…taking notes…I think there’s something to this… 😀
CRITICAL ANALYSIS of NSW Department of Education Bulletin 55 – Transgender Students in Schools
By Katherine Deves
This article is in response to deep concern caused by the proliferation of gender identity ideology that is being taught in our schools. Bernard Lane, the investigative journalist at The Australian, is the only mainstream journalist in Australia willing to cover this contentious issue1.
In NSW, Bulletin 55 (referred to as “the document”) is the official policy of the Department of Education in relation to trans-identified (“transgender”) students. It was conveniently published in December 2019 just before the holiday break, and it is in the keeping with the IGYLO strategies designed by global law firm Denton’s for the regulatory and institutional capture by gender identity ideology lobbyists. The timing was likely purposeful in order to avoid any media scrutiny or public debate in implementing such policy and legislation that favourable to the efforts of these ideologists, as it is favoured tactic to achieve that aim when it likely would be rejected or criticised by the vast majority of the general public had they been made aware.
The document contains a number of discriminatory and alarming policies:
• It deliberately conflates ‘sex’ with ‘gender’, and omits to refer to the single-sex exceptions contained in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth);
• It continually prioritises one protected characteristic (‘gender identity’) over others, contrary to Commonwealth sex discrimination legislation;
• It fails to satisfy Australia’s international treaty obligations under CEDAW Art.10 in relation to education;
• It fails to meet basic safeguarding requirements by promoting mixed-sex changing rooms and residential accommodation;
• It treats concerned parents as a safeguarding risk;
• It disregards the rights of all pupils to safety, privacy and dignity in single sex spaces;
• It disregards the rights of teenage girls to compete in sports on a level playing field as per Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) s 42, Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 NSW s38 and CEDAW Art. 10(g).
Reliance on Erroneous and Ideologically Informed Language
The policy begins by upholding the ideological stance that sex is “assigned” at birth. This is factually untrue, sex is observed and recorded at birth. Sex is determined at fertilisation with the absence or presence of the Y chromosome and SRY gene, with observation in utero possible from the beginning of the second trimester, and via genetic testing from 7 weeks via a blood test of the mother. The word “assigned” has been co-opted by gender ideologists from the now outdated practiced of “assigning” a sex to an infant born with ambiguous genitalia due to a Disorder or Variation of Sex Development. The current protocol for such a situation is that scans and a blood test are conducted in order to ascertain the sex of the infant, as Disorders of Sex Development conditions (colloquially known as “intersex”) are conditions that arise from either one sex or the other.
In relation to birth certificate, the document erroneously refers to “gender”, because it is “sex” (not “gender”) that is recorded on the document, and this opens up the broader implications of people being able to retrospectively alter a core identity document to reflect a factually untrue status.
The document repeatedly refers to “gender”, “gender identity” or “gender expression”, without including a definition within the document. “Gender identity” has been defined in federal legislation2, and is based on a definition promulgated in the Yogyakarta Principles3. The concept of “gender identity” is unable to be defined without resorting to circular reasoning and relies on offensive and restrictive gender stereotypes (i.e. a little boy likes “Frozen” and wants to grow his hair therefore IS a girl, instead of just being a child who may be gender non-conforming, or is simply exploring his personality as a normal part of child development), which is contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act (Schedule) and CEDAW Art.5(a) where sex based stereotypes are specifically rejected in order to eliminate prejudice.
Toilets and Change Rooms
“The need for the student to be safe is a paramount concern in these circumstances. Students should not be required to use the toilets and change rooms
2 Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) s 4
3 “[T]he Yogyakarta Principles have no legal force either internationally or within Australia. They were developed by a group of human rights experts, rather than being an agreement between States” Responses to questions on notice provided by the Attorney-General’s Department on 21 May 2013 in The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee pg. 26 used by persons of the sex they were assigned at birth if they identify as a different gender.”
This statement privileges the needs of the trans-identified student over the rest of the student body. This is particularly problematic in the situation of a male student identifying as female and then using the girl’s facilities. Girls are entitled to privacy, dignity and safety, particularly during puberty with the additional burden of managing menstruation (or pregnancy), without having to deal with a male-bodied person in this space.
There is ample evidence of girls being adversely affected at school via rebranding of female toilets as “gender neutral” or allowing biological males access to this space; there are reports of girls electing to self-exclude, being subjected to period-shaming, and refraining from eating and drinking (with a commensurate rise in UTIs).
In QLD there was a huge international public outcry when a new school in Brisbane was promoted as having “gender neutral” toilets, which forced Premier Palasczuk to step in and revert the policy to single sex provision4.
Sanctions for Objecting to Overriding of Boundaries
“If other students indicate discomfort with sharing single-sex facilities (toilets, change rooms, dormitories or overnight accommodation for example) with a student who identifies as transgender, this should be addressed through the school learning and support team.”
Our society takes great pains and invests significant time, energy and resources to educate our children about safeguarding from a very young age (particularly for girls), and we encourage them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable, intimidated or frightened, particularly by the presence of a male in a space where they are vulnerable. Yet the document completely dismisses this basic safeguarding tenet by telling children that if they raise concerns or assert their boundaries, the child who is rightfully expressing their fear or discomfort with an opposite sex child being in a confined and private space with them, will be the student who will be removed, reprimanded and re-educated to acquiesce to gender ideology because the trans- identifying student’s needs have been given priority. It also promulgates a false narrative that the male student is actually “female” and has every right to be in that
4 https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/school-life/genderneutral-toilets-at-brisbane-high- school-cause-outrage/news-story/aedcfd3787f58b943eff624c3b4b4aa8
space, essentially we are asking to children to ignore the reality of their own senses and to accommodate a falsehood despite their own distress or discomfort.
It is particularly egregious and concerning to presume that a male student should be allowed to share sleeping quarters with female students – this is a significant safeguarding issue, and completely disregards the rights of girls to safety, privacy and dignity in spaces where they may be in a state of undress or asleep.
The section completely misrepresents the protection for sex-segregated sport under Sex Discrimination Act (Cth) s42 where sports can be segregated by sex after the age of 12 years if “strength, physique and stamina” are relevant. These factors are relevant to all sports, particularly as most children have begun puberty by age 12, which is when the biological advantage of males over females is in arguably apparent.
“Most students will be able to continue to participate in competitive sport in their identified gender after they have turned 12”.
