Kia ora koutou katoa
Ko Te Upoko o Tahumatā te maunga
Ko Wairewa te roto
Ko Wairewa te marae
Ko Ngāi Tahu te Iwi
Ko Kat Lintott ahau
Today there is a presence of split national identity. I’ve always known of my Maori heritage and I’ve always been super proud of it. However, I grew up with parents who didn’t know anything about Maori culture. But, I was lucky enough to grow up with a strong emphasis on being an independent woman and always encouraged to follow my passions. This has led me to a place today where only now at 30 am I becoming more familiar with my identity. My identity as a woman, as a tech storyteller, as a Pakeha, as a Maori, and most recently, soon to be Mum! I feel like this is representation of many people in Aotearoa, no matter where they come from or who they are. We are a very young country, and our identity is a collision between a very strong indigenous Maori culture and many immigrant cultures - predominantly of British influence.
We now have the opportunity to understand these cultures and create a country where all citizens are comfortable with their own identity within Aotearoa. We will become the country that learns from its mistakes and successes to ensure that all are equal citizens of Aotearoa.
Using the Treaty of Waitangi as a starting point, I want to focus my talk on realizing Oritetanga, or equality, that comes from Article Three, for everyone who makes Aotearoa home. There is one area that I foresee will enable all identities to be treated equally, that of Technology. Technology will allow people an equal opportunity to develop their own identity within the community. Each person from birth could be given a personal artificial intelligence. The type of AI I’m imagining would be able to communicate, help manage and access the opportunities available to every person in the country and the world. For example:
Te Ao Maori (the Maori world) would no longer be inaccessible to those who live in communities who are disconnected to their marae or turangawaewae. They will be able to connect remotely through virtual or augmented reality. We are already seeing advances in this area with many hui incorporating Skype or Facetime and with tangihanga being beamed onto the screens of people who want to participate but who cannot afford to get to their marae. One project I am currently involved with is telling the story of Mataatua and bringing it to life using virtual reality, the journeys of our ancestors from Hawaiki to Aotearoa. If we take virtual reality or augmented reality as the next step we will actually have a more similar experience to being kanohi ki te kanohi, or being face to face. Physically you might not be in the same place, but digitally you might be in the same space with your full body as an avatar that can be presented alongside others in the room that may be anywhere in the world. Technology could also be utilised to help with the revitalization and retention of Te Reo Maori.
There are a number of other applications of technology that would enable citizens of Aotearoa to be equal, especially in areas where Maori have been disadvantaged. Historically Maori have been marginalized in the education system for speaking a different language, not working as individuals, and not being strong writers. In the future, communication in education could be expressed orally, with imagery, or via writing.
There is one final thought I want to leave you with. Currently we grow up believing we live to work; our purpose is to work towards working ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ What I envisage is that in the future we grow up to understand our individual identity and that our purpose is to live, not work. Living a meaningful life through being content with our individual identity, our identity within our communities, our Aotearoa identity and our identity in the world, will ensure individuals are empowered to contribute to society as their best self and contribute towards our optimistic future.
No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.