Blog: Tangata Whenua

I had visited Central America once before. It was in 2014 and I was on a spiritual path, following in the footsteps of Māori who had gone before me.

This became evident when a Costa Rican bartender pulled out his phone to show me a video of a Māori doing Ka Mate years before in the exact spot I was standing. It only seemed right that I performed the haka too.

Me and my Māori cousins (sorry about the “all Māori are related” stereotype!) are well received in Central America – I’m often mistaken for being Latino. I rate the region for its culture and beauty.

But Pluma Hidalgo in Mexico takes the cake when it comes to that spiritual relatability between the tangata whenua of this world.

Pluma Hidalgo is something holy. Mountainous. Actually mountainous… as in you’re walking through rain clouds. It’s very green too. That rich kind of green you see in Aotearoa. The indigenous people are strong there. Their presence is everywhere. It reminds me of Wainui Bay in the far North and our holidays there when we were young. It was just us (a crew of little Māori kids) and the land – the only remnants of colonisation were the western clothes on our backs and the Weet-Bix in our bellies. You get that sense of belonging from the Zapotec people in Pluma Hidalgo, and you get very little of the colonial feel you get in places like Mexico City. I related to this very natural setting. It was like coming home.

Working with The Lucy Foundation opened my eyes to the virtues of living off the land, which is something my whanau from Ngati-Maru did in post-war Thames. The similarities are strong as far as hunting and what not, but they have something else that grows naturally there too, something that gives you a buzz … coffee.

I worked on one of their coffee farms and felt pretty chuffed as we cut down a mini banana tree forest to clear the land. One or two slices per tree. Their trunks are like butter, all gooey and wet. It’s freaky stuff! We also spotted eagles, a snake and some devilish looking ants. We collected a bunch of bananas to take home for brekky too! The crazy thing for me was how similar and dissimilar the experience was. Minus all the dangerous animals the process was the same. A little sweat, effort, foresight and positive intent, and in a bit of time you’ll get some high-quality coffee beans. It’s the same here as it is there and anywhere people live off the land. It’s a simple principle, but it’s special. It’s how we survive.

I was extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to partake in a cultural exchange with the Zapotec people of Pluma Hidalgo.

To me the fundamental key to a cultural exchange is the sharing. What I want for young Māori, is for those with an interest in indigenous culture and living off the land to come on board and share their culture with these people and learn about Zapotec culture in return.

The Lucy Foundation has a base in Pluma Hidalgo where there is so much fun stuff for people to get involved in. I had the chance and I hope that more opportunities will open up… I have a few ideas so please watch this space!

Drawing of hands holding coffee beans

Yonel Watene, of Ngati-Maru, is an Auckland-based Māori artist


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14 hours ago

The Lucy Foundation

We're making more fertiliser! A mix of whey, molasses, milk, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins... this is microbiology in action. As Cata tells the team: these microorganisms are offering their life, to give more life!

This fertiliser will eventually be used to regenerate the soil where our delicious coffee grows.

Purchase your inclusive coffee beans today: www.thelucyfoundation.com/help-us-out/

#disabilityinclusion #disabilityemployment #inclusivefertiliser #Organiccoffee
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Last night Robbie Francis Watene had the pleasure of presenting at the Rototuna Rotary Club in Hamilton. The club has supported TLF for several years now. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by such kind and generous Rotarians who believe whole heartedly in the motto of 'service above self'.

On that note... did you know that TLF was born in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton)? All of our co-founders have strong ties to the Waikato, and have been working on an exciting new project to promote training and employment opportunities for disabled Kiwis in the region. Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

Buy your inclusive coffee today: www.thelucyfoundation.com/help-us-out/

#RotaryNZ #rototunarotary #district9930 #hamilton #Kirikiriroa #disabilityemployment #disabilityinclusion #thebestcoffeeofalliscoffeeforall #PlumaCoffeeProject
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It's Friday! Remember all that soil the team prepared in bags and seedling trays a couple of weeks back? Well, now it's time to plant the turmeric and ginger! Mmm, delicioso!

Support this project by donating or purchase your TLF coffee today: www.thelucyfoundation.com/help-us-out/

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Follow the recent 7.4 earthquake in Oaxaca, our team sprung into action to assist their neighbours. Thanks to the generous donations from supporters in Aotearoa New Zealand, the team were able to purchase building supplies to help fix structural damage. Here they are delivering materials to local families, which will be used to reconstruct homes. The local children were very happy to help too!

Thank you for your ongoing support. Without your donations, we could not do what we do. To donate to TLF, head to: www.thelucyfoundation.com/donate/

#community #OaxacaEarthquake #teamwork #disabilityinclusion
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2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

A lovely wee surprise to wake up to today...

TLF's Robbie Francis Watene has been named one of 30 global disability rights activists on Diversability’s D-30 Disability Impact List.

The list celebrates 30 years of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and Robbie's nomination was chosen from over 400 submissions. More information about the list and honourees is available at: mydiversability.com/d30

#D30DisList #Diversability #PlumaCoffeeProject #DisabilityEmployment #DisabilityInclusion #DisabilityRights #TheBestCoffeeOfAllIsCoffeeForAll #DisabilityRightsMonitoring #UNCRPD

[Image description: On a black background with gold confetti sprinkled from the top, gold block text at the top, “The D-30 Disability Impact List.” Below, a gold bar with text in black, “2020 Honoree.” Below, a photo of Robbie next to her name in white and their country in a gold bar. In the bottom corner, the Diversability logo in white and the hashtag #D30DisList. In the photo Robbie sits with her legs crossed. She is wearing black, has a red head scarf, and a brightly coloured Lucy Leg (prosthetic) and shoes.]
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