Pae Tīhau Māori

I was reading this excellent post by Carrie Stoddart-Smith (which I discovered via Twitter) and it got me thinking about how I use Twitter itself. If you are a New Zealand Twitter user you have probably bumped into someone using the word Twitterati.  This is usually used as a insult, often in conjunction with equally prejorative phrases like ‘hive mind’ etc. Now while the Twitterati don’t exist (it’s pretty much just a group of friends acting like friends) there certainly are subgroups of NZ Twitter out there.

One of my favourite of these is what I am calling Pae Tīhau Māori, or the Māori twitterverse. I think a major characteristic of it is whanaungatanga (this is how I got to here from Carrie’s post). A lot of what I see is awhi, and whakawhanaungatanga. People helping and encouraging each other, and people making connections with each other.

One recent example of this whakawhanautanga happened with me just last week. While I was in India, reading twitter over breakfast, I noticed this Twitter exchange with my Dad.

 

Now this jogged my memory, Nanny Ada Davis fed me my first solid meal (which I don’t remember) but I remember being told, and I remembered the photos of me with her. So I posted.

Which after this

And a few more tweets lead to me emailing Phoebe a bunch of photos, for her to share with her whānau. Connections had been reestablished. Then there are things like this

And many many more (please hit me up with any examples you like if you wish). In general and with very few exceptions, I see Māori on twitter helping, uplifting, and connecting with each other. There are discussions, but I am struggling to think of one that wasn’t done out of a genuine desire to learn/discuss, rather than to attack. I am sure there are some acrimonious ones, but I am happy to hang out in my ‘bubble’ it’s a much nicer place to hang out than lots of the internet. Long may it continue. Mauri ora tātou

Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu – The power of 7 words

I’ve told a few people this story, it is a very short one the whole thing happened in a few short minutes but it is still very vivid in my mind.

It was 1990, the 150th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti, and events around this were happening all over the motu. I was a seventh former (as we called it in the olden days, last year of high school) and myself and the other 7th formers in the Māori class were at a hui at Putiki marae.

We were introducing ourselves, and I was super nervous. As an aside I noticed this on Tuesday night too, I have no problem at standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people presenting. (I guess it’s the Pākehā man genes kicking in, we’ve been overconfidently talking at people forever). But put me in a setting like doing a mihi and karakia on the marae at Te Papa (Tuesday night) and I get all whakamā. So back to the story, I was nervously waiting my turn and when it came I bumbled my way through it. Then I said something like “as you can see I’m only part Māori”

Moana Jackson (who we were there to kōrero with) then said

There are no parts, you are Māori

Now if I was whakamā before, imagine how I felt now. I felt like I had been told off, but let’s face it to a 17 year old boy everything feels like being told off. Here is this man that my parents hold in super high regard and he’s telling me I said something wrong. I blushed and sat down.

But within minutes, I began to understand. One of the reasons my parents (and I) admire Moana Jackson is because his words come from a place of aroha. He was grounding me, letting me plant my feet, saying you have the right to be here. There are no degrees of Māori, you just are.

Seven words that have lived with me for 26 years now since that day. Seven words that have had a massive impact on how I view the world.

So even though it’s incredibly unlikely Moana will read this, just in case. Kia ora mō tēnā.

He kaituhi hōtaka rorohiko ahau

Warning: This is a messy bunch of jumbled up thoughts, with no real conclusion.

How did I end up here? This is something I often ask myself. How did a person born in Kawakawa, from Te Wai Pounamu, end up in the server room of the Library of Bowen University in Iwo, Nigeria?

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When I was young I wanted to be a chef, then I realised how hard they have to work, and noped right out of that idea. I was super privileged that both my parents were teachers, and that my dad has always had a strong interest in computers. We always had computers in the house, since I was about 12, so computer science was what I ended up studying.

In a theme that has continued through a large part of my life, I couldn’t do a double major in Computer Science and Māori Studies in a BSc. So I ended up doing a BSc and a BA. Once I finished my BSc, and while I was finishing my BA I worked part time at Te Pūtahi a Toi at Massey University. For those 2.5 years I was able to really feel like I was a Māori programmer, not a programmer who happens to be Māori.

