the year, like any other Monday, at my mahi. Where  I support several early childhood centres: their educators and tamariki, in learning Te Reo, in actually walking the talk with Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and just generally being amazing citizens and not racist people. They are so great. I love them. They are dedicated and hard-working. They see the importance of and value in Te Ao Māori. They are doing what we should all be doing. Having a kōrero, and seeing how amazing it is. No more excuses, enough of the blame game or defensiveness. Te Reo is choice.

I also attended a wānanga all weekend long at my big kid’s kura. Parents and teachers dedicated their weekend for their tamariki. For their kura. And it is our kura. It is a marae away from marae. It was all about their learning, and of course about their reo, the reo of the kura and wider community. People got up, one after the other, and poured their hearts out. Sharing what being Māori means to them, what Te Reo is for them, and what they have to contribute to the kura going forward. Laying down all lengths they will go to. And there are many.

It was a beautiful time. Something I will always remember. We laughed and cried, together. In Te Reo.


These wānanga are things that many kura and kōhanga do, a lot. A time where teachers and parents get together and really communicate. Where tamariki are truly at the centre of the conversation. This is the kind of thing that mainstream schools can only dream of, because of the way they are structured. Now, this post is not about education per se, but there is a lot to be learned from Māori ways of knowing and living, that everyone can learn from. I’m not saying lets all operate like a kura.

But I’m also not saying “like any language, is a series of words” either.

As I said earlier, I feel defensive when I hear people, particularly those in positions of massive influence and power, shrug off Te Reo. When they don’t pay it the due attention and respect it demands.

Actually, I’m sorry, I do need to go back to John Key now. But the following is for anyone – not just him, and it is said out of my love of Te Reo, my love for my partner and our children, my love for things Māori, and especially for my kid’s teachers – for our whānau and whānau whānui.

Every day I am in contact with the sharpest of tacks. The most willing of people. These people, myself included, are hell-bent on using Te Reo whenever we can, wherever we can. And it is not always easy. But we know its beauty and power. We love the way it sounds. The things that can be expressed in it, the knowledge that can only travel in it. Keeping a language going can be really hard mahi:

  • We arrange expense babysitting, or twist an aunty’s arm so we can attend night classes in Te Reo after a long day at work.
  • We attend weekly playground session in Te Reo, so the door is opened for our little ones.
  • We organise BBQs and kids play dates around learning Te Reo. Creating places in our lives where we can kōrero. This is easier said than done, believe me.
  • We painstakingly type, print off, cut out and stick labels on every object in our whare. In Te Reo. Because if you are learning Māori as an adult, it is hard. You need all the support you can get!
  • We learn lullabies for our little ones in Te Reo.
  • We compose waiata in Te Reo Rangatira.
  • We petition our schools to do more in honouring the treaty.
  • We seek to understand the treaty.
  • We go to workshops and upskill.
  • We are Māori. We are Pāhekā (only .3% though according to latest stats), we are Japanese and Spanish.
  • We are women and LGBTI. We are men and children. Young and old.
  • We do it in spite of. We do it as well as.

We kōrero, kōrero, kōrero. And:

I can understand what they are saying.

I really can, John. Well, I try really hard to – as a Pāhekā Nu Zulunda. And I  don’t actually think you can. Understanding enough to get through a pōwhiri, or to mince another mihi at the start of a meeting does not amount to “understanding what they’re saying”.

Because, what we are saying is:

Te Reo Māori is a taonga. It is absolutely fundamental to being Māori, to this land, to history and to the future of Te Ao Māori. Arguably, there is no Ao without it. And it is in dire straights right now. You can do something about this. Me tīmata i te wiki nei!

– Fund kōhanga and kura equitably with mainstream.

– Insist, and legislate, that ALL teachers must learn Te Reo and make learning it compulsory in all schools while you are at it. Kids love it, and it is EASY for them! It opens a whole new world for them. There is nothing to be lost. Only gains to be made. Start with the tamariki. This will save the government a lot of money.

– Understand that bilingualism and multilingualism are GOOD FOR THE BLIMMIN BRAIN. And even the economy.

– And, that people can only really understand each other when they understand each others languages. There is no way that you can say that you “understand what they’re saying”. You do not. Your politics say it all.

– And finally, leave it up to them. Relinquish control. Or at least, stop suppressing the power and control that Māori already have over their lives. It is there, let it shine and prosper.

And ending on a positive note, here is an amazing blog post on super sneaky and effective ways to get your kids speaking Māori along side you. This is the future, this is the solution.

’10 ways to trick your kid into speaking Māori again’

Mauri ora!

What you feed, grows

This week has been one foot in front of the other. All week. Plod plod, hurry hurry, bang crash, slam and slide. Shuffle. Each step has felt heavy and unavoidable but somehow deliberate and purposeful. Perhaps thanks to all the self talk I’ve been doing. Trying to keep it all in check. ‘It is ok to feel this way’, ‘Stop for a minute and think, ‘Take a few breaths’, ‘What really matters right now?’, and my favourite – ‘I am the adult, they are the children, I am the adult, they are the children’….it so easy to say isn’t it?

And this is just my parenting.

Thoughts have been swirling around my head, thick and hazy. Hard to get a hold of. I feel really tired. But the kids aren’t hanging off me right this second, so I have a little time to myself. They are sleeping in fact. I really love them when they are sleeping, for obvious reasons. Also, all kids are beautiful to gaze at as they sleep. Their big juicy lips, pouting. Their eyelids, crescent and peaceful. Their day is done, another is on its way. A fresh start. A clean slate. I wish adults would operate like this too. But we hold on so tightly to everything, until we are so full it hurts.

My partner and I have recently finished a parenting course. Because parenting is hard and all too often it is done in isolation. But we did this together. Along with 16 other parents who also have challenging children.

Of all the wonderful things we got out of this time, one thing really stood out to me. A gem of wisdom I think the whole world could take heed of. Something I don’t do enough of myself.

