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"We cannot forget where these laws come from"

Wed 16 Mar 2016 In: Our Communities View at Wayback View at NDHA

BOX Oceania is a collective of people who wish to boost voices and visibility of the peoples of Moana Pasifika living and loving within and beyond the rainbow and navigate ancestral knowledges to activate decolonising gender and sexuality work that imagines and create futures inclusive of QTIPOC+ peoples and their families.   The group aims to continue to illuminate issues that are still affecting Māori and Pasifika communities, and to pass on this challenge to the rest of the community. These issues will be discussed at an event this Saturday in the capital, organised by BOX Oceania member Kassie Hartendorp. The event ‘In the ‘Gay’zeebo - A Māori Pasifika Response to the Gay Narrative’ will feature a free afternoon of workshops centred around MÄori and Pasifika art forms and will encourage intergenerational discussion within the local community. BOX Oceania members were asked to speak at the opening of the Wellington Pride Festival, and to celebrate 30 years since homosexual law reform at Parliament. This is their voice. That week we had found out that another young over the rainbow Pasifika person had committed suicide. We were not ready to celebrate rainbows. “We have existed before Europeans colonised our land,and made laws that then said we were not right and that we were unnatural. We cannot forget where these laws come from,” said Kassie Hartendorp at the gathering. Here is our response titled ‘Si Fa’a’afa Ua Alu Atu Le Afi’. ‘Si Fa’a’afa Ua Alu Atu Le Afi’ is a medley of Sāmoa chants inspired by the fe’e / feke / wheke / he’e / eke / kuita / kurita. Collaboratively woven together with three hearts; Falenaoti Mokalagi Tamapeau, Fetu-o-le-moana Teuila Tamapeau and Kassie Hartendorp. Situated in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara, Te Upoko o te Ika a Maui; the head of the fish and the path of the wheke. The chant: SI FA’A’AFA UA ALU ATU LE AFI SI FE’E SI FE’E FAU LAU FAUSA FAU LAU FAUSA FAU IA TELE SI FA’A’AFA SI FA’A’AFA FAU LAU FAUSA FAU LAU FAUSA FAU IA TELE AUE TA FEFE LE AFI LA UA MU AUA E TE FEFE LE AFI LA UA MU UA ALU ATU LE AFI 12804800_958001277616896_2710142234900218050_n Pictured from left: Fetu Tamapeau, Ruci Tueli Tamapeau and Kassie Hartendorp. Photo: Louisa Wall Fe’e – The octopus in the tale of the fe’e and isumu. Fau – To build, make, construct. Fausa – Dry coconut leaf used for kindling. Fa’a’afa / Fa’afa – In the manner of… the yet (and the no need) to be determined or to halve or be halved or inhabiting space in between. The cutting open and the exposure. The vulnerability alongside the ability to talk to the gods within us. The ancient; before pālagi began breaking their own walls and closets with ideas of non-binary and queer. There are no closets and no walls in this fale. The ongoing splitting of one for the collective purpose of ‘aiga. Our genders and sexualities are constantly expanding and contracting in universes backdropped by indigenous savage thoughts. Pre and post colonisation, fa’a’afa spiritually embody the multidimensional squashing of time into places within and beyond the rainbow. Beyond polynization, melanization and micronization. The building of fire. Each pile of kindling placed with intention to ignite. The courage to see the eruptions and the passing on of the fire to illuminate the shit of colonisation. The severing of our indigenous godliness. The incarceration, the poverty, the decimation. The grieving of suicide weighing on the heads of our ‘under, in between, within and beyond the rainbow’ peoples of Oceania and their families. The loss of tinana, hinengaro and wairua. Our lives may be unspoken, but our connection echoes beneath islands, through fe’e itself. Fe’e the war god. Fe’e the multifaceted. Fe’e the compass. You cannot unsee the fire, but you can choose how to respond. We must not be afraid of the destruction. For it is already within many of us. As is the way forward. Like the wheke of Kupe’s pursuit which started from rage and injustice, and ended in new possibilities – this fire possesses the essence of good / bad simultaneously [binaries do not serve us]. This is lament. This is endearment. This is alofa / aroha. This is important. This is a gifting / a calling / a passing on of the fire to illuminate the need for change in our wider communities. We will not continue to hold the grief / grievance of our ‘aiga and whanaunga. This is an end and this is ultimately a beginning. Ua alu at le afi… First performed by Fetu-ole-moana Teuila Tamapeau, Kassie Hartendorp, Ruci Katia Silupevaelei Tueli Tamapeau, Meli Ligaiviu Tueli Tamapeau and Lenuasi Tueli Tamapeau at Parliament at the commemoration of 30 years since homosexual law reform in Aotearoa / New Zealand and the opening of the Wellington Pride Festival 2016. This piece was first published on the newly launched BOX Oceania website and is based on a speech delivered in Parliament for the 30th anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform. - 16th March 2016    


First published: Wednesday, 16th March 2016 - 9:17am

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