In these dire times of external turbulence in the social and political arena across the globe as we are all collectively battling a worldwide pandemic, it is impossible not to feel affected also on an individual and personal level; unsettled by the news to such an extent that it impacts on our domestic and intimate lives.
In the midst of this both external and internal upheaval it is all the more important to bear in mind what kept our ancestors strong when they fought against social injustices, war and epidemics. It is perhaps particularly important to embrace mottos held as truths among certain indigenous communities and to adopt them, integrating them into our own everyday lives as words to live by.
In my own case it is not so much what people say or do that matters most but the words that linger and that historically – and up until today – mean so much to a specific group, people, or race. Having myself spent 17 years in New Zealand and proudly able to call myself a Kiwi with Swedish roots, I firmly believe in the strength and power of the Maori saying ”Kia Kaha” (“Stand Strong”).
Across Auckland, in particular, at the moment, these two omnipotent words are seen in every nook and corner of the city; there to remind people never ever to give up and to believe in a higher force; one to be reckoned with in times of despair and exasperation. But the current New Zealanders are anything but; they are stoic, resilient, true fighters like the Maori who came before the Pakeha first set foot on the soils of Aoetaroa. And their Prime Minister ̶ a female leader joined in strong leadership and conviction by female prime ministers in Germany, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark ̶ is clear-sighted, hopeful, inspirational and down to earth. These are qualities that we now all would be wise to embrace: strength and optimism through stoic resilience in the face of adversity. That is how we will triumph in these trying times and collectively stand united, just like the Maori people have done throughout time.