‘I hate my Name!’
I said when I was around the age of seven.
I hated everything about me when I was a child, because my mother hated everything about me. She couldn’t love me, couldn’t be close to me, as I was the outcome of rape. A constant reminder of all the men who had hurt her.
I love my mum.
Dad heard me say that I hated my name. He gave me a hiding with his fists. I couldn’t understand why. My step father didn’t care much for me either. He was always giving me hidings, but why give me one for saying that I hate my name? It didn’t make sense.
‘That’s my father’s name!’ he yelled.
‘Oh that’s right,’ I remembered. ‘I’m Papa’s name sake.’
I love my dad.
From that point on while I would hate everything else about me growing up, I would never hate my name.
It’s been an interesting name to carry over the years, from being told over the phone by prospective employers that, ‘We don’t hire your kind here,’ as soon as I said Tipene, to being told that as a white man I have no right to have a Maori name.
The name carried some weight and came with expectations. My grandfather was a chiefly man. A leader who was loved and adored by many. It was up to me to maintain and grow the mana of our name. Aunties have told me how proud they are to walk into a book shop and see my grandfather’s name on my books, and to see our name in the media for my work in the community through Warrior Kids.
My grandfather’s full name was William Tim Waitai-Tipene, however he had shortened it to Tim Tipene. I am his White Moko and name sake.
My book, ‘White Moko’, is available online and in shops.
This blog was first published on Facebook and Linkedin July 14, 2021.
Copyright© Tim Tipene, 2021.