The implication is that there is presumption that the needs of the trans-identified student will again take precedence, without any due consideration for safety and fairness of the girls, and the trans-identified student’s need take priority without any application of the legislative exemptions that allow for a player to be excluded solely on the basis of sex in NSW, and upon consideration of the factors of “strength, physique and stamina” under Commonwealth legislation., the legislation is silent on either elite and community sports.
“It may be lawful to exclude students aged 12 and over from competing in certain sports at the elite level in certain circumstances”.
The legislation does not differentiate between elite or community or social sports, in fact the legislation is entirely silent on distinguishing the differing levels of sport. The safety, privacy, dignity and fairness for girls in sports, fought for by women over many decades of activism, to ensure equal participation in sport has been completely disregarded. Investment, resource allocation and media coverage of women’s sports remains woefully inequitable and has only been further adversely impacted by COVID-19.
A high-profile case is currently being heard in the US in relation to Title IX violations where the state of CT has allowed males to compete against females5, and the Department of Education has stated that any institution allowing biological males to compete in the female category is violating Title IX6.
Teaching Gender Identity in the Cirriculum
The document states that “gender identity may be discussed in many curriculum areas”, this is deeply concerning due to highly contentious nature of the topic, and it is arguing that NSW school children should be taught factually untrue and ideological concepts such as human beings can “change sex”, or “boys can be girls, or have periods” and some “girls have penises”. A recent example of this is the “genderbread” managing to find its way into NSW classrooms, despite gender identity being explicitly excluded from the formal curriculum7.
There is a case currently pending in Canada where a 6 year old girl was deeply distressed at being told girls aren’t real.8
The document goes on to state that “Teachers should treat the topic in a manner that is respectful, inclusive and positive”, however based on the current method of silencing or shaming critics of the ideology, it is strongly doubted that the opinion of any student criticising the dogma would be welcomed, and would in fact require reprimanding for failure to unquestioningly accept the ideology should they dare to critique, or even question. It is also asserted that “inclusion” in this instance, excludes girls, as by accepting this ideology they are being compelled to subsume their needs to those biological male students.
Undermining of Family Integrity and Parental Authority
The most alarming part of the document is found in Support for the extended family of the student and Reporting Requirements; if the parents of the trans-identified child do not “affirm” the child and refuse to provide “consent” to the school to facilitate the transition (“to help with decision making, planning, assessment or service provision”), the school is informed that they can rely on the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 to circumvent the parent’s rights and authority and they are encouraged to report the parents to Community Services for this “harm”.
6 https://www.nationalreview.com/news/education-dept-concludes-that-connecticuts-inclusion-of- transgender-athletes-in-womens-sports-violates-title-ix/
7 https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6157675480001 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8333507/Controversial-transgender-education-tool- Genderbread-Person-pulled-NSW-school.html
There is a growing group of concerned parents9 who have suffered already due to this policy; ordinary, caring, diligent parents whose children have come to believe “transitioning” is a solution to their problems. Many children “diagnosed” with “gender dysphoria” have pre-existing mental health issues, are on the autism spectrum or are simply gender non-conforming and would likely grow up to be gay or Lesbian if they are left alone.
Managing Risk of Harm
The document states in its introduction: “Schools have a legal duty to protect students from foreseeable risk of harm and to do what is reasonably practicable to ensure their safety”.
However, it is clear from the guidelines that the concerns and rights of girls and non- trans identifying students have been completely disregarded and dismissed. The Guidelines explicitly say “The welfare and educational needs of the student are of primary importance and should be the focus of all actions taken by the school”, It is remarkable that the needs of the trans-identified student take priority over the needs of the rest of the entire student body, to their detriment, with girls’ needs failing to be given any consideration whatsoever.
A school’s exposure to liability may be increased if biologically male students are entitled to access spaces that have been set aside for female only use when the girls may be vulnerable, asleep or in a state of undress. Additionally, it appears no consideration has been given to the known and foreseeable increased risk of injury and concussion to girls playing sports should they have to compete against a biological male.
It begs the question, who were the advisers to the Department of Education in relation to this Bulletin? Why has there been an obvious failure to consider the needs of the overall student body against those of a single or very small group of students? Why were the needs of female students ignored? Why has this policy and regulatory capture occurred with no media scrutiny or public debate, except
9 https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Australian-Parents-Questioning-Gender- 109605477037918/
coverage unilaterally in favour of gender ideology? Why were students, particularly female students, and parents, not consulted?
Recently in the UK, school districts and the CPS implementing similar guidelines were threatened with judicial review and legal action, have now been withdrawn. It will only be a matter of time before similar legal action occurs here in NSW, should these issues not be addressed10.
Bulletin 55 is an egregious example of policy capture by transgender ideologists. It is deeply concerning that such guidelines are being implemented in our schools with little oversight or public scrutiny when it has such a significant material impact on the student body, particularly girls. This has gone far enough, our children deserve better.
10 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8301769/Schoolgirl-13-wins-court-fight-forcing- Oxfordshire-council-scrap-transgender-toilets-toolkit.html https://safeschoolsallianceuk.net/2020/05/08/council-ditches-trans-guidance-on-lavatories-after- girls-victory-the-times/
“Are we letting American Universities dictate Australian cultural norms?”
On the topic of language, I was chatting to an Indian Australian woman, she found the push for the use of pronouns offensive as it was against her original culture’s norms.
Which gave me pause, I would imagine that applies to many others. In a place like Sydney, approximately 40% of the people come from other countries, cultures and are of many religions.
Not to mention the many different Australian Aboriginal cultures that have already had their cultures (yes, 290+ cultures, there is not just one) ravaged by Western traditions. Isn’t this again an onslaught by western culture conforming to traditional tendencies to homogenise expression? Insisting we conform to some new virtue signalling trend without the input from all Australians?
According to the LGBTQIA resource centre, there are at least an additional 50 pronouns for example instead of his, her or their you have cos, ens, eir, hir, yos, zir and ver. Instead of herself, you can have coself, enself, emself, hirself, yoself, zirself and verself.
You can end up with a sentence like; “Ze reminded zirself to pick up zir umbrella before going outside”. Actually, this language contradicts principles of Accessibility that the Australian government has been pushing through all its departments. Relevant principles of accessibility revolve around readability, semantics, and meaningful information. Accessibility is specifically about the language of inclusion and this language is not inclusive of all.
I found some of this language inherently disrespectful to the wider Australian population, are men to be called AMAB/DMAB? Or women AFAB/DFAB? Why is the language of a tiny sector of the population used to define the wider population? How is that inclusive or respectful when the language that the wider population has for itself, is ignored?
