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Posts Tagged ‘war’

The Dalai Lama Story - The Making of a World Leader

Friday, August 7th, 2009

By Andrew Cowe with a Forward by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

dalai_lama_boyWhen the Dalai Lama was just fifteen China invaded Tibet and full political power was foisted on him. Despite a meeting with Mao and numerous efforts towards a peaceful agreement with the invaders, in 1959 the Dalai Lama was forced to flee his country.

Pursued by chinese troops he and his family undertook a tortuous trek to safety through the mountains, only to hear when he arrived in India the news of  tens of thousands Tibetans slaughtered, and 6,000 desecrated monasteries.

In this book the author, Andrew Crowe, meets a young Chinese tourist on the Potala Palace roof in 2002 and tells her about the Dalai Lama’s early life. The book is illustrated throughout with photographs, ink drawings and maps.


Photo of Potala Palace by Patrick

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Earthless Trees - Short Stories by Young Refugees in NZ

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Edited by Pauline Frances

trees_photo1Created during a series of writing workshops, these vibrant stories provide an insight into the lives of young New Zealanders - individuals who came to New Zealand seeking security and freedom.

The Wellington Refugees as Survivors Trust (RAS) put together 10 workshops for participants from Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. Writers Dame Fiona Kidman and Dr Ingrid Horrocks also volunteered their expertise.

Some of the stories tell of life in the countries these young people come from including disastrous situations such as war, while others are personal memories of new friendships made in New Zealand.

Our library copy is even signed by some of the authors!

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Amnesty International

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008



What do they do?

Amnesty International is a global movement of over 2.2 million people in more than 150 countries who contribute their time, money and expertise to the promotion of human rights and international campaigning against some of the most serious violations, including imprisonment for beliefs or identity, torture and killings.

How can I get involved?

Join a group (or start one) – There are Amnesty International groups in schools, universities, and youth groups. These groups campaign on all aspects of Amnesty’s work. They usually meet weekly or fortnightly to write letters, sign petitions or take action on the Amnesty website on behalf of these individuals and communities at risk.  They also organize awareness raising events within their school and community in support of Amnesty’s work, and take part in the Freedom Challenge, an annual team campaigning challenge in August (see www.freedomchallenge.org.nz for more details). Young people involved with Amnesty are consistently are rewarded with prolific media coverage for their awareness-raising in schools and the community.

Volunteer – Instead of, or in addition to, being part of a group, you can volunteer around the country, often spending time in the classroom, aiding social studies departments in their education of human rights. You can even spend time volunteering in the Amnesty Auckland office.

Apply for an internship – Amnesty’s Internship Program was established with the aim of enabling students to undertake a period of work experience with Amnesty International. It is an awesome opportunity to get involved in everything Amnesty does, and get some valuable experience. The Auckland office has its own Youth internship position.

Attend an Event – Amnesty groups run events around the country all the time, like games nights and keynote speakers. See the Amnesty website for more details.

Read a Publication – Amnesty produce high quality, up-to-date publications on Human Rights issues around the world. Expand your mind and read one today!

Sign an appeal for Action – The Amnesty website has an up-to-date list of current appeals that you can contribute to.


Monday, December 3rd, 2007

By Pip Bennett

Four months after I had first submitted my application to become an Oxfam International Youth Partner (OIYP) I was informed that I was one of the 300 youths from around the world that had been chosen from over 3000 applications to join the programme.

kaleidoscopeOIYP is a three year programme, which aims to build the capacity of the Action Partners (the name given to Youth Partners) by providing us with support and resources, and creating opportunities for dialogue, networking and learning. Our first opportunity came in October this year at Kaleidoscope, a festival where all of the Action Partners come together in Sydney, for nine days of workshops, dances, performances, art, theatre and meeting a zillion new people.

Arriving in Sydney airport, we made our way to meet the Oxfam volunteers in charge of taking us to the school. We chatted with youth from Iraq and Lebanon about the war and George Bush, which was quite humourous at times because of the jokes they told expressing their feelings about Bush and his administration. Throughout the week, the situation in Iraq was certainly a feature of many discussions with many of the youth asking those from the region for their local perspective, and it seemed that the consensus was that it was detrimental to pull out U.S forces, whether or not they should have gone in the first place.

