Author Archives: camind

History, sovereignty and the Maori people

September 12

The front of Hairini Marae carving room

Morning alarms around the wharenui began promptly at 7am signaling to the 16 of us that had spent our first night in the Hairini carving house, that it was time to get up and start our day.Once up, people slowly made their way into the dinning house to find that Birdie had graced the group with the preparation of a traditional Native America meal, frybread. Birdie explained the small handful of ingredient needed to make the delicious breakfast and the traditional use of the bread in a number of her family’s Native American dishes back home.

After breakfast the group convened for our last class session. The class began by reflecting on our cold and rainy day spent with Brad learning the history of the Orakei Block, on the outskirts of Auckland’s city center. We discussed the presence of a double standard that has been placed on the Maori people in their fight to reclaim land back from the Crown, leading to a more complex discussion on the perception of Native peoples with power.

After our class session we met back in the wharenui to hear from Josh about his perspective on the revitalization of Maori history and sovereignty. Josh started his story in the early 1800’s with the first traveling European colonizers that settled New Zealand. He was able to split the history of New Zealand into a few distinct eras: Pre Land Wars, Land Wars, Land Confiscation, and Revitalization. Using these time periods, Josh told us the story of the lone Maori victory in the Land Wars against the British. At the end of Josh’s historical story he stressed the importance of remembering, restoring, and reigniting history for the Maori people as well as raising awareness through all parts and cultures of New Zealand. There are many places around New Zealand that are still to this day named after British military officials who took part in the mass murdering of Maori men, women and children throughout the Land Wars era. However with the revitalization of history and Maori sovereignty in schools, New Zealand can hopeful find itself on a healthier path forward. To finish the day, at about 5pm the group taxied to town to enjoy a local meal and beach sunset.


Learning Māori Identity

August 30, 2017

On Wednesday our group had the opportunity to participate in the first of a two-day conference workshop, held at Fale Pacifika, University of Auckland. Earlier in the week, each student signed up for one workshop to attend on Wednesday or Thursday. Students chose a conference workshop from a variety of topics ranging from Māori Storytelling to Socioeconomic Impacts of Māori People. Those of us that did not attended a Wednesday conference workshop began our day at 3:30 in the classroom.

In class we created working definitions for two important terms: sovereignty and settler colonization. We discussed the controversial concept of native sovereignty and analyzed the vulnerability of certain types of sovereignty to colonizing forces. We defined the term settler colonization resulting in a comparison of settler versus extractive colonization. Similarities and differences between these two types of colonization highlighted the specific affects settler colonization has on the society and culture of native, rather then their resources.

After wrapping up our class discussion we headed to an evening event with speakers Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Moana Jackson. Both speakers gave personal anecdotes to convey ideas of Māori representation and sovereignty. Jackson emphasized the act of drawing on old knowledge to create new ideas and described the importance of taking the past to enhance and shape the future. He stressed the need for confidence in communities to tell and share Māori identity, so outsiders don’t have the chance to superimpose their own perspectives and ideas onto Māori culture. Linda Tuhiwai Smith closed the workshop by sharing short poetic stories to explain what “drives” her as a person. Both speakers acknowledged everything the Māori people do as political because almost every Māori conflict falls back to the Treaty of Waitangi. Māori lives and struggles revolve on components of the Treaty such as land, rights and sense of space that connect back to Maori representation.


Dana Camin

Born and raised in Los Altos, California, I graduated in 2014 from Mountainview High School and will be a senior at the University of Oregon this fall. I am majoring in Environmental Studies and Geography with core focuses on Policy, Social Science, and Environment, Economy and Sustainability (EES). Additionally I am working towards minors in both Economics and Political Science. My studies at the University of Oregon have broadened my understanding of different perspectives associated with our world’s environment and resources from a social, economic, and political point of view. At the UO I am also a member of the Chi Omega sorority and get the chance to interact with a wide range of students, local nonprofit groups and kids to raise money and give back to the community. I recently became interested in political science to define and combat local issues and work with all types of communities to address specific problems that arise.

Me (left) and Nikki in front of a waterfall near Karekare, NZ


Earlier this summer I worked as an intern in the Santa Clara County, researching ways city and county governments can uphold and support the Paris Climate Accord. At the end of my 10-week internship I produced a report containing policy recommendations I made after collaboration with government officials and local communities. My other past projects focused on the communication and information disconnect between minority groups, large corporations and governments, so I am looking forward to interacting with the native Māori people throughout our trip.

This is my first studying abroad experience and the only time I have had the opportunity to travel outside of North America. I am looking forward to meeting and learning from the Māori people of New Zealand to explore how the environment influences native culture and practices. I am excited to study the Maori community’s history and traditions to add to my research and passion of addressing local and native issues that relate to the environment.