I wrote this piece for the “Tirohia Mai: Look at Us Now” exhibition featuring stories about the historical and modern women of Aotearoa New Zealand. The exhibition opens at the National Library next Monday 17 June.
I am straddling life again. Living in the fringes of a country that exists on the edge of the earth. I may not be born of this land, but New Zealand and I, we have a lot in common.
We are the permanent inbetweeners. Not quite white. Not quite brown. A child no longer. Not, not, not all grown up. Can’t quite decide what to make of ourselves.
Together, we are just youngish colors, bouncing – our roots pulled and snarled amongst our best intentions and the actual doing of things. Where the dissonance between our past and our future lays dormant, but not dead. Where our dreams, aspirations, ideas for a better future have neither become nor dissolved.
Sometimes I ask: how will it all end? This persistent ache for one side or the other? Perhaps it will come on suddenly one day, like hooking a fish after a long trip out to sea – and the waves, the waiting and the seasick stomach no longer matter.
But it has never been that easy. Not for the ones who came before us. And not for us now. Things can’t fall together if they don’t first fall apart.
So let us fall, New Zealand and me and all the rest of the women lingering just on the outside of it all. Let us untangle and grow wild and break into the way we ought to be. Let us throw away our ambiguities with every blossom and storm through like a southerly gale howling: we are here, we are here, we are here.