Sunday, 22 February 2015

Someday we'll all be free. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Kanoa Lloyd 

Kanoa Lloyd has been the target of some negative feedback recently about her insistence on using te reo Māori in her work.  She frequently uses Māori kupu (Māori words) when referring to place names in TV3 weather reports.  The complaints have come from Radio New Zealand viewers (which I find hilarious as wouldn't you be a listener and not a viewer of a radio stations?)  Semantics aside, I have a bone to pick with Radio NZ anyway when a few years back they chose to broadcast snippets of music that I had written without my permission.  But this post isn't about me or Radio NZ.

It's about Kanoa Lloyd.

I don't know Kanoa personally, I've never had the pleasure of meeting her.
I am familiar with her TV work when she was a presenter on Sticky TV.  

When I thought about the criticism she was receiving for using te reo Māori in her work, I sent her a message on Twitter to tell her that I would be writing a blog post and that I was dedicating it to her.
Donny Hathaway's beautiful track Someday we'll all be free sprang to mind when I was thinking of a song to write through.

Hang on to the world as it spins around
Just don't let the spin hold you down
Think of moving fast
Hold on tight and you will last 

Don't worry about the media Kanoa.  It's a funny situation because they are the vehicle through which we hear (or see), learn about what's going on in our world.  I feel sorry for those Radio NZ viewers who can't see the relevance of the use of te reo Māori in weather reports.  You would think that slipping in those kupu would help to "normalise" the use of one of Aotearoa's three official languages (including English and NZ Sign Language).  I wonder if Radio NZ viewers would take offence if we changed the title Radio Aotearoa.  Personally, I think if it's acceptable to have a Māori version of the national anthem, the prevalent use of the haka before every sports game, then why worry about the use of Ika-a-Maui and Waipounamu.  Utterly ridiculous.

Give your self respect, your manly pride
Get yourself in gear
Keep your stride
Never mind your fears
Brighter days will soon be here
Take it from me, someday we'll all be free, yeah

Keep on walking tall
Hold your head up high
Lay your dreams right up to the sky
Sing your greatest song
And you'll keep going, going on

Rather than manly pride, I would say hold onto your womanly pride.
You have done nothing wrong and if anything, I hope that someday we will all be free to use te reo Māori openly without criticism.  It's not a difficult language to learn and I wish non-Māori would appreciate how beautiful it sounds.  We learned waiata and kupu all through primary school, we grew up understanding that it is a reo that we must honour.

I'm not Māori.  I'm Samoan, born in Aotearoa, but always acknowledge my place in this land, rich in its history and understanding the importance of acknowledging the tapestry of its identity, language and culture.

Take it from me, someday we'll all be free
Hey just wait and see, someday we'll all be free, yeah
Take it from me, someday we'll all be free
It won't be long, take it from me, someday we'll all be free
Take it from me, take it from me, take it from me. . . 

Thank you Kanoa for honouring the indigenous language of this land.
It encourages me as a non-Māori to seek better ways of supporting te reo Māori in all that I do - in my work with Māori learners, Māori kaiako, tumuaki, kainga, hapu and iwi.

Someday we'll all be free to not know how "wrong" it is to express what being Māori means in the way it is meant to be intended - in an embracing, loving and respectful way.

Kia ora Kanoa,
Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui :-)