‘What you feed, grows’

In the context of parenting, it is fundamental. But it is also a principal for all to take hold of. Give attention to the behaviours you want to see. Even when they are only being displayed them 1% of the time. Even when you are so mad and bad yourself. And they are mad and bad to you. Make a big deal of the 1%, or the 15%, or the 50%. Be consistent with your attention. Ignore as much of the bad behaviour as possible, and be straight to the bone with any negative behaviour you do need to address. Practice restorative solutions. Simple and clear. Focus on what they have done, rather than them when they are off target. And really hone in on exactly what it is they did well when they are on track. As well as letting them know they are amazing and that you love them all the time.

Kids constantly seek attention and they are excellent at getting it any way they can. So give them good attention. Play with them. Celebrate them. Then, get better behaviour. It doesn’t take too long until they re-wire themselves to seek attention positively.

It makes complete sense. There are no holes to be picked in this theory. It is so solid, it isn’t even a theory, it just is. It is a simple truth: Water plants, they grow, smile at someone, they (usually) smile back, practice makes perfect, eat well, rest and cope for another day – see, all of these things. Proof.

But as always, there is a flip side – Worry too much and everything compounds, plant vegetables in the shade and they won’t thrive, only ever yell at your kids and your relationship will turn toxic, burn the candle at both ends….and so on it goes.

‘What you feed, grows’

I need to fess up here, I am a glass half full kind of person. I am very practical, I like to get things going, get things done – subsequently I focus on perceived gaps in situations. The parts that I feel are less than. I notice when things have gone wrong in my books, or if I think something should be done better, or a certain way. As a result, I often fail to see what IS already there, what HAS been done and the things that ARE working well. It is great to see the next step, but it is crucial to know what is actually already happening too.

As a society, we need to think about what we focus on. What we shine a light on. Who we give air time to. What we celebrate and who we celebrate. Because, what we feed is what will grow. We have a choice in this.

This week I’ve felt the weight of the world. There are days when it feels like everything is coming together – not in a ‘ohh, this is really coming together now’, kind of way, more of a – ‘argh there a bit and pieces of broken dreams, scary nightmares and devastating lived realities all flying around and smashing into each other, kind of a coming together.  And potentially getting together, against you, despite your best efforts, kind of a way.

Like you are falling into a vortex of darkness, with said small sharp things swirling, which you are of course, deftly ducking to avoid.

Images of our awful government flash in front of my eyes as I watch my children playing, feeling frustrated that there is literally no way we can buy a house, or even hope to continue affording renting in the suburb they were born and raised in, no matter how hard we work.  Angry thoughts that my friends with small babies are not fully supported to stay at home with them if they so choose. A horror at the growing number of people living in poverty in our communities, and the contempt in which the rich of this country hold them.  A sense of doom when reading world news and politics.

All the while a moaning ‘why do I even bother’ bellows from somewhere deep within.

There really is a whole bunch of bad shit going down in our communities. There is no disputing this. We hear about it all the time. Sometimes I think it is all we hear about, purposefully. It is overwhelming. Bad news is disempowering. The dark spots are joining up, blocking out the light, the good, hard work people are doing. This doesn’t have to happen.

 ‘What you feed,  grows’

How are we to counteract all the narrow-minded, hateful news reporting we are feed? How can we show each other that there are other ways? How do we raise children who are understanding of each other and respectful and celebratory of difference?

We feed what we want to grow.

In this week of heavy footsteps, another mantra of mine is:

‘People are good, and they are doing good things’

If we stop and think, if we look around and take stock. We see that people are good. Almost everyone wants to do right by each other (there sure are some bad eggs out, but I’m not talking about them right now).

Philly Pride Parade 2015

People are trying really hard every where I look, in spite of what is thrown their way. This is where the focus needs to be. I’m sick of hearing about Isis attempting to take over the world and Trump wanting to build a wall. Of course we need to know and understand these things, but I want to hear more about all the amazing peace work on the ground. The grassroots – these people are the majority. Then surely there will be more hope and fewer people mindlessly nodding along to the news in their living rooms at the ‘need’ for more civilian airstrikes. Because this is what they are. It is the civilians who suffer.

Mainstream news is spun to incite more hatred, to create more power for the greedy. I don’t buy it. Muslims are not terrorists.  Governments and corporations are. I want to know more about LGBTI communities in the US, and their work in dismantling decades of prejudice against them. Can this be the news please, rather than Omar Mateen?

I’m tired of hearing about lazy indigenous people (not true), instead I want to read news about all their awe-inspiring social and education initiatives – and just about them, amazing them. The Ainu of Japan and their friends at Parihaka this month for example.

Māori teach Ainu the ‘Te Ataarangi’ method of language learning, June 2016

And, as funny as ‘like Mike’ is, I’m tired of hearing about Mike Hosking. I want to know more about the peace hīkoi from New Plymouth to Parihaka at the moment.

New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd is back by his supporters as they hīkoi to Parihaka.

We each have visions of how we hope the world will grow. But these visions are purposefully blurred in the deprivation of what should be receiving positive attention, the love, the nourishment. To the point that we stop looking up as we walk about. Instead, we look down at our tired and drudging footsteps. ‘Why bother’.

This week, I’ve been consciously looking up, looking around and taking stock. And I’ve seen people everywhere who are thinking differently, who are trying new ways of doing things, people who refuse to put their energies into vortexes of darkness, sadness and doom.

I am certain that if we all read and learn about each others successes and ideas, and just hear each others voices more often, uninterrupted by mainstream media – we would feel much more secure in the knowledge that people are good.

We would be much more likely to reach out and help each other. Much more likely to give something new a go, or to support someone else in their ventures. We would be less likely to believe that we are powerless. It is in the interests of the corrupt and powerful to lead us to this conclusion. It is not true.

The people are the majority, we have the power. We are not all our to get each other. Quite the opposite.

Stop and reflect, attend to and nourish those around you. And we will all grow.



Say what?! A collective effort….

Everyone views the world through their own particular lenses, which are constructed by their many personal experiences and understandings of the world. My world is viewed through gender and inequality radar-goggles.There is a fair amount to see through these goggles at the moment.

The capitalist-patriarchal world we live in only serves a few – that is: all men and especially middle and upper class white men.

