Behind this smile I believe unless we understand ourselves, there is no way to understand anyone else.
When I think of Racism, I think of a traditional Maori song called, ‘I Sit and Ponder’. I think of this song when I think of what is going to become of our youth. The song is a lament, asking who is going to look after our young ones and our elderly. These are the things that are very important to me. I take the elderly to learn songs from way back. The elderly suffer a lot because they won’t relinquish their language. I take the elderly places; the main purpose is to make it easier for them to integrate with the many different cultural groups here in Hobson’s Bay. With the young ones, they are suffering too; there is a loss of identity. We have been here for 5 generations, many of us have been here since the gold rush days and there have been many marriages with the Chinese from those days, but we were brought up to believe we are Australian. I would say many of the youth today only know a small part of our culture, they know the All Blacks and the HAKA but that’s a small part of our culture.
Our culture has its own tradition; traditional Maori thinking sent down from the heavens, it’s all about the good and the gracious. This is our identity and it is what is missing when we lose our culture, it is all connected, it’s about oneness with all people, with life, with the universe. We need to integrate without depriving our people of our culture. Our identity needs to be kept, but not by rejecting other cultures. It is how we practice our faith, we start with our Christian service and then we do our own traditional service. We bring traditional instruments and the Elders come and we all come together. We feel the greatest pride in words, songs, language, cultural dancing, music and sports, especially the youth, so keeping this culture and teaching it, will make us strong. I have a passion for multi-faith work; it is my ‘Whakaaro’, my innermost thought, my gift, my understanding, and my intention. Everything comes back to my first thought, when I sit and ponder; unless we understand ourselves, there is no way to understand anyone else. This is how to cope with the challenges of tomorrow.
You can see Rebecca's image at Laverton Community Hub, Altona Library and Altona North Library