Nāku te rourou nāu te rourou ka ora ai te iwi

"With your basket and my basket the people will live." This whakataukī or proverb refers to co-operation and the combination of resources to get ahead. This beautiful Māori proverb is representative of our initiatives bringing people and businesses together between Latin America and New Zealand for the well-being and prosperity of relevant peoples and nations. 

The Latin America CAPE team has encountered some incredible people through our projects, and we'd love to share their stories with our readers. This month, we chatted with Lyric Bird, who travelled to Chile for the Strengthening Māori Business Capability programme with the University of Waikato Te Hononga-ā-Kiwa (THK) programme and the Latin America CAPE, and is now interning with Contact Energy in Wellington.

While in Chile, Lyric and the broader TPK delegation visited a pou whakairo (carved column) in central Santiago which was carved by the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and gifted to Chile during the Tuku Iho exhibition in 2015. This pou whakairo has just been named Ngā Morehu, meaning “those who remain”, by the Hon Nanaia Mahuta, the Minister for Māori Development, who was recently in Chile as a keynote speaker at an indigenous women’s conference as part of her government’s inclusive trade agenda.

At right - Mikayla Apiti, Te Whakatoohea & Tainui, with the Ngā Morehu pou whakairo 

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What is your name and tribal affiliations?
Lyric Marino Bird, Ngati Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngati Porou.

What are you studying, and at which university?
I am a fourth-year student at the University of Otago, studying towards a Master's degree in Indigenous Studies.

What was the Latin America CAPE programme you participated in and where did you go?
I was lucky to be selected as part of the rangatahi Māori delegation that traveled to Chile in November 2019 for the Strengthening Māori Business trip lead by the University of Waikato in collaboration with the Latin America CAPE.

What was the focus of the programme?
The main focus of this kaupapa was learning about the relationships and connections as to how Chile operates business in their country, the ties they have with New Zealand, and the potential to push for Indigenous business programmes, initiaives and establishments. There was also a main focus on one of the indigenous peoples of Chile, the Mapuche. We were very fortunate to spend time with the tangata whenua (Mapu means land and che means people), and learn about their history, their stories and their hopes and aspirations for their people in the future. The creation of an Indigenous Business Centre in Santiago is an exciting development that we experienced.

What were some key learnings for you?
One of the biggest learnings I took away from this trip was a greater appreciation for where Māori are in terms of Indigenous development and movement. Being in Chile made me realise what Māori being at the forefront of Indigenous change looked like. We are the example for many of our whānau from other iwi and it was very warming seeing how we influence other indigenous peoples across the globe.

How are you applying that learning now?
I must say being in Chile was the trip of a lifetime. Absolutely life changing in terms of me putting my life in perspective. The connections made with the New Zealand Embassy, Mapuche people and other businesses is definitely a great connection to have for future reference. The name of our kaupapa was ‘Te Hononga a Kiwa’. Coming back to New Zealand, I was able to make hononga (the connection) with my summer internship at Contact Energy, Wellington with one of the elders from the Mapuche tribe, looking at geothermal planning and renewable energy. Being able to make connections like this after the trip is a testament to the value and importance of exchanges like this. It all lines up at the end of the day.

Lyric Bird.jpg

What would you say to other young people about your experience in Latin America?

I encourage all rangatahi Māori and young people globally to strive for kaupapa like this. The experiences are life changing, you are vulnerable to seeing things you may have not seen at home. It is also an opportunity for you to share the knowledge you have with other iwi taketake (indigenous peoples) and vice versa. Be fearless and hungry to learn, seek to understand the reality of other iwi taketake and challenge yourself to see what you can do in the now for the betterment of the future.

Lyric Bird with Diego Ancalao,
Mapuche academic and political figure

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