Media & Updates

Episode 15

Do you know of any super/demi god ancestors? My grandmother wrote out our whakapapa by hand from memory so that it would not be lost, passed to her from generation to generation, instilled in her from a baby…she knew our genealogy way back to Maui.


Episode 14

The work of a mother is never done! We teach our daughters to love and nurture, but do we teach them enough about being assertive and strong! To not be bullied by an alpha male mansplaining or to have the skills to physically fight for your safety or having equal pay should be normal! What other changes would you like to see?


Episode 13

Sometimes living on the streets is safer for youth than foster care. The residential schools system continues today but is renamed ‘foster care’. The government kidnaps the children and gives them to a non indigenous families who don’t understand the child’s culture or way of life. They are paid to have the children live with them so in many cases they are not doing it for the love but the money. Many reports of abuse are extremely high and many are not reported.

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Episode 12

Depression is a mental illness. A person with Mental illness cannot control how they are thinking and feeling. Ways to manage depression is not always in a pharmaceutical pill. There are so many reasons why people feel depressed. It can be something so deep thats passed on through our DNA or our disconnection to our Mother Earth…there are many factors to depression. Depression is not a sign of weakness, it means you have been strong and fighting for way to long.


Episode 11

Che’s apology, he is doing the work, changing his ways. You cannot say your respect women without respecting your mother who gave you to the world and mother earth , #MMIWG. Self respect, decolonizing mind and body with good food. Food is Medicine.

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Episode 10

Super Freak? Can Kisik accept her new gifts? Can she accept Che’s old ways? What is it about this smooth young man that holds her heart? A work in progress she says but HE has to do the work? Is she lowering her standards? … Self Love, you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself <3


Episode 9

We all have a long line of incredible ancestors who are remembered by stories that (to the average person) can seem a little embellished. But not to us. Our stories are passed down by song, dance and carvings, many different mediums, so why wouldn’t we be able to fly or time travel or shapeshift…to indigenous peoples around the world…these are our true stories and superheroes do exist.

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Episode 7

Homelessness…an issue that is becoming bigger everyday. Some chose to be homeless, some have no choice. Mental illness, Social inequity, Class disparity, Historical Trauma, racism, addictions, abuse, the effects of colonization…all these factors contribute to the people living on the streets. What would you do if it was your teenager, family member living on the streets?


Episode 5

To Dance is to pray, to pray is to heal, to heal is to give, to give is to live, to live is to Dance – Marijo Moore, Cherokee. Kisik is doing what her ancestors have done since time immemorial. Dance is in her DNA, she is dance. Her music video is tight!

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Episode 4

Feeling hurt and disappointed at the colonial system of Justice. Like there is No Justice! Indigenous peoples and POC die or fill the prisons and have a long history of genocide and trauma. The girls take this anger and become motivated to raise awareness. Tino Rangatiratanga! Self Determination! Feeling heavy hearted the girls take a day at the beach to give their hurt to Papatuanuku, to Tangaroa, give it to Mother Earth to help us heal…

Episode 3

Racists! The ignorance and hate.

Feeling pumped with adrenaline at the situation the girls focus their anger into creative energy.

This unfortunate event triggered an idea for the next steps in the comic…what would YOUR Super Powers be in that situation?

Episode 2

Che’s a player but Kisik is unfazed by his games. A visit to see Nan is always good Matriarchal Medicine to find balance, grounding and take in some good ancestral knowledge. Still deciding on their Super Powers … being fearless makes life limitless …

Episode 1

Meet Kisik and Anika. Bff’s with a connection, aa wairua, aa hinengaro. Dreams are Super Powerful and Kisik and Anika, two strong Indigenous young women, have lots of them. With Compassion, Courage and a humble foundation, the girls begin to plan their Super Powers and adventures…

Child Poverty in New Zealand

For the past month I’ve had the privilege of traveling around Europe with my mum, sister and brother. I am incredibly grateful to have been able to experience all that I did, and amongst all of the positives, one negative thing that definitely stuck with me was the presence of poverty in areas surrounding world famous tourist sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum. Seeing Buckingham palace, and how lavish it was emphasised for me exactly how colonisation negatively affected Aotearoa.

Colonisation created poverty by allowing certain people to have absolute economic and social power over an entire population. There are over 40,000 people currently homeless here in Aotearoa, which is 40,000 people too many. A few weeks ago,  I wrote a spoken word piece about child poverty in Aotearoa, which I feel is more relevant now for me than ever.

