Rahera (Rach). artist/writer type. political junkie. aspiring human, sometimes. free speech and animal welfare advocate. interests include violent crime & children's books.

kia ora koutou. haere mai, ko toku rangitaki tenei. sometimes i have thoughts that exceed 240 characters. they go here. mau te rongo!


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13/02/19

13 Huitānguru 2019

lots has happened. i’ll write about it soon.

02/02/19

made a video about the spectacular trainwreck extravaganza that is Auckland Pride 2019.

01/02/19

1 Huitānguru 2019

i haven’t watched or read the news (at least deliberately) in over a month. it’s better for my sanity. i’ve been able to enjoy summer and being alive.

today i was getting ready to take the dogs out and i became aware of a 9 year old family cat who was euthanised after someone doused him with sulphuric acid. i cried most of the way to the beach.

the world is full of evil and i feel like there’s nothing i can do. i feel so powerless and i get so enraged that the people who do have the power to do something don’t do shit, and then they go on the world stage talking about compassion and empathy, and it’s like a sick joke.

i don’t know what to do.

31/01/19

31 Kohitātea 2019

thinking of setting up something totally independent from this little blog for social/political commentary stuff. because i still might want to write stuff like that sometimes and want people to read it, and this isn’t the place i’d wanna direct them to, haha. it’d be like mixing work with private life, or something. i have some ideas. Charlie has some ideas. i think it could be good. we’ll see what happens.

went to the doctor today. it is a new doctor. my old GP retired. he was my doctor all my life. the new doctor is young and English. he gave me the pills i needed, no problem, which was a huge relief because some doctors are weird about it. supply should last me a good while.

will go to Lower Hutt on Monday. i will not miss the heat.

29/01/19

30 Kohitātea 2019

I HATE FLIES SO MUCH.

also i am tearing my hair out trying to convert my old tumblr theme into a wordpress theme. like for some bizarre reason everything was working fine but then a random post from before edoesn’t show up at ALL but then this one does and i do not understand what would cause something like that

i think a few people have subscribed to get email alerts when a new post goes up and i don’t know how to turn that off so if you’re reading this i’m so sorry

it’s really hot. i should be outside. i will go outside soon but learning new code is weirdly addictive. it’s so frustrating but then when you figure out the trick it’s like a little cartoon lightbulb moment and it’s fun. good for your brain, probably.

whatever, it seems to be working ok now. i’ll do another test and then go get some fresh air and sun and a Subway salad because those things are addictive too.

29/01/19

29/01/19

29 Kohitātea 2019

ok, so here’s the thing. i’ve been trying to be a person with a blog. like, a proper grown-up blog where i make an actual effort to write semi-decently and use punctuation and grammar and shit and i’m just not feeling it eh.

it feels like i’m pretending to be something i’m not and i hate that, no matter what the situation. i was trying to write in a way that other people might read and be like, oh, that’s decent writing — which is fine if you’re writing a book or whatever, or really trying to get yourself out there and establish yourself as a writer (which in theory, is what i want to do) but for me, it feels too stifling, too formal, too public-face. i prefer laid-back stream-of-consciousness style keyboard smashing, like the old days of tumblr, like instant messaging with a friend at 3am. i don’t wanna mentally compartmentalise ‘proper writing’ from how i normally communicate my thoughts. i just wanna write.

i wanna write about my own life and my own mundane problems or what’s going on in my head and how i feel about stuff and what i think of movies and tv shows i watch and i don’t wanna necessarily have to be all witty and articulate and profound about it. i just need it out of my skull and into the universe.

i think what happened was, the first thing i ever posted on this blog got 20,000 hits and 100+ comments and it scared me a bit. i got intimidated by the attention.

i don’t wanna pretend like i’m a person who has their shit together, because i’m not, and feeling like i’m faking it is a huge burden. i don’t wanna do it anymore. i don’t actually care if anyone reads this blog — i think actually i don’t even want anyone to read it. but i still wanna write. i want to write like i resolved to write when the calendar turned over, but i want to do it casually and informally and on this journal-style layout i designed myself from scratch, with coffee stains and ink spills, just like real life.

the month’s nearly over. we’re in the middle of a heatwave. i’m not ready to join this century and i’m not ready to grow up.

20/01/19

20 Kohitātea 2019

i have not written. i could list several things i have done, and why i’m quite proud of doing them, and why my life is probably better for it. maybe i should. maybe it would be good to reflect on all the things. it’s just that it all seems inconsequential, because i have not written. that doesn’t mean it is. it only means that i have not written. i have not done what i resolved to do.

