Author Archives: Birdie

About Birdie

Kia ora Aotearoa!

The group at Hairini Marae with our host Josh.

September 14th, 2017

Our time in Aotearoa came to an end on Thursday evening at Uncle’s Man Malaysia restaurant where we had out last community dinner. The day started off with goodbyes to Hairini Marae as we left to pile into our last long bus ride.

We stopped in town for quick breakfast and a farewell to the pier, the never opened stores, and the library with free wifi. Four lovely hours later, in Auckland, all us students made our way to the hostel where we would spend our last night in bunk beds with each other.

At 6pm, Kiwi time, we sat down for a dinner Professor Josh had been eagerly waiting for. We laughed at inside jokes as we enjoyed the delicious food of our last meal as a group. We wrapped up the evening with a much-deserved Koha (gift) to both Josh and Chris for all that they had put into the program. Us students couldn’t be more grateful for all their hard work. A third Koha was given to Raquel West in appreciation for leading us in song during every Pōwhiri. Showing her love, Racquel gifted the group back with friendship bracelets, it was utterly clear that we were no longer just peers. Everyone was merry and a bit nostalgic as we parted ways after dinner, forever weaved together from our time in Aotearoa.

Words cannot fully showcase the appreciation of the group for all the hospitality, adventures and knowledge learned on this trip. The numerous people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting have completely made the program. The places we visited stained our minds with incredible views and histories. The way Maori peoples are continuing to proudly live out their culture in various ways was beautiful to encounter. Thanks to everyone, we have left Aotearoa with our thoughts bombing, horizons expanded and memories full.

– Birdie Harvey

Birdie Harvey

My name is Alberta Harvey, but most people know me as Birdie. I am a proud member of the Yakama Nation with my family stemming from Whitefoot Canyon. I am a part of a large, loving family of mixed backgrounds. Born a Seattleite, with a deep admiration for the land, I will always call the Pacific Northwest home.

This September will be my second-year as a student at the University of Washington with goals to attain my Bachelors in Business Management/Human Resources from the Foster School of Business. I am enjoying being able to explore a wide range of discipline at the University as I am prepping myself for business school. Currently I am undecided on a specific career I would like to have post-graduation, but I am excited that my path is open for any opportunities that come my way.

In my free time, you’ll find me outside with a book in hand. I am very connected to my local native community on and off campus. I also tend to work with (native and non-native) urban youth in various programs across Seattle.

This trip to Aotearoa New Zealand is my first study aboard program. I have always desired to visit Oceania and have had a strong fascination with Maori Culture; I find Indigenous cultures endlessly intriguing. The second I heard about this trip through the American Indian Studies department I eagerly hopped on the opportunity. I aspire to learn how other indigenous people deal with the effects of colonization while implementing culture and environment revitalization. I want to learn about the similar and different perspectives on various issues, customs and ways of being. Having the privileged opportunity of exchanging knowledge and sharing experiences with the Maori peoples about Indigenous life is something I’m so honored to be a part of. I’m looking forward to sharing all my findings and experiences back home, with my campus and family communities.


A window into Kapahaka

August 28th, 2017


All of us, practicing Maori songs in the Kapahaka class.

Monday we had our first, sit down, class session as we returned to the Waipapa Marae at the University of Auckland. At this point, we reflected on and discussed the underlying connections of our experiences as a group.

After our class, the group had the privilege to attend a Stage 2 Kapahaka (Preforming Arts) class with University of Auckland. It was very exciting to take part in their culture’s revitalization in a university setting. We started by breaking the ice through Pukana (a game where you practice your own intimidating facial expression) before singing practice. Historically, the Maori use intimidating facial expressions along with their booming voices to strike fear into their opponent before a physical contact. Before each song Poura Sharples (the instructor) would translate the song’s meaning for us, it was like being told many stories. These stories highlighted and showcased the value of the Moari community at specific time periods and therefore weaving the past and present together. This method of teaching and sharing keeps the students engaged in their culture while keeping their history relevant and known.

Me (yellow sweater) learning poi from a University of Auckland student.

The environment of the class held an intoxicating amount of energy: it cultivated the students to be proud and bold with their culture, by making engagement the norm. It was incredible to see students as living embodiment of what we are studying here. Seeing indigenous people representing themselves through breathing live into their culture was refreshing and reassuring as a native woman, passionate about indigenous expression.

After the class we were able to individually interact with the students. Our group split into two, males to learn a Haka and females to observe and learn poi. It was pretty incredible to physically interact with the learning aspect of these arts. Seeing the learning process of these types of representation of the Maori culture was was a wonderful and fulfilling learning experience.

-Birdie Harvey