When I first read an online bio for Dr Erica Newman it stated her whakapapa as Māori, and then in brackets, ‘iwi unknown’. It has to be one of the most powerful, yet painful, identifiers I have ever read.
The lecturer in Te Tumu: School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous studies at the University of Otago, recently received a Marsden Fast Start research grant to journey with descendants of Māori adoptees in their search for their tūrangawaewae.
It is a journey she knows intimately, as the daughter of a Māori adoptee.
In this episode Erica shares with us her whānau story of disconnection and the ongoing mahi to search for her whakapapa. She tells us the effects of our adoption laws in Aotearoa and discusses identity formation of Māori adoptees, sharing the personal account of her own māmā.
We also talk about the heartbreaking reality of knowing you are Māori, but not knowing where you come from. This isn’t an easy kōrero, but it is such an important one.
Because I don’t know my ancestry, I don’t feel grounded. It is that constant feeling of where do I fit in, who am I.
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