“They are us” – what it means to me

It has been a very sad time here in Aotearoa, and it has had me, Anita, reflecting on the phrase “they are us” and what it means to me, to be a Kiwi/New Zealander. And since I have this platform I may as well use it to share my view, right?

Who are we, NZ? –  We are made up of many ethnicities, many religions and have a wide range of socio-economic groups …. but we are one nation and we are all whanau (and hey, sometimes families fight right, but if someone else messes with our family, we will stand together). Here are some kiwi colloquialisms to help me define how I see this:

  • Bro or Brother from another mother
  • Sis or Sister from another mister
  • Cuzzies
  • Aunties
  • Uncle

New Zealanders have a strong sense of extended family where all of the family titles above can be used for non-blood relations, a neighbour, a parent’s friend, or even a friend of a friend of a friend. I once had friends visiting from America and when chatting to them about touring around NZ, I happened to mention an Aunty here or Cousin there, they were like “is everyone in NZ related?” I laughed as I suppose it did sound like that. But we are a small country – you know the saying “six degrees of separation” – well here its more like 3 or 4 – that’s us 😆

We Kiwis are in general an inclusive friendly bunch, we tend to easily strike up conversations with the person next to us, asking how they are or where they are from and if they are visiting NZ, how they like New Zealand?

It is part of our culture. In school we learn our pepeha which is the Maori form of self introduction (Maori being NZ’s native culture and people). It is often used at the beginning of a hui/meeting or mihi/speech – it explains a little bit about where you are from and who you are connected to. Below is an example of my pepeha:

Anita Pepeha
Check out this awesome website to create your pepeha

And even in the most informal of settings, where you might just mention where you are from, this creates connections and starts conversations: “oh so you’re from ‘Ngaruawahia’, my cousin lives there, do you know …..” and so on and so forth.

I am so proud of how New Zealanders have come together during this sad time, showing Aroha (love), Whanaungatanga (kinship), and Manaakitanga (kindness/support).

Ka mau te wehi Aotearoa = Awesome New Zealand!!

Don’t get me wrong we definitely have things we need to work on, and this is just my own personal view ….. but jump on or keep going on the positive trajectory whanau 👍 – say no to racism and when you are out and about, share a smile, say hello and start a conversation with someonewho knows what you’ll learn or what connection you may make?

Thanks for reading, nga mihi, Anita 🥜✌️

NZ Flag2017-06-17 12.41.44




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