On continuing to work in the chaos

Aotearoa seems a little dimmer today. The sitting government using urgency to rush through a bill ahead of a Waitangi Tribunal hearing seems so out the gate - I feel like if you wrote it in fiction, you'd be ridiculed for being too unrealistic.

6 min read

Aotearoa seems a little dimmer today. I'm going about my day, mahi and errands and groceries, in kind of a daze over what we saw happen yesterday. The sitting government using urgency to rush through a bill ahead of a Waitangi Tribunal hearing seems so out the gate - I feel like if you wrote it in fiction, you'd be ridiculed for being too unrealistic.

Everyone I speak to is having a similar reaction - it seems unnecessarily spiteful and petty to have tore down a by Māori for Māori approach so soon after it had been established - but I guess spiteful and petty is only the beginning.

I was expecting - and hoping - for a peaceful year. I'm not sure why - I knew going in it was going to be a busy one, work-wise. But I guess there's been so much additional work I didn't expect.

Last year was full on for our communities - Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull's visit to Aotearoa kicked off a surge in anti-trans hatred to new heights. We saw anti-trans disinformation hit the general election, and saw a new coalition government that included anti-trans rhetoric in its coalition agreements. Maybe I'm naïve, but I somehow - despite all that, or because of all that - expected this year to be a little easier.

I was ready for a peaceful year, and then everyone woke up and chose violence.

A close up of railing on a dock, with the tino rangatiratanga flag painted on horizontal post. The sea in the background is choppy and the clouds are grey.
Toitū te Tiriti, a stormy Cass Bay

We moved house over summer - which has to be the worst possible time of year. I had this idea that summer would be easy, with all the students moving out of their flats and not moving back til February or March - but either that piece of wisdom is no longer true, or we're just not in the same housing market as students anymore.

In the end, we moved the same week I started work again for the year - an absolutely terrible choice on behalf of the universe, thank you very much. The new whare is lovely - it's a Brooksfield, who have been building medium-density housing that isn't terrible. I told a friend about the new house, and "sounds warm and dry!" was the immediate response, which tells you everything about Aotearoa's housing market.

Dead trees reaching up in the centre of the frame against a backdrop of grey, textured clouds.
Dramatic skies in the red zone.

We're in the burbs, further from town than we were, but not quite as far as I would have expected. I've been biking more than before - the ride into town is straight through the red zone, which is a real delight. One of the first Mondays post move, I biked in, giving myself a heap of time - my bike is old and heavy, and I didn't know how long it might take. I arrived at our Monday hui a good half hour early, fresh morning summer sun, and plenty of time for a kawhe.

I've been thinking about habits - how easy it seems to drop a good habit, how easy it feels to pick up new, 'bad' habits. I feel so forgetful specifically about things that really help my mental health - I'll get some exercise, or go see friends, and come away thinking "wow, I feel great. Who would have thought?"

Wellbeing remains critical to the kaupapa, eh? At times the mahi feels like it requires burning the candle at both ends, but running ourselves into the ground doesn't help.

So, this year. The day to day mahi is incredible - we've received over 100 requests for training from primary care practitioners around the motu, have developed some real comprehensive (and gorgeous, if I say so myself) workshops, and are starting to book. This work is inspiring - to see how much demand there is makes me feel proud of our communities, proud of our country and our healthcare system.

But then everything around the work - our new government disestablishing te Aka Whai Ora under urgency this week, ahead of a Waitangi Tribunal hearing. Manatū Hauora imminently - and then delaying - and then repeat - releasing an evidence brief into the use of puberty blockers at a time where action to reduce access to gender affirming care is reaching new heights. The free speech union organising an anti-trans speaker tour in March, one year after the last one, obviously designed to stir up protest, ready with a whole campaign in response. The ongoing, seemly endless genocide in Gaza. The violent death of a trans teen in the States after a coordinated campaign in their school distract from the anti trans crowd. The sheer number of anti-trans bills introduced over there so far this year, and how quickly we're seeing that rhetoric spread worldwide. It all adds up, eh, quickly feeling insurmountable.

A large crowd marching down Christchurch's Cashel mall in support of Palestine, holding banners and Palestinian flags
Mai te whenua ki te moana - every week.

And then, yet, as always, community comes together. I wish we had more opportunities to come together for joy rather than in times of crisis, but regardless, I'm bolstered by the people around me. I remain, as always, ever hopeful, and ever grateful for the amount of aroha and awhi in our communities.

What I've been reading:

This piece from Jude Doyle is essential reading about covering trans stories, trans trauma, Libs of Tiktok, and what not to do. It's so easy to get caught up in engaging directly, and trying to catch people out, but the world doesn't follow the same rules any more - all this 50 minute interview with Libs of Tiktok has done has raise her profile. Important thinking for us in Aotearoa this year as we continue to import hateful rhetoric from offshore.

I Don’t Care About Your Brand
Nex Benedict, Taylor Lorenz, and why trans trauma is not your goldmine.

And this absolute stunner from Emily Writes, a collection of meditations for when you need it. Even if this doesn't sound up your alley, do yourself a favour and click through and read anyway - especially if you're feeling in need of some aroha.

Meditations - Take what you need
It’s raining here. It’s cold. I’m tired. Maybe you’re tired too. The world seems mean right now. So maybe we could do with a little bit of a brain break. A wee dreamy reflection! A mindful moment…. Take what you need and leave what you don’t. You are a tiny mouse. You are proud of your whiskers and your cute little pink nose. You have ventured out of your warm and cosy little home on the hunt for something to fill your furry little belly. You step out onto the hay-strewn barn floor and suddenly the breeze carries you the most delicious scent. You scurry along following it and before you know it you bounce into an enormous wedge of Gruyère cheese. It is huge and golden and all you can hear is the beating of your good and tiny heart. There is nobody around. It’s just you a little mouse with a very big cheese. You decide to nibble at the corner of the wedge. Oh it is incredible! You are overwhelmed. It tastes salty and sweet and succulent. You nibble and then chomp and nibble and chomp. Your tiny belly expands to make a place for this tremendous treat. You are little, the cheese is big, and life is perfect.

And for some more good news, this breaking from Erin Reed, who consistently does the most and works the hardest to bring us stories like this:

World’s Largest Psych Association Passes Policy Supporting Trans Youth Care By Massive Margin
The American Psychological Association, representing 157,000 members, has issued a resolution calling for an end to trans care bans and misinformation around care.

I've also been trying to get back into reading actual, proper books again - another one of those habits that feels so hard to form and so easy to break. I really enjoyed reading The End of Everything by Katie Mack, for an accessible and impossibly light-hearted look into all the different ways our universe could end. And I've just started After, by Bruce Greyson, on near-death experiences, after hearing him on Ologies - which, again, if you're not already listening to Ologies and you like the idea of people with in depth knowledge about extremely specific things, I can also highly recommend.

Kia kaha, e hoa mā. Stay well, stay safe, and keep in touch!