Power is concentrated at levels never seen before, entirely avoidable poverty is rampant, environments world over are sacrificed for momentary whims of ‘modern living’ and monetary greed. Women and their children are found at the bottom of the heap – time and time again. This is a major concern of mine. Because, I am a women. I have children. And 51% of the world are women (or however they identify themselves to be, by this I mean not cis-male). Believe it or not, we were all children once. Also, many of us are likely to have children ourselves.

Then, and this is where it gets wild, children become adults, and that is how humans make more humans. Thus we should all be concerned. We should all be feminist.

Still I’m really confused as to why some people don’t identify as feminist, or reject the need for or notion of feminism completely. Far too many people just opt out. Either because they can or because they do not know (we don’t know until we know, right?). Dangerously, for those who ‘can’ it is because they are not directly effected by the ills of the world, by oppression or injustice, or at least they think they aren’t. Patriarchy is designed in their favour, or mabye they choose to ignore it?

I don’t know all the reasons that people find feminism a hard pill to swallow. But one thing I know for sure is the media and our own systems, such as the education system, mislead us. We are raised to believe that, at least in the western world, or the ‘developed’ world, we are now all equal. There is a woman CEO, and Helen Clark might be the UN something a rather. Naaw, that is just so nice. I’ve only just heard the news. I’ll stop all my whingeing now. JUST KIDDDDDDDING. Check our history…..we have come a long way, yes, but there is a long road still to march.

Now, some people don’t identify as feminist and fight capitalism and patriarchy because they are far to busy SURVIVING. Kind of hard to figure out why you are living in a rubbish dump with your children, if you actually live on the scraps of humanity. Or why, despite your absolute best efforts, and the hardest of work, you are still living in a car in New Zealand. There are simply more important and urgent things to do. The oppressed are just that. Oppressed. It is really hard to fight back, or to even know that there is a struggle going on, if your immediate, base human needs are not being met. This is how capitalism and patriarchy are designed. This is how it works. Power and resources to the few, scraps for everyone else, and if anyone complains, chuck em’ a bone. Or shut them up completely (round up the activitists, throw away the key!)

Here are a few other ideas I have as to why people avoid feminism.

  • They think it makes them seem aggressive or unattractive
  • They think they have a good lot in life, and that everyone just needs to try their best to achieve freedom/equality/equity and so on
  • OR they don’t understand the language used in feminist or political discussion
Photo on 4-06-16 at 9.44 PM #2
I know, I know, I’m also known as a great graphic artist

Now, this is where I want to Flip the Script. Language is a massive barrier for so many people. Illiteracy is a massive problem in shutting millions out of the conversation (and must be the subject of another post entirely). Even if you are literate – language can remain an obstacle. I know this from discussions with friends about feminism. The blank stares and replies of ‘ahhh’ say it all. I am sorry if I ever contribute to this, I’m sure I do. I said cis-male in the third paragraph for goodness sake.

I want to remedy this, and collaborate with you all.

Here is an absolutely non-exhaustive list of some amazing vocabulary that I believe we all need to wrap our brains and tongues around. It is collated from the ideas of many feminists, and not necessarily always my own – it is a moving beast. Please, hit me back in the comments if you would like to add to this list. It was first published by Freerange Press in 2015…. you can download the journal it first appeared in, at the same time as making a $5 donation to the Women’s Refugee. Win win!

Photo on 4-06-16 at 10.17 PM

Say what?  Feminist, queer and revolutionary vocabulary


Some say it is about the equality or equity of the sexes, but when ‘sex’ isn’t that simple – and there is more than ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in this world – you see that feminism is rather complex! It is a movement and analysis that recognises the inseparable combinations that exist between patriarchy, cis-male (“status quo-male”) privilege, capitalism, homophobia and white privilege to name a few. It is the knowledge that these combinations form political, social and economic power structures, which create injustices for and oppress non cis-male people. Feminism is a lens in which to view and understand the world – a vehicle for change.


Patriarchy describes male-dominated power structures, which permeate throughout organised society, in political systems as well as in individual relationships. It is systemic bias against women and non cis-male people. Patriarchy can be recognised as the intuitions and companies that are run in the majority by men that mostly benefit men; where taking maternity leave or breastfeeding a baby at work is a problem; where being a transsexual makes using the toilets an issue. Patriarchy is also a family group or community controlled by powerful men – fathers and grandfathers who give more privilege to boys and men in that group.

Patriarchy is a world that benefits cis-men over everyone else. Patriarchy describes male-dominated power structures, which permeate throughout organised society, in political systems as well as in individual relationships. It is systemic bias against women and non cis-male people. Patriarchy can be recognised as the intuitions and companies that are run in the majority by men that mostly benefit men; where taking maternity leave or breastfeeding a baby at work is a problem; where being a transsexual makes using the toilets an issue. Patriarchy is also a family group or community controlled by powerful men – fathers and grandfathers who give more privilege to boys and men in that group. Patriarchy is a world that benefits cis-men over everyone else.

 Gender essentialism

Gender essentialism is such a commonly held belief that most people wouldn’t know they hold it. It drives many unconscious behaviours and forms the basis of most patriarchal, misogynistic and sexist actions, arguments and discussions. It is the basic idea that men and women act in inherently different ways and as such have different options in life because of intrinsic biological differences between the genders.

Gender essentialism often excuses gender-based oppressions and discriminations in societies, such as what roles parents play, what jobs people hold, expectations held of each other and skill bases. Gender essentialism simultaneously reinforces gender stereotypes, while being informed by them. Gender essentialism relies on the perpetuation of a binary, polarised world, free of ambiguity, where two neat tidy genders exist and know their place in the world.

Cisgender, cissexual…

‘Cis’ (pronounced ‘sis’) is Latin for ‘on the side of’ and is the antonym to ‘trans’ meaning ‘on the other side/across from’. Cis-male and cis-female people are those who feel there is a match between their assigned birth sex and the gender they feel themselves to be, in contrast to transsexual people. The term was created so cis-men and cis-women aren’t seen as the normal standard from which everyone else deviates, whereby people such as transsexuals and LBGTIQ would be viewed as abnormal.

