Global Citizenship Māori – Rangatahi Māori Perspective

The following tuhinga (essay) is written by an ākonga o Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu. She shares her ideas on what whakapapa and culture means to her, on the effects of climate change and what it’s like being a rangatahi (young) Māori in the 21st century.


Whakapapa is not only a genealogical link but a spiritual connection; a part of my identity, connecting me to the stories which bare the knowledge of my past, present and future. My whakapapa does not determine who I am, but only drives me to seek my true being in life. 

Whakapapa helps to determine values and morals within our Māori society yet it does not adhere to a homogenised society, it is unique in many complex ways; this is another aspect that makes our whakapapa significant to us as this is a part of our identity and culture unique to Māori. 

Our culture is very important as this is an indicative system that keeps our language and people thriving. Our culture and whakapapa is carried and passed on to generations through many practises, not only our language but our many creative talents, waiata, whakairo, tāniko, and raranga.This is organic, and unique to `Māori culture as these talents have survived  through generations and many stories of life are still known today. 

Climate Change

Climate change impacts our people in many ways, because from a Māori perspective all aspects of our lives are created and shaped by the tikanga passed down from our atua. Ko Ranginui te tāhūhū, Ko Papatūānuku te whāriki, ko ngā tamariki ngā pou o tēnei ao. 

Climate change is amongst us everyday, challenging us to protect our environment. Through generations tangata Māori have been influenced by our environment, learning the impacts of weather and climate, these skills have been with us for centuries, now it has come to a time where we must pull together as one, to create a sustainable future. 

Our land and waterways are constantly being polluted and poisoned by industries such as: farming, horticulture, and waste water dumping. We are constantly being threatened by the actions of pollution and poison; by the littering of our waterways, the chemicals polluting our air, the trees being cut down, the extinction of our wildlife and many things that are affecting our environment that we are evasive towards. We need to create a change, to sustain an environment that we can maintain and provide a better lifestyle for our futures. 

An example of this situation is, The Ohiwa harbour, in our little hometown Ōpōtiki, it is at the threat of extinction for our oyster, bubu, and pipi, for our people are ravaging the waterways, taking above and beyond what is needed for their whānau. We are now at a point where we are having to have a quota for how much pipi we can pick, how many oysters can be harvested, and how many bubu can be gathered. It has come to our attention that we need to make a change in order for the benefits of our future generations to come. We are also at risk of losing them through farming and horticultural influences on our waterways. These have been a major impact of our pollution. 

I feel as though these can be improved if we find organic and natural ways to help our environment rather than kill our world with man made solutions.

Rangatahi Māori in the 21st Century

As Māori growing up in the 21st century, there is a fine line between being judged and being the one judging, our Māori culture has an impact on our generation as we are currently fighting to keep it alive. 

As a Māori I am constantly put at a halt in life, because we are outcasted from others. We are told that we can not do this, we can not do that, because we are ‘Māori. It’s constantly being judged because of our culture, there is no getting to know our true person. We are constantly judged because of the actions of our people, but not all of us are like this, they fail to acknowledge. 

Being a Māori, I have been told no because the way I do things is not the way of others. It is being told that I am no better than the rest because of the actions of 10% of our people..

It is being discriminated against for acknowledging the kawa and tikanga left behind for us by tipuna. Growing up as a Māori in the 21st century almost everything is influenced by the battle of keeping our culture and people alive and thriving. 

In conclusion, Māori people are truly unique and deserve to be acknowledged as much as any other race in this world, for we are the native people of Aotearoa, and without us there would be nothing to make this country different from others.

Nga Mihi, Student from Te Aho O Te Kura Pounamu

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Seek your whakapapa. Embrace your identity. Be courageous.

Te Aonui Wharawhara-Muriwai