By Danielle Marks
Sep 07, 2018

Takatāpui and You: Young, Māori, and Queer

Lonely Tarts Club

Karanga mai e ngā tūpuna takatāpui. Anei tāu mokopuna.

Call to me, our takatāpui ancestors. Here I stand, your descendant.

Nau mai haere mai ki te wiki o te reo mō te Lonely Tarts Club. Ko te kaupapa o tāku kōrero ki tāku kaupapa o takatāpui. Ko Danielle tõku ingoa. He uri tēnei nō Te Arawa.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this is a takeover from your regular lovely wāhine (female), for a little bit more kaupapa Māori (the topic of Māori). I am the somewhat friendly neighbourhood takatāpui you’ve always dreamed of meeting and now you sort of have.

Takatāpui is a term, translated as “an intimate companionship of the same sex”, which hasn’t been used for decades. Something that always spoke out to me was the pressures of identifying with the rainbow community as someone as intersectional as me.

Who would have thought that colonisation would have such an impact?

The most profound information about pre-colonisation is that there were indeed Māori who were intimate with each other; with the same sex. Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and Dr Elizabeth Kerekere have examined the diverse sexualities and gender expression of Te Ao Māori (the Māori worldview) and why they aren’t as well known, post-colonisation. What blew my mind was that Tūtānekai, an ancestor of Te Arawa, was known for having intimate relationships with a male named Tiki. Bet the colonists thought they could hide that knowledge from the gays. Alas, like any good queer, our gaydar reaches far beyond what is in front of us.

Nothing feels better than having your culture and sexuality combine in your identity like it does for rangatahi (youth) like me. Figuring your label is hard enough when you are fed European terms, but it’s part of our history; having whanau (family) who are takatāpui. Reclaiming what has been lost is nothing less than invigorating, and I hope that we continue to develop our mātauranga (knowledge) to progress in occupying a part of the community.

 Do not be fooled by what society has shaped us to think. We have the mana of so many before us who have fought to keep this kaupapa alive. There are people out there, just like you. People who have struggled with conflicting opinions. We are here for you.

 In times of trouble, we look into ourselves, to our true selves and find the mana in our whakapapa (genealogy), our tūpuna (ancestors), and our whānau (family). Once we realise this, we are stronger than ever. Before I go back to my life fighting against societal norms quietly, I will leave you with a whakataukī (proverb) fitting for this kōrero (address).

Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria.

My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.


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