I was curious where this new fad came from, I researched the card below. As I suspected it came out of a University department. <insert eye roll emoji?>. The card below “came out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee LGBT Resource Centre in 2011 has been widely reproduced and distributed across the US.”
I’m guessing what happened, is some academic dude probably in Philosophy thought he’d be clever, with nothing better to do; writing a dumb blog post, which got picked up by someone else and that was put in a book or paper. From the look of the ‘words’ most likely the author/s were into D&D or did futuristic fantasy role play in his/her spare time. Language making or (appropriating from other cultures) is often a part of that.
I found somewhere that the discussion that led to this creation was that in trying to be inclusive of women and marginalised youth (not including those of different race or religion though, of course <insert another eye roll emoji? > is that even when people say ‘they’ for themselves – (which is wrong by the way ‘they’ is plural not singular) that people think ‘male’.
Good intentions, I like it. But I don’t see how appearances are going to change that when the default setting of everything IS male. (see Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado Perez ) In other words, this was not designed to be a fix, for a deeper problem. It’s just a paint job continuing to hide a serious infection in a wood-like structure of inequality. So, it gives the appearance of doing good, without doing good at all.
So what is ‘inclusiveness’? ‘The quality of including many different types of people and treating them all fairly and equally.’ Awesome. On the 23rd October ‘Play by the Rules’ ran a panel discussion around Diversity and Inclusion in Sport, Dr Ben Gauntlett, (Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission) said: “In Australia, at the moment we really do have a segregated model for the treatment of people with disability, unfortunately, we have segregated education, we often have segregated workplaces, often we have segregated sports clubs.”
Dr Ben Gauntlett does wonderful work in the disability space. This segregated model, however, is a model my company rejects. We work with disadvantaged youth (18-22) across a range of mental and physical disadvantage; autism, bi-polar, high anxiety, migrants, poverty, gay, occasional trans, physical disabilities etc.
Each course, each class we run is a mixed bag of disadvantage. I don’t segregate those with Autism, out from those who have a history of suicide, high anxiety, live in poverty, etc. These problems are what knit our class of youth together. They all have an ‘identity’ or really more like a label stuck on them that impacts whom they’re seen to be and if they buy into those labels, limits what they’re capable of. They’re vulnerable but they learn they have each other, and though have different issues they are in the same boat.
Poor mental health for a lot of these kids is derived from an expectation of certainty in the world, and stress when they find that there is none.
They’re right, we work in conditions of uncertainty. So, in Test-Ed one of many things we do is train them to ask questions to discuss and gain clarity around uncertainty and with that clarity effectively navigate their world. We ground our mental activity in facts, reality, truth, critical thinking, and attitudes of empathy and compassion towards each other as we fail often, learn, and succeed in a continually fast-changing world.
Words and the use of words are critical in the work I do. Words must reflect how things are or have been from the evidence we find in the material world. Words dealing in the future, which may seem nebulous are words around promises and agreements and the development of trust as I keep my word and they learn how to keep theirs. And the development of trust is key.
I checked with a few of these youth to find out how they feel about this new ‘language’. For those on the spectrum, in particular, it freaks them out, it’s very unsettling. For others it doesn’t make sense, it’s confusing.
My youth and I included are a percentage of people who do not fit the mould of whatever society thinks we should be. I know from the contribution of wonderful people from the tech’ and humanities space that most Australians want my people to be happy and not demeaned. They want us to live a decent life, a meaningful life. And I would say Australians are willing to make some accommodation, some public accommodation for everyone. (Politicians suck but most Aussies I say are okay.)
Ours is an organisation that is non-segregated and diverse in the area of marginalisation and disadvantage. These pronoun practices do not respect the principles of diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion are about including ALL people, which means you poll and discuss these things in any society with all people, not have some new fad from predominantly white American Universities dictate our cultural practices.
Written by Law Graduate Katherine Deves
Main purpose of the Act is to denounce: to condemn or Censure openly or publicly
The Act creates a Civil Response Scheme within the Victorian Equal Rights and Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”):
- Non-judicial and non-elected politically appointed body
- Non-judicial therefore not subject to the rules of evidence, or practice and procedure
- Empowered to create offences
- Empowered to amend Acts (only parliament has that power)
- Redefines words (sexual orientation) and introduce ideological concepts (gender identity, sex characteristics)
- Officers are employed as Public Servants in VIC
- The powers of the Commission may be delegated to any member of staff of the Commission.
Objects of Act
The object empowers the right to denounce (i.e. condemn or censure a person openly and publicly) a natural person or any organisation for failing to acquiesce to the legislation, backed by significant criminal sanctions and substantial fines.
It is not normal legislative drafting, emotive position statements with no legal meaning are being made “feel welcome and valued in Victoria” and “live authentically and with pride”, “broken and in need of fixing”, “shortcomings”, and in the absence of evidence that such conduct are “deceptive and harmful” to individuals and the community “as a whole”.
The legislation empowers the Commission to publicly excoriate anyone who causes “serious harm” or “harm” to a person by failing to affirm their sexual orientation or gender identity.
These two concepts are defined in the legislation, but they are sufficiently broad as to be rendered meaningless (see below) and could be interpreted to be applied to any feeling a person may experience towards another person, or their name, dress, mannerism or subjective feelings about themselves.
A contravention of the Act is any conduct that is not supportive of or affirms a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
It means that if a person fails to affirm another person’s “gender identity” their employer can be held accountable, as can any body corporate that they are employed by or act for.
Suppression is not given a definition, it relies on the initial premise and fails as an illogical fallacy, and it is given sufficiently broad scope as to mean anything that does not affirm or support a person’s “gender identity” or “sexual orientation”.
The Act has extra-territorial application, meaning it can apply to conduct occurring outside of Victoria, provided there is a “real and substantial link” to Victoria such as the harm caused occurring inside Victoria even if the person who contravenes the Act is outside the State.
“Sexual orientation” is redefined as same “gender”, by doing so it erases the concept of homosexuality – same SEX attraction, and fails to define “gender”
If a person consents to treatment for their gender dysphoria, and they want assistance reconciling with their natal sex, anyone assisting them in this could be held liable
Any person is able to report another person to the Commission for breach of the legislation
The language used is archaic and medieval – they refer to “deliverance practices” and “exorcisms” s5(3)(b) and denouncement s1 in the legislation.
The scope for prohibited conduct not only covers in person interaction, but online communications s5(4).
