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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2 days ago

The Lucy Foundation

Last weekend our teams in Mexico and Aotearoa caught up over Whatsapp. How amazing is technology!? As our Kiwi crew settle into Alert Level 4 lock down for four weeks, the team in Mexico are preparing hygiene and immunity-boosting activities for disabled people and their whanau. More updates coming soon...

#COVID19 #bekindnz #StayHomeNZ #donate #washhands

[Image description: Split screen Skype screen. Top left is Leslie and Cata in Pluma Hidalgo, Mexico. Top right is Ryan, Jess and baby Joaquin in Hamilton New Zealand. The bottom photo is Robbie in Auckland, New Zealand.]
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Are you working from home? In self-isolation? Or maybe you’re simply not a fan of waiting in line at your local supermarket. Then why not have your coffee delivered straight to your door? Whole beans, filter, espresso, plunger… you name it, we’ve got it.

Support local business at this difficult time by purchasing inclusive TLF coffee beans, lovingly roasted by Able Coffee Collaborative. When you do, you are actively supporting small businesses, human rights, disability inclusion and accessibility, as well as the regeneration of our planet!

www.thelucyfoundation.com/help-us-out/

#SmallBusiness #SocialImpact #LocalBusiness #CaffeinatedSelfIsolation #ButFirstCoffee #DeliveredToYourDoor[Image description: Graphic of lots of different types of humans (ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities, religions, etc.). Text in the middle of the graphic reads "The Lucy Foundation farmer to consumer inclusive coffee for all!'.]
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Wow, the greenhouse is really starting to take shape! Pepe wears protective eyewear, and has developed a kind of sign language to communicate with Juan while they work. But construction is not for the faint hearted (hey guys - are you building garden beds, or beds to sleep in!?). Keep up the amazing mahi!

#disabilityinclusion #disabilityrights #socialenterprise #teamwork #hardwork #vegetablegarden #organicfarming
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2 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

Remember how the team recently spruced up the TLF HQ with a new name and signs (Casa Samilla / Seed House)? Casa Semilla was where Jessica, Ryan, Ebony and Lorenzo used to live - a beautiful home that has been transformed into an accessible space where all people are welcome to enjoy workshops, coffee selection, and community meetings. To keep Casa Semilla looking tip-top, the team have been cleaning up the yard and tending to the garden with the help of Pablito (Pepe's Dad), who pruned the trees at the entrance: "Somos un gran equipo, donde todos aprendemos de todos" // "We are a great team, where everyone learns from everyone." - Catalina Merino Varela

#MiCasaSuCasa #TeamWork #Home #Welcome #CasaSemilla #PlantFriends
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3 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

Are you looking for a speaker? Dr Robbie Francis Watene, Co-founder and Director of The Lucy Foundation has some great stories to tell! Robbie has spoken to audiences all around the world, including in front 800 world leaders in Switzerland, a civil rights conference in Alabama, disability rights conference in Hawaii, schools, universities, Rotary Clubs, and even kindergartens! From gender, identity, war and peace to disability rights, human rights, coffee and The Lucy Foundation - she's got you covered.

What's more - all proceeds from her speaker's fee are donated to the TLF Pluma Coffee Project Mexico. Help us fundraise for The Lucy Foundation by getting Robbie to speak at your next event!

Book now >>>> www.speakers.co.nz/our-speakers/all-speakers/robbie-francis-watene/

#SpeakersNZ #SlidingScale #HelpUsFundraise
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