03/01/19

3 Kohitātea 2019

i bought an air freshener today. people say my car smells like wet dog, as if that’s a bad thing. my two most frequent passengers happen to be dogs, and when we go out on adventures, they usually get wet. to me, the smell of wet dog is the smell of adventure, and freedom, and life worth living.

but i am trying to be more social. i would like humans to come on adventures with me, too, sometimes, and i don’t want to have to keep apologising for the dog smell. so i went into Supercheap Auto and bought a new air freshener and a bottle of stuff you’re meant to spray in the car to ‘neutralise odours’.

they didn’t have the kind of air freshener i wanted, the kind i’ve had dangling from my rear-view mirror since i bought the car, to replace the one that was taken from my beloved wee subaru when it was stolen, trashed and stripped of anything not bolted down. a blue pawprint, with a sort of bubblegummy berry scent that was quite nice. they didn’t have them. so i got the cheapest, most generic air freshener there was, a sort of cardboard thing shaped like a leaf. i chose the ‘vanilla’ kind because it went with the odour neutralising spray stuff. a theme.

i drove for about five minutes with the leaf-shaped cardboard dangling from my rear-view mirror next to the obsolete bubblegummy blue pawprint before i took it down. it had that sickly chemical, artificially sweet stench of a glade bathroom air freshener, the kind you keep by the toilet and spray for one reason.

i am trying to be more social, but i am the kind of person who would rather my car smelled like wet dog.

so the leaf-shaped vanilla cardboard is in the glovebox. maybe i’ll get it out as a courtesy when i have human passengers and just put up with it, because i am trying to be more social, but there’s no way i’m letting it violate my nostrils when i’m on the trail of adventure and freedom and life.

on an unrelated note, i have a new dress.

my sister came around with a big bag of clothes that don’t fit her anymore for me to go through before it all goes to the op-shop. the dress was in it. the material is very light and comfortable. i’m trying to get into wearing dresses.

on the way home from the falls, i washed my dog. i am trying to be more social, but it’s summer. in summer, i come with a dog. i don’t care if he smells doggy, but maybe other people do. so we pulled up to this big car wash hub in town that has a little ‘dog wash’ station. you buy tokens with money, put the tokens in the machine and choose shampoo/conditioner/rinse/blow dry. we’ve used a similar system before, at the pet store. i used to work at a proper, upmarket dog groomer’s, so it was like an extremely low budget diy version of that. enough loki fluff is now drifting through the main streets of hastings to make a whole new dog. maybe two.

after the wash, we stopped by the pet store to get him a treat for being a good boy. at the groomer’s where i used to work, we would spritz a tiny bit of this premium dog cologne on the dogs after they were all clean and dry, to send them home smelling their best. that stuff was divine. top of the line, ludicrously expensive, but you get what you pay for. i mean, it actually smelled delicious. coconut, and all this. made me want to rub my face in the dogs’ fur and take a deep huff.

there was some stuff at animates you could buy to spray on your dog to make him smell nice. i decided to buy some. the most i was willing to spend was $16.50, because that was the cheapest one. “botanical mist”, it’s called. pomegranate scent. the label has a nice design. “infused with natural extracts that will leave your pets smelling as good as they feel cuddled up next to you.” nice. the back of the label: “with its rich and fruity aroma, pomegranate speaks to your pet’s sense of fun and spunkiness. natural antioxidants and a touch of matricaria flower extract add excellent moisturizing and nourishing properties for the coat and skin.” sold!

i should have learned my lesson with the air freshener.

don’t get me wrong. it’s not the same assault to the senses as the leaf-shaped cardboard with its sickly fake vanilla stench, but there are lingering tones of the glade bathroom can.

it’s the artificiality that puts me off. i’m sure some humans i attempt to socialise with will appreciate my dog smelling like fake pomegranate, but i think dogs should smell like dogs. they should be clean and dry, certainly, but if they have a musky, earthy, freshwater odour about them, it’s all good with me. it’s authentic. it’s adventure. it’s freedom. it’s dog.

but, i am trying to be more social. so.

when i got home, i made a spicy stir-fry and sat down with my ipad. i shouldn’t have checked the news before i ate. a kitten was thrown out of a car window yesterday, and died in excruciating pain. there’s a photo. the kitten looks just like mum’s cat, Alfie, when he was a kitten.

Alfie was supposed to be my kitten, and for awhile, he was. he was the boldest, sprightliest, most inquisitive and confident kitten in the world. he used to climb trees up to the highest branches and follow me and the dogs out onto the field. he used to chase tennis balls. but he became mum’s cat. he chose her. now he’s the fattest, laziest, most contented house cat i’ve ever seen. she feeds him too much. he doesn’t care. he purrs like an engine the second you touch him. he’s the happiest cat. not a care in the world. if he’s not snoozing on mum’s bed, he’s sunbathing on the patio. or eating. occasionally he stalks the pigeons, but he’s too fat to catch them.

