What does being a global citizen mean to me?

The following is a written response to “what does being a global citizen mean to me?” by Caleb Flintoff, one of our year 10 Māori students who attended our summit Te Rangitāmiro summit in Waikato.

This year I went to Te Rangitāmiro to explore global citizenship. The themes we talked about were identity, connections and working towards a better future. I used to think global citizenship was about keeping the law, being a good person and making the world a peaceful, safe place.

I now understand global citizenship is about identity, knowing who you are and where you come from. It is about connecting with others and working together to make the world a better place. This means caring, respecting and accepting all people even if they are different to you or come from a different country. It is about not being afraid to express who you are and where you come from.

In the media Māori and indigenous cultures are often talked about negatively. Some people think that you can’t achieve or be successful because of your race. I learnt at Te Rangitāmiro that being Māori is my superpower. Wherever I go I take my tūpuna with me. I am from Ngaati Apakura who lived at Rangiaowhia. Rangiaowhia was an amazing market place where goods were shipped all around the world before the battle where many people were killed and the land was taken away. My tūpuna used their initiative and were good global citizens. I’m learning how to use my culture as my superpower.

I am celebrating my culture through connecting with my community. I joined kapa haka and the whānau Māori class at school. I am also helping my grandparents to pronounce Māori place names and words properly. We have started saying karakia kai at our family gatherings too.

It is important that people don’t get taken advantage of. We don’t want cultures to get wiped out or discriminated against like how Māori were. Some times we have to educate people and tell them about injustices and the bad things that have happened to us.

My role in the global community is learning about different cultures, embracing all cultures and recognising they are just as important as mine. This means going against the crowd and standing up for what is right and calling people out for their racist behaviours. Also helping others embrace their culture and to not be ashamed of who they are.

We need to look out for others in our community and make sure that people are alright. It is important that people have support and are treated properly. We can encourage people and ask them how they like to be cared for. People need to be connected.

I want to contribute to the world around me and to help out where I can. I do this because every person wants to have a safe place to live. Being part of a global community helps gives us identity and connects us with others. People need someone to hang out with and to look after them; someone who values their culture and identity, then maybe they wouldn’t feel so lonely, sad or angry. We need to look after and care for our communities so that everyone has a good chance at a better life.

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Seek your whakapapa. Embrace your identity. Be courageous.

Te Aonui Wharawhara-Muriwai