The penalty is up to 10 years imprisonment and 1200 penalty units ($198,264.00) or 6000 penalty units for an organisation ($991,320.00) if “serious injury” is caused.
Serious injury is a legal term defined in the Crimes Act 1958 VIC s15
- Life has been endangered; or
- An injury that is substantial or protracted;
- But under this Bill the Commission is entitled to determine “serious” as it sees fit – depending on the regularity of the conduct, and in consideration of the objects of the
The penalty is up to 5 years imprisonment and 600 penalty units ($99,132) and/or 3000 penalty units for an organisation ($495,660) if “injury” is caused.
Injury is a legal term defined in the Crimes Act 1958 VIC s15
- Physical injury; or
- Harm to mental health;
- Whether permanent or
- “Harm to mental health” includes psychological harm but does not include an emotional reaction such as distress, grief, fear or anger unless it results in psychological harm
- Note: for psychological harm a mental illness such as depression, anxiety or PTSD must be established
The penalty is up to 7 years imprisonment and/or 240 penalty units ($39,652.80) if you take someone out of Victoria for the purpose of a “change or suppression” practice.
If anyone advertises about change or suppression practices they can be fined up to 60 penalty units ($9,913.20), and an organisation up to 200 penalty units ($33,044). The Commission is empowered to demand any person produce any documents and will be fined up to 60 penalty units ($9,913.20), and an organisation up to 200 penalty units ($33,044). should they fail to do so.
A corporation will be held criminally responsible for any associate who engages in conduct, if they are aware of any associate engaging in conduct, or if there is a “corporate culture” that encourages or tolerates conduct, that has the intention of contravening the act.
The Commission has placed themselves as judge, jury and executioner. They are empowered to assign authorisation for any of their powers to any person.
They are empowered to:
- Create the message;
- Conduct research to create the message
- Educate the community;
- Enforce compliance including criminal sanctions and substantial
The Commission is empowered to perform their functions against:
- A natural person;
- An organisation or corporation;
- An employer, principal, organisation or corporation who will be held vicariously liable for all employees, agents, officeholders and volunteers, unless they took steps (proven on the balance of probabilities) to prevent the
The Commission is fully empowered to perform these functions:
- Receive reports from any person about any other person or organisation;
- Request any information from any person or organisation who has allegations made against them;
- Establish the policies and procedures for reporting;
- The report does not yet have to be in any proscribed form;
- Conduct any investigation if it advances the objectives of the Act in any manner it sees fit
- If the investigation contravenes the principles of natural justice, it is allowed to do so if the Act allows for that;
- A person or organisation can be compelled to provide the information, if they fail to do so they can be fined up to $9,913.20 as a person, or $49,566.00 as an organisation;
- A person or organisation can be compelled to attend if the Commission deems it necessary and relevant;
- Although a person may refuse to do so on the grounds they may incriminate themselves;
- Establish the processes for determining the outcome;
- Determine the outcome, along with the complainant;
- The response is determined by the needs and wishes of the person affected by the contravention;
- Facilitate the outcome;
- That anyone bringing proceedings under this Act is authorised to do so;
- The Commission may take any action it sees fit in relation to an investigation and enforce compliance or any other undertaking to refrain from or agree to take certain actions;
- These enforceable undertakings will be made public;
- Determine whether the parties are entitled to anonymity or not, or whether documents or information should be released publicly;
- The Commission or anyone empowered with authority by the Commission can determine whether any information can disclosed to the public;
- This person empowered to make these disclosures must not be required to provide any document containing information the Commission deems to be protected to a court unless it is to prosecute someone for a contravention of the Act, a criminal proceedings or with consent;
- The parties can reach an “agreement” by consent to be certified and registered by the Commission which can then be enforced;
- Provide “targeted education” the person or organisation in contravention, including the principals and office-holders;
- Provide support to complainants to report contraventions to police;
- Report the contravention to any other public body or agency, including the police;
- The Commission is entitling itself to provide advice to the court in relation to contraventions of this Redefinition of Words “Gender Identity” means a person’s gender-related identity, which may or may not correspond with their designated sex at birth, and includes the personal sense of the body (whether this involves medical intervention or not) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech, mannerisms, names and personal preferences;”.
This definition is broader than the Commonwealth definition as it has removed the words “deeply held” leaves limitless scope for application.
“Physical features relating to sex” replacing the concept of biological sex, and breaks the body in parts instead of treating the human form holistically.
Sexual orientation has been redefined as:
“a person’s emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, or intimate or sexual relations with, persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender;”.
This completely erases the concept of homosexuality – same sex attraction – and replaces it with an ephemeral, subjective description that could apply to anyone’s feelings of any kind about anyone else.
Amendment of Family Violence 2008 and Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010
The practical application of this is that if a child or spouse declares a sexual orientation or gender identity, they are entitled to have a member of their family or their spouse charged with domestic violence and a bring an Intervention Order against them if they fail to affirm or support them.
The practical application of this is that the transitioning family member can retaliate against family members who refuse to support or affirm, or even remain neutral, in light of their SOGI. It will enable people to impose criminal sanctions on their families – with respect to the stories of ROGD girls, AGP males, and transwidow and transorphan survivors, it is completely foreseeable and predictable the havoc and harm these amendments will wreak on families and relationships.
- Promote the rights of LGBTIQ+ people under the law; with the passing of the same sex marriage statutory provisions people with a same sex orientation achieved legal equality under Australian
- Under our law, people claiming a gender identity or with an intersex condition are protected under the Sex Discrimination Act
- Queer is not a protected characteristic recognised or defined anywhere in Australian law.
- LGBTIQ have the right to “freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief”, if the Act is enacted, these rights will be denied to those whose conscience, thoughts or belief systems do not acquiesce to gender identity
- Egregiously, they claim to rely on human rights protections for children to be protected by society and the State: it is arguable that affirming children to set them on a medical and surgical pathway on the basis of a belief they hold that is factually impossible (that they change sex) protects
- That failure to acquiesce to, and openly criticising, gender identity ideology is “propagating myths and stereotypes about sexual orientation and gender identity”
I can’t see the Matariki from here in Sydney, OZ, but I remember it each year. I remember Claire, my pagan friend, telling me of similar celebrations in other countries (day of the dead), a time to remember those who have passed on, a time to clean up family gravestones, share stories, do genealogy, show family members in photo albums and gather the young to remember those who are gone and share their stories.
