The New Zealand Premier, Jacinda Ardern has made her first steps towards fulfilling her childhood promise to help the poor Maori slum children. When she was a child she was horrified that these children were barefoot, hungry and dressed in rags. Ardern felt that on a purely human level this was unfair. In her mind everyone deserved a life of dignity and respect.
New Zealand`s indigenous people, the Maoris have a rich heritage and culture. When the Europeans arrived they were driven by the false logic of the age and sought to usurp this culture. Maoris by virtue of their birthright have a deep and enduring connection to their country. This magnificent country provides the template for Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings films but for an entire community it is a place of sublime beauty. The Maoris have an elemental connection to this as it is their ancestral land.
Ardern has just announced that history will become a compulsory subject in New Zealand schools. This is just one bold initiative in her quest to boost the emotional well being of her nation. It is clear that recognising Maoris and their proud identity is a vital step on the path towards achieving a healthy state of mind. Creativity can also play a role in this process. The novelist, poet and artist, Keri Hulme comes from a mixed heritage and she has drawn from this to create her work. Her unique Maori and Celtic identity illuminates her Booker Prize winning novel, “The Bone People”.
“The Bone People” is part fever dream, part hymn, part testimony to the people Hulme remembered while labouring on a tobacco farm. At its heart it is a story of love and redemption, it honours the native people on the land. It is a literal embodiment of the people in prose. This is evident in the opening chapter,
“They were nothing more than people by themselves. Even paired, any pairing they would have been nothing more than themselves. But all together, they have become the heart and muscles and mind of something perilous and new, something strange and growing and great.
“Together, all together, they are the instruments of change.”
It is easy to dismiss our basic natures amidst this modern political discourse and rhetoric. However all of us remain a part in the story of humanity. The ragged street children deserve something greater than pity, they should be an instrumental piece in a movement of change. All of humanity, with our hearts, muscles and minds are here together to change our world.