Polynesian Panthers Visit
"Educate to liberate"
On the 24th of May 2019, 02HIS and 02PAC had an exciting opportunity to meet 4 of the original Polynesian Panthers. Tigilau Ness, Will 'Illolahia, Dr Melani Anae and Rev Wayne Toleafoa taught us about their very own experiences as youth in 1970's Aotearoa. An Aotearoa completely different from now, an Aotearoa where you were targeted for just being brown and of Polynesian descent. The Panthers talked about the sacrifices they made and were willing to make to ensure that our generation would not go through the same struggles that they had to. They talked about the dark sides of fighting for what is right, the morality of activism and how it can be hard on the people involved. "There is always strength within you, you just have to know how to use it'. In Tigilau Ness's very inspirational words I would like to say that regardless of who you are, ethnically, religiously, racially, you should be proud of your ancestry and bloodline. Be happy, confident and proud in those who have carved the path for you today. People like the Panthers who have made sure that your life is better than their own.
They even touched upon the racism that still lives on today; institutionalized racism, structural racism and internalized racism. Which is an important concept for youth growing up in a multiracial society like South Auckland. The racism we face might not be blatant but it's still there. Covert racism that boxes people like us, South Aucklanders in negative limelight. They also had a discussion on internalized racism and how it is a big factor in mental ill health issues that Maori and Pasifika youth especially face. We have to learn to be able to filter out the negativity of others and be reminded of the greatness in us. Each and every one of us carries the greatness that brought our ancestors here. Here meaning our lives now in 2019.
The Polynesian panther talk was very inspirational and heart-wrenching. The raw and unfiltered stories of people, who at our age faced perilous undertakings. They are living, breathing proof of the strength that each individual has to strive for excellence. The strength to fight for themselves and their rights.