Waikato Wahine: Louisa Higginson

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader

This week: In this special Anzac commemorative episode historian and author Jane Tolerton talks about the role of women in the war – before Kelli uncovers the story of Louisa Higginson, a Waikato nurse who paid her own way to London before signing up to serve in Malta and Egypt.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine airs 5pm Tuesday on Free FM 89.0;
 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz or listen to the podcast right now via this link

http://bit.do/WaikatoWomen-LouisaHiggonson

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.



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Waikato wāhine: Eva Rickard

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader.

This week: Eva Rickard worked tirelessly for land rights, social justice and for the government to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine airs 5pm Tuesday on Free FM 89.0;
 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz or listen to the podcast right now via this link

http://bit.do/eva-rickard

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.

Waikato wāhine: Adele Younghusband

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader.

This week: Adele Younghusband was a photographer, artist and arts advocate who led a fascinating life – making her mark in the Waikato, Whangarei and Auckland.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine airs 5pm Tuesday on Free FM 89.0;
 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz

or listen to the podcast right now via this link
http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-AdeleYounghusband

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.

Waikato Wahine: Mary Innes

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader.

Podcast link http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-MaryInnes

This week: Mary Innes was one of Hamilton’s first businesswomen – she saved two breweries from bankruptcy and passed on a business legacy for her sons and the city.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is on throughout April on Free FM 89.0 at 5pm 📲 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz

or listen to the podcast right now via this link
http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-MaryInnes

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.

Waikato wāhine: Hilda Ross

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader.

This week: Dame Hilda Ross was Hamilton’s first politician – a National Party MP known for lecturing parents, I looked into her story to find why she was so influential, well liked and what we can learn from her story.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine debuts today on Free FM 89.0 at 5pm
📲 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz

or listen to the podcast right now via this link
http://bit.do/WaikatoWahine-DameHildaRoss

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.

Small town, no longer home

It’s been nearly 20 years since I left that town with no desire to return.  Last week opportunity, nostalgia and curiosity more than anything else led me back.  Without realising it at the time, the short visit managed to slay a demon of sorts for me as well. Upon reflection I think part of this is because my sense of ‘belonging’ has been well and truly established somewhere else.

When many of us think back to ‘how things once were’ we think of the freedom, innocence and outdoor adventures of living in a small country town.  In this respect this town had the goods and was a great place to be a kid.  We could explore our surroundings without limits.  It was safe.  But as much as we reflect in nostalgia for how great it was, I also remember the hurry to get out.

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Wyndham (population 505) is one of those towns.  It’s the type of town where everyone knows everyone.  Gossip is rife, but by well meaning, salt of the earth people.  It’s conservative Southland.  Little diversity, just white working class New Zealanders going about their life in an unassuming but flavourless way.  The only claim to fame that I can think of for the town is that according to her autobiography, Janet Frame once lived there.

We drive down every street in town (trust me, this didn’t take as long as you’re imagining), most are named after people and places of the Crimean war.  There was no body around.   No kids biking, or even at the playground. I don’t know anyone who lives there any more either.

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I was surprised how many heritage buildings there were for what had always been a small rural town.  That wasn’t something I noticed as a kid.  I was happy to see a handful of houses being restored, like ‘the Doctors house’ and noticed the Catholic church is now a private residence.   There has always been the odd empty shop on the main street, but I was astounded with how many more had joined them – and how many had been demolished.  Another telltale sign that things are quiet is seeing corrugated iron boarding up windows or rotten boards on a main street.  Like in movies.  The post office still grand, still the light pink it has been as long as I’ve known it – has missed out on the lick of paint that would have made it a landmark to be proud of.  I marveled at the main town intersection – which anywhere else would be a roundabout… here… a hodge podge of streets meeting.

I wander down some roads and reserves and reminisce about where I tried my first cigarette (which fortunately was a bad experience), saw a stash of playboys hidden in a bush, by who knows, and learnt how to start fires with dried grass and twigs.  I gazed over the fence which we used to go through to get to our swimming spot in the Mataura river.  The smell of that river has stayed with me.  I wonder how we were allowed to swim there unsupervised…  I’m struggling to remember if it’s always looked this vast.

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Finally the high school beckons…   I was astounded at how small some of the buildings looked.  At least 25% smaller than I remember.  Though in essence it looks the same.  Native wood, formica and industrial metal lends itself to a timelessness.  Of all of the buildings, it’s the school hall that conjures up the most memories.  I re-imprint the school emblem above the stage. Integrity.  The rows of stacked wooden bench seats are still there.

I think about how many people like myself are holding their breath in assembly and class so they aren’t noticed.  How many hover at the back so they might get through another day without dying more on the inside.  Surprised at the memories that flood back.  Some good… more bad.  Everything looks more overgrown on the steps outside the hall.  Did it always look like this?  So sad?  I look at the grass field.  It’s massive compared to many schools now and I vaguely remember we had the biggest field per capita.  But it was never big enough to hide on.