We stayed at the oldest school in Australia, the prestigious Kings School, in Parramatta and were divided into various dorm houses. I was one of only three non-Muslim girls to stay in the Muslim side of my house. They tried to keep them separate in order to stop disturbing other non-Muslim participants while they got up early for Ramadan. Staying in this dorm was an excellent experience. Over the week I had many opportunities to discuss various topics, including religion, Islam extremists, and terrorism. The sharing of beliefs and experiences was enlightening, particularly because I have found few opportunities like this back home. There were participants from about 90 countries, from all over the world, Canada, the U.S, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Spain, Chile, and Honduras, just to name a few!

Darug PeopleThe welcoming ceremony took place on the first night, hosted by the Darug people, the indigenous people of the area. There was Aboriginal song and dance, which was responded to by various groups such as Aotearoa New Zealand, Bangladesh, India, and First Nations of the Americas. It was an incredible start to the event, and was at times very emotional.

The official opening ceremony was held on the Tuesday night, at the Carriage Works performance venue. It was a show by youth from the Australian Theatre for Young People and some members from Cirque du Soliel which had been inspired by world affairs and our applications for OIYP. Amongst other things, there was singing, acrobatics, and a young woman carefully balancing an spinning umbrella on her feet whilst lying backwards and upside-down on a chair.

WorkshopDuring the week there were six plenary sessions, along with around fifty workshops, some of which were led by Action Partners. Some of the workshops were only two hours long, while others were four hours over two days. Topics ranged from project management, indigenous rights, land rights, to access to health, access to education, gender and equality, gender and sexuality, and using photography and film. They were helpful, although complaints arose due to their brevity and lack of international or easily transferable context. A complaint from the Latin Americans was that there was too great a focus on Western culture and issues, rather than a diverse representation

There were a significant number of Spanish speakers from Spain, and Latin America, with many of them unable to speak much, if any, English. A significant proportion of Oxfam volunteers could speak Spanish, and were used during workshops as translators or at the help desk. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about Latin America, however, there were difficulties in meeting and talking with the participants outside of workshops because of the lack of linguistic understanding.

One of the special things about OIYP was the support of indigenous participants, in particular the availability of an indigenous Australian who acted like a mentor, as well as a space available for Indigenous people to meet and discuss issues, the Indigenous Forum. Being non-indigenous myself, I was invited to attend the Indigenous Forum, which was an unforgettable experience. I heard unnerving stories, particularly from the Americas, where indigenous people are constantly ignored and their identity denied.

Kaleidescope ArtWe had several opportunities to explore Sydney, predominantly in the evenings, although we did have one free afternoon. Many of us went to a salsa club on Friday night and some gay clubs on the Saturday. Art and dance was a significant part of Kaleidoscope, with Oxfam wanting to explore the power of various forms of art as a tool for development. There were large canvases for painting, dance, song, beat-boxing performances, all with opportunities to try it yourself. A particular highlight for me was watching dancers from Brazil, along with Capoeira performers.

At the end of the nine days in Sydney, although ready to return home, we were all sad to leave. The opportunity to spend time with other young people with similar dreams and goals proved to us that we are not alone in our desire to see change in the world. The one thing that we keep telling each other is that this is only the beginning of our next three years as Action Partners, and that if we want to see change, we have to do it ourselves.


For more information on OIYP, check out www.iyp.oxfam.org
For more information about Oxfam and their work, check out www.oxfam.org

All photos from Oxfam International, more here.

Talk with me: ‘Kifah’ - Struggle

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Talk With Me, a national writing competition for secondary school students, is run by the Petone Settlers Museum in association with the Department of Labour and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It was first run in 2006 alongside a major exhibition Walk with Me: the Refugee Experience in New Zealand. Kate Brooks’s winning entry is about her friendship with Kifah.

‘Kifah’ - struggle
By Kate Brooks, 17, Roncalli College, Timaru

holding hands shadow

It is ironic that the theme for World Refugee Day 2007 is ‘Voices of Young Refugees’, when in their own countries they are denied a voice and in their adopted countries they cannot find a voice through language barriers. Living here in one of the most peaceful, tranquil countries in the world, it is easy to think that New Zealand is a paradise for these displaced, dispossessed and disoriented young people. But for these young people the reality is so very different.

