On the 23rd of September last year Jacinda Ardern was elected Prime Minister of New Zealand. I remember watching the tv holding my friends hand, hoping that NZ would make the right choice and vote for change. We erupted into cheers when we found out the result, and I couldn’t have been prouder in that moment to be a young female Maori woman with the new government.
Jacinda is incredible. She has made many visits to my school throughout her career as a politician and spanning back to when I was probably 9 until now, each time she has presented a speech, I have been completely captivated by her. She embodies so many things the typical politician doesn’t entail. She herself said that the common image that pops into peoples’ heads when they think about politicians is a middle aged white man. She is so far from that. Among many other things, she is a small town girl, she is young therefore she is relatable to us rangatahi Maori, she is a feminist, advocates for Maori issues, and is ready to combat the homeless crisis in NZ.
When she announced her pregnancy in January this year, I decided I liked her even more. She was breaking stereotypes by proving that a woman, pregnant or not, can work and do just as good a job, if not better, than men. This is changing what it means for a woman to work in NZ and I’m hoping it’ll begin to break down some of those engrained sexist walls that have been built within our society.
At the commonwealth governments meeting, Jacinda wore a korowai. Korowai are traditional Maori cloak that are gifted on special occasions to people in Te Ao Maori. They are sacred, and represent mana (strength), rangatiratanga (power) and aroha (love). A hapu (pregnant) woman wearing a korowai in Buckingham palace was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen a NZ politician do. She was a flawless representation of where us as a nation are heading in terms of becoming more accepting of diversity, breaking gender roles and abolishing racism.
Jacinda Ardern is leading the country with her mana wahine (female power) and I am so excited to see how Aotearoa changes under her strong leadership.
About Matariki Star Holland Bennett
Matariki is a 15 year old Maori & Pakeha student attending Nga Puna o Waiorea School in Auckland city. As well as a writer she is also a poet and has performed her own work at the ‘Auckland Speaks’ National Poetry Day, NZ Poetry Conference and the ‘WORD: The FrontLine’ inter – NZ high school slam poetry competition n 2017.
Like her father the award winning film maker Michael Bennett, she is also an aspiring script writer and penned ‘Huia’ a short film. Matariki is passionate about issues facing young Maori woman, her beliefs and traditions and how these come into conflict with Te Ao Pakeha (the European world). As an active performer who also performs much of what she writes, Matariki will also be linking many of her blogs with her up and coming performances.