Kia ora dear ActionStation community,
2023 has been a big year.
I don’t usually share personal stories here, but it was particularly big for me because I had my first child.
Before she arrived with us, I convinced my partner to move back to my ancestral whenua so we could be closer to my marae. I was adopted out as a baby and spent many years of my life re-finding my birth family, so it was important to me that my daughter knew exactly who she was, and where she came from.
We named her after my great-grandmother who loved being at the marae. Her name is in Te Reo Māori, and has seven syllables. We think it is a strong, beautiful name for a strong, beautiful girl (even when other people struggle to pronounce it). Her middle name pays tribute to a takatāpui community group that looked after my partner and I when we were young adults.
She is being raised in a full immersion Te Reo childcare centre, and she will probably attend immersion schooling later on too. My whanaunga worked hard to revitalise our language and culture in this region, and so we feel both the joy of being beneficiaries of their vision, and also a sense of obligation to look after the gifts they so cherished for all of us.
To us, our Māoritanga is the most fulfilling, soul-nourishing, energising aspect of our lives. After enduring years of feeling lesser-than because of our ancestry, it has never felt so freeing, so life-giving to be Māori.
Which is why it pains me to know that this special part of us is under political attack by the new Coalition Government.
While the language may seem overly bureaucratic, National, ACT and NZ First have ultimately pledged to stop Māori cultural revitalisation in its tracks, and take us back into the past when it comes to our race relations.
At a time when my daughter is flourishing in who she is, as Māori, it is a strange and contradictory situation where the Government has deemed that our Te Tiriti obligations should be up for debate, that Te Reo should be limited in public services and that it’s acceptable for people like us to die seven years earlier than Pākehā.
This is not leadership, it is regression.
And Māori are not the only ones facing political attack.
The new Coalition Government have promised to ignore climate change, bring in archaic policies on law and order like youth boot camps, scrap legislation that makes it easier for workers to collectively bargain, remove education programs that help young people feel comfortable in their identity, cut public services to distribute tax cuts to our wealthiest people and make the lives of renters, disabled whānau and beneficiaries harder through punitive restrictions.
Following the trend of many countries in the world, our Parliament has had a brutal swing to the right at a time when we need care, compassion and evidence-based policies at the heart of our leadership’s decision making. It is not lost on us that the biggest winners of the election were also the most well-funded through political donations, which raises questions about what our democracy really rests on.
Over this year, our ActionStation community worked together to ward off a Government like this with the Triple The Vote campaign. While we did not get the progressive Government we hoped for, we stemmed the blue tide and mobilised thousands of people who are now active and ready to take action. You can read about our efforts in our Triple The Vote section.
Outside of the election, we also:
- Released the Lifting The Weight report with our coalition Fairer Future on people’s experiences of owing debt to the Ministry of Social Development
- Launched a campaign to create a Ministry of Green Works, to build sustainable, resilient communities, in response to Cyclone Gabrielle
- Influenced the Labour Party to promise free dental for under 30s as a result of our campaign for Dental for All
- Launched a campaign to push the Government to build more public homes and house the "true waitlist", and collaborated with Public Housing Futures to create a new website
- Campaigned to "Heal Our Harbour" in Porirua, led by Ngāti Toa rangatahi, Pania Rei
- Organised a climate justice wānanga for rangatahi in the ART Confederation (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai)
- Launched a campaign for higher corporate tax and/or a windfall tax (a whopping 78% of people in Aotearoa support extra taxes on unusually high profits)
- Published a report on Profit-led Inflation in Aotearoa with the Council of Trade Unions and FIRST Union (Adrian Orr, Reserve Bank Governor recently acknowledged the role of corporate profit in driving inflation which is a huge win)
- Supported the call for a ceasefire in Gaza alongside Amnesty International, Save the Children and grassroots community organisers, which helped influence a ceasefire resolution at the United Nations General Assembly
- Organised multiple Cross Movement Kōrero for people working on different issues to build relationships and collaborate
- Supported hundreds of campaigns through our free, campaigning platform, OurActionStation
We expect that the next three years will be difficult. But we have also seen our communities, and especially the younger generation, become animated and energised to get organised for people and planet. The day after the Government was announced, we were already in the group chats and voice notes strategising about how we can make this a one-term Government, how we can look after each other and the ones most under attack.
How we can take the visions and dreams of our forebears into the future, and make this Coalition a blip in the history books, after the country rose up and reminded our leadership what we really stand for.
For equality (through equity). For justice and peace. For respect and protection of Papatūānuku and all living beings. For a safe roof over everyone’s heads. For a liveable income and affordable groceries! For a society that welcomes difference. For an Aotearoa that values Māoritanga and honours our Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
So that our children can all feel strong in who they are, and have the means to thrive - however many syllables in their name, no matter where they come from.
My hope is that my daughter doesn’t even hear about this electoral cycle. When someone says Christopher Luxon or David Seymour, she says, who? And she goes on living her life, exactly as (all) our ancestors intended.
Let’s make this a reality, together,
Director of ActionStation
PS. If you’d like to make ActionStation stronger than ever over the next three years, please consider becoming one of our star regular donors. I know that money is tight, but organisations like ours rely on the small donations of people like you. It’s our lifeblood to remain a hopeful, lively beacon in the face of cruel, well-funded political forces.