All teenagers need friends because when you are young, being part of a culture that is based on laughing, crying, talking and sharing life’s joys and sorrows is vital if you are to become happy, healthy, functioning adults. Sitting here, watching, listening and realising how lonely it is for Kifah makes me realise how difficult it is when you are a virtual outcast in a society that does not understand you.

Teenage refugees face special problems when being resettled. Because they are traumatised from the horror of actually living through bombs, gunfire, explosions and fire, their hearing is hypersensitive and stillness does not bring the calm and relaxation it does for New Zealand teenagers. When I see Kifah sitting, poised, anxious, waiting for the inevitable blast to go off, she looks like a tightly sprung coil, waiting to uncurl. I know that she needs me. I know that she wants to be part of my culture, but all I can do is smile at her and hold her hand and take her with me. Kifah doesn’t speak English and unlike her sister who is only seven, does not like to make mistakes. Teenagers do not like to stand out in a crowd and although she practises her English every night in the quiet of her bedroom it is hard for her and speaking in front of others is difficult and embarrassing. Kifah and I never really know what each other is thinking and unlike my Kiwi friends, I cannot give Kifah the encouragement and the empathy that she needs. I often watch, helpless, as she struggles to grapple with her new life in a foreign country.

This year New Zealanders’ celebrated Father’s Day on September the 9th. Kifah, her sister and her mother came to our house and what would normally have been a happy and joyous celebration for my family became a time for reflection. On the day Kifah’s father left home and never returned, her mother packed a few meagre belongings and walked with Kifah and her sister from Iraq to Syria. Listening to the halting English trying to describe the journey, I painted pictures in my head of the dust, the despair and the continual walking. I wondered what your thoughts are when you know you are leaving your culture, your homeland and life as you know it, behind you forever.

Kifah’s eyes have a depth to them that is fathomless. How much suffering can you ‘get over’ before you give up. I know she is strong. I know she is kind. I know she loves to laugh. But what does it feel like when innocence is ripped away by political ideology, religious fanaticism and military might. For refugees all over the world their lives are a constant battle every minute of every day, trying to cope with new languages, new food, new customs, new religions, new clothes, new climate, new houses and new prejudices.

Dear God, Dear Allah,

Give us the courage today and every day
To stand up for justice and to fight for peace.
Give us the grace to reach out to others
So that their struggle is not in vain.
Give us the wisdom to recognise
That difference is only skin deep
Inside, all humans are the same.
We all laugh, love, cry and worship the same God
In different ways.
Please find a place for all the displaced people in this world
And help the lucky few to recognise that everyone needs “a voice”.

Check out the other two winners’ pieces: Nosia Fogogo’s Happiness is Ubiquitous and Juliette Varuhas’s Never, Never .

Talk With Me: Never, Never

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Talk With Me, a national writing competition for secondary school students, is run by the Petone Settlers Museum in association with the Department of Labour and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It was first run in 2006 alongside a major exhibition Walk with Me: the Refugee Experience in New Zealand.This is Juliette Varuhas’s winning entry.

Never, Never
Juliette Varuhas, 14, Wellington Girls’ College

face of girl

A dead sinking land
Written on history’s grains of sand
A country stained forever
Because of war’s endeavour
Music, of gunfire and drum beets
War’s melody haunts our rubble streets
But to this country my name is penned
Penned on my heart till my dying end
To see my home free at last
A hope of the distant past
Never, Never

A hemisphere of smoke, red and black
Light never escapes, not even through a crack
Which weapon will kill us faster?
From war’s pallet of disaster
Young and old slaughtered
Women and men, hung drawn and quartered
Dusty eyes fall forever
Trees that bleed, they sever
To be solved on the wings of negotiation?
No, in the fires of confrontation
Terror, Terror

Camps of sickness, stench and stale food
Accompany my emotional solitude
Survivors with limbs blown away
Live to suffer another day
Others like I believe
We will never leave
What did I wrong what was my fault?
That happiness should exclude me from its cult
Forever, Forever

Never equal, never right
Now I’m to merge into the plague of white
A new country young and free
No need to be afraid, no need to flee
But there is a price, my debt to pay
To be alive this day
People are polite but never warm
Happiness has never taken form
Will I be equal, will I be right?
Or will I just stain the white?
Never, Never

Check out the other two winners’ pieces: Kate Brooks’s ‘Kifah’ - struggle and Nosia Fogogo’s Happiness is Ubiquitous.

