The past several months I have had these words sitting on the tip of my tongue but have been too terrified to share them (even now I'm shaking) because I know they will be met with resistance but it's time.

Let’s get really real right now, racism against Māori is a real thing in New Zealand. I feel it and have felt it, everywhere I go. I see it walking down the street, I feel it in meeting someone new, I even experience it in my close friendships.

Today I’m saying that’s enough. I will no longer be a second-class citizen in my own land. I am, we are Tangata Whenua, and I stand proud of my heritage.

I know recognising racism in the obvious is easy. It’s when someone yells “nigga” to the brown boy walking down the street that we know and feel it as racism, when someone is discriminated against because of the color of their skin we recognise and feel it as racism and by and large we’re angered by the overt racism that we see around us.

Racism is real in New Zealand and it’s time for a change. I will no longer be a second-class citizen in my own land.

But what about the subtle ways racism plays out in the day to day against Māori in NZ? It’s so subtle that it’s easy to pass over it, but I refuse to be ok with it anymore. So, to be clear this is how I experience racism on the daily:

Racism is when you are surprised that I am Māori because I am ‘too beautiful’, ‘too smart’, ‘too educated’, or ‘too well travelled’ to be Māori.

Racism is when you make derogatory remarks about my people in front of me and then say ‘oh, but you’re not like that’.

Racism is when our government debates whether Te Reo Māori should be included as a compulsory language in schools.

Racism is when you complain about Māori place names being hard to pronounce.

Racism is when you are responsible for addressing a crowd of thousands at the Anzac parade in Devonport but don’t even show the respect of pronouncing our names and place names properly.

Racism is when my brother walks down the street, chocolate skin, hoodie on and you start walking faster.

Racism is when I choose to connect to my heritage- spiritual, cultural, language- and you feel entitled to be included.

Racism is when you label my people ‘dole bludgers’.

Racism is when you tell my people to just ‘get over it, the past is the past’.

Racism is when you look at the ‘statistics’ and not the truth that is hiding behind the statistics.

Racism is when discussing history you expect my people to walk towards you for healing instead of you walking towards us.

Racism is when you take naked selfies on our sacred mountains and then label us as ‘prudes’ or pass over our offence as if it’s because we don’t understand freedom to self-expression.

Racism is when you appropriate our culture.

But most of all racism is when you refuse to recognise your ‘white privilege’ and entitlement.

Racism is real in New Zealand and it’s time for a change. I will no longer be a second-class citizen in my own land.

I am, we are Tangata Whenua, and I stand proud of my heritage. Your names for me and my people will no longer stick. I choose the name of Mana Whenua.

You have thrown open the door to my whare, walked in with your dirty boots, sat down and called it home. All you had to do was knock on the door and you would have been welcomed in. It’s not too late.


That’s Us is a campaign by the Human Rights Commission that asks Kiwis to start sharing their personal stories about racism, intolerance and hatred, as well as their hopes for the future of New Zealand as one of the most diverse countries in the world. Read more stories and click here to tell your story.