Publications Hana Pera Aoake


in conversation with Cristian Tablazon for Regional Assembly

“The body has always been central to my practice because I think, your body is your body. And I think especially having a child and seeing the way in which each day she looks a little bit like other people that I love and seeing the way in which she is made up of all of these other bodies that have come before me and before her. We have within te reo Māori, as a way of introducing yourself, something called a pepeha. You introduce yourself as a mountain and as a river, and you introduce your tupuna, or your ancestors, as yourself. I think I've always written about my body because it's my body, but it also doesn't belong to me. It belongs to many other beings and entities that have existed and will exist. You say, ‘Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua, ko au’— ‘I am the land, and the land is me’.

“This idea of the end of the world is so ridiculous because for Indigenous peoples, we've experienced that many times. Which end of the world are you talking about? I think healing for me—it's really having a child. I think having a child has kind of radicalised me in a sense, because I want my daughter to have these things, and my daughter will have these things. And it's just spurred me to keep going. You can’t reclaim everything. So much of our land was stolen or just unfairly sold or just confiscated, and it's going to be really difficult to get any of that land back. But there are things I can give my daughter, and I will give them to my daughter, and I will fight for things for my daughter so that the world is more accommodating for her. I think that's been the really healing part for me—having a daughter and watching her grow.

“I think healing is also related to imagining. And I think as soon as you start imagining and imagining what a world without capitalism will look like, imagining what our cities looked like—you know, the city was full of wetlands—imagining our cities with the wetlands, or when you're walking across a bitumen road, there's a waterway running under there. Some of these settler colonies have all these histories that are underneath the ground or have just been built over, but they're still there, and there's still that kind of hope there that they will be restored and that they still exist. Even if you've built on top of them, they're still there. And those histories, as long as we remember those histories, they won't go away. And that's another way of resisting that we often don't think about.”

Hana Pera Aoake