avatar for Wiki Walker

Wiki Walker

tribal member
Aotearoa (aka New Zealand)

My name is Wiki Walker. I come from Aotearoa otherwise known as New Zealand.  My tribe is Ngatihine the largest sub-tribe in this country named from our chieftain who was a woman named Hineamaru. I am the mother of six children and grandmother of five grandchildren. All my children and grandchildren speak our language through the ancient process of transmission from generation to generation. 

The community I was raised in and reared my children was one of the last two in our country where we spoke our language past to us through the generations.  Today there are no communities which-remain where Maori is the first language or has not suffered from the disruption to our traditional intergenerational language transmission. 

In our community, we survived from the land, the forest, and water. We grew and foraged for our food, lived and worked collectively, shared the care of our children and elders, and relied on nature to provide us our ‘medicine’ to heal us and keep us well. We loved each other without judgment and respected the natural world for the abundance it provided for our survival.

I introduce myself from this place because it has defined my whole life as Tangata Whenua (person from the land) here in Aotearoa.  I also begin with language and customs because I believe (as do many other elders here in Aotearoa) that the loss of language and culture is akin to the loss of biodiversity and climate change.  First and foremost our solutions to biodiversity and climate change are in the codes and messages of our language and customs.  When I think about colonization, one of the greatest losses to my people has been the colonization of our language and customs enabling the appropriation of our knowledge by Europeans for their own self-interests. 

In regard to the focus of the panel discussion that Indigenous Rights and Rights of Nature are indissociable. Tangata Whenua/Maori like our other indigenous whanau (family) also believe that we are inseparable from nature. This is described in our whakatauki (proverb)

Ko au te Whenua

Ko te Whenua ko au

I am the land

The land is me

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