August 31, 2017
It has been an incredible week so far. Meeting University of Auckland students, participating in their Kapahaka class, and visiting the War Memorial Museum are only some of the many great activities of the week. But my favorite event thus far has been being allowed to participate in the Tikanga Rangahau Wānanga Series, a two-day conference event held at Fale Pasifika at the University of Auckland, where Māori researchers and scholars share their knowledge and expertise concerning Māori research and its importance. I personally attended Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan’s seminar Pūrākau as Methodology, which centered around the idea of combining Pūrākau, or storytelling, with pedagogy to create dynamic, Māori based education. Ever since arriving in Aoteroa, I’ve been continually amazed by the resiliency of its Indigenous peoples. Though the lasting presence of colonization remains evident in the everyday lives of modern day Māori, the continued strength displayed by the peoples is undeniable. Over the past few days I’ve been able to reflect on how this is even possible; and the greatest commonality I’ve realized amongst the various Indigenous communities we’ve encountered is simple: the relevancy of storytelling.
It is unbelievable, the ability for an entire culture to survive simply in knowing it has many times before. According to Professor Lee-Morgan however, storytelling is not simply a tool for survival, but could also prove vital in classrooms and research. Utilizing Māori stories in education not only create dynamic discourse, but also provide a means for shaping research and education from a Māori worldview. One of the greatest ambitions of colonists was to destroy the Indigenous lens until the only worldview that existed was their own. In doing so, they not only robbed future Māori communities of perceiving the world as their ancestors did, but also made it nearly impossible for these oppressed people ever truly be sovereign again.
Māori have made it clear that they aren’t going to disappear, and while their strength is undeniably clear, there still remains so much room for growth. In combining education with the ever-evolving stories of their people, Māori can do so much more than survive: they can truly decolonize their minds. Thus, giving them the chance to become a truly sovereign people again, who see the world through the lens of an autonomous people, rather than a colonized one.