This was to be the year, I was going to visit Aunt Liz’s grave in Christchurch, New Zealand, with COVID it will have to wait until next year. She died in May 2012, our cousins her children were casually cruel never bothering to tell the rest of the family that their mother had died ‘they couldn’t be bothered’, another family member said these were her daughter’s words. It was gutting, and it wrenches my heart even now not to be able to say goodbye. More so because around that time, I had sent a parcel of pictures and a long letter thanking Aunt Liz for her influence in my life, telling her I loved her. I know now, she never got it.
Aunt Liz was a striking, slim, tallish woman, she was fiercely protective and had some part in raising me from 5-6 years old. She was staunch as hell. When my father Richard was burnt; something close to over 70% of his body caused by a petrol pump explosion, the hospital refused to give him pain killers when he cried for them. As they figured he would die at any time so it would be a waste. (He was Maori, that’s just how it goes in a white Hospital). My Aunt flew from Christchurch to Wellington Hospital, when she found out, she strode into the hospital and demanded the nurse comply. When the Nurse refused my Aunt’s holy anger gave her the strength to lift up the nurse, plant her against the wall and tell the nurse coldly, ‘you will give Richard the pain killer or you will be needing it for yourself’’. The nurse gave Richard the pain killer…And to spite the Hospital, Richard lived.
I first remembered her when I was probably about 4 or so and living at my Grandparents’ home in Palmerston North. She introduced us to porridge. I remember the look on her face when she heard that all we ever ate was cold weetbix. She would have none of that. I remember how impressed I was with Porridge. How I stared in wonder at the cream and milk floating on it. How it was warm and how the sugar fell as crystals then syrup-ed into glassy sheen on top. It was love in a warm, grey lumpy sludge.
In the main, she was strict, very disciplined, principled, and fair. Her sisters and brothers couldn’t pull her into fights with their partners, she wouldn’t take sides. She wouldn’t take sides with children fights either. If you started it, you finished it, no one would rescue you. She kept her promises, even if it was months later. The first summer, I wouldn’t swim in the Council’s paddling pool (I saw a white boy with red hair, poo in it). She didn’t see that. But she promised if I wasn’t going to swim in the pool then I wasn’t to go with them to it next year. Next year came along, and I didn’t get to go. Rather than be upset, I was impressed and comforted that promises meant something. (And I enjoyed the time on my own.)
She was truthful, and wouldn’t tolerate lies or cowardice. She taught evil was rooted in those two things; lies and lack of courage. Now much older, I’ve seen that’s true.
But she hit me often. I could avoid it if I was clear on the rules, pay attention, and keep small. I learned a lot of self-discipline and to pay attention. At 5-6 years old, my memory wasn’t always that good though. And the beatings were severe, around the end of my stay with her, for a few weeks, after dinner I would clean myself up and put myself in bed at 6 p.m to avoid any opportunity to be punished for an infraction. Still, I forgave her. One night she came quietly into the darkened room, sat at the end of the bed and told me that it was not right that she was so hard, that what she was doing was wrong. I will always be grateful for that. I had felt that it was me; I was just ‘wrong’. And it shifted something. She said she loved me. She teared up and said she couldn’t keep treating me this way. Not too long after I was sent to Petone for a brief stay, before moving to more homes.
Ten or so years later, I was 15, in and out of hospital. I was alone. I wrote to her, I don’t know what it was I said or didn’t say. But she was on the plane immediately, to visit and see if I needed to leave. She said she read between the lines and she had to come. And it was this trait, that she would drop everything if you needed her – to ‘rescue’ you from harm, I saw time and time again. I learned in time that she shaped me; I remember one night ages ago at a gathering with ex-missionaries I had served with, we were to go around the circle and describe the best trait of another in the room. A former companion picked me and said; ‘Kat will go to hell and back for a friend’ – and the others nodded. I know, that’s been one of her influences on my character.
I wished I had written to her more. I wish I knew the strong succumb to death. For some stupid reason, I assumed death wasn’t stronger than she. And she’s gone. At this time of Matariki, I mourn her.
A few years back NEC Research Institute in Princeton created an experiment in which a light beam raced through a gas-filled chamber so quickly, it exceeded the speed of light by a factor of 300.
What’s more, the light pulse appeared to have left the confines of the chamber before it even entered – a seemingly impossible occurrence according to theories of causality, which predict that causes must always precede their effects. I read somewhere that Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity holds that no object or information can move faster than the speed of light: 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second. At light speed, it would take us many generations to reach even the closest galaxies. The significance of anything moving faster is exciting because it would make intergalactic space travel possible. The experiment was discounted I think or is highly controversial, I don’t know. I think they’re still arguing about it.
Around the same time, I remember an obscure experiment in which they were able to record a faster speed of light by a new method and technology in measurement.
Which gave me this thought. If we measured something that by its nature was infinite, of an infinite number of properties, any standard or limit we discovered would not measure that thing. But only measure our progress in our understanding that thing, in relation to what we knew before.
I don’t why but for some reason, that for me is a happy thought.
(This is an experience from a dear friend of mine who passed away only 2 years ago, I came across it looking at old emails tonight – and cry again for her dear friendship.)
“A very dear friend of mine Graham was dying of complications brought upon by
AIDS. I went to see him almost every evening at the hospice if to do nothing but
hold his hand. A very special bond formed between us.
I was calm, and quiet just a comforting presence for him. One evening he said to
me “I don’t think I’ve done anything in my life” and that’s when I said “Your
wrong my friend, you have done a lot. We have worked together on many projects, I
could not have done them without your help and insight. I’ve learned much from
you and because of that, I know I have much from you to pass on to another
generation. We may not think we’ve done much, but in many ways we do.”
He looked at me in a most unusual way as if he were seeing me for the first time,
and then he smiled. He then looked toward his hospice doorway and acted as if
someone he knew had walked in, he looked at this presence that I could not see
smiled and nodded his head.
All of a sudden the energy in the room shifted, before I could hear the sounds of
the outside and hospice and was aware of people but all of a sudden those sounds
were gone. There was an unseen energy swirling around the other edges of the room
acting like a barrier against the outside world. But where I and my friend were,
there was a calmness and a peace that was so indescribable that I felt that this
is what heaven must be like.
And an incredible feeling of love so powerful began to overwhelm me and I felt a
presence next to me. I thought what is happening?? Where is the nurse?? A nurse
did come to the door but the look that suddenly came over her face was that she
could not come in, even if she tried she was not wanted in there, even to check
I saw her eyes grow large and see her throat move in that gulping fashion of
fear. But I felt no fear only love and a clarity of mind that I have never felt
before or since. I felt sorry for her because she could not join us. She backed
quickly from the door and hurried down the hall.
