Ratema | Auckland.
“We used to go the beach a lot in Takapuna, build sandcastles on the beach, and go for swims. I’m half Māori and half Pākehā. I went to a Māori school and was brought up with my mother and my father, but separately. I had a bilingual upbringing I guess you’d say.
I guess it’s being part of both worlds, having knowledge about both cultures, and being well educated in the mainstream system, but then also having knowledge of the indigenous culture of New Zealand. It makes a massive impact on how you develop and how you function later in life and what lessons you learn, and how you grow up as a person.
On positively resolving a problem…
Respecting family, your elders, and the people around you, and I guess also being grateful for what you have, and not taking anything for granted, and valuing the people that look out for you and take care of you, but also looking out for others and taking care of them as well.
I guess we have a complex family and I have some half brothers, and one of their families has been a bit difficult about us seeing my brother, and so I went and spent some time with her and connected with her, and helped her out with a few things and that kind of improved our relationship and made it easier to spend time with my brother and facilitate that relationship. I think just being honest with people, and connecting with them and making sure to keep in touch with them and look at things from their point of view, and think about how you can mutually benefit each other and work through things together, I guess.
My parents split up when I was a child. So I always had two sides of the family, but we’ve always worked well together. I have a lot of half siblings and step siblings. It’s fairly normal to me. I mean you’re learning a lot of different things in each situation. I guess in a way, in a more traditional family setting, you possibly don’t learn as much about how things function outside of that unit, whereas when you you’re in a more complex situation or different kind of family situation, then you’re learning about how different relationships work, and how things aren’t simple, and I guess in that way you’re more in touch with how relationships might function when you move out of childhood or into the real world.
At the moment I’m with someone who I’m going to marry and have children with, and I guess that comes with responsibilities in terms of what I do with my career and with my life, because it effects other people, but then also our relationships going to be different because we are on equal terms and we fulfil both male and female roles in the relationship. I guess navigating this and navigating that can be difficult, but also I think it’s kind of time to challenge those traditional roles and figure out how things can work for both genders, and I think things don’t have to be as they were before and both genders have opportunities to act in both roles in different situations.
I guess I’m a bit of a feminist, so I don’t view men as having a lot of pressures. I mean, they have as much pressures as anyone else, but I feel like if anything they have less now, because generally things are easier for them; it’s easier to get work and reach higher paying positions, but then also because they’re not set in the traditional roles. There’s more options for them to do other things like, say for instance, if my future wife made more money than me, then I could stay at university and make art, and she could bring the money in. So that’s maybe an option that didn’t exist in the past. I mean traditionally, Māori values have very set gender roles. So I guess there’s more of a focus on family and responsibility for wider family.
I know a lot of people who have various social disabilities like several of my cousins have Aspergers. I know a lot of people with severe depression, and anxiety and stuff like that. So, I’m used to entering into another person’s frame of mind, or trying to figure out how things work for them, and not be apart from other people who are in a different space. So, I guess that’s some sort of talent that I have with people who don’t necessarily fit the social norm.
I think it just comes from experience and being around people and trying to put yourself to the side, and figure out how does this other person think; what is it about how they see the world that makes them feel separate or distant, and how can you enter their world and be part of how they think and how they function in order to not make them feel alone or so separate, but I think that just comes from experience really.”