 LGBT – LGBTI – LGBTIQ – These initials mean ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual, Intersex, Queer’, and represent the diversity in sexualities, genders and cultures that are subject to discrimination, persecution and violence globally. They can also be used to refer to someone who is non-heterosexual/cis-gendered.


To quote Mani Mitchell: ‘Intersex is a medical umbrella term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.’


A dislike, ingrained prejudice and/or contempt of women which can manifest in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, violence against women and the sexual objectification of women.

Oppressed, repressed or suppressed?

To oppress is to keep a person or group powerless by unjust force or authority. To repress is to hold back by coercion, or hold down by force. Suppression means to put an end toto inhibit, and to keep from being revealed (knowledge or recognition for example). These are some of patriarchy’s best-prized tools in the power tool kit.


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different groups of people, usually based on the grounds of race, age, or sex or sexuality.

First wave feminism

Feminism initially emerged from the Western world to the backdrop of the age of the Enlightenment (1650s – 1780s) when analysis, reason and the individualistic thinking of philosophers and scientists challenged traditional authorities of the Church and Throne. Debates around women, colonialism and slavery abound, however women were almost entirely kept from the table, creating a pro-male movement. Then came the intense industrialisation of the West in the 1800s, starting in Europe. For women this meant further burden in addition to childbearing and mammoth Victorian work loads running small holdings and households; women and children now also worked in factories and businesses, but had none of the rights afforded to men to safeguard their working conditions, politics of the day or land and sexual rights.

Fed up with their lot, women of the Commonwealth and America demanded change. The defining struggle for the first wave was women winning the battle for the vote. The suffragette movement officially started in America at the Seneca Falls Convention, 1848, but New Zealand was the first country where all women could vote in 1893, followed by America in 1920 and Britain in 1928. This was feminism by and for the white middle and upper-class women and their families. For this reason the second wave was born.

Second wave feminism

Loosely framed by the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1960s through to the neoliberal politics of the 1980s and 1990s, the second wave sought emancipation and equality for women on the basis of economics, sexuality and politics. There was a growing recognition of the multiple oppressions and battles that women faced in this wave. Where black women, lesbian women and indigenous women from all around the world had been left out of the equation, there was now some representation for them in feminism. Connections were made between broad political structures such as capitalism, war, patriarchy and heteronormativity, as well as the roles of women as wives and mothers. Sex and gender were differentiated as a biological base and social constructs. Sexuality and reproductive rights became central issues. The women’s struggle was associated with the class struggle, the personal was now political, and everyone was invited to bang a drum on the march.

Third wave feminism  

Although many legal and institutional rights had now been granted to women as a result of the second wave, the 1990s children of the second wave feminists had something else to say. Informed by post-colonial and post-modern thinking, they wanted changes in media representation of women and of gender stereotyping. The focus shifted from what was good for all women, based on the personal being political, to ‘micro-politics’, where women were encouraged to use their own personal identities to define what being a feminist meant to them. A woman could wear lipstick and high heels, run a boardroom and still be a feminist. Language such as ‘slut’ and ‘bitch’, deemed misogynistic in the second wave, was reclaimed in order to suffocate sexist language.

The fourth wave

Has it arrived and when? It is differentiated from its predecessors by its use of the internet. The fourth wave’s creation-in-action is evidenced online in forums, blogs, social media and clicktavism causes. The third wave’s increasing intersectionality has brought all sorts of individuals and groups into the frame and to the screen. There is no one experience, no one feminism. However, the fourth wave also looks back to the second to inform its arguments about the state of the world, a world controlled by patriarchal capitalists and run by the West, taking into account issues such as climate change, severe poverty and systemic racism.


Intersectionality describes the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, classism, ageism etc.) are all interconnected and cannot be seen, challenged or unravelled separately. This concept first came from Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, and helps us to understand the complexities of individual experience and systemic oppressions.


For as many women as there are in the world, there are arguably as many feminisms. Check them out sometime! Eco-feminism, Marxist, socialist, mana wahine, radical, liberal, post-modern, post-structural, anarcha-fem, new age, black, womanist, separatist, cultural, lesbian, Chicana, standpoint, libertarian……feminism to name a few.


Heteronormativity are the actions of a gender essentialist’s ideal world, one in which men and women fall into distinct categories with clear roles and expectations, where heterosexuality is the norm reinforced in power structures such as legislation and the media.


Attitudes, bias and discriminations that favour opposite sex relationships and heteronormativity. It is based on the presumption that people are heterosexual – the expected ‘superior’ norm.


The powerful combination of a heterosexual bias society run by a patriarchy. Most nation-states and ruling classes could be described as such. From America to Saudi Arabia, from New Zealand to Indonesia. Where straight men rule the roost.


Where people socialise with their own gender most of the time, or in certain situations such as work or sports teams. Homosocialisation reinforces gender stereotypes, gender roles, gendered division of time, education and work. It is self-perpetuating.


An acronym for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. Feminists who state that trans-women aren’t really women, thinking the only women are those born with a vagina and XX chromosomes. Gender essentialists through and through.


Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminism, which opposes women’s participation in prostitution and pornography. Swerfs sometimes and often unintentionally, do not include sex-workers in conversations and debate.

An internet troll/trolling

Someone who finds pleasure in seeking opportunities to disrupt and derail discussions and debates in online forums, blogs and social media. For the fun of pointless argument, and sometimes more sinisterly, to meaninglessly detract attention from important conversations.

Male gaze

When the audience is constructed from the perspective of heterosexual men. The male gaze is so powerful in media that it now dictates the content of most mainstream films, TV, music videos and advertisements. Men are situated as the watchers, women as watched; men active, women passive. Buy the product, get the girl or be the girl. Think car ads, female roles in action films, central-main characters on TV and superheros.