My friend had a look of peace on his face and he turned to me and asked “Would it
bother you if I asked you to leave?” and I said “no, you must be very tired and
need your sleep. Would you like me to come back tomorrow?”
“If you don’t mind, but call first,” he said–then he said to me “Thank you for
everything, I love you” “And I love you”
I said. I backed out of the room as he kept his eyes on me and at the door, I blew
him a kiss, and with that, he gave me a big grin as I disappeared out of the room.
I felt the presence next to me as if it had its arm around my shoulders, it
seemed to be saying to me—he’s fine now, we’ll take good care of him. I’m to
see you safely home.
I ran into the nurse at the station where she was with her co-worker she said to
me” What is happening in his room, I went to the door to check on him and I
couldn’t cross the doorway. What’s going on?” and I said to her “His friends are
with him, they’re taking him home” “But you were the only one in the room with
him” “Was I?” I replied.
Her mouth dropped open and her co-worker said to her “Your first Huh?, You’ll
come across a lot here. You’ll get used to it”
I went home had a cup of hot chocolate in milk and went to bed. I woke up
suddenly at 5:23 a.m. because I heard my friend laugh and say in my ear ” Your
right, and it is wonderful here” that’s when my eyes opened up abruptly and I
looked at the bedside clock and read the red light readout.
I called the next morning asking on my friend’s condition since I was one of the
people on his list to be given information on him, the nurse asked me if I was
sitting down and I said to her “he passed away last night didn’t he?” She
apologized and said yes he did and expressed her condolences to me and that the
the family had already been notified.
I asked if she knew what time he had passed away. The nurse replied that it was
some time between 5 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The nurse on duty had noted that he was
sleeping comfortably at 4:50 a.m. when she had checked on him. The Doctor had put
the official time of death at 5:30 a.m. when the nurse had gone in to check his
Some people would say it was my imagination brought on by strain because of his
illness or a dream. But that voice in my ear was too real. And what I felt was
There was an incident that happened about 13 years ago, that forever is included in University classes on the topic of cultural appropriation. It seems so very long ago and I am happy that people have become much more aware, but I’m a little bit sick of the reinvention of what happened at that time. That I’m reposting an old article I wrote to reference it when I come across the discussion again.
The incident was; a Mäori hacker took down a major Lego forum that encouraged the reinvention of Mäori culture and language for the sake of their Bionicle product range. There seemed to be a bit of an upset as a result of this, it was in the newspapers,(e.g. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0211/S00055.htm) radio and various academics wrote various articles dissecting the conversation. etc. Even today the incident seems to part of ongoing conversations around cultural appropriation. I wrote an article in 2002 for our Maori website, to discuss that Lego’s actions were just a little example of an ongoing larger story that is replayed.
On the Te Taura Whiri te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) website is stated the following:
“Mäori is the foundation language of New Zealand, the ancestral language of the Tangata Whenua and one of the taonga guaranteed protection under the Treaty of Waitangi. It also provides this country with a unique language identity in the rest of the world, as this is the only place where Mäori is spoken widely. In more tangible terms, the Mäori language is a powerful social force for the reconstruction of a damaged and deteriorated self-image among Mäori youth, a vehicle of contribution to society, and therefore a means of regaining dignity. Finally, human freedom is dependent at all levels of choice and diversity; linguistic pluralism can be nothing other than a guardian of individual freedom and identity against the forces of conformism.”
The core issue at the heart of this discussion is that of identity.
Who defines who the Māori people are?
Who has the right of representation of Māori cultures?
Who defines our identity to the larger world?
Is it the people themselves: the Māori?
Or is it as the American based BZPower forum insists; that it is the equal right of Americans to reinvent the Māori and other Polynesian and indigenous cultures “as they see fit”?(1)
This small story of LEGO plus the spin-off American online communities’ appropriation of Māori and Polynesian identity and resources to brand their new product line; Bionicle, is a chapter of a much larger story that replays in many places all over the world past and present. It is the ongoing story of western domination; that process of invasion of another’s territory; theft and destruction of lives, resources, the reinvention of history and indigenous identity for the sake of power, profit and the inflated image that the Dominator would present to the world.
The larger story goes like this; the Colonizer (5) has history start with his arrival. All that was before his arrival he determines is wrong, ugly, “primitive” or of no account. All that there is to remind one, of who you really are, what really was ‘so’ before the Colonizer’s arrival has been sought out, destroyed, trivialized or reinvented. The evils and injustices that the Colonizer committed and still commits are hidden minimized or erased. Mythologies, religious stories, foreign ideologies or philosophies are indoctrinated into our indigenous populations to account for this new state of affairs as being ordained or decreed by God, Science or Nature. So that the Colonizer’s way is the only standard and reference to what is ‘real’, the norm, of value, of worth or of beauty. It is a ‘one true way’ mindset that categorizes superiority or inferiority according to adherence to its norms and values only. This mentality permeates and underscores every facet of Western society, so it is predominantly an unquestioned ‘given’ from one generation to the next down to this present day.
Many contemporary Māori are alienated from their roots, they’re adrift, neither fully participant in the western cultures that engulf them, nor firmly anchored to even a memory of the ways of life that once sustained our ancestors. For those who are lost to their Māoritanga the whole of who they are is valued of little worth as accounted for by the larger society.
The first vehicle to the recovery of esteem as Māori, Polynesian, or Aboriginal people or for that matter any other human person is to recover the truth of your past. To know from who you were descended the truth of your people’s culture and teachings to really understand for yourself who you are. For Māori, it is to discover in fact a great heritage and diverse history that frees you from the inferiority mentality derived from the indoctrination of false identity. The heart and center of identity as a people and a person are family, land, and truth told both past and present. The guardians of Māori cultures, histories, and identity are in fact the Māori themselves; we alone are the authors of our cultures’ past and present. It is our birthright and our current responsibility. We reject the reinvention of who we are as a people as defined by any both past and present who so claim whether they be from America or any other country. Historically and to this day the images and identities you project onto us are false and profit you alone to our detriment.
Let’s look then at a smaller chapter of that larger story
When in 1997 the Lego Company for the first time experienced a loss, they realized that today’s kids wanted something “cool” to play with. Something that would encompass more than building blocks they wanted a story and to go with that story “they wanted neat pieces that they could use to create their own play fantasies” (2). This observation was confirmed when they introduced the Star Wars line, which took them out of the red for 1999. Lego now knew for a fact, that ‘bricks with a story’ was a great money-spinner. However they had to pay out a large number of royalties to Lucasfilm cutting into their profit margin, hence they got the idea of avoiding that expense by creating their “own” story.
