Regional | Arts

Voicing Māori issues for the world through slam poetry

Colonisation, cultural oppression, abuse, depression and mental illness- some of the issues that the four young wahine Māori of slam poetry group Ngā Hine Pūkorero are taking to the world.

The group are representing Australasia at the 2019 Brave New Voices (BNV) Youth Poetry Festival in the United States, the largest international Youth Poetry Slam Festival in the world.

Matariki Bennet (Te Arawa) says, “There are a number of issues throughout Aotearoa that afflict Māori like poverty, mental illness, depression.  Most of the time the only thing that is seen by the world is the beauty on the surface.”

Ngā Hine Pūkōrero use waiata, karakia and te reo Māori throughout their poetry to confront stereotypes and voice the challenges that their generation face.

Arihia Hall (Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Tūkorehe) says, “It's too easy for youth to be affected by depression and relinquish our culture and our language because we want to make a living in this world.”

After being crowned gland-slam champions at the Aotearoa and Trans-Tasman poetry slam competitions, the group are now fundraising to travel to LA for the BNV competition.

Te Rina Wichman-Evans (NgāPuhi, Ngāti Whātua) says, “[People] need to know that they're not the only ones facing challenges, that there are different challenges around the world, including Aotearoa...such as with Māori language and learning the history of other cultures, while our own history is overlooked,” says Manaia Tuwhare-Hoani (NgāPuhi, Ngāti Wai).

This is the first time anyone from Australasia will compete at BNV.

“We've seen the strength of our grandmothers, our aunties, our mothers, we've learnt how to carry ourselves as strong women in this world of men,” says Matariki Bennet.

The group has set up a Givealittle page to fundraise for the trip in June.