Rape culture

Rape culture as a term is designed to show the ways in which society blames victims of sexual assault and normalises male sexual violence. It is a culture that encourages boys and men to be macho and aggressive, and girls and women to be submissive and compliant. A society that allows a quarter of women and girls to be raped or sexually assaulted, and 1/6 of men and boys. Where 3 per cent of rapists are jailed after just 6 per cent of rapes and assaults are ever reported. A social culture in which rape jokes and cat calls are heard and normalised, where the male gaze pervades pop music and the visual arts. Where children are sexualised by clothing and toy companies. Rape culture has implications for all and is everyone’s issue regardless of gender.


Commenting & Respectful Discussion

Ok folks.

I love to talk and I love to write. I also love to discuss, debate and listen to and learn from others points of view. My standpoint is always feminist. That is how I see the world. It is how I read situations, analysis text and put words together myself.

Here is the deal. I think carefully about my blog content. I do some reading, draw on other amazing people and write posts. I hope they are informative and interesting to others. I really hope that they spark discussion, new thinking and perhaps further investigation and exploration in readers. That is my aim.

If you are keen to comment on a blog post, I encourage you to do so. I appreciate new insights and ideas. Links to other sites and reading etc. I also enjoy some robust challenges to, or debating of my ideas.

If we are not discussing or debating, then no one is thinking or challenging the status quo!

However, I do not want to add to the mindless-sticking to the party line for the sake of it, type commenting, which already litters the blog-o-sphere. And especially our mainstream media sources. We need safe spaces to talk and positive learning environments to surround ourselves with.

Unthinking words are hurtful to others. Vitriolic language has no place on this blog. Bitter criticism that does not base itself in the context of a subject area, or the content of a post, is a waste of everyone’s time. So here are my rules:

All comments are moderated by me. It is my site, my choice. I don’t want to start reading like a Herald opinion page.

  • If you do not discuss the CONTENT of a post, your comment will be disregarded
  • If you attack me personally and directly, I will not publish your comment
  • If you attack or hurl vitriolic language at the subject of a post, I will not publish you either.
  • Hate speech has no place on this blog. Racsim, homophobia, ageism, ableism, and sexism (among other forms of discrimination) will not be tolerated

I feel like I’ve just been a very grumpy teacher or wrung out parent (I am actually both sometimes), who has just had the whole class, or whole family up for the behaviour of one person. Apologies for that. I mean these guidelines to be understood in the most positive and fair manner possible. I could have written them all as ‘positive-opposites’, however, I need to be clear on this.

In addition: Depending on the number of comments a post attracts, I will generally close comments after about a week of publishing. There are just too many to moderate sometimes! Pieces that have only a few comments and will stay open longer.

Enjoy reading good people. Like and follow me on facebook.


A challenge to Alan Duff’s damaging words

Alan Duff, I find it hard to know where to start. As a mother of two beautiful Māori girls – you have offended my whānau deeply. Our immediate kura and kōhanga community and my girls hapū and iwi. In fact many Māori will be upset now, because your latest opinion piece infers that child abuse is a part of Māori life . This is simply not true, and so I will challenge you on the broad, ad-hock and completely disconnected statements you have made. Also, I will not stomach your sexist attitude, that reinforces the gender power imbalances which are the undercurrents for almost all domestic violence cases.

There is enough Māori bashing, enough racism and enough misogyny around without you adding to it. It defies belief that a Māori man could misrepresent his own people so hurtfully, be so blatantly sexist and willingly lead people astray on an issue that intersects several deeply embedded problems in our society: colonisation, systemic poverty and patriarchy. When what we need most is robust discussion and analysis.

I feel frustrated at the amount of airtime you get to spread your views, and don’t wish to give you or the Herald anymore, however – I cannot ignore you this time. The public need an alternative.

I hear and feel your outrage at the shocking levels of child abuse we withstand in our country. Most people do. Māori children are twice as likely to suffer any form of abuse. It’s not ok. You are right.

As a Pākehā woman, I won’t talk too much to the disparaging comments you have made about Māori, as that is a mantle for Māori to take up – I will not tread on toes. But I will go into depth regarding your sexism.

So here we go, I’m going to flip your script. Here are your comments, followed by what I hear.

Some Maori have no moral values because they’re not taught them. Violence is perfectly acceptable behaviour, indeed admired; whether it’s king-hitting a stranger in a pub, beating up the wife or partner, thrashing their children.

FTS – Yes, some Māori do not have a good moral compass, but you could say this for any ethnicity.

It must be instilled in everyone’s brains from a young age that certain behaviours are totally unacceptable. Love must be taught as the founding base for a successful family. Education as the way forward. Every act of violence except in self-defence must be socially outlawed, considered a shameful let-down of the entire community.

FTS – Yes, agreed. Again, this applies to all people. Moving right along.

Cultural leaders should review the entire kapa haka syllabus, I believe. I’m sick of the screaming, eye-popping haka. The standard of predictable, simplistic singing should be lifted.

FTS – What the hell?! Where does this bit come from? Do you understand kapahaka? Do you get that haka and waiata come in innumerable forms which have many uses! What you may be talking about is the cherry picked haka that mainstream media trot out to represent ‘good Māori’ and the ‘kiwi way of life’. These haka are great, don’t get me wrong. But they are a drop in the vast ocean. This comment is so offensive, to all Māori who waiata daily, whose tikanga practices incorporate haka, mōteatea and patere – and the list goes on. And to all composers of kapahaka – these are incredible people. Taonga. Have you ever been to Matatini? You are buying into the colonisers simplistic interpretation of haka. It is all much more than a supposed incitement of violence. The worst thing about this, is that your comment represents so many others.

When you say “The standard of predictable, simplistic singing should be lifted” What I hear is  is “be more nice and lovely on the side, just a little flourish here and there, so as not to unsettle those who do not understand.”

For those of us who are involved in Te Ao Māori, this sentiment is so tiring, it so boring.

Now here is the doosy……

In everyday life, my opinion is girls should be brought up like the French are: to be feminine, take a pride in how they dress, walk with dignity and grace wherever they go out in public and always keep the standards.

FTS – WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH THE PRICE OF IKAAAAAAA?!?!? OMG, wrong number Alan. I’m going to keep this one simple for you, like bullet point simple. Seems you need a feminism 101 lecture.

