Yes, you read that right, I am indeed writing a book. Over the past few months I have engaged in a number of conversations about Māori achievement, or lack thereof, and it has got me thinking about everything that my whānau have overcome to get to where we are today. It was not an easy road for my tupuna, my Mother, and her brothers and sisters, yet they have all worked hard to create a life which is an inspiration to myself, my siblings, and my cousins. Our paths in life were made easier by all the hard work that they put in to get to where they are today.
It is these kinds of stories that I want to collate in order to create a book which can serve as inspiration to our rangatahi. The stories of ordinary Māori who have fought hard to overcome racism and prejudice to achieve success in their chosen field. I do not intend for this to be another book detailing the lives of our leaders – the politicians, the esteemed academics, the tribal leaders. Rather, I want to focus on the unsung heroes of Māori society. Those who work tirelessly to maintain their Marae, the office worker who goes home every weekend to support his or her whānau, the entrepreneur who has created a thriving business grounded in Tikanga Māori, people who can serve as role models outside of the sporting and political arena.
While I have no doubt that socio-economic factors harm the prospects of Māori achievement, I strongly believe that academic, business, and career success can be achieved regardless of background. My whānau never had a lot of money, but my Grandparents installed in my Mother and her siblings the importance of their education. Education created the pathway to a more prosperous future for my whānau, as it did for many other Māori whānau throughout the country. That is why I am writing this book. I want to bring together these inspiration stories and create a framework on which we can work to create a more prosperous future for our rangatahi, one that does not involve them fleeing to Australia.
So my request for my readers today is this, if there is anyone you know who serves as an inspiration, put them in touch with me. I want to talk to as many successful people as possible about this project and I want to share as many stories as I can.