In much the same way that George Lucas turned to the indigenous cultures of Asia (3) to appropriate it’s mythology and spiritual teachings as the background stories and culture of his own ‘invention’. The LEGO Company followed that pattern looking instead to Polynesia for something ‘new’ and ‘creative’ to offer the international market interweaving a story as did Lucas with elements of other cultures reinterpreted through a western perspective.
Again, in much the same way that the early dominator cultures mined the natural resources of land, sea, and air for industry and economy. In more recent times the Western world at large has discovered there is just as much profit to be had in mining the spiritual and cultural resources of indigenous cultures for its new products. LEGO is nothing if not a product of it’s own larger past.
Early 2001 Maui Solomon a Māori Lawyer drew up a letter of complaint to Lego. Although there were accusations that the premise of the game borrowed from the story derived from the Easter Islands people (who are closely related), the major complaint ccentered on Polynesian names that were used out of context and without permission. After meeting with Māori representatives, it was reported that in the latter part of that year that, Lego would discontinue the use of Maori words such as “Tohunga” (Maori for “priest”), “Pohatu” (“stone”), “Kanohi” (“mask”), and “Whenua” (“earth”), and in the future would refrain from using names taken directly from other cultures. (4)
Over a year later LEGO has made a cool £6m from the toys, plans a new range of remote-controlled ones plus a movie associated with Miramax, has cartoons, multi-media entertainment and has formed an alliance with Nike. It has not (with the exception of the word “Tohunga”) discontinued the use of all the words that they originally misappropriated. Furthermore, the BZPower forums and other Bionicle online communities continue to use all terminology originally employed by the LEGO Company and sources the entire Māori language for fantasy and role-play. The exploitation of Māori resources such as online translators designed to assist the recovery of heritage and identity of the sake of our Māori youth is used instead to fabricate and re-invent anew false pseudo-Polynesian identities for the entertainment of American and European consumers; young and old.
The administrators encourage this exploitation as an expression of American cultural values: “You[r] language belongs to anyone who wants to use it. You are not going to like this, but we in the United States, have as much right to your language as you do. We have just as many rights to use it as you do, and I know I will continue to do so as I see fit.” (Assistant administrator BZPower forum)
“Yes I condone “bastardizing” other cultures, as you would like to put it, as it is my right to and I will do so as I see fit.” (Assistant administrator)
We refute America’s ‘right’ to colonize our culture anew for the sake of profit and gain let alone this company’s. We recognise that they have no ethical right, that they are but asserting their ‘might’ as a larger bullying power to take without asking. We stand against demeaning Māori peoples lives and culture as a resource for fantasy role-play and product. We stand also against the false representation of the Māori people by such forums as exemplified by BZPower forums which follows the patterns of a vile tradition that has done generations of harm to First peoples the world over.
Last year the first and only comment made by a Māori on that forum, which expressed firstly my feelings on the misuse of Māori language was immediately suppressed. Discussion was re-opened after I challenged that act on the basis of free speech. Through the course of that debate I was informed that the rights of an indigenous person of another land to use free speech to define my culture and represent a Māori’s voice was denied:
“You have no rights granted by the American constitution. Only citizens of the United States have those rights, and your right to express your opinion here is only granted by the administration of this website, a website that you bash as unfair. Therefore you can be stopped from saying everything, because freedom of speech does not apply to you, however the administration (of which I am a part of) have given you the right to discuss your opinion.” Assistant Administrator.
Not too long after explaining why the misuse of Māori culture was wrong all commentary by myself or any Māori for that matter on the issues of Māori language and culture used by the BZPower forum users was forbidden by the administrators. Freedom of speech is not as many Americans think the unique invention of White American culture. Evidence of this was among my own ancestors and was more likely adopted into the American constitution based on the practices of the Iroquois people that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson studied. Freedom of speech as given by them is the right for ALL people to be heard regardless of race, nationality, sex, religion, or any other criteria.
After the BZPower forum was recently hacked into by an alleged Māori hacker Bzpower posted the following:
“BZPower would like to ask for the assistance of anyone within the Maori sphere of influence, who would be able to help convince the radical elements within the Maori people that such destructive behavior is counterproductive to improving that culture’s international acceptance. Such negative publicity is certain to impede anything the Maori are trying to achieve, and shutting down a forum about a toy will certainly do more harm than good in the long run.”
Frankly, no stereotyping of a people for the sake of fun and games serves anyone in the short or long term. The false representation of a culture does not render ‘international acceptance’ it suggests instead that an indigenous culture needs to be reinvented by the western world to be considered equal or of worth. The world would be a better place if America recognised the right of other people to be governed by their own people. It would be better again if the western world recognised that human freedom is dependent at all levels on choice and diversity; linguistic pluralism let alone unique systems of thoughts and ways as found in indigenous cultures ensure a diversity of human expression which stand as a bastion against the forces of conformism; represented by global commercial interests it offers a choice to what the market would profit from having you see yourself or others as.
This article has been written in response to the BZPower forums intimating that the hacker was associated with Aotearoalive.com (because of a debate I had with them a year ago), instigating an ongoing barrage of cyber attacks on one of New Zealand’s largest and most current Māori websites. Although personally, I don’t endorse hacking – I can fully understand that when an organization or a people for that matter forbids the freedom of speech of all people regardless of race or nationality and furthermore encroaches on that’s people’s wellbeing that you allow no other expression but retaliation. Certainly, BZPower can not expect sympathy that their ‘freedom of speech’ is removed when they do so to others.
The recovery of all Maori people’s identity and well being will continue; our response will be, tell the truth, both past and present of our culture first and foremost by the people, for the people without the re-invention practices of the West. Although our ability to get our voice heard is substantially less than the wider commercial world we clearly signpost authentic Māori sites under second-level domain names and interlink authentic websites off our main Māori portals. The contrast between authenticity and fabrication is immense; the first builds a people and provides tools to the wider world for a diverse array of needs that require a diverse array of solutions, the latter is exploitation for fun and the belittlement of others.
* Tangata Whenua means people of the land.
* Taonga means treasure.
* Māoritanga – Māori ways and traditions
1 “my right to bastardize other cultures as I see fit” Assistant Administrator of BZPower forum
3 http://www.middleenglish.org/spc/23.1/wetmore.htm Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.
