A few months ago I moved into a new place we sometimes like to call The Castle - an apartment that looks like a castle and feels like a castle, but really, it is an apartment. The girls and I hit it off straight away when I met them, much to my relief. One palagi, the other Maori.
After a few weeks I move in - someone who has been on a rather winding journey with my identity. A journey I am still on and will be for quite some time. Not too soon after that, the three of us are in the lounge talking over a few bottles of wine and the conversation moves to the harmless topic of what colour to dye our hair. All of a sudden the Maori looks in my direction and blurts out "With you, no matter how dark your hair gets, it doesn't make you look any more native than what you already are BUT ME, dark hair makes me look really native, really Mau-ree and I just don't want that look for myself".
In that moment my jaw mentally dropped as my mind raced with a myriad of questions, thoughts and realisations. Most prevalent in my mind was why I ended up in this place of all places, living with this person of all people who is intensely out of touch with who she is, out of touch with her roots and seems to be doing all she can to disassociate herself with being Maori, which from my observation is exactly what she needs most in her life. She is running away from everything I am running to.
I have no idea how my journey living in The Castle is going to pan out with a Maori in denial about being Maori and I frequently feel restless when I think about it because I know something has to give with this girl. I do not know how it is going to happen, I do not know when it is going to happen, I just know it is going to happen.
This is me - Teine 'Afakasi.
3 days ago