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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3 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

All hands on deck to get clean water out to our TLF families and wider community after water pipes were damaged from the earthquake on the 24th of June. Thankfully everyone in Pluma is safe and accounted for, but there has been major damage to homes and shops throughout the community.

As Covid-19 has already put huge financial hardship on the community, rebuilding is not going to be easy, but as small towns do, they are already planning and pulling together to get everyone back on their feet.

We are working on a plan to help raise money for the community. Thank you for all the ongoing support, we will keep you all posted on how you can help.



Como consecuencia del terremoto del 24 de Junio, el suministro de agua para el pueblo de Pluma Hidalgo quedo destruido. Hoy todos se encuentran trabajando juntos para devolver el agua potable a toda la comunidad y a nuestra TLF familia.

Por suerte todos en la comunidad se encuentran a salvo, a excepción de unos pocos heridos pero lamentablemente el terremoto provocó muchos daños a casas y negocios del pueblo.

Con el terremoto Pluma suma otro problema a la difícil situación económica y a la batalla que esta dando con la pandemia del Coronovirus-19. Reconstruir la comunidad no va a ser tarea fácil pero en el pueblo de Pluma todos están trabajando en conjunto para reconstruir los daños.

Desde la Fundación de Lucy estamos trabajando en un plan para poder enviar dinero a manera de ayuda. Muchas gracias a todos y todas por el apoyo, los mantendremos al tanto para poder colaborar con la reconstrucción de Pluma Hidalgo.

#PlumaHidalgo #thelucyfoundation #huatulcocrucecita #earthquake #Temblor #disabilityrights #UNCRPD #Article11 #plumacoffee
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3 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

This morning we are thinking of all our friends and whānau living in Pluma Hidalgo, Huatulco, and Oaxaca, Mexico. Not only are they experiencing limited supplies and heavy restrictions due to Covid-19 (Coronavirus), but now they have been hit by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake.

This natural event is devastating and we are sad to hear of the deaths and damage.

We are slowly making contact with the families and disabled people we partner with. A few have made contact and say they are safe, but scared.

We will continue to keep you updated as we hear more from our team in Mexico.

#PlumaHidalgo #thelucyfoundation #huatulcocrucecita #earthquake #Temblor #disabilityrights #UNCRPD #Article11 #plumacoffee
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4 weeks ago

The Lucy Foundation

The best coffee of all, really is coffee FOR ALL! Thank you for your help e hoa! These coffee beans will be on their way to Aotearoa New Zealand in the coming months. In the mean time, you can order your inclusive Pluma single origin or Lucy blend through our website:

www.thelucyfoundation.com/help-us-out

#thebestcoffeeofalliscoffeeforall #plumacoffee #inclusivecoffee #fridaycuteness #coffeekids #disabilityemployment #disabilityrights #zapotec #indigenousrights #environmentalregeneration #socialenterprisenz #mexiconewzealand

[Video description: A little Zapotec toddler crouches next to a pile of green coffee beans and places handfuls into a black sack. The video is a boomerang video (played and reversed multiple times).]
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1 month ago

The Lucy Foundation

Having watched TLF grow from a seed idea into a global value chain, in 2018 Romelli decided to become directly involved with the The Lucy Foundation. By January 2019, they were on the ground in Mexico working with the Pluma crew. Fast forward 18 months, and last week Rom and Mikey travelled to Te Awakairangi Lower Hutt to take part in a Coffee Educators NZ barista workshop to improve their coffee making skills and to discuss accessible training. Rom also had a great time trying their hand at roasting TLF Pluma coffee beans at the Able Coffee Collaborative roastery.

From seed to cup, farmer to consumer... Rom’s been there!

He aha te mea nui o te ao, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
What is the most important thing in the world? People, people, people.

#TheBestCoffeeOfAllIsCoffeeForAll #FilterCoffeeNotPeople #Inclusion #Access #FarmerToConsumer
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2 months ago

The Lucy Foundation

Meet the farmers:

"They are the ones who work the land day after day under the sun. They are those who fertilise the sacred land with love and humility, which in gratitude returns them with coffee beans. They are our producers with whom we work hand in hand to recover ancestral knowledge." - Catalina (TLF Field Director, Mexico).

#PlumaHidalgo #CoffeeFarmers #AncestralKnowledge #OrganicCoffee
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