Te Aroha Rountree
He uri ahau no te hapu o Ngai Tuteāuru, no te iwi o Ngā Puhi. Ko Puhanga Tohorā te maunga, Ko Mangatawa me Otaua ngā awa e rerenei, Ko Pukerata te marae e tū ake nei, Ko Rahiri te Rangatira, te tupuna.
I am currently the Senior Lecturer in Moana Studies at Trinity Methodist Theological College. I have worked as an academic researcher for the University of Auckland (Māori Studies) with a focus on Māori language and oral traditions. I have worked as a consultant providing workshops on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Te Reo Māori and Tikanga Māori for government organisations in both the education and health sectors. Most recently my research has been focussed on tangata whenua theology and collaborative research on native wisdoms and scripture as a means of hope and healing of intergenerational trauma.
Defiance, Determination, and Decolonisation
Tangata whenua engage in Defiance. As native peoples we are defiant, we haka, we battle, we resist, we deconstruct, we reStory, and we un-tell lies and untruths, about empire and invasions and intrusions into our lives and into our faith. The whitewashed history of colonisation and the romanticising of missionary impact in our context serves to assimilate our native peoples into dominant western Pakeha society. We are defiant and we exercise our capacity to resist, to push back against the expectations to conform and to compromise. Our theologies are no different, they are mechanisms for freedom and cultural expressions of faith that demand change, in church and society. The marae-atea is the public place/space where we are able to put into practice our lived theologies and to affect change with and for our people.
Tangata Whenua demand Self-Determination. As native peoples we fight for what all peoples desire, the right to determine our own ways of knowing and being in the world. There exists persistent and pervasive systemic and institutional racism founded on colonial pre-conceptions of white supremacy. We seek to dismantle those oppressive structures, processes and ideologies that exclude Maori from self-determining power. Our theologies of the marae and the papa kainga reflect our capacity to determine the tikanga and kawa of our places/spaces, and where our wisdoms and korero take precedence. We seek to both extend beyond these spaces and to draw others into our marae-atea.
Tangata Whenua seek the ‘Road to Decolonisation.’ As native peoples we evoke story-telling and truth-telling for justice, for whenua, for moana, for iwi, and all creation. In our quest for freedoms for ourselves our vision must extend beyond ourselves, to Papatuanuku me Ranginui (earth and sky personified), to the realms of Tane and Tangaroa (forest and sea manifest). Decolonisation as a concept and a construct may yet be reframed, fit for our purpose as Moana Jackson describes it, “‘Decolonisation’ may not be the most appropriate word . . . . Perhaps it could be replaced with the ethic of restoration.” According to tikanga, when a hara occurs, it requires some kind of restitution or recompense, a restoring of balance to return to a state of oranga. Therefore, we look to tikanga to guide our response to the far-reaching implications of colonisation.