  • Do not insult French girls and women by minimising their existences to their dress, the way the move one foot in front of the other and their choice in how they express themselves. On behalf of all French people, I am truly sorry.
  • Girls are taught to be nice, accommodating, uncomplaining, quiet and meek – all the time. Men are taught the opposite. This is one of the biggest factors in our gender imbalances. This plays out in its most dangerous form in volatile relationships and domestic violence. This is a cause of domestic violence for goodness sake and YOU have just advocated for it. GIRLS MUST NOT BE NICE and SMILE in the face of bullshit. WOMEN’S dignity is in the respect they receive from others, for being whoever they want to be. You have no place defining what is graceful or not for women. Who’s standards? Yours? Men’s? Go get.

    Kia ora, I’m Alan Duff and I like long walks on the beach and women who ‘keep the standard’
  • What does feminine even mean? You need to understand Gender Essensialism:Gender essentialism often excuses gender-based oppressions and discriminations in societies, such as what roles parents play, what jobs people hold, expectations held of each other and skill bases. Gender essentialism simultaneously reinforces gender stereotypes, while being informed by them. Gender essentialism relies on the perpetuation of a binary, polarised world, free of ambiguity, where two neat tidy genders exist and know their place in the world.  – So yeah, no thanks. DO NOT tell women that they need to be feminine. They can be if they want, how they want. We certainly do not need another man telling us how to be.
  • Rape culture, you also need to know about this. Because what I heard you say is that somehow, women need to take responsibility for the ‘reasons’ they are attacked by men. That what they wear, how they move, what ‘standards’ they uphold – lead to the actions that men take. – Rape culture as a term is designed to show the ways in which society blames victims of sexual assault and normalises male sexual violence. It is a culture that encourages boys and men to be macho and aggressive, and girls and women to be submissive and compliant. A society that allows a quarter of women and girls to be raped or sexually assaulted, and 1/6 of men and boys. Where 3 per cent of rapists are jailed after just 6 per cent of rapes and assaults are ever reported. A social culture in which rape jokes and cat calls are heard and normalised, where the male gaze pervades pop music and the visual arts. Where children are sexualised by clothing and toy companies. Rape culture has implications for all and is everyone’s issue regardless of gender.
Dear Duffy, I hope your dreams are filled with Māori women being dignified with amazing standards. I know mine are: of my daughters growing up like this.


Boys should be taught to respect females.

FTS – Why, yes they should. How about reversing everything you said about what women need to do above, and apply it to boys and men too, that would be a good start. A few other things would help too:

  • Educating, and then ignoring the ‘Boys will be boys’ brigade. We don’t need to hear it anymore. The buck stops. Accountability is made. No more excuses.
  • Again, you have positioned women as passive actors. As if it is only boys and men who have the control and power to make change. Untrue. Girls can be taught differently too. They must be empowered. Boys must be empowered. Girls can lead the technology group and boys can cry if they fall over, simple as.
  • Finally, go and research heteronormativity: Heteronormativity are the actions of a gender essentialist’s ideal world, one in which men and women fall into distinct categories with clear roles and expectations, where heterosexuality is the norm reinforced in power structures such as legislation and the media. I say this because many LGBTQ people are attacked every day for not being man or woman enough. I guess, for some women, your logic says it is their fault for not being feminine and holding up the right standards. Still, I don’t know what these standards are. One can only guess. Actually, I don’t want to know about your yucky standards.

There would be no shame in taking a leaf out of the Chinese book where parents, family members, all work hard to push a few more up into the educated or business-owning bracket. Reading has to be an essential part of that home environment.

FTS –  Again, where does this come from? Do you mean that Māori don’t try hard enough? That they don’t have hopes and dreams for their whānau?! Privilege check Alan, Poverty: it excludes a lot of Māori from tertiary education. Regardless of how supportive any family is, not everyone wins in monopoly. Not every whānau wants to operate in this pushy Chinese style you speak of. Not all Chinese do. Don’t be racist.

Yes, I love reading too. So do my Māori children. So does their kura.

Pre-European Maori culture was simple and no blame is attached. But I think it is when this too basic societal model is applied in the 21st century.

FTS – Ok, now you are just sounding outright crazy. It’s not like my partner and daughters have just stepped out of a cave wielding kotiate or anything….because this is what I hear. Guess what, all cultures evolve – and the picture you paint of pre-colonial Aotearoa is untrue. Anne Salmond illustrates this beautifully. Guess what, the European colonisers of Aotearoa have really out done everyone else throughout history (an continue to do so) in the violent, black and white, good vs bad, uncivilised vs civilised approach to solving issues. War war, everywhere.

Everyone had a Jake as a father, older brother, any number of uncles. Some were women.

FTS- Yes, it is ok for a woman to be called Jake, or to be a non-feminine woman, sure (I don’t think this is what you meant though, but I like to think it is). Everyone had Jake as a Dad? Again, you’ve overstepped the mark. This is just not true. Maybe you did, and we are sorry for that. That was not ok. It sucks.

And finally:

And someone has to point out that cultural activities do not get them a job or a mortgage.

FTS – Again, lies. Heaps of people make a living in the arts. Heaps of Māori do. They are awesome at it. Isn’t this what you meant in your remarks about haka earlier? Now I am confused. Also, YOU WRITE BOOKS AND MAKE FILMS FOR A LIVING…….these are cultural activities and THESE ARE YOUR JOBS. Or am I missing something?

And who wants a mortgage anyway (ha ha ha, rolling around in maniacal laughter, because – who buys a house these days?!?…..cue housing crisis conversation). Please refer back to how not everyone can win monopoly – capitalism and neo-liberalism is actually killing the planet. I’ll have more singing, dancing and visual arts in my life any day. Not everyone is in it for a 9-5 office job and not all Māori are deeply involved in whatever it is you are reducing to and relegating as ‘cultural activities’. Or if they do work 9-5, sweet as. Good for them, not your place to judge.

And actually, these cultural activities that I think you are referring to are intrinsic to being Māori . The problem is, that people like you come along – and say that violence against women and children is somehow intrinsic to being Māori – and that crucial elements like the ‘arts’ (ie things that are part and parcel of operating in Te Ao Māori) are a waste of time for Māori. How wrong you are.