Talk with Me: Happiness is Ubiquitous

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Talk With Me, a national writing competition for secondary school students, is run by the Petone Settlers Museum in association with the Department of Labour and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It was first run in 2006 alongside a major exhibition Walk with Me: the Refugee Experience in New Zealand.

Nosia Fogogo is a refugee from Burundi, Africa. She came to New Zealand in 2005 aged 16. She’s the overall winner of Talk With Me.

Happiness is Ubiquitous
By Nosia Fogogo

Nosia Fogogo

Unknown people, they came and took my grandfather. We did not know why or where they took him. Nor did we know what they were going to do with him. The people, their intentions and reasons were all unknown to us.

My family was known for their courage and it was also known they would be the first to get killed. They knew it too, that’s why they never tried to hide anything from me. They told me every single thing they thought I needed to know. My mother once said to my ears, “That which you need will always be what you want”. To this day, I walk around with it in my head. Her voice follows me, my shadow memory.

It’s true, I witnessed my family’s death. I know who murdered my parents, but what can I do about it? I’m now safe as a refugee in New Zealand with such freedom and peace. If I didn’t get a chance to escape, I would have been long gone. The people I saw kill my family would have killed me too. When I was hiding behind the big green tree I heard them saying that once they found me they would cut my head into four pieces and feed my heart to the dogs. They didn’t get their wish. God saved me.

I now stand safe and fearless with no one to feed my heart to those dogs. Because I was lucky enough to escape death and I now live to share my story.


I ran and ran
I cried and cried
If my day
Is to be running and crying
I would rather die in my sleep
Poor child
Happiness is no longer
Taken away
They are already at the green gate
We have no chance, no way to get out
We have no chance to save our lives
We have no time to breathe in and out
We have no way to run
Aren’t we dead?
Is this the end of happiness?
Is this our end?

They are at the front door; my parents have already decided I have to run. Both said We love you.’ I had no chance to say goodbye. I never got a chance to tell them what I felt. I now leave it all to God.

As soon as I closed the door behind me, they were inside the house asking for money and my father gave them all he had. My mother was crying. My heart started beating harder. My heart was not in its place. There was a gun on my father’s chest. There was a gun on my mother’s head. I could hear my mother crying. I wanted to scream, but didn’t. I was hiding, hiding to save myself and to tell this story.

I was hiding behind the big green tree. The tree planted by my father two years after getting married to my mother. Was it going to save my life? I heard gunshots from inside the house. I no longer could hear my mother crying. With my heart beating even faster, I wasn’t afraid of dying. So why was I still hiding? The men were screaming questions, and I heard my mother answer. They were asking for my brother and me. But he was overseas and mother lied about me. She told them I was sleeping over at a friend’s house. They were laughing, but my mother was crying. They were asking for her credit card and pin numbers, she gave them all they wanted. I heard her say, “Please, take all you want and leave me.” That “me” was her last word.

They walked out, all fifteen of them. Some had guns, others knives. They left one knife behind in our driveway. They burnt our cars. Inside, I saw blood everywhere. My father’s body was on the white couch, the couch soaked with his blood. I cried over my parents’ bodies. Blood all over me, my hands filled with blood. I looked at my mother’s body and cried out to her; “what am I going to do without you?” What was I to do? I didn’t know.

Running, stepping in the dark on the dead bodies of people I knew - my relatives, my friends and my neighbours. At the border, I washed the blood off my hands and said goodbye to my birth country. I made a promise:

I will speak
I will stand to make speeches
I will sing what I saw
I will cry out my anger
I will scurry to carry the flag of all refugees
I will swallow the soup to get the source of the sound of the past and
I will keep my promise for tomorrow

I am talking to you. I want you to hear what I am saying even though the gunshots are louder than my voice. I am calling your name. I need your hand on my shoulder. I once cried with no sound, if I let it all out now, could you wipe my tears? Tell me, why do I have all these heavy thoughts in my head? Do you want to hear it from my own mouth? It is true as white milk: I do not have to hide anything. I have lost myself and now I am trying to find my second self.

