- everyone must belong
It took me a long time to embrace my Māori identity.
On my mother’s side, I whakapapa (relate, through ancestry) to Kāi Tahu, the largest iwi (tribe) of Te Waipounamu (the South Island of New Zealand), but I grew up believing I was only Pākehā (NZ European). I spent most of my childhood living with my Pākehā father. Even though my Māori ancestry was mentioned occasionally, I resisted the suggestion that I was Māori. I didn’t grow up on a marae (Māori village), or speak te reo – and I didn’t look like the Māori kids I knew.
It was only as an adult, with the encouragement of my Gran, on my mother’s side, that I started to explore my Māori heritage. Today, I proudly identify as both Pākehā and Māori. I’ve returned to my marae, and I’m reclaiming my Indigenous language.