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COMMENT: By Qiane Matata-Sipu

Yesterday I worked a 13-hour day unpaid. It’s pretty common in my world. It’s pretty common in the worlds of Indigenous women.

Kaupapa always come first.

Why? Because we are the drivers of change, and positive social and environmental change comes at a cost to someone – and it’s never the rich white man.

The most marginalised have dreams to see a different future for the 7 generations in front of them, so they give up their today for the tomorrow of their mokopuna.

The more Indigenous women I sit down with, the more it becomes cemented in my mind that it is Indigenous women that keep us alive as a planet. They are the matauranga holders, the frontliners, the carers, the whale whisperers, the teachers, the ahi kaa, the boundary pushers, the leaders, the workers, the innovators, the motivators, they are empowering across generations by being unapologetically themselves.

I ended my day yesterday at Putiki Bay (Kennedy Point) where mana whenua and the community of Waiheke are fighting against the destruction of yet another of our taonga species, our natural resources, and our life giving taiao.

I shared in talanoa with two indigenous wāhine and heard a number of solutions that are ignored by governments, scientists and corporations because they come from the mouths of brown women.

We could roll our eyes and accept the dismissal, or we could gather, grow, strengthen, learn, observe, stand up, open our mouths and kick down the doors with our steel capped boots.

What are you going to do this Tuesday morning?

Qiane Matata-Sipu (Te Wai-o-hua, Waikato-Tainui) is a journalist, photographer and social activist based in South Auckland’s Ihumātao. She is an indigenous storyteller celebrating wahine toa. She is the founder of the Nuku wahine project and is giving a public kōrero at Western Springs Garden Community Hall, Auckland, tomorrow night at 7pm.

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