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Foundation, foundation, foundation. When I think of what makes me strong as a Māori,

I think of the places and the people I come from. My mountain, river, waka, tribe.

Indeed, this is how Māori introduce ourselves to each other and how we learn about what people, places, and mana we are sharing the room with when we gather.

All of these are a part of our tūrangawaewae, our foundation.

Our standing place. These mea are part of the reason we are here today and

they help to make us who we are.

It’s important for all peoples to know where they come from and/or what makes them strong.

As someone who sees my tribal histories and backgrounds as a source of strength,

I call on those primarily. As someone raised in the diaspora and

with very close relationships to other Indigenous, queer, chosen family,

I also consider these experiences and these relationships

a part of my foundation and call on them as well.

When leading young people in writing workshops,

a favorite introduction of mine is to have folks think about their own tūrangawaewae.

What is it that makes one strong and keeps one going?

While it’s a Māori framework that we work with,it’s a useful tool for all folks

when it comes to thinking hard about where and what we consider home,

sources of strength, and where/who we go to for refuge.

Cultural, non-culture related, or a combination.

What and who are the places and things that have helped to make us who we are?

What experiences have helped shape us into who we are today?

In my experience, this is just one framework we can use

to think about that as well as honor it

writer's room #1

Serena Ngaio Simmons


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