T O I T Ū T E W H E N U A BY PEITA-MARIA TUNUI / by Ahilapalapa Rands

Image: Peta-Maria Tunui

Image: Peta-Maria Tunui


My first whare was whenua
In the swelling haputanga of my māmā
It was whenua that nourished me
Whenua that formed jelly cells into koiwi
Mai i tōku iwi, ka puta tōku tūara, ōku waewae
Feet, fed on whenua, the warmth of whakapapa grounding me,
The blood of my tīpuna, my genealogy flowed from my māmā
To my whenua, through my pito, my manawa
Filled with 100% organic tino rangatiratanga
There is dirt in my DNA 
The double helix of aroha and wairua
spells out MANA
And I am birthed from earth, my worth is woven into the soil, here and now
Now, hear the karanga of my soul, I have not forgotten that I was formed from dust

E kore au e ngaro
He kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea

These waewae will stand, for the land, on the land, with the land, in the land
From whence I came, and one day you will understand
Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua
And your mokopuna will thank my mokopuna for making a stand
Hand in hand, with their kuia and kaumatua
Weaving a strand of preservation from the past into the future
for preserving and protecting
That which now preserves and protects them.

O Coloniser, 
You advanced before with muskets, with disease
With papal decrees, and now you advance again
brandishing the false dichotomy

Once, you pit science against sacred? I am both
Twice, you pit kaumātua against mokopuna? I am both
Three times, you pit tangata against whenua? I am both

My tīpuna navigated by math and physics
They engineered trenches and storage pits,
healed and hunted with our knowledge of biology
cooked by geology, charted new territories by astronomy,
We chant the secrets of life in the catechisms of our oratory
hypothesise about death and birth,
Record observations of our time on earth
In mōteatea and haka, we measure rhythm and memory
our tōhunga tested and reported from the laboratory
Of the natural world. We compare the changing seasons
Map the cycle of the moon and stars
Understand the reasons and how to care
For the whenua that is ours.
In karakia and taonga pūoro
We breathe this knowledge into our world
Our tīpuna knew we are star dust
Decades before what you know as science caught up.
We are still innovators, activators,
Regenerators of language, of ancient tradition
Navigators of challenge and change
Creators of our future
I am sacred, I am science
Tēnā koutou.

We are a pā harakēkē
Muka ready to be woven
Aroha received, aroha given
Te rito o te harakēkē - our pēpi
The centre surrounded and grounded 
By layer upon layer
Generation upon generation
Of love, strength, guidance and protection
hope and connection to the past and the future
So that one day te rito will be te rau
And they will know their responsibilty to their tīpuna and their uri
Ancestor and descendant
Ki mua ki muri
I cannot forget what has passed, or what is to come
I am mokopuna, I am kaumatua
Tēnā koutou

Ashes to ashes 
Dust to dust
I am tangata, I am whenua
Tēnā koutou katoa

How long will you divide and dissect us, 
Neglect our desires, deflect our wishes, infect our taonga
That is how long we will correct you

How long will you choose to abuse your power, 
Diffuse our opinions, lose our trust, bulldoze our mana
That is how long we will oppose you.

How long will you claim the upper hand on our land
The moral high ground on our ground
Make a stand where we have stood for generations

How long will you claim monopoly
On progress, knowledge and technology
TOO Long, it has been too long,
It is enough. Not one more acre

The government have forgotten 
Have chosen to forget what govern meant
Less than seven generations ago, in our nation
The desecration of our people was
Driven forward by their legislation
Condoning the rape of whenua, the murder of whanau
the passing of titles into the hands
Of those the government backed 
And now the government backs away
And wash their hands, choosing not to choose
Blind to what govern meant,
They cannot see what govern could mean today.

It cannot be a surprise
for never ever in the vast sweep of history
have the oppressed been freed from tyranny
by appealing to the moral compass
Of their oppressors,
Yes - Because power is a blinker
Privelege shutters the eyes
It lies to you and tells you that what you know and 
Only what you know is right
That how you know it
And what it means is worth a fight
That black and brown cannot produce the might and right of white
That money, and resource stripping, in plain writing
Greed, is what we mean by progress.
We cannot choose the world we are born into
But when you choose to continue to see the world this way
Your ignorance is your shame

it will become our fame
for while you dig your heels in or turn your face,
we will stay, in this place, 
We will be found on this ground
We will stand on this land

Our voices will be heard
Across the whenua
Across the oceans
Across time

And we will not be lost.

(Written by Peta-Maria Tunui, July 2019, in support and solidarity with indigenous brothers and sisters around the world protecting land & legacy. I stand with you ā wairua, and cant wait to stand with you ā tinana. Drawing inspiration from your courage and aroha.)

KŪ KI’AI MAUNA // TOITŪ TE WHENUA. Thanks to Assata Shakur for this powerful quote “nobody in the world, nobody in history has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people oppressing them”.

#standformaunakea #standforihumatao #notonemoreacre

Peta-Maria Tunui is a writer and a poet hailing from Aotearoa, if you would like to know more about her work please click here