Since 1997 I have worked for 3 different companies, 2 of them were fantastic, Katipo Communications, and Catalyst IT (where I still work now). The third one, not so much, but that is a whole other story. While Katipo and Catalyst were and are great places to work, the reality of working in IT in Wellington is, it is quite likely you are going to be the only Māori in the room most times. What may be a little different for me is that I don’t look like what most people think Māori look like. (Us Kāi Tahu had contact with Europeans relatively early on, lots of whalers down that way. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked “but how much Māori are you?” or “Why did you learn Māori?” I’d have retired about 10 years ago.) This means I get to overhear lots of really offensive opinions and the worst part is when people assume I will agree.  I’m not going to delve into the role privilege plays in IT, apart to say, I think a lot more people could think on Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini kē. (My strength is not the strength of one, it is the strength of many. We are the product of our ancestors and our environments, no one stands alone, no one did it themselves).

So, at least in my experience, the easiest way to be Māori in IT is to be as Pākehā as you can. That’s certainly the path of least resistance and will make your daily life easier. Except of course, unless you are working for a Māori organisation. I also acknowledge that for most of my career I have been working with Libraries, this has brought me into contact with many awesome people through groups like Te Rōpū Whakahau. So I have had a much easier journey than others.

Things are changing though, people are now taking Te Reo classes at my work, I have a great support group of people like my whānau, Kris, Amber and many others here in Wellington. IT has also given me the chance to meet people from all over the world. To visit places like Nigeria, Argentina, Greece, Scotland, Canada, USA, Fiji .. and so many more. It is, in the scheme of things, a pretty damn good career choice. It is something I encourage many more Māori to get involved in, as it is an expanding and massively varied field of work. From User Experience to Design, to Business Analysis, to Operations, to Sales, to Project management, and on and on. There is so much more to it than just us coders. I think in summary I’d say to Māori.
IT is like rugby, there is a position for every type of player. However it is quite likely some cracker is going to say something like we need a sensible Pākehā in the centres.

Te Rōpū Whakahau Hui-ā-tau 2012

I was very privileged to attend the 20th Birthday Hui-ā-tau of Te Rōpū Whakahau last week at Waipapa marae in Tamaki Makaurau. It was a fantastic few days, and did wonders recharging my batteries. All the talks were great, and at least as importantly the conversations, between and after the talks were also excellent.

I think my talk went ok, and I got some nice positive feedback. I’m just glad I managed to do something that people found useful.

As you would expect at a gathering of Māori library and information workers, there were a lot of questions about Koha and the TM situation. I was happy to be able to report the lawyers had the situation under control and we were all looking forward to a positive outcome. I can’t imagine that the company who shall remain nameless will ever be doing business with any library that has any Māori influence on it.

Apart from the kōrero, there was amazing whanaungatanga and amazing kai. I would thoroughly recommend anyone Māori involved in libraries or information management join Te Rōpū Whakahau and get along to the Hui-ā-tau next year in Whakatane, I’m hooked that’s for sure.

 

Speaking at SLIS meeting

So on the 28th of July (2 days after the NZ Koha users group meeting). I will be presenting at the Wellington SLIS group meeting.

SLIS provides a forum for networking and exchange of professional information for those with an interest in Special Libraries in the Wellington Region. We aim to hold up to 11 open meetings each year, and to facilitate professional development of members through special events as appropriate

I’m going to be speaking about the similarities between the consensus building approach to making decisions as seen in Marae based Hui, and participating in a  Free Software project. I think it should be pretty interesting, of course I’m biased 🙂

  • Date: Thursday 28th of July 2011
  • Time: 12.30-1.30pm
  • Venue: The Treasury, 1 The Terrace. When you arrive, take the elevator and report to Reception on Level 5
  • Cost: $5 for SLIS members, $8 for non-members

This session will be filmed and made available for non-Wellington based members.

People do need to RSVP, so if you want to do so, leave a comment and Ill get you the email address to RSVP to.