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Resolutions: Marama Davidson

Tuesday 7th January 2014

We asked high-profile young New Zealanders about their reflections of 2013, and their hopes and resolutions for the New Year.

Marama Davidson (Te Rarawa/Ngapuhi/Ngati Porou) stood for the Green Party in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election. She is part of Te Wharepora Hou, a collective of wāhine that aims to be a voice for Māori women.

I’d come into 2013 having a little bit of profile, but took another bit of a jump with party politics and political commentary as well. [Standing for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election] was scary and unexpected, and then a huge privilege. It was a huge learning curve. I enjoyed the hard work and the challenges. It has encouraged me to become a voice for the issues that I care about.

To me, this whole business of transforming our values as community as communities, and as a society, is what came through all of the politics, all of the issues in 2014. We need a big transformation in terms of thinking about our cultural values.

For me, that has always included collective responsibility. We’re not doing well enough at that. Protecting our future, for all people. That includes our economic future, our environmental future, and the future of our values. We’ve got a long way to go in terms of equality.

I can’t speak for all women, I can’t speak for all Maori women, but I can speak as a Maori woman, and proudly do.

When I say equality, that’s also equality of voices. Whose voices are being privileged, and whose voices are being marginalised, and what is the impact of the voices that get heard, and the voices that we ignore? Those are some big issues.

We keep getting hammered by voices that are harmful and damaging. You can lay that across all of the politics and all of the issues that are facing communities anywhere, and you can come down to the idea that we need better voices. And there are better voices out there.

When Bob Jones wrote a column earlier this year, which many people considered rape-apologist, I wrote a blog post that went a bit viral. When we don’t understand the implications of the harm that giving those voices, that’s a really big downfall, for families, for children, for ordinary New Zealanders, really.

As a mother, I felt a strong need to put something out there, for the sake of people he was harming with his words, for my own children, for the families. To be able to say “actually, we shouldn’t let this pass, as women, as mothers, as ordinary people, we shouldn’t let this pass”. But he has a huge platform. Where’s my platform?

I can’t speak for all women, I can’t speak for all Māori women, but I can speak as a Māori woman, and proudly do. I can’t claim to be speaking for Māori women, but other women can make that claim for themselves. There is a danger that I might become that “tick the box, oh let’s just get Marama Davidson in, then we’ll be right in terms of making sure we’re diverse and representative”.

I’m happy to take up that platform, but I am really clear there are lots of other opinions out there.

In 2014, it looks like it will be as important as ever to call shoddy leadership to account. I’ll be doing that as Marama Davidson the mother, Marama Davidson the social justice advocate, Marama Davidson the politician.

For Auckland region, housing, employment and transport will be really strong issues. But I would really like to keep a focus on the well-being of children.