A guest blog post by Ngā Kaiwhakauka Taketake (transl. The Indigenous Preservers), a Māori youth delegation to CCC19.
Greetings, we are five Māori rangatahi (youth) – a group of university students embarking on the journey of our lives. We call ourselves, Ngā Kaiwhakauka Taketake, The Indigenous Preservers.
In April, we will journey to Scotland with a mission: to meet at CCC19 with other indigenous peoples and form a community for change. It will be our privilege to share the values and practices that have long been carried out in our respective cultures and draft a document together that sets forth a vision of our peoples. It will be a revolutionary document that aims to combat climate change from an indigenous world view.
Ki te kahore e whakakitenga, ka ngaro te iwi
Without foresight or vision, the people will be lost.
These inspiring words were uttered by a Māori King, Kiingi Tawhiao, during the colonial turbulence that dominated Aotearoa (New Zealand) during the 1800’s.
We come to this conference representing our iwi (tribe) and waka (canoe). Although some may think us young and our ideals far-fetched, know that we are sick of the ineffective methods of previous generations. We the youth, will play a major part in this fight. Our generation has experienced the last embers of the Elizabethan age, and during this time we have seen Papatuanuku (Mother Nature) pillaged. We will no longer be bystanders. Please place your faith in us.
For far too long, we have been forced to conform to foreign and western ideologies that completely contradict our philosophies. Our leaders have been suppressed and conquered throughout the era of colonialism. The indigenous voice has been unheard, until now. Without foresight or vision, it will be lost. It is our deepest wish that people from all over the world listen to our vision. After the conference, we hope to put our plans into motion by attending the United Nations Climate Change Talks to present the document on behalf of all indigenous peoples.
We cherish our land for we are the inheritors, the enhancers and the distributors of the land. It is our philosophies of preserving our land that lay a good foundation for developing strategies to combat climate change. A legacy that we live by is doing the hard groundwork in this generation, to make it easier for our children and grandchildren to live in a world built on a foundation of indigenous unity. Listen to us. Learn from us. Work with us. If we can all unite under a banner of unity and hope, then we can win this, the greatest battle in the entirety of human history.
Let us leave the world better than how we found it, for we do not inherit the land – we have it on loan from our grandchildren. When the time comes and old age falls upon our generation, let us gift a planet to the true owners, our grandchildren, free of climate change, free of global warming, free of disaster. Let this be a code that we live by.
This conference will ignite a flame that will burn in resistance to the rapid advancement of climate change. This will be a once in a life time opportunity to bring change. Let we five delegates put our heart and soul into this conference. Talk, laugh, and cry, but not alone – together! Let us form a community for change. Let us share each other’s stories, our foresight, and most of all, our visions.
Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Seek the treasure you value most dearly; if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.
This whakatauki (proverb) talks about aiming high for what is truly valuable. But its real message is to be persistent and don’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.
No reira e ngā hau e wha, e ngā kokonga e wha, kei te mihi, kei te mihi, kei te mihi
We do not inherit the land; we have it on loan from our grandchildren.
These words of wisdom were embedded within our consciousness by a Ngai Tahu elder whose love of Papatuanuku is a shining example for what is increasingly becoming dark times. It removes the human trait of selfishness that has evolved during the modern era. We humans have become so short sighted, that we usually ignore the wisdom of our elders who stress the importance of foresight.
Never before, in a long and illustrious human history, has our existence, our very civilisation, our place within the universe, been threatened to the extent that it is today. Climate change and global warming is set to change our way of life; we must commit ourselves to a long and hard fight to combat it. It will be the hardest fight we will ever face. It is a fight that we have vowed to commit our lives to. We come from a long line of warriors, and we will take their mana (power) into the storm.
Our people have a long history of nurturing the environment. When we cut harakeke (flax) we return the offcuts to the plant in order to feed it, and we do not cut the smallest pieces of flax in order to let it grow. We Māori are the kaitiaki of the land, the guardians. It is through kaitiakitanga that we have committed to protecting and nurturing the land for the true owners, our grandchildren, and their grandchildren after them. We Māori do not come from cities, we do not come from man made landmarks, we do not come from a place or thing. We come from mountains, rivers, lakes, and sacred grounds. We Māori come from the land. The Māori word for land is whenua, which also means placenta, that which connects a baby to its mother, just as we are connected to the land. It is western ideology that has plagued the environment and underpinned climate change. We have never known western values and have long resisted them in preference to our own ways.
Indigenous peoples have been suppressed for too long. Our voice has been suppressed. No more. It is time to rise up and share our alternative values with the world in order to help save it. The leaders in this, our greatest fight since the beginning of time, must be the indigenous peoples from the four winds; Aboriginal, Native American, Pacific Islanders, Māori, and other indigenous peoples.
Maikara McLeod (Head Delegate)
Te Ngaru Wehi
Note from the editor: Michael, Kae’sharn, Haki, Zayyen and Te Ngaru are crowd funding to get themselves to CCC19. Please support them here with your donations. Even small donations are very welcome.