Who am I? Maori or white?

· Maori,Identity,Inspiration,Family,Overcoming

I was born white. Around the age of two I was taken into a Maori family, my mother married into the family and I was formally adopted by them. My surname on my birth certificate was even changed to the Maori name Tipene. I was brought up Maori, and I am the namesake of my Maori grandfather.

When it comes to filling out forms I always tick both, Maori and NZ European. Yet my identity has been an issue for others. On the one hand I am regarded as a Maori author, an indigenous voice. Elders have pushed me into chairperson and secretary roles for whanau committee and marae. I have been pushed into being a speaker for my family, and last year I was even put into the position of Kaumatua in training for my marae. 

On the other hand I have been accused on my own marae of being a white man who is  trying to be Maori, and told that I have no business holding Maori positions, even though I never asked for any of it.

I don't enjoy marae politics. 

In my book, White Moko, I tell of incidents of where I've been challenged for having the name Tipene. I guess these challenges are just a sign of the times, especially when there is so much cultural appropriation going on in the world. 

I have been told that I'm too white, and then that my heart is too brown. Not Maori enough, not white enough. What I do know is that I am a Tipene. Tim Tipene. 

With love     


First published on Facebook and Linkedin July 3rd, 2021.  

Copyright© Tim Tipene, 2021. 

Tim Tipene, who am I?

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