Editor’s note ‘John Key’ is Aotearoa/New Zealand’s former Prime Minister, ‘King Tuheitia’ is the Maori King appointed by the Tainui tribe in Aotearoa, talk of the ‘flag’ is in relation to a national competition/referendum on a new flag design which ultimately resulted in Aotearoa keeping the status quo, ‘Nikki Kaye’ was a former government minister under John Key,


Picture this,

John Key is holding 75 million dollars in his left hand,

And the death certificates of the 150 children that died from poverty in 2010 in the other,

His heart is plastered to the union jack,

It races as his hands flick through the banknotes,

Like the toy sized bodies that are piling up in our cemeteries,

He has this inherited sense of loyalty,

To a fraudulent monarchy,

It makes him ignore the buzz of his phone,

It’s Kingi Tuheitia,

Who’s ringing for the hundredth time,

He wants to know why the leader of his country,

Salutes the queen of another,

Mr Key presses decline,

Opening up his twitter,

He retweets new flag suggestions,

Kiwi’s with laser beam eyes,

Blazing holes into the hollow stomachs of poor children,

NZ herald clickbait catches his eye,

“Kiwi kids living in poorest areas three times more likely to die”

But he’s roped into the royal families’ latest diet,

What Prince Harry eats for breakfast,

Is more important than what kiwi kids aren’t eating,

He hears a knock on the door,

Putting down his phone, he lifts his chin,

It’s Nikki Kaye,

She’s come to tell him that he should go with the silver fern flag,

You know the one she says,

The one that has a leaf for each headstone that’s being erected with another child’s name on it,

He smiles,

I like the silver fern Ms Kaye,

Except have you seen this one?

It is about the Maori meeting house,

The pae out front where people usually leave their shoes is empty,

Because the kids run around with goosebumps on their feet,

And pneumonia in their lungs,

They laugh at the absurdity,

Scheduling a wine tasting session on Waiheke for the following week,

She stands up to leave,

Her seat is still warm when he asks her about the kids,

She tells him not to worry,

She’s proposing a $160 million dollar bill to make languages compulsory in all schools,

The schools that are littered with empty lunch boxes,

That teach kids with stunted growth from malnutrition,

What a lovely idea,

Mr key praises,

He waves goodbye and reshuffles the papers on his desk,

This time he has the 75 million dollars neatly stacked before him,

The death certificates,

He’s scrunched up in his fists,

He flings them into his rubbish bin,

Playing eenie meenie miney mo with all the flag suggestions,

It’s making him tired,

His apple watch tells him that it’s home time,

He kisses the sovereignty goodnight,

As another child closes their eyes for the last time.


Hollywood North Interview with Loretta Todd

Exclusive – Loretta Todd is an Award Winning Cree Filmmaker and Mentor

I remember a time when talking to strangers wasn’t breaking a cardinal rule. People that barely knew you went out of their way to help. I miss those times because communication and good advice were more plentiful. Staying home meant your parents would invite their friends over. They’d tell jokes, perform a magic trick or start a story with, ‘Did I ever tell you the time I got myself into such a pickle I…’ If they caught you listening, they’d usually throw you some good advice to use later in life. As your path begins, the people that come into your life have the potential to leave quite an impression. I’ll never forget the day my dad told me his good friend had passed away. As he lay on his hospital bed, he turned to my dad and said, “kill them with kindness”. His candle burned out shortly after.  When my dad told me his last words, I didn’t fully realize the connotation until later in years. Considering my dad’s friend could’ve said anything else, continues to impress me.

To read the full interview with Fierce Girls creator Loretta Todd, visit the Hollywood North website here. 

A little bit racist by Matariki Bennett

Words are thrown around so often that their full weight is lost somewhere between the tongue of the giver and the ears of the receiver. There’s a grey area we all find ourselves in every now and then when it comes to racism. What is a little bit racist? What is racist full stop? Who gets to choose which words we can say and which words we cannot?

I experience second hand racism on a daily basis, meaning that the people around me are subject to racist slurs and racial discrimination while I’m in their presence. Being a fair skinned Maori definitely means that I experience ‘white privilege’, which I will acknowledge exists, but I refuse to indulge in, because I find it completely immoral and inhumane. I feel sick to my stomach when I see my friends and family being marginalised based on skin colour, despite our lineage being similar.

The racism they experience is mostly verbal. My friends are called ‘hori’ (NZ slang which degrades Maori people), ‘brown’ (which is used condescendingly, for example, I was talking with one of my mothers friends, she asked me, “are you going to be hanging out with your BROWN friends?” implying that there was a clear difference between my Maori friends and my Pakeha friends) and other terms that are far too inappropriate to mention in this blogpost.

