Being Māori is an important part of my identity. But it’s not something you can tell about me by looking at me, or even talking to me. I don’t look Māori and my knowledge of te reo is very limited (though I do try to pronounce words correctly). Are these things an important part of what makes me Māori?
You may recall that I was struggling with my impostor syndrome. It really helped me focus on what was important. Although the Atua Wahine anthology* is important to me, it’s more important that it exist than that I be involved. So, although my piece has been accepted into the anthology I won’t have any other part in bringing it to life. Sadly, I also gave up my level 2 te reo classes when I realised I’d over committed myself.
Being part of these things felt important because they made me feel legitimate in some way. What was missing?
I asked two of my closest friends who just also happen to be Māori, and Pakeha presenting, what being Māori meant to them. The amazing thing was I would have said the same things; spirituality, being connected to the land, pride and, concern for the treatment of all indigenous peoples.
Recently I commissioned a series of images of me in my different guises (the artist is Huriana). This is my Māori one. I’ve been concerned that there may be backlash if I post it, that people may say I’m not Māori enough. (I purposely worked with a Māori artist.)
A part of me wants to say that “at the moment” it’s important to own your heritage but I truly believe it’s always important, no matter what is going on in the media.
Though I may not look like it and I may not sound like it – I am Māori.