A kitten died in excruciating pain after being thrown from a moving vehicle and run over in Taranaki, it has been claimed.

Julie Adlam spoke to the SPCA about seeing the kitten being thrown from a vehicle on Devon Rd, State Highway 3, near the Mangati Rd intersection.

The back wheel of the vehicle appeared to clip the tiny animal, which was riddled with fleas, and her pelvis was shattered as she tried to crawl by her front legs across the main road both ways, in a fearful effort to get to safety, Adlam said.

The kitten was taken to the vet in “excruciating pain” but died before the vet saw her. — Stuff

i don’t know what it is about kittens. whether they’re being stoned to death by laughing teenagers filming themselves doing it or stomped to death under a man’s boot (also filming himself doing it) or thrown out of vehicles and run over, i just get very upset.

i might need to cry for awhile, or take a bath, or read a book, or all three. a glass of wine would be good too, but i am trying to drink less wine. i am trying to get into wearing dresses, being more social and drinking less wine. wearing dresses and being social in a world where kittens are thrown from vehicles and die in excruciating pain seems every bit as stupid as it did before i started actively trying to do it.

i still haven’t bought a plant.

01/01/19

01/01/19

this is the day your life shall surely change

this is the day when things fall into place

— The The, This Is The Day

1 Kohitātea 2019

don’t be the same old sucker for phrases like fresh start and clean slate and new beginnings. nothing is new. a digit on the calendar has changed. it happens every year. today there is a 9 where yesterday there was an 8. that is all.

there’s nothing new about resolutions when you’ve already resolved to them a thousand times.

eat healthy. write. go for more walks. explore. save money. earn money. draw. write. clean your room. stop procrastinating. sort your life out. finish things that you start. stand up straight, fix your posture. go outside, get some sun on your skin. use sunscreen. and start using night cream — you’re thirty. stop killing your hair with chemicals and heat. just leave it alone. let it grow. buy a houseplant. take care of it. keep the bloody thing alive. stay in touch with your friends. write. spend more time with your family. write. take more photos. write. donate to charity. volunteer. get involved. actively fight the things that make you hate the world instead of bitching about them on twitter. do whatever you can to make aotearoa safer for animals. write. make more funny youtube videos. go to a comedy show. go to a gig. get a tattoo. don’t drink so much. be organised. be tidy. be disciplined. be focused. seize opportunities. stop squandering your talents. wise up. keep your promises. be kinder. be better. be better, be better, be better, and write.

you know the things you need to do. you’ll either do them, or you won’t. if you resolve to do nothing else in 2019, resolve to write.

write like you’re on death row, because you are. we all are.

write like it’s your deathbed confession and your declaration of innocence. write like it’s 2013 and the pen is the only thing tethering you to reality. write savagely, if you need to. write viciously. snarl. scream onto the page until your throat is raw. write in chaos. write in misery. write in hope. write at midnight. write at sunset. write at dawn. write in darkness and in daylight. write in coffee shops. write in bed. write in your car. write in journals. write online. write in terror. write in rage. write in bliss and joy, and in love and gratitude, because you have all that, now. if you don’t ruin everything, you could keep it. if you do ruin it, it’s your fault.

write often. write badly. don’t worry about it. just write.

buy the plant. keep it alive. fix your posture. clean your room. sort your life out. go for walks. make videos. get involved. do all that, in 2019.

or don’t.

but write.

write yourself sick. write yourself sane. write like no one’s reading. even if they are, it doesn’t matter. write ’til your wrists ache. type your fingers to the bone. rip yourself open and clean out what’s rotting, because it’s been five years and this is ridiculous. write. you’re carrying it all in your blood and your bones and your bile and it’s still written on your skin in a language no one can understand, so transcribe it. write. maybe the posture thing would sort itself out if you could just get the tension out of your muscles.

the earth did another circle around the sun. this is not a fresh start or a clean slate or a new beginning. it’s just 2019. you’re thirty years old. you’re alive.

resolve to write.

10/12/18

social media is overflowing with heartfelt tributes, outpourings of grief and hot, blind fury over the tragic murder of Grace Millane. as i type, talkback radio listeners are calling in non-stop to vent their feelings. the hashtag #herlightourlove is trending on Twitter. users are uploading images of the sky as a way to honour the pretty dead girl.

hashtags and heart emojis. 💔

this is how we grieve.

it’s not just online. the Auckland sky tower is lit up white in Grace’s memory. the prime minister has tearfully apologised to her family, on behalf of all New Zealanders. it’s not typical for the pm to issue statements like that on individual homicides, but i think she read the mood of the nation and got it right. our thoughts are all with Grace’s whānau, who will forever associate our land with their senseless and devastating loss. we are all sorry and ashamed that this happened to a tourist.