This brings me back to the initial questions I posed – What is a little bit racist? What is racist full stop? Who gets to choose which words we can say and which words we cannot? When people call me and my friends hori, can we take ownership over that word, and use it amongst ourselves? If so, does that mean that certain people can use the word and certain people cannot?

I think that when words are used so frequently, people begin to forget the negativity and the history that is associated with that word. The word becomes less heavy and over time, it becomes a household term. Does this make the word any less racist though? If the word itself no longer offends the people it did initially, should the word continue to be deemed racist? I think that no matter how much you dilute a word, its origins must never be forgotten. I do not believe that mainstream use of any term gives everybody the right to decide that it no longer holds historical significance.

So, when my friends and family begin to reclaim words that have previously been used against them, I praise them. It takes a great deal of strength to be the victim of harassment and an even greater amount to overcome it. If their way of overcoming it is to remove the power of a word from the attacker, then so be it. They are the only ones that I think are rightfully capable of removing the offensiveness of a word, because it was them who had to suffer through the offense of it in the first place.

In saying that, I don’t think it is right for the people who haven’t experienced the trauma related to racial slurs to then use those words. The mana of the word belongs to those who understand the history of it and can use it with full acknowledgement of its impact.

About Matariki Star Holland Bennett

Matariki is a 16 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.

Social media, political or apolitical? By Matariki Bennett

I was asked how indigenous teenagers engage with social media, and I found this question confusing. Why would indigenous teenagers use social media differently to anyone else? My friend group of predominantly Maori teenagers use social media to keep up with current events, to communicate with friends and to keep others up to date with their lives. What I can conclude from this is that indigenous teenagers engage with social media just like everyone else does. So why was this question posed to me in such a way that suggests we would engage with social media in a different way?

Maybe it’s because there is an expectation to be political on Instagram. I’m often asked why I’m not more political on my Instagram, and I’ve realised that this is just not the way I have chosen to engage with my Instagram. I do interact with accounts that are political, but I personally do not post politically on my page – I much prefer being political in a real world context by having powerful face to face conversations.

I also find that performing my poetry gives me the greatest sense of personal political activism because the nature of a lot of my poetry is about human rights, Maori rights, Women’s rights etc etc. I’m not political on my Instagram because I want it to be a funny, safe space where things don’t need to get heated or political, and that’s absolutely okay! I shouldn’t be expected to be vocal about everything at all times, and on all platforms, and neither should you. I feel as though my voice should be reserved for times when there is actually a need for it, otherwise I am more than happy to just observe and learn new things from other people.

This leads me to the expectation that a lot of people have that all indigenous teens must interact with social media in a political way. It’s so powerful when an indigenous teenager can deal with heavy topics that concern them deeply like oppression and colonization online, but expecting every teenager to be a keyboard warrior is like expecting every person who loves animals to be vegan. It’s simply not a fair expectation. The most beautiful thing about social media is that it gives a voice to those that are otherwise voiceless – like indigenous teenagers – however, that does not mean that every indigenous teenager must feel pressured to use this voice at all times. I have a massive amount of respect for those teenagers that feel empowered to speak and express themselves, and I think it should be encouraged, but I also think that if an individual does not feel the need to be vocal, they should not be frowned upon.

It is important to note that in being vocal, backlash should always be expected. The most frightening thing about social media is that anyone can interact with anyone, therefore, people who disagree on certain issues can completely tear other people down and this may be the reason that some indigenous teens do not feel like they have the power of self expression.

Being vocal on Instagram is is not the only way a person can be an activist and I think expecting all indigenous teenagers to behave differently online in itself is marginalising and stereotyping them. I understand that social media is a platform for self expression, therefore it is the perfect place to be an activist and to share your beliefs, but not every indigenous person is going to want to do that, and not every indigenous person has to do that.

I am not in any way saying that I am not an activist because I most definitely would say I am, I am just saying that I have a different approach to my activism and that is completely fine. I do not feel as though my voice is any less significant or any more significant than anyone else’s just because I’m not a keyboard warrior on Instagram, in fact, I feel the opposite – I feel as though I am empowered to speak up when and if the time arises.

To reiterate my answer to the initial question, in my personal experience, I have seen that indigenous teenagers engage with social media just like everybody else. Some are activists, some are meme makers, some are aesthetically pleasing and some are just there to observe. Everybody has something to say and everybody will chose when and where to say it, whether or not that is on Instagram, it is completely up to them how they choose to utilise their voice.