To me, herein lies the solution.

Bubba Moko: A victim of patriarchal violence

Yesterday, hundreds of people took to the streets of Aotearoa New Zealand – crying for change, calling for action. They respectfully demanded attention for the 200 plus children that have been killed in this country in the past two decades alone. All at the hands of caregivers who should have been nurturing them.

In August 2015, Moko Rangitoheriri was killed by two adults who were entrusted with his care. He was just 3 at the time of his torturous death. His killers: Tania Shailer and David Haerewa, were 26 and 43 respectively. Shame, shame, shame. Debate surrounds their convictions of manslaughter. It is hard to imagine they did not murder him. They are parents of young children too, they egged each other on as if it were sport. It was calculated.

Regardless of what we call it, their actions and the outcomes. Their own back stories need to be understood. In most cases, those who kill children, have suffered immensely in their own lives. I do not mean to diminish Shailer and Haerewa’s actions in the slightest. But we must not disregard their lives if we are to prevent further abuses of children under our watch.

We are not yet managing to stop the cycles of violence against women and children. The Haerewa whānau are a case in point. David’s uncle, Ben Haerewa, killed his step-son: 4-year-old James Whakaruru, in 1998. At that time, the Whakaruru whānau had come to the attention of care and protection services 6 times, the Haerewa whānau – 13 times! In 2010, David’s brother John was sentenced to 17 years for the murder of a Wellington woman. Although it does happens occasionally, it is rare for this sort of violence to come out of the blue. The webs of violence go a long way back, and are intricately connected to some of the most powerful forces in our society: Patriarchy, poverty and institutionalised racism. Right now, I want to draw your attention to the connection between our violent society and patriarchy now.

I define patriarchy in the following way:

Patriarchy describes male-dominated power structures, which permeate throughout organised society, in political systems as well as in individual relationships. It is systemic bias against women and non cis-male people. Patriarchy can be recognised as the intuitions and companies that are run in the majority by men that mostly benefit men; where taking maternity leave or breastfeeding a baby at work is a problem; where being a transsexual makes using the toilets an issue. Patriarchy is also a family group or community controlled by powerful men – fathers and grandfathers who give more privilege to boys and men in that group. Patriarchy is a world that benefits cis-men over everyone else.

Among those marching yesterday was Vic Tamati. He is a courageous and committed man. He is insistent that violence needs to stop with the perpetrator, and knows that they cannot do it alone – that community support must surround them. He also recognises that all to often, it is men committing the violence, largely against women and children. He continues to dedicated a large chunk of his adult life to turning the tide around for his own whānau, and also supports others to do the same.

We need more Vics’ out there. More men seeing the sexism at play in their actions. More men understanding that mens’ violence against women and children is structural in its roots and that the buck stops somewhere, somehow.  More men seeing that this sexist-violence is everywhere. Enough of women picking up the pieces.

Although Moko’s face is another beautiful brown one, this is everyone’s problem, our collective responsibility. Our Pākehā whānau are just as prone, just as guilty.We have our mainstream media to blame for skewing the view and hiding the realities we face.

We see the faces of Māori and other non-Pākehā in the news more, because that makes it so much easier for a huge swathe of society to wash its hands – unsurprising, the large group that is comprised of white men who weld the most power in this country. The section that does not want to admit that violence is perpetrated by all ilks, and that we are all part of the solution. All lives are affected by men’s violence somewhere along the line.


We all know that Moko was killed by a woman and a man. We also know that David was released from prison weeks before Moko’s death, and that his relationship with Tania was a violent one. We know too, that many children, who experience abuse like Moko did, do so at the hands of their mothers’ partners.

These partners and step-‘fathers’ are not only violent to the children, but to their mothers. These are men who silence mothers, preventing them from seeking help, these are men who seek control and power in the abuse of those they should care for.

We have men’s violence in these epic proportions because we are a patriarchal society. We tell our men that they have the power, that they have the control – and this is what we get. We let our little boys push girls around because “this is how they show they like you” and after all, “boys will be boys”. We encourage our teenage boys to play hours of violent video games while we cook dinner, where they can hire and run over prostitutes for points. We let groups of young men off the hook for drugging and gang-raping underage children. We don’t let little boys cry when they get their immunisations, and we admonish any other signs of less-than masculine behaviour on a daily basis. Because, an unmanly man will have no control, and therefore no power. This is what we are saying.

I plead with readers to look beyond the latest headline. To ask ‘WHY did they do that?’, ‘What got them to that place in their lives’ ‘Why are these men so angry?!’ ‘Why can’t they communicate in non-violent ways?’

And most importantly, ‘What should have been done differently’. The reports of Moko’s death are harrowing and should keep anyone up at night. However, while lying there awake at night, think about how our society is structured as well.

Why are our men killing us they way they are? Why are our women and children not safe in the streets and in their own homes? Our media needs to be asking the same questions. They are our mouth pieces whether we like it or not. They must weave the threads of patriarchy, poverty and racism into their reporting as well as the horrific details. We get nowhere otherwise, all we do is deflect and protect the privilege that men hold in society.

And why we are all pondering, flick $5 to the Women’s Refuge, while finding out more about our patriarchal society:




Just a moment, while I ‘pop’ into WINZ.

Dear John Key (and Prince of Middle New Zealand: Mike Hoskings)

I know you will never read this. I know you don’t care. But, a woman gotta vent somewhere. Good people. If you hear me, share.

This week, you suggested that anyone with a housing issue – living in a car, in a garage, in a small, cold, damp house with your entire extended family, or under a bridge – should go to Work and Income for help. Hardy-har-har. Nice idea. Totally a waste of time though. Literally.

I don’t know what the official numbers are, but there are a heck of a lot of people living in substandard situations. A single mother of three children, including and 8month old, and a couple with their young son who’s wheelchair should demand an appropriate house for his family – living in motels for $1330 a week. Money that they have to pay back to WINZ. The money is there, Key’s National government cannot tell us otherwise. It is about priorities.

