I te taha o tōku tipuna wahine, ko Te Here Taiapa
Ko Hikurangi te maunga
Ko Waiapu te awa
Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi
Ko Gina Colvin tōku ingoa
From my Grandmother Te Here Taiapa
My mountain is Hikurangi
My River is Waiapu
My people are descended from Porourangi
My name is Gina Colvin
From my father I received an identity that means something in a world that uses science and culture to justify arbitrary classifications to differentiate and apportion worth and privilege. From childhood my white mother had to teach me that though I was Māori, I was beloved even though the world would judge my skin color and my ‘racial identity’ as problematic. I recall the day, while still in preschool, she introduced me to the word ‘racist’. She had to because I was dismayed by how dismissively and sometimes cruelly I was being treated by my white preschool teachers.
I grew up through the tail end of Māori urbanisation in New Zealand, and came of age during the Māori Renaissance where I observed protest; language revitalization in education; land reclamation; the resurgence of the Treaty of Waitangi as a document of significance, and the rise of tribal autonomy. I grew up watching our national culture transcend British colonialism to speak easily of biculturalism.
At the same time I watched the LDS church respond to Māori protest at institutional racism and cultural activism with resistance. What was once a ‘Maori church’ in New Zealand became, under the direction of Salt Lake City, a ‘colour-blind’ church that took active steps to distance LDS Māori away from any claims for cultural, political and economic rights.
Yet I am Mormon. But I am also tangata whenua (a person deeply vested in this place by virtue of my ancestry) a child with glorious ancestry, and I claim Mana Wahine – the power of the feminine.
Join me as I think and write through the conundrums of bringing my religion, my gender, and my culture/s together to create something good, powerful and ultimately transformative.