It seems like every day I’m reading blogs and social media comments by Māori, (especially our wahine), who are giving well-meaning intentioned Pākeha woman a whiplashing for when they say ‘I’m only just trying to empower Māori’. This seems to be happening across many spheres – academia, politics, events and the arts.
I have some pretty amazing Pākeha woman who empower me. One of those Pākeha woman supervised me through my PhD. My boss is also a Pākeha woman who opens many doors for me. Another one of my female Pākeha mentors has become one of the most influential people in life. I ring her for advice regularly on nearly all aspects and topics in my life – even Māori topics.
I’ll say it again, these Pākeha woman are amazing and have empowered me – a Māori woman. But that is my right to say that. They themselves do not claim to have made me who I am. They do not claim to have found me and they never claim to have discovered my inherent mana. None of these woman have tried to paint images of me to sell, or to tell and write the story of me. They do not claim responsibility for my success.
So if you are Pākeha wondering if you are empowering Māori here is short test you can do.
If you are fronting media, conferences and other speaking opportunities for how you are empowering Māori – you probably need to check yourself.
If you’re actively developing your profile as a wonderful and amazing person who empowers Māori – you probably need to check yourself.
If you feel you have been responsible for Māori success – you probably need to check yourself.
If you are choosing and selecting who are the best at being Māori – you probably need to check yourself.
If you are depicting us, writing about us, painting us without engaging with us – you probably need to check yourself.
I know that you have probably done some very wonderful and nice things for Maori, and please continue to help connect us, share with us, collaborate with us. But I am personally tired of Indigenous people being the platform from which non-Indigenous people can grandstand themselves on. Every time you do that, you take up space which does not belong to you in front of an indigenous who needs to be heard.
So if you replied yes to any of these, I challenge you to carefully consider this – if you look deep, you will find that you are actually on a journey that needs to learn about your own lack of power in your own life.