You said it

I am a strong woman. I am Maori.

This post is reader Tia Winitana’s response to our community assignment, “What makes you a woman in the world?” We would love to hear from you!

What makes me tick…what makes me me…I am one of 6 siblings and was raised on a farm where we all played a part in daily living.

Farm work (fencing, sharing, docking, drenching, shed hand, cooking) animals, horses, sheep farming, cattle and dogs.

Good honest days work we learned to live off the land. We Gathered wild foods: mushrooms, watercress, berries, fruit, seafood — catching flounder, casting nets, paua.

It was the best upbringing a child could ask for… now that I look back at the lifestyle our parents chose for us.

As a young girl though I was naive to what the outside world.

I would wonder where in the world would my little feet would take me. Hmmmm.

We were taught to be respectful. Not to answer back when spoken to. To be seen and not heard while visitors were around. To always use our manners. To finish all our chores. To be clean and dress respectfully.

Our entertainment was sitting after supper singing as a family, always singing. Telling our daily yarns over a hot drink and a batch of mum’s scones.

Quite simple really.

But

Life threw a lemon and put our family into turmoil.
An outsider broke our family boundaries and stole.

As a young girl I was molested my life turned upside down.
My parents became my life my backbone thank god I had them.

As a young girl things changed over night from fun to GROW UP. You have been introduced to the big bad world.

Was horrid what happened but what followed was worse. Police court trials ugh…
Thats a story in its self….
The community and the schools were unbelievably judgmental in a negative way.

My teachings through this time was to say a prayer.
Turn the other cheek and walk away.
Hmmm its a little hard to do this as a child when your up against adults. My parents were in continuous meetings to try resolve the bullying of all types towards me.
I trusted what my parents said and followed what they said.
Going home in tears always.

My father said stop. No more. Today you learn to protect yourself.
I don’t agree with you fighting. If you can use your words and walk away, do it.
But if you are hit and trapped defend yourself but never lay the first hit.
Oh my gosh this really scared me but I understood. Was a sad moment.

I learned to stand my ground. My father gave me my voice to speak aloud. To yell for help. To yell stop it. To yell get away from me. Thank god I could sing because those words would flow out of my mouth on a daily basis.

I fought my way through school though people who were cruel and had no care for my feelings. Adults who looked down at me.

My parents had had enough of the continuous abuse hurled at me. We moved in hope of a new start.

Another sad moment. I loved the farm.

Off to the city…

11..12 years wow BOOM…!

A New beginning!! Scared!! It’s bigger It’s faster!!

Children don’t even notice me. I’m free. Adults aren’t so mean. Grumpy yes but not mean towards me. WOW.

I withdrew into myself shy and unsure. Scared to trust not sure how to make friends.

Attractions distraction all around was overwhelming. I found my self drawn to kids who rebelled against their peers and parents. I understood their hurt and frustrations. I befriended all. I felt for them.

I wanted to become a teacher at this point so I could teach others that there are big bad things in this world.

I wanted a way to help my friends.

I moved on to high school still had trust issues. Boys never entered my head. The thought disgusted me. I couldn’t understand the girls who chased after boys lol I do now.

My past had caught up to me.
Sent out of class to the office.
Called into a room to be asked about my childhood and what had happened to me.

I said I’m fine I would rather leave it in the past. I got up and walked out. By the end of the day I was removed from school and put into foster care my father was then accused of hurting me.

Oh my god my poor father bless him. It had been a month I was allowed no contact with family I was very scared. I had no idea what these people were doing.

I saw my dad leaving the school office I looked around to see who was watching me and ran as fast as I could screaming dad don’t go.

Dad stopped in his tracks and I ran straight into his arms and said “you don’t want me dad why?”
I want to come home. Tears streaming down both our faces.
He picked me up realizing I knew nothing of what was happening.

He took me from school to the police station and told them I’m taking her home.

We explained the situation he was cleared and we left.

I learnt that some people can get things so wrong. What a nightmare.

My trust levels were nilch.
No one was going to come between my family and I again I left school.

I fumbled though my teen years.

I work in health care natural medicine. I work with all different kids of people from all walks of life.

My biggest lessons in life.

Theres always someone worse off than you.

Never judge a book by its cover.

I am a strong woman. I am Maori. I am from New Zealand.

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