One of the many things I have learnt over the past two weeks are the complexities of Brasil. The constitution of the country and its impact upon its people is a lesson in itself but that is not why I’m really writing this blog.
Since my last blog we have met wonderful people from Ubatuba where the beaches are sublime. I was unable to get around the rocks to check out the local kaimoana (seafood) due to rain on the evening before we got back into the Atlantic. I was however surprised that they didn’t consider their kina (sea urchin) to be something they could eat. When I asked, the local fisherman showed me a picture of the local kūtai(mussel). He also informed me that there weren’t much around. When I showed him a picture of a kina, he then said, there were heaps around and then asked if we eat them. The loud SIM that came from a number of the group astounded him. I should have just borrowed the snorkel and goggles anyway and checked it out. Ah well, the old shoulda, woulda, coulda, but again too late.
The coordination and administration by Campus B has been a real show of true manaaki by hosts to manuhiri. Our Campus B Coordinator and liaison has been exceptional, I would recommend that if you don’t know any Português whatsoever, hire the beautiful and compassionate Talita Alves. Also consider making contact with Campus B in helping coordinate your stay in Brasil and especially around São Paulo.
We have met Quilombos, Guarani and the Quilombaque communities and local kaitiaki (guardians). Our Dance student was able to learn the ‘Congo’ (sounds like ‘jongo’) to the beat of the drums. A pleasure to watch and participate. The Guarani of Pico do Jaraguar remind me a little of bit home in that they are tangata whenua of the tallest peak in São Paulo which has grown around them. Although the Guarani in this area have similarities to my whanaunga of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, their ability to continue with their ceremonial practices and passing down knowledge through the generations is at a different level.
That we as visitors were caught in this spider web of complexities was envigorating and eye opening. Although some consider a spider web to be something of deceit, that the indigenous people of Brasil are open about their struggle is refreshing. The deceit is a lot more in the open and outside of the spiders web.
Having the ability to spend time with the wonderful people of Brasil and specifically São Paulo to date is fantastic. Our visit to Ibirapuera Park and the Museu Afro Brasil where we saw Capoeira lines, and they were just opening the indigenous exhibition. An added extra was listening to the words and wisdom of Katú Mirim, a famous indigenous rapper that uses her voice to highlight indigenous political viewpoints. We did not realise that she was a guest lecturer so we were doubly blessed.
Compared to many, this is my first trip as an exchange between countries and I have been wracking my brain to consider how we could possibly reciprocate our learnings with those of the indigenous people of Brasil. I would like to ensure that Campus B and the Campus B coordinator are part of the process but am still to see what this may look like. As part of our own tikanga, reciprocity and continued relationships is key. I am also aware that they bring some lessons for many iwi in Aotearoa who are going through Treaty Settlements or are post Treaty Settlement. I do however believe that the whakataukī “Nāu te rourou, Nāku te rourou, ka ora ai tatou” is relevant in this respect. We as ambassadors for the University of Auckland and Aotearoa are sharing our own stories and learnings which we hope will provide added knowledge for the indigenous and the peoples of Brasil to consider. If they don’t, hei aha tēnā, but I do sincerely hope that our exchange has been as relevant to them as it has been for us. E tu voces indigenas muito obrigada, nos que agredeçemos.