I am just a strong girl
Who came from a long way
Who has much to say and much to see
Who has lots to talk about the painful and powerful
I am not the history maker
But I am the storyteller
I will tell you what I think
You need to know
I will let you hear the voice of
The real refugee.

Check out the other two winners’ pieces: Kate Brooks’s ‘Kifah’ - struggle and Juliette Varuhas’s Never, Never .

Refugees - We are everywhere

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

By Omar Hamed

Birds FlyWhere should we go after the last frontiers,
where should the birds fly after the last sky?

Mahmoud Darwish, poet

There are 12.8 million refugees in the world!* That is about three times the population of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Refugees are people fleeing dire circumstances of war, oppression and starvation, and more recently the devastating effects of climate change which compel them to travel across the face of the globe in search of a safe home.

The number of refugees is always changing, reflecting the changing global situation; as some refugees return home, others flee new conflicts and troubles.

Who are they and where do they come from?
Some of the biggest populations of refugees globally today are from Palestine, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Flag of PalestinePalestinians
Palestinians comprise the largest single population of refugees at 4.4 million people.* These refugees were displaced in the wars and conflicts that have troubled the region since 1948 and the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Prevented by the Israeli state from returning to their homes in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, these Palestinians now live in a myriad of refugee camps in neighbouring countries, primarily Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, and in migrant communities across the world including the United States and Argentina.

Flag of SudanSudanese
The central African state of Sudan has in recent years experienced genocide and severe famine which has displaced more than 8 million people and forced 700 000 people into neighbouring countries. In Darfur, since early 2003, the Sudanese government and the government-sponsored Janjaweed militia have used violence and organised starvation to forcibly displace an entire region.

Flag of AfghanistanAfghanis
Fleeing from the Taliban, famine and drought, murderous warlords and the United States-led aerial bombing campaign in the wake of September 11, Afghanis now make up the third largest population of refugees in the world, with a combined population of nearly 2 million. Afghani refugees made headlines in 2001 when the New Zealand government decided to accept hundreds who had been stranded, after the boat they were travelling in started to sink off the Australian coast.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s role
More than 20,000 refugees have arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand since 1944, when official statistics were first collected.

Afghan RefugeesAs part of the Government’s commitment to fulfilling its international humanitarian responsibilities, we take up to 750 refugees each year under the Refugee Quota Programme, which includes up to 300 places for family members of refugees already here. Hundreds of other refugees are also accepted who claim refugee status upon reaching New Zealand. It sounds like a pretty small number, but in proportion to our population it’s one of the highest rates of acceptance in the world!

Resettlement can be difficult. 16 year old Afghani migrant Amina Lafaraie recalled it can be quite tough to fit in. In the first years after arriving in Aotearoa New Zealand, Amina found school life hard where people, “were quite awful and cruel — saying things like Fly away home!’” However attitudes towards refugees are slowly changing and refugees are increasingly being accepted as an integral part of Aotearoa New Zealand.

While some struggle with resettlement, others do not fit our criteria for asylum and are denied status and deported. In 2005, 78% of refugee status appeal applications were declined. Many New Zealanders campaign against the deportation of such people. There is currently a campaign to free five Iranian asylum seekers who have been denied refugee status by the New Zealand Immigration Service, and have been detained because they refuse to sign a form that would allow them to be deported to Iran. Amir Mohebbi is one of the five and has been detained for three years, despite having three kiwi children.

Refugee CampSolving the crisis
It all sounds a bit grim, but these challenges are not unsolvable. People across the world are working to end the root causes of displacement and to create fairer and freer refugee policies in the countries that refugees flee to. They range from the aid workers in Sudan and Lebanon who work to improve the conditions of refugees, to Palestinians, Israelis and international activists who challenge the day-to-day oppression of Palestinians. Then there are the many volunteers who resettle refugees in places like Aotearoa New Zealand and the radical global “No Borders” movement that is challenging the ever-tightening systems of border control, through campaigns against deportation centres and criminalisation of refugees.

