The tension between my Māori and Pākehā heritage
Our national story is complicated and messy. As we mark another Waitangi Day, Aaron Smale reflects on a lifetime of feeling caught between two worlds.
I watched her intently as she perused the one-page document, her hair a cloud of white, her coat a deep pink.
Then she looked up at me and shook her head gently. “Oh no dear, you’re not Māori,” she said in a tone of almost pity and bewilderment.
In that awkward and devastating moment, I was caught between my two grandmothers as one unwittingly denied the existence of the other.
That declaration was uttered by my Pākehā maternal grandmother on our first meeting when I was a confused 15-year-old. It was the first encounter I’d had with someone who was my own flesh and blood. Her revelation left me even more confused on the heels of a childhood devoid of self-knowledge thanks to the consequences of a closed adoption.