Kia Ora Friends!
It is not often enough that Pacific Peoples’ Partnership can travel to meet with our friends and partners in the South Pacific. Resources permitting, it is something we should aspire to do more often. Being present in real time helps to deepen relationships north-south and leads to stronger programming outcomes. But this travel comes at a real cost to both the environment and to our bottom line, so such trips are always designed to maximize this precious time and opportunity.
For the last week, I have been a fortunate guest in the lands of the long white cloud, Aotearoa. Here on the north island along with partner Ora Barlow Tukaki of Toitoi Manawa Trust, we travelled to Ōtaki to participate within the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP) Pacific Regional Hui hosted by the JR McKenzie Trust. Ora and I presented “Rising Tides – The Power and the Potential of Indigenous Collaboration.” This centered on how Indigenous peoples of the north and south Pacific are journeying together to gather and share knowledge for the betterment of our communities, building solidarity in response to the critical global issues facing us all. We also announced our upcoming partnered conference: “Red Tide: International Indigenous Climate Action Summit” which will be held in Te Kaha, New Zealand in May 2018 and are currently working together on the logistical elements of this important gathering through to the end of the week.
Our time in Ōtaki was truly inspirational, approximately 175 participants explored the conference theme: Remembering Our Past, Reclaiming Our Future. Central to this topic were presentations from Māori Iwi (tribe) members from the local host community, they shared the struggle and triumph to reclaim their language and culture, their results are nothing short of a cultural renaissance. Keynote presenter Mereana Selby shared how in 1975 there were no fluent Māori speakers under the age of 30 in their Iwi, and how they determined to radically shift this reality. They launched Generation 2000 a 25-year strategic intervention with underlying principles that recognized: our people are our wealth; our languages are a treasure; the Marae (spiritual and cultural house) is our home and that self-determination is essential. Their self-correcting mechanisms included: an educational model, strategies for economic impact, and renormalizing the language. Factors to success included: clear tribal authority, the establishment of a Māori Centre for Higher Learning, recognition that children are their most effective marketers, the product is bilingualism, and it is benefited by a solid infrastructure, that is grounded in the environment, all Māori designed, built and controlled. The result is northing short of their survival as 50% of their under 30s Iwi members are now fluent in the Māori language. This major accomplishment will soon be recognized with Ōtaki`s designation of the first bilingual town in New Zealand!
Presentations and experiences varied over the course of the Hui, with sessions grounded in the principles of IFIP’s values of Respect, Responsibility, Reciprocity and Relationship. They covered topical and political subjects such as how foreign investment is exploiting Oceania’s resources including experimental sea bed mining that threatens Pacific peoples and our ocean, and further how in response to climate change, Islanders are not advocating to keep the global temperature below a 2 degrees increase, but rather 1.5 as this is the bare minimum of what is required to ensure the survival of South Pacific peoples (Maureen Penjueli, Pacific Network on Globalization); we also learned about tactics to increase participation in remote schools in Australia through finding intercultural spaces and mutual ways that respect Aboriginal values, traditions and cultures with transformative strategies for deeper engagement of parents and caregivers in the school systems… a journey towards the in between worlds (by Arama Mataira); several sessions reviewed the importance of Indigenous food sovereignty and showcased values of Māori food production through Hua Parakore certification program (Dr. Jessica Hutchinson). What was clear from all these rich sessions was the importance of sharing our diverse journeys and in building solidarity. As we are all so much stronger for the shared experiences and learnings.
On the heels of this inspired experience I sit in reflection at Te Kaha`s seaside now in the dark. The power is out and a tropical storm is blasting us. In a few days, I leave for Fiji which is also currently threatened by Cyclone Donna, a most unseasonable storm and weather permitting, I will visit the Loreto School for which we have raised funds in support of their recovery from Cyclone Winston in 2016.
It is indeed timely that we set the groundwork for Red Tide: International Indigenous Climate Action Summit. Climate change is real, and affecting the most vulnerable nations, those that had no significant contribution towards its realization. Canada must step up and address our part in this crisis, as noted by Dr. Rhys Jones at the regional hui “climate change is the intensification of colonization“especially given our north American carbon footprint and 150 years of colonization experience in Canada, it is time to accept our responsibility in this international crisis and do what is right, this means more than talk… it is time for action.
Enclosed in this edition of Pasifik Currents are updates, reports and articles on our Pacific Stream event, Red Tide, the Stand For Truth campaign, Intern reflections and our featured partner MediaNet. Happy reading to you and please do not forget to continue your ongoing support.
We cannot journey without you!