Happy Waitangi Weekend

Posted by Luke McMeeken-Ruscoe on

I recently had to present my Pepeha. I hadn't done it in years and so I had forgotten it. It was nothing to worry about. I found this great site and boom it was all done for me. Some of the pronunciation was still difficult, but just as life is a work in progress, so is my Te Reo. 

The part I found most interesting about creating my Pepeha was that it generated a different perspective. It asked about where I came from, and this was defined by my waka, mountain, river, etc. Some of the people presenting their Pepeha were from overseas...(which could be said for my ancestors too.) They said that their waka was the plane that carried them over. 

It is a beautiful way to imagine the world. Here are all the parts of the world that hold significance to me and say where I come from. I have always defined myself as what I was or trying to be. I was an athlete, more specifically a basketballer and volleyballer. That was my tribe.

Other tribes I identified with were the schools I went to. I went to high school at Thee Nelson College, and also Brewster Academy. Then I did my undergrad at Brown University, and finally my MBA at Victoria University in Wellington. 

I created my identity by being defined by the things I did, more than where my family was from. I think that because I am a mutt of different European ancestry I sorta don't know where I am from in the historical sense and so I make the tribes that helped shape me be more of my identity. 

There is nothing wrong with that. There is no right or wrong way to look at who you are, just different outcomes. Take the moment we are living in right now in Aotearoa. Waitangi day gives us a moment to reflect on our nation, be it the first people here, the people that came later, or the people that continue to come. 

We all make up this amazing country that we are so lucky to live in. We could look at it and say our race relations, i.e how the Europeans treated the indigenous populations is better than most other countries, but that doesn't mean its good, or honourable. Did, we (The Europeans) live up to our side of the Treaty? Did we act in good faith? Did we treat the Maori in the way we wanted to be treated?

People often go to blame at this point. I don't think blame is ever very useful. I, nor you, were around hundreds of years ago so we are not responsible for their mistakes. But... we do benefit from them. So the question is what sort of country do we want Aotearoa to be. 

When much is given, much is expected. 

There is a price of citizenship, and there is a responsibility of nationhood.  As people, we all need to live up to the ideals of what the country stands for. As a country, we need to support and encourage everyone, not just the chosen few. 


I saw British comedian Russel Howard yesterday night. He comes across as a kind and thoughtful man. I try to over-indexing on supporting people that are kind and thoughtful over cool and flashy. I think the world can use more kindness and thoughtfulness, so I put my money where my mouth is.

He spoke very highly of being in Aotearoa, the challenges he had during his quarantine stay (I don't think he is that good of an actor so the stuff he said felt very earnest). 

The two things that connected me the most was his pieces on the Joy Thieves and being called Uncle Fun.

The concept of the Joy Thief I thought was incredible. Those people that snatch fun out of every situation, they twist and turn situations into them being hard done by or by being the victim when they know full well that wasn't the content of what was being discussed. 

Uncle Fun is the nickname that his nieces and nephews have given him. He just wants them to have fun and this all comes from one of his uncles. He spoke about his uncle that would play silly games with him his whole life and you could see the love that radiated from him while talking about those moments. Then at his uncles funeral, he found out that every cousin had a similar story but with their own distinct game that they would play. There were 40 cousins. 

There is a very moving interview with Keanu Reeves, he was asked by Stephen Colbert, what do you think happens when you die? It was obviously a set up to ask about the afterlife, but Keanu flipped it. He paused for a second and took a breath and said: I know the ones, that love us, will miss us. 

When I first saw that, it hit me right in the heart. It still does. You can experience it here.

But after seeing Russell Howard, I hope the ones that love us, will smile when they think about us. 

Shave well, be awesome, give people amazing memories of you. 


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