E ngā mana, e ngā reo e ngā karangarangatanga maha, tēnā koutou.
Welcome to the Youth Issue of Fightback Magazine, Redefining Activism.
There is a well-known whakatauki (Māori proverb) that says: ‘Ko te mahi a te tamariki, he wāwāhi tahā.’
This is often understood as meaning that the activities of children break the calabashes (gourds, liquid vessels). Some say that it is the very job of young people to test the values and beliefs of their past and present. That those broken calabashes are not always misguided mistakes, but a conscious and significant moment of clarity. A question; a prompt, a challenge to one’s surroundings. Fresh eyes on old ways, a possibility of a new vision.
As a teenager, I could count on one hand the adults in my life who were open to peering through those cracks in the gourds. Sitting with me amid the broken pieces and unanswered questions. Unafraid to have challenging conversations, and consider how strange society can look to the young. The unwritten rules of justice/injustice that you don’t find in a school book but you see and feel in the playground. Past the most frustrating phrase – ‘it’s just the way it is’ and towards ‘what will make this better?’
This issue is an attempt to capture both the wisdom and the challenge presented by young people, who are already engaging within community, activism, ideas and politics. As a 26 year old, I asked four young people under 25 to help guide the direction of this issue. Their kaupapa included ideas such as:
Asking the questions: what do we see as “real” or “legitimate” activism and why?
How do we challenge negative narratives around youth activism?
Why are older activists so cynical about youth activism and the future of activism in Aotearoa?
At the core of this issue is searching for a redefinition of activism. To do this we are looking at narratives of survival and resistance by youth under capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and homophobia/transphobia/biphobia/interphobia. We want to challenge the idea that youth are disaffected and show the ways in which they are transforming activism in Aotearoa.
This issue features eight pieces by people under the age of 25 on the topics of: the activist tradition in Aotearoa, decolonisation, colonialism, xenophobia, sexism, sex work, voting and what alternatives look like to our current political systems. This isn’t a silent peering through the cracks in the calabashes, this is an unashamed explosion. It is a multitude of thought out, planned out, felt out wero to not just our current political structures, but often, the existing forms that resist them as well. And still, these whakaaro, are only the tip of an iceberg, in a churning sea of discontent as we inherit the rising tides, global crises, swelling inequalities and deep poverty in this century.
So this issue is in essence, a challenge. The calabashes are broken, but their shards are a cause for conversation, for action, and for change. Will you sit with us and envision a new world? Will you stand with us and fight for it?
Ngā mihi aroha, in solidarity and with love,
Editing Team Coordinator
Massive thank you to the awesome editing team: Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho, Aaliyah Zionov, Sophie Mui Sim Weeber and Hugo Cordue.
- #activism – Brett Tinkle
- African Young People and The Battle of Colonialism – Joya Tiana
- Teenage Girls, Language, Social media, Activism and Survival – Ali Burns
- Decolonisation Love Song – Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho
- Whose Future Is It? Xenophobia and Nationalism on the Left – Tyler West
- WHAT DO YOU DO // OUTSIDE OF THIS – Kī Foster
- Beyond the Ballot Box – Brodie Fraser
- We Can Go Further: Alternatives to Our Political System – Charlie Prout