The Tao of Star Wars, Or, Cultural Appropriation in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
One day, Tane Mahuta, the god of the forest, was walking through the forest. He looked up at his children reaching for the sky and he noticed that they were starting to sicken, as bugs were eating them. He talked to his brother, Tanehokahoka, who called all of his children, the birds of the air together. Tanemahuta spoke to them.
“Something is eating my children, the trees. I need one of you to come down from the forest roof and live on the floor so that my children can be saved, and your home can be saved. Who will come?”
All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.
Tanehokahoka turned to Tui.
“E Tui, will you come down from the forest roof?”
Tui looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Tui looked down at the forest floor and saw the cold, dark earth and shuddered.
“Kao, Tanehokahoka, for it is too dark and I am afraid of the dark.”
All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.
Tanehokahoka turned to Pukeko.
“Pukeko, will you come down from the forest roof?”
Pukeko looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Pukeko looked down at the forest floor and saw the cold, damp earth and shuddered.
“Kao, Tanehokahoka, for it is too damp and I do not want to get my feet wet.”
All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.
Tanehokahoka turned to Pipiwharauroa.
“Pipiwharauroa, will you come down from the forest roof?”
Pipiwharauroa looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Pipiwharauroa looked around and saw his family.
“Kao, Tanehokahoka, for I am busy at the moment building my nest.”
All was quiet, and not a bird spoke. And great was the sadness in the heart of Tanehokahoka, for he knew, that if one of his children did not come down from the forest roof, not only would his brother lose his children, but the birds would have no home.
Tanehokahoka turned to Kiwi.
“E kiwi, will you come down from the forest roof?”
Kiwi looked up at the trees and saw the sun filtering through the leaves. Kiwi looked around and saw his family. Kiwi looked at the cold damp earth. Looking around once more, he turned to Tanehokahoka and said,
Great was the joy in the hearts of Tanehokahoka and Tanemahuta, for this little bird was giving them hope. But Tanemahuta felt that he should warn kiwi of what would happen.
“E kiwi, do you realise that if you do this, you will have to grow thick, strong legs so that you can rip apart the logs on the ground and you will lose your beautiful coloured feathers and wings so that you will never be able to return to the forest roof.
You will never see the light of day again.”
All was quiet, and not a bird spoke.
“E kiwi, will you come down from the forest roof?”
Kiwi took one last look at the sun filtering through the trees and said a silent goodbye. Kiwi took one last look at the other birds, their wings and their coloured feathers and said a silent goodbye. Looking around once more, he turned to Tanehokahoka and said,
Then Tanehokahoka turned to the other birds and said,
“E Tui, because you were too scared to come down from the forest roof, from now on you will wear the two white feathers at your throat as the mark of a
Pukeko, because you did not want to get your feet wet, you will live forever in the swamp.
Pipiwharauroa, because you were too busy building your nest, from now on you will never build another nest again, but lay your eggs in other birds nests.
But you kiwi, because of your great sacrifice, you will become the most well known and most loved bird of them all.”
|The Legend of Rata’s Waka by Hana Weka|
Long ago Rata wandered sadly along the bank of the stream. He thought of his father who had died.
“I must bring him home,” thought Rata, “but how am I going to do that?”
He stared at the trees in the forest and said to himself, “I need a waka, a canoe that will be big enough to hold many warriors.”
He walked through the forest looking for a suitable tree. “Miro… rimu… kahikatea… Tawa tanekaha … totora. Yes., totora it shall be.”
Early the next morning Rata returned to the forest and chopped down the totora tree. He left it where it fell and went home to rest. The next day, when he returned, the tree trunk was no longer lying on the ground. There were no chips of wood lying around nor any twigs or leaves. Rata stared at the trees around him and with a start, he recognised the totora tree that he had chopped down yesterday.
The totora was growing tall and proud again as though it had never been touched. Rata was puzzled and a little fearful.
He took up his axe and began to chop down the totora tree again. The chips flew into the air and after a while the totora fell to the ground once more. Rata trimmed the tree trunk. He stripped off the bark and when the night came he returned home.
The next morning when he arrived to haul the log out of the forest Rata could not find it anywhere. All he found was the totora tree standing tall and silent.
For the third Time Rata chopped the tree ~ He trimmed it. He shaped it. He began to scoop out the inside of the canoe from the trunk. When night fell, he left the half-formed canoe and returned home.
Later that night, he took down his fighting spear.. crept out of his house and quietly stole back into the forest. As he approached he could hear strange singing and he could see light shining through the trees. He held his breath and crept closer.
Then he stared in amazement.
Birds were scurrying backwards and forwards, carrying leaves and twigs in their beaks, thousands of insects swarmed all over the log replacing chips and filling up the hollow. And as he watched, the half-formed canoe disappeared and was replaced with a smooth trunk that glowed red in the light. Then the birds scurried around the trunk pushing twigs, leaves and branches on to the rapidly forming tree.
All the while, the strange singing floated in the air above the forest. Rata could not bear to be hidden any longer. He stood up and stepped into the light. At once the singing stopped and the light went out. Rata was alone.
“Come back,” he whispered. “Come back. I am sorry I cut down the totora tree. Please forgive me. I did not mean to harm it. I just wanted to build a canoe to go and fetch my father. My father is dead and I have to go and find him. Please come back. I can help you lift up the totora tree. I’ll do anything you want to make up for what I have done.”
He began to lift the heavy tree and then all at once he felt it move, turn slowly, lift off the ground and then settle on the stump he had cut it from. Rata put his arms around the tree and said, “Please forgive me, totora, I did not think I was harming you when I cut you down.”
And as he held on to the tree, he felt thousands of little legs run over his body and on to the tree trunk. Rata shut his eyes for a moment and then very slowly bent down until he was able to pick up the little creatures and lift them into the tree.
When the dawn came, Rata was alone. The totora tree was whole again. Every little creature had disappeared.
“I shall never cut down another tree again,” said Rata
“You may,” said a voice close to him. “But you must ask Tane Mahuta, god of the forest and birds, for permission. He created all these trees and birds for Papatuanuku the Earth Mother. Ask him when you want to use any of it.”
Rata turned to see who was speaking. There was no one beside him. With a sigh, Rata turned to go home promising that he would not disturb the totora tree any more.
His heart leapt when he saw a war canoe sitting on logs that stretched in an endless line through the forest.
“Mine?” he whispered.
“Yes,” replied the voice.