Dr. Teresia Teaiwa was someone who I heard snippets about over the past few years; her words acting as conduits for her powerful insights, passing from countless others to me and ever onward. Her mind, her prose, her generosity, her aroha, her manaakitanga and her mana preceded her, and it is through others that I feel this loss. I feel it for ngā tāngata katoa o te Moana nui a Kiwa and most especially for her aiga, Sean and her boys.
This Fast Five is inspired by her words and her actions.
1. In my Ideal Pacific
In my ideal Pacific
things wouldn’t be
but everyone would learn
deeply from their mistakes
This poem makes me think of how everything we do contributes to something. That working for the situation we are in now, is worth something. It makes me think that the ‘ideal’ is ungrounded and therefore, unattainable. But that the work we do, helping our whānau and communities where we are, is what that ideal will never be and that is something.
2. The Fiery Canoe
I recently re-read this interview of Teresia by e-tangata and this passage in particular about the place of Māori in the field of Pacific Studies stood out for me and will continue to inform my mahi:
“Māori are integral to our story. If you did Pacific Studies in Hawai‘i, California or Fiji — Māori are always considered part of Pacific Studies. But it’s only when we’re here in Aotearoa, we have to conscientiously think about this relationship between us as tagata o le moana (people of the sea — Pacific people) and tangata whenua (people of the land — Māori).”
3. Bringing the histories and cultures of Pacific people to life
Also had a re-read of Sean’s Tuakana profile. Another reminder that it’s okay to take it slow, and the importance of being kind to yourself:
“It took time for me to build confidence to respond to the many questions that came my way. It was important that I activated my networks within and outside the museum to help me do my job well. Tertiary education gave me a useful tool toolbox of skills but I had much to learn about museological tasks like cataloguing and object handling. I had to become an active researcher and keep up with reading, which is a constant challenge. I also had to grow up a bit and learn how to operate and be effective in the institutional and workplace culture.”
4. We’re removed from the literature, we don’t even exist
A couple of weeks ago I went along to the opening of Statuesque Anarchy by Witch Bitch at Enjoy Gallery and saw a performance that made my hair stand on end. It was theatrical, poetic and confronting (and really fucking exciting) all in one. This write-up in the Salient with writers Salote Cama and Laura Toailoa was a great read:
“Tanu: Shame has been internalised. Shame and fear have been internalised by our people in the most destructive ways. Especially with queer brown bodies. They’re always sitting on the surface and so we have no choice but to address them immediately. We talk about them in a way that gives us authority, and not shame, over our body.
Manu: In our art, we want to deconstruct and chuck that shame out the window.”
What I’ve seen, from kōrero shared by Puawai about Teresia, is her belief that centering yourself and your perspective is also an act of resistance. Placing yourself back in the literature, centering yourself in those kōrero is also an act of resistance.
5. Hiria Anderson
This artist’s work popped up on my time line and looking at it takes me home. The tableaus she paints of benign, daily Māori scenes evoke such an aching matemateaone. In times of pōuri, when all I want is to be at home, her work was a comforting sight.
Have a great weekend whānau, awhi mai, awhi atu.