it should come as no surprise to anyone that Grace’s murder has been prioritised by the media, or that the nation has taken what my friend described as a ‘ghoulish delight’ in this young woman’s death.

cynics will be quick to point out that Grace was attractive and caucasian, and there is no doubt something to that.

just the other week, an elderly man was decapitated in Petone. his head was stuffed into a plastic bag and thrown out of the second-storey window of the block of council flats where he lived. the details of this case genuinely shocked me, but i have not read or heard a single thing about it in the media since it was first reported.

pretty, dead white girls make headlines. this is nothing new.

but there’s more to this than that. Grace Millane’s story appears to be having a profound, personal  emotional impact on the lives of countless New Zealanders who have never met her.

some of them are energised in their sorrow. candlelit vigils are being set up all around the country. in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, and many other cities, thousands have registered their interest in attending on the facebook event pages.

mobilised mourning. grief gone viral.

i don’t recall seeing anything quite like this in Aotearoa before.

it’s easy to understand why someone like Grace would become something of an adopted daughter, sister, friend to so many. she was a recent graduate and a talented artist. full of promise, travelling from overseas, exploring the world on what should have been the adventure of a lifetime. murdered on the eve of her 22nd birthday, by a man.

it’s a tragedy with all the ingredients for primetime. a photogenic young woman. a distraught family desperately searching for her. a life extinguished, a body discarded. a necklace and a watch, still missing.

the candlelit vigils will provide plenty of heartwarming footage for the inevitable ’60 Minutes’, ’20/20′, ‘Sunday’ style shows. we all know this routine.

another factor in the hyper-romanticisation of this homicide is the timing.

in a social environment where disparaging men simply for being male is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged, a hideous murder of a beautiful girl is just too perfect a #metoo movement moment to pass up. opportunists have already seized upon Grace Millane’s death to fuel their cause.

none of us knew Grace.

as strangers, all we have to piece her together are fragments. images and words. little clues scattered in cyberspace, a digital imprint of her short time on this earth. i trawled through Grace’s Twitter timeline while writing this article, and all i could see was a genuinely lovely girl. nothing in her digital imprint suggests to me that Grace Millane was a spiteful or vindictive person. i don’t see hate in her eyes. i don’t see hate in her art.

before she was the pretty dead girl, Grace Millane was a real person. she had hopes and ambitions and insecurities and a sense of humour and a shoe addiction. she was an animal lover. she adored her dogs, Benson and Maddie. she studied. she painted. she played hockey. she posted a lot of funny gifs. she loved her friends and her baby niece. everything i can see of what she left behind online gives me the impression that Grace was exceedingly gentle and kind. many people who die young  are given undeserved sainthood status simply by virtue of being young and dead. this pretty dead girl seemed like a thoroughly decent human being in every respect.

we don’t know what Grace would have wanted to be said or done in her memory in the aftermath of this horror. we can only speculate as to how she would deal with her post-mortem publicity if she had any say in the matter, whether she would approve or disapprove of a hateful message being propagated in her name.

still, the “men are trash” Twitter brigade are brazenly informing kiwi blokes that they all have Grace’s blood on their collective male hands. they were all in that hotel room that night. half the population just killed a young woman.

i don’t want to make this about feminism — i’ll leave that to the feminists. they’re doing a great job of making Grace Millane’s death all about them. but i will take a moment to observe, not for the first time, that demonising a demographic and attempting to hold them collectively responsible for crimes committed by individuals within that demographic is wrong. when the targeted demographic is an ethnic or religious group, everyone seems to be very, very clear about that. when it applies to race or religion, this is the general consensus. when it comes to blaming males for all of society’s ills, however, this logic does not apply. one man committed a heinous crime, therefore, men are trash. all of them.

in the downtime between breaking announcements related to this case, news sites are publishing lists of all the female backpackers and tourists murdered in New Zealand over the decades. journalists are making Twitter threads, attempting to collate all the women and girls ever murdered by men in New Zealand, ever — getting names and key details wrong in their enthusiasm and haste.

i don’t think i’ve ever actually seen anyone use the hashtag #notallmen in seriousness, but i frequently see it used to mock and dismiss anyone who refuses to participate in this vicious scapegoating.

so while i don’t expect for a minute to get an answer, i do have a genuine question for team men are trash.

is Grace Millane’s father, David, who flew across the world to search for his missing daughter, pleading through tears for information on our televisions, trash?

Grace’s older brothers, Declan and Michael, are they trash?

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, whose voice shook with emotion when he announced that this missing person case was now a homicide investigation. is he trash too? the male police officers, forensic and medical examiners involved in this case. the men who helped track down and arrest Grace’s killer