December 31, 2022

Article at Stuff

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Our country needs a reset and a rebirth in this new year

Sarah Sparks is a communications consultant who works with wāhine toa across Aotearoa.

OPINION: New Year for me really starts during Matariki, not January 1. I embrace a Te Ao Māori perspective aligned to the lunar cycle in the Southern Hemisphere, according to our Maramataka.

In 2022 for Te Tau Hou Māori I went on a hīkoi in Māngere up Te Pane o Mataoho Maunga.

In the darkness before dawn, I followed our kaiako (teacher) and fellow tauira (students) from Te Reo Matahīapo taught at Ngā Whare Waatea Marae up to the summit.

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As we stood together we remembered those that had passed with karakia to the star, Pōhutukawa. Then reflected on our hopes of restoration and rejuvenation for the year ahead.

Now heading into Te Tau Hou Pākehā those intentions remain. I carry them forward into 2023 as Aotearoa continues to reconnect and rebuild after the severing lockdowns of the pandemic.

An election year looms on the horizon. Our country needs a reset and a rebirth. A paradigm shift by us all using our individual and collective power for the highest good.

To transform systems that are inhumane, inequitable, and unfair. To navigate a recession. To safeguard Papatūānuku from climate change. To look after our most vulnerable. To embrace change. To be kind.

He Pou Manawa Ora will guide how the city acknowledges and celebrates its history and expects “cultural hurts” to be explored and discussed, Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate says. (This video was first published on February 2, 2021.)

It’s time for more values-based kōrero. Getting back to basics. Upholding first principles and ethics.

Maturing from master-servant dynamics to respecting the right of mana motuhake. Integrating into policy the lived experience of the ordinary person anchored in community truths.

Co-governance is already here. But what about citizen assembly decision-making too? Imagine how that intel from embedding locals into decision-making would better serve Cabinet papers and boardrooms.

Why not take a strengths-based perspective over the next 12 months when problem-solving. Look beyond deficit for where there is hope and opportunity. Embrace, empower and enable it.

Reimagine a society that is equitable, inclusive and embraces diversity.

A common call by claimants in the Waitangi Tribunal is for true partnership between tangata whenua and the Crown. It demands courage and compassion to counter conditioning and deliver on human rights.

Sarah Sparks: “Hard and confronting conversations must continue to be had to rebalance the present, atone for the past, while creating a more harmonious and optimistic future for our mokopuna yet unborn.”

Hard and confronting conversations must continue to be had to rebalance the present, atone for the past, while creating a more harmonious and optimistic future for our mokopuna yet unborn.

While globally Wales has a Future Generations Commissioner responsible for considering the long-term effects of public body decisions, Aotearoa has tangata whenua, our kaitiaki. It’s in our cellular DNA.

When Kahurangi or wāhine toa challenge the authorities to protect tūpuna rākau or wāhi tapu, just do it. As the potent rising of our māreikura (nobly born female) reminding us of our duty to be pono and tika (honest and truthful) is undeniable.

Let’s collectively cherish indigenous values and mātauranga Māori that have an ancient provenance to guide the way. Lore came before law after all. May more jurisprudence from the bench infuse this worldview.

There is no room for racism, xenophobia, hate speech or transgression of tikanga in our country.

The banning of karakia by an elected public official is a backslide. A racist regression. Thousands of people from all walks of life agree beyond Māori and the Race Relations Commissioner.

Replacing Von Tempksy Street with an ancestral name of Puutikitiki that respectfully reflects the history of mana whenua in Kirikiriroa is progress.

Cutting ties with the mercenaries of the past is a quantum leap. More changes by those in governance who know their history while respecting the covenant of Te Tiriti o Waitangi must happen.

If you are in any doubt read the historian evidence funded by ratepayers on how the military settlement of Hamilton was established in the 1860s on the site of Māori kāinga, Kirikiriroa. I suspect in time there will be a name change there, too.

While the darkness this year has revealed shadows from the protests on the grounds of parliament to heart-breaking survivor evidence witnessed at the State Abuse Inquiry.

The dawn shows promise when Koromatua Mayor Paula Southgate partnered with her community and mana whenua to remedy historic wrongs with an eye towards the future.

It also shines light on ideas like the Hello Project reminding everyone to check in on their elderly neighbours.

Being a farmer’s daughter, I smiled hearing someone say, “it’s the country way”. Imagine if it was the way of our country?

Which reminds me of a whakataukī (proverb) a wise kaumatua shared that inspires when reflecting on the year ahead.

Mā mua ka kite a muri. Mā muri ka ora a mua. Those who lead give sight to those who follow. Those who follow give life to those who lead.