Which brings me to wanting to tell you this, if you’re wishing away each day like I did.  You will get through this.  I got through it.  Each day drags; hell a lunchtime can feel never-ending.  Another year will pass, then another.  Then one day it’ll be over.  You wont need to endure it to get your education, placate your parents with your attendance and get your ticket the hell out of there.  Start again.  I wish I’d known how small that school was, how small that town was so that I might have been able to understand that it didn’t define me.  It’s not my home any more.  Who you are at school doesn’t have to be who you are when you leave.  Create a new life.  As many times as you want.  Don’t like your job change it.  Don’t like your town change it.  Move.  It’s up to you.  Breathe.  Dream and Go.  Get the heck out of there, this doesn’t have to be your home.  It’s not mine any more.

In writing this I am conscious of not wanting to offend those who live in or do love Wyndham.  I know there will be many.  The opinions are my own and share how I feel about a town that was once my world. 

 

Ka mua, ka muri

Should we feel guilty for the actions of our ancestors?  Is it time for us to put aside the wrong-doings of the past? What would that look like? and furthermore, why aren’t we taught our own history?

There was an unmissable synergy between two events I attended this weekend, held as part of the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival.  The first was “Flowing water: A story of the Waikato river” which was written by Witi Ihimaera and composer Janet Jennings.  The Maori accounts had been devised by local historian Tom Roa who also facilitated a talk I attended, by historian and writer Vincent O’Malley about his book “The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000” (2016).

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The Battle of Rangiriri in Flowing Water.

Once you know what really happened here in the Waikato, what do you do?  Should we feel guilty for the actions of our ancestors?  In his book, Vincent O’Malley was careful to tell the story and allow the reader to make up their own mind; and likewise in “Flowing Water” we are told of the toil, losses and hardship on both sides.  As much as the Maori lost their land, the settlers offered a fresh start in a new country were often given unworkable land – with speculators profiting as a result.  History does repeat.  However, the truth remains that the Pakeha government, militia and settlers invaded the Waikato with the intention of taking land and sovereignty from the Maori.  Tom Roa shared a feeling the Maori held, which was of surprise and hurt at how events unfolded – “I thought we were friends.  I fed you.  Where did your anger come from?”  But is it fair for ancestors to feel that guilt?  No, I don’t think it is.

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The first book in over 100 years to tell the story of the Waikato.

Does progress mean putting aside the wrong-doings of the past to move on as one people?  No.  Understanding the facts of what happened and being free from blame, anger, guilt and defensiveness allows a level of progress where we might look at the harm of colonisation to Maori and where changes should be made to remedy that.  It involves recreating a more fair political, social, economic and environmental system.  We seem to be stuck in the cycle of continually relegating all progress to the Waitangi tribunal or to the Ministry of Maori development, instead of making it an issue for all New Zealanders to address.  We all need to be part of that process, which is why reluctance to make the Great War for New Zealand, a part of the school curriculum needs to change in the first instance.  If anything can give us hope it is that the rangatahi, the young people want to know the truth.  The best example of this is the advocacy done by Otorohanga school pupils to commemorate the Land Wars.  They had been surprised at their lack of knowledge of the Battle of Orakau – a short drive from their homes.  It seems we’ve accepted the Russian revolution and American civil war as taking precedence in our education.

Vincent considered himself an unlikely candidate to write a book on the New Zealand wars but chose to after becoming aware of the stories through working on treaty claims.  He believed the stories needed to be told outside of the court room.  Witi wanted to tell the story of our people – those that lived alongside the Waikato river and in doing so the story of all New Zealanders.  Their work offers us the opportunity to face the past and it’s from here we can walk backwards to the future – ka mua, ka muri.  

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Rangiriri Pa has underdone “restoration” and signage – acknowledging the battle of 1863.

I believe strongly in change starting within oneself, so I’ve made it a resolution of sorts to teach myself about Waikato history – and the damage of colonisation.  I have also enrolled in a Te Reo course, we are the kaitiaki of the language – without us it will die.  I’m hoping I will build enough confidence and ability to be able to pass on this taonga to my daughter – and use Maori words and terms as part of daily conversations.  I’ll be supporting events commemorating the wars – from Rangiriri to Orakau and understand the main commemoration will occur in 2020.  I will support and advocate for our history to be part of the NZ school curriculum as there is power in knowledge.  Finally – and in many respects the most difficult at a individual level, I intend to find how I as a relatively privileged, skilled person can help to unwrap the oppressive, unfair systems which I believe continue to see Maori over-represented in the worst of statistics.  It’s the least I can do.

This post is really an exploration of thoughts – and I don’t profess to be an expert or knowledgeable, so would love to know your thoughts, to help me understand better.

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