At a recent Professional Development day I was challenged by a talk from Terresa Cartwright Ford and Johnson Davies. During their inspiring, and sometimes confrontational, talk they recommended a book called Imagining Decolonisation.
Over the recent school holidays I managed to get my hands on a copy of this book and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
The book was published in 2020 and is essentially a selection of chapters around what is decolonisation and how this can be achieved.
The book starts from the idea that every New Zealander needs to know about colonisation and its impacts. It then expands on this with some challenging chapters on what this may look like.
Māori studies lecturer Mike Ross opens the discussion. He uses the analogy of two houses as a way to understand colonisation. In this analogy, each house represents a society that provides shelter for the people who live within it. Both houses are built on foundations that include a resources, governance, justice, education, and laws. Each house has its own traditions and each has been shaped, modified and improved by its owners over centuries.
Ross explains that basic colonisation is when you say “your house is inferior to mine and it needs to be pulled down.” You need to live in a replacement house built on my design. And, in fact, owned by me. You can live in my house but you must pay me rent. You’re a tenant now. Get used to it.”
One of my favourite chapters was from Amanda Thomas, a Pākehā political geographer at Te Herenga Waka.
One of her most powerful quotes is below;
“A colonised society was created through Pākehā ideas about how things should be, so it is our responsibility as Pākehā to step back from those outdated ideas, take the cues from Māori leadership and do the work of decolonisation.”Amanda Thomas
While the book does give ideas on what decolonisation may look like. It is not written as a step by step process. Instead it gives ideas and thoughts about what change might look like. A really engaging and absorbing read.