Now, I could write a really eloquent piece of writing on this issue, but lots of other people already have. Read more here for instance. And, I’m not feeling all that patient or eloquent right now. I’m pissed off.  So I’m going to write something from the street, so to speak.

Anyone who has ever had to deal with WINZ, will tell you that going there, is kind of hellish. They are unfriendly. They make you feel really small, vulnerable and more ashamed of your situation than when you first stepped in the door.

And we shouldn’t feel ashamed. We all pay our taxes after all, so that in our time/s of need, we can turn to WINZ and find relief.

But the problem is, WINZ doesn’t meet your needs most of the time, or tell you what you are entitled too. You can’t make an appointment in the very office you want an appointment at. You can’t book an appointment on the phone  for more than two weeks out (after your local office tells you to go home and to do so). Even though there are most definitely going to be more than two weeks of time in the future of universal existence. And every time you deal with them, you need to prove your existence all over again. Because they seem to completely lose every single thread of information you have ever provided them with….your first born’s lock of baby hair included. It is SO painful. You wouldn’t know. You are a rich mo’fo.

It is hardly worth the pain for the gain most of the time. I have cried in their faces before out of sheer exhaustion at dealing with their bureaucracy, all over a few pingers for childcare assistance. To which we were entirely entitled too. Or more to the point. OUR CHILD was entitled to.

So, this morning when I ‘popped’ into Work and Income for another Childcare subsidy form (for the baby-child) – I was feeling anxious. This form pays for roughly 50% of childcare costs for under 3s and enrolls over 3s in the 20 hours free childcare programme. So we gotta do it. Anyone with a kid in childcare has got to do this. Unless you are really rich, then you don’t need to worry about it. But you do have to be quite rich to not worry about it, because childcare cost are high. Most of us are not rich. Most of us parents WILL fill in this damned form at some stage.

I did this three years ago for our eldest. It was a really bad time. We filled in the form THREE times, and took it DIRECTLY INTO OUR LOCAL OFFICE as we were told to do THREE TIMES. Why THREE TIMES?

Because each time, the people at the desk lost it. Paper work in this government department is obviously not a top priority. And there is SO much paper work. Each time it was lost, it took an average of  two weeks for WINZ to figure out that this is what had happened. Two weeks of us calling them to see what was going on. Two weeks of feeling embarrassed that the incorrect fee amount was being paid (not paid) to our kid’s childcare centre. Two weeks of really painful conversations with equally confused main office phone worker WINZ people. Another form filled in……Two more weeks of waiting, two more weeks of…..you get the idea.

And, each time, 1, 2 and 3 – we had to take the SAME form back to the childcare centre to be re-filled. This is not what the head teacher at the centre wanted to be doing with their time. This is not what WE wanted to be doing with our time.

All in all, it took 4 months for the ordeal to end. 4 months for the childcare centre to receive the correct fees for the amazing work they do.

Really boring blog so far right. This whole situation was boring for us.

How could such a fundamental and crucial government department handle such a routine, standard, everyday, bureaucratic process so very badly you ask?


When I arrived at my local office this morning at 10:30am this is what I saw with my eyes:

(note, the amount of blue carpet in this image represents two things, 1. my stealthy photo taking skills, 2. the deepest darkness in the hearts of all who have stood on this carpet)

Busy, busy, getting work done.
  • 3 security guards milling about (they were friendly, I’m not being sarcastic)
  • 1 person at the front desk, 4 computers at the front desk
  • 1 woman at the front desk being served
  • 1 woman in line in front of me
  • another woman sitting in the  waiting area (for a long fought for appointment I assume)


  • There were roughly 20 desks in the WINZ office (hard to count exactly without going past the duct taped line on the floor which means ‘if you pass this you will be tackled by 3 security staff)
  • 3 desks occupied by customer services people/agents, whatever they are called these day
  • 1 person being served at a desk by staff. ONE
  • Then I realised the 1 person being served was actually the 4th security guard having a chat.

10:30am in the morning is a really busy time in most work places. So much busy, WINZ.

More things to note: It is nearly impossible to get a real face to face appointment, in order to speed up the process, and make sure that your form won’t get lost. I can see now, why it is so hard to get an appointment. No one is working there. Take the blimmin desks away!  It wouldn’t look so terrible that way.

Even with the above stats, ie one person in the queue in front of me, it still took 25 minute  to be served – I should have downloaded the form and printed it at the local internet cafe.

But wait for it, when I got to the ‘service’ desk I was greeted with ‘What’. Not ‘Hello’ not  ‘Kia ora’ or even ‘Yes?’, but ‘what?’.’WHAT’. It is possible I didn’t hear the rest of what she said because she wasn’t really looking at me. But really?!

The lack of efficiency is staggering. It is almost as if they are trained to be slow, disengaged and impossible to navigate. Online, on the phone and in person.

Apologies to the workers, it must be a stink place to work. I don’t mean any bad vibes to you.

This is my experience with WINZ. And I am someone with lots of resources. I have a great job, my partner works full time. We have healthy children. A house, car, and food in the cupboards all the time. I have a computer and internet connection so I can skype WINZ rather than wait on a landline forever to inquire about my lost application forms. I also have a reasonable amount of knowledge of my rights and obligations to WINZ etc, and enough energy to pursue them to get things like a few bucks a week for childcare assistance.

So if this blog is to achieve anything at all, it is for me to let off some steam, and to illustrate just how incompetent this government department is at dealing with anything, anything at all, let alone someone in desperate need of a housing solution.

Our taxes pay for this. We should be ashamed. And causing a fuss.

John –  your family did so well with the support of New Zealand’s welfare system. You have a really important job now, and lots of food in your cupboards. You are in your third term as our (shudder) Prime Minister – and look at the welfare system now. It’s unlikely you’d be where you are now, if it were like this in your day.

Stop cutting funding to our social services! People will always need help. It is our money, and we know our rights.

To conclude this is what I have to say to you (and Prince of Middle New Zealand: Mike Hoskings)…..

What?! (indignation in my voice)

What?! (increasing sass)

What?! (‘bring it on’ tone)