Together these local groups and global movements are capable of creating a world that is more supportive of refugees and the challenges they face.

(*Statistics taken from Refugees by numbers, 2006, UNCHR. Total number of refugees is 8.4 million plus 4.4 Palestinian refugees who are not covered by UNCHR, but by UNRWA)

WRDLearn More & Take Action

Five Facts

  • Albert Einstein was a refugee
  • It is World Refugee Day every year on June 20
  • Pakistan and Iran currently host the largest refugee populations in the world
  • 1 in every 3 refugees is Palestinian
  • The International Red Cross reported that already up to 25 million people have been displaced by the impacts of climate change

A version of this article was originally published in JET magazine.

Māori language decline and revitalisation

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Pip Bennett

For all people, language forms an important part of culture, and plays a crucial role in daily life as a means of effective communication. The Māori language is described as a taonga of the Māori people, a special possession or treasure. Unfortunately, since the arrival of tauiwi, or non-Māori, the Māori language (te reo ) has been put at risk. This is a trend that can be seen in most colonised countries which have indigenous cultures where, in particular, English has been imposed as the mainstream language, causing a loss of indigenous language. Examples of such countries are Australia, Canada, the United States, and many of the Pacific Islands such as Tahiti and Fiji. There are also examples where the people are not necessarily identified as indigenous (even though they are), such as in Wales, Ireland, and Spain.

The history of te reo and English

maori warriorInitially in Aotearoa New Zealand, te reo was widely spoken by the Europeans, particularly in interaction with Māori, and by both Maori and European children. By the mid 1860’s, the Crown introduced legislation which began to enforce the growing assimilation attitude, with the Colonisers wanting Māori to be absorbed into the new colonial culture, and so the wearing away of the Māori people began. Māori land was removed, stolen, and its use restricted by the Crown. Schooling was enforced, first in te reo for Māori, but by 1910, in English only. Māori populations dwindled due to introduced diseases, war, and substandard living conditions. Urbanisation and the development of New Zealand’s independent economy after World War Two led to Māori leaving their rural homes, marae and whānau to work in cities. All of these factors greatly contributed to the decline of the Māori language.

How much language was lost?
The extent of the decline varies across different regions. The upper North Island, in places like Rūātoki and Northland which have higher Māori proportion retained greater levels of language for longer. Ngāti Kahungunu (Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa) reports that there are no longer any native speakers of their dialect .

Language Revitalisation
Māori language revitalisation has been a movement particularly strong since the mid 1970’s. The Ātaarangi Movement, Kōhanga Reo, and Kura Kaupapa were all established in the late 1970’s to mid 1980’s. The Māori Language Act 1987 established te reo as New Zealand’s first official language, as well as defining goals, expectations, and responsibilities of the Crown in respect to the language and its revitalisation.

little girl at schoolMāori language surveys, carried out by Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development) and Statistics New Zealand, seem to show that language levels are currently being retained, although this level is still less than ideal. Unfortunately though, there are few proficient speakers, with most of them aged over 50. Currently the focus is on the education sector but the use of language outside of school grounds is not controlled, and the Act cannot contribute to the production of fluent speakers, only regulate the level and quality of language (like how we learn grammar in English schools, to increase the diversity and skills of language we have).

Despite this, many people who support revitalisation still continue to place faith in the education system as the primary method. Nevertheless, as well as the fact that schools can only control language use inside of school grounds, other problems exist. For example, there are insufficient resources (particularly for teachers of specialist subjects such as biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics), teachers with low quality language skills, and even when teachers are fluent there can be more problems, for example there aren’t well-circulated words for school subjects, so teachers often have to make them up (some of which don’t fit into the Māori language correctly), and also because many of the teachers are second language learners, which means they also have the influences of their first language which can destroy grammatical constructions.

