Being Native Creatives at Xmas

native creatives

” It is unacceptable for children in New Zealand to suffer from poverty-related illness at rates much higher than other developed countries; and for particular groups – such as Māori and Pacific children – to carry the burden of poverty and illness.

Every year there are 40,000 hospitalisations linked to socio-economic status and much of this is due to poor quality housing and the inability to heat homes.

Experience over the past thirty years confirms UNICEF’s view that Government policy has the single biggest impact on child poverty rates, not economic growth alone. ”   

Open letter: Ensure an adequate standard of living l UNICEF New Zealand (9 Dec 2015) Response to Child Poverty Monitor Report New Zealand 2015

 I had been reflecting on the past year and in particular celebrating examples of the many, many Native Creatives that were working at such an amazing level from Māori Directors, Writers, Producers screening films at ImagineNative and Toronto film festivals in Canada to Rena Owen from Moerewa living and working in Hollywood, USA to the amazing longevity of our performance luminaries like George Henare, Christina Asher , Wiremu Davis, Tina Cook who have graced our stages and screens for over thirty years.

 We were collectively and individually as artists, making what we believed was a difference.
But in the wake of the release of the  NZ Children’s Commissioner annual Child Poverty Monitor report citing once again, vast numbers of mostly Māori children living in such abject poverty, it was all too easy to become overwhelmed and numbed by the pain and anguish that it represented.
Our collective Native Creatives story successes were just not enough to do anything practical for the vast numbers of Native children, here. Not in Australia, Canada, Africa, here in our lands.
Nationally, the report caused an outcry for two days and was then subsumed by the tsunami of ‘how many shopping days till Xmas?’ sales, the Oprah Winfrey visit to Ngāti Whātua marae where she said after her traditional welcome ‘I have deep respect and awe (and) regard for what just happened here’ combined with the launch of the latest ‘Star Wars – The Force Awakens’ franchise.
The report went back into the ‘to do’ lists of all the usual suspects, opposition politicians keen to bring the government down, child action poverty groups, Māori activists groups in all fields, all government agencies that deal with Children.
 I couldn’t ignore the report.  I had to take stock because Being a Native Creative is arguably;
  • not going to lead to large numbers of houses being built for families in need
  • not going to lead to provision of cheap fruit and vegetables for below the poverty line families or
  • shame politicians into doing the unthinkable and ending poverty in our nation.
So what was the point of all our struggle to be recognised as Creative Natives?
Hope. By telling our stories, whatever they may be, to the best of our hard won craft abilities, about the everyday lives of our families, children and our native worlds that we walk in,  is going to bring, HOPE.
You can’t buy hope, it can’t be faked as it’s eventually found out, and it never ever goes on a boxing day sale.
We are the bringers of HOPE. As Native Creatives we have the power to create dream worlds  in films, live theatre, games, poetry, music, literature, visual arts as if they were real possibilities.
The immediate effect of being a Native Creative and telling our stories is that Native people can get;
  • Joy of recognition of seeing others like themselves being reflected on the big, small , mobile screens.
  • Pride in hearing their native tongue, maybe for the first time being broadcast on the web, airwaves.
  • Happiness in viewing their cultural ‘norms’ and language  portrayed in the theatre
  • Excitement in native language music broadcast as popular culture
  • Understanding that some-one who looks, talks, lives and has lived just like them is a Creative and it is possible for them to be one too.

Being a Native Creative at Xmas is recognising and being confident that  through our story lens  we can envision a hope for all of us. And that is enough to eventually change the whole universe!

Ka whawhai tonu matou ake, ake, ake!

 

 

2015 IMAGES: Clockwise bottom L – R Mika Haka presents his short film Taniwha at ImagineNative Film Festival Toronto Canada, Māoriland Festival, Otaki, Dr Leonie Pihama San Francisco USA, Author Whetu Fala with Rena Owen Hollywood Los Angeles, Wiremu Davis & Tina Cook film Premiere Paramount Theatre Wellington, Māori elder actors panel Wellington.

 

 

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