So what’s the future?
The next 25 years have been identified as crucial to the revitalisation effort in raising the number of native speakers. The home and the community have been identified by agencies, such as Te Puni Kōkiri, as crucial to the survival of the language. If parents and whānau cannot ensure the Māori language is protected at home, revitalisation will not be a success because te reo is not protected at workplaces, mainstream schools, or in the media in our English-dominated world. It is important to remember that Māori need to determine their own needs and wants, and require space and support for this. Everyone has a part to play in the revitalisation of the Māori. It is a part of our heritage as well as our future, and its importance needs to be reflected in our life and activities, by for example, using te reo where possible, joining a te reo language club, or going to te reo classes. If it is not used, it will be lost.


Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development)
Te Taura Whiri (Māori Language Commission)
Statistics New Zealand


If you want to be active in the revitalisation effort, try:

Ugdana’s Invisible Children

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Hanna Butler

buvuunya kidsWhile I sit at a desk and swivel on an office chair, a little known phenomena has begun on the other side of the world where night is falling and children should be getting ready for bed. Instead, tens of thousands of Ugandan children begin what has now become termed as a “night commute”. Every night, children who live in dangerous rural areas where a militant rebel group have stronghold, walk up to 20km just to be able to sleep in the safety of the city. Fear of being abducted by rebels in their sleep, and being kept as soldiers or sex slaves, easily justifies a nightly marathon. And as thousands of eyes close to go to sleep, dreaming is not likely in a world where nightmares are a reality in more ways than one.

20 years ago, a self proclaimed prophet and spirit medium started a rebellion against the Ugandan government. The Lords Resistance Army (LRA) headed by Joseph Kony began a rebellion of terror without clear reasons or intentions and until recently never made a clear statement of its political aims. The current situation in Northern Uganda - of a cultish fanaticism, ruthless military might, complimented global attention or concern- has produced one of the most evil situations in the world.

Since 1987, 95% of the population has been displaced due to the LRA. 1000 people die every week from disease, the poor living conditions and violence. There are 300,000 child soldiers in the world, and 30,000 of these are in Uganda, and they make up 80% of the LRA. Imagine an unknown town destroyed by war and populated by children turned into killing machines and sex slaves. Recruits as young as 8 are subjected to a form of warfare involving more than just guns and bombs. The LRA have become known for their atrocious style of attack, and can be seen on the faces of the people of northern Uganda who now smile without lips, hear without ears and smell without noses. Children are taught to perform terrible atrocities — including killing their families and other children — or face death themselves. Forgetting the conflict however does not deny nor discredit what has happened. The facts are shocking, hard to believe and, what is even worse, these facts very rarely known.

In a competition where war, death, horror, and exploitation are the criteria for winning, the LRA can justifiably accept second place for their 20 year war without a reason in Northern Uganda. Last year 100 international experts launched a poll on which of the world’s “forgotten” emergencies they wanted the world to focus and act on. United Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland stated, “I cannot find any other part of the world that is having an emergency on the scale of Uganda, that is getting such little international attention.” Adding that it is worse than Iraq’, and a moral outrage.

Last month the elusive Kony broke his silence and very unconvincingly blamed the atrocities of the last twenty years on groups trying to frame him, and the use of propaganda for creating his monster image. He explains that he was just trying to do as the voices had told him, and enforce the 10 commandments. Kony is now top of the International Criminal Courts warrant list and alone is wanted for 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

I have a message to give you, while you sit on your office chair, from a 15-year-old girl who escaped from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, who now makes the nightly commute while you and I swivel on our chairs.

“I would like to give you a message. Please do your best to tell the world what is happening to us, the children. So that other children don’t have to pass through this violence.”

Guluwalk site
Night Commuters in Northern Uganda by Rebecca Czarnecki


Movie: The Invisible Children and the media kit you can download
Lira: Uganda’s Child Soldiers


    • Watch the movie Uganda Rising - screening free at the Southern Cross, Abel Smith St, Wellington on November 13 and 20 2006
    • Join Hanna in Wellington 25 November 2006 in giving the message of this girl to New Zealand. GuluWalk is an international event that replicates the walks of the children in order to raise awareness and support for this crisis. Be that message of hope for the children of northern Uganda, and walk to tell their story. Northern Uganda is not the only place in the world where children live amongst war and poverty, it is unfortunately far too common, and more often that not we are in positions where there is not much that we can do. GuluWalk is an opportunity where you can “do more than just watch”.
    • For more info visit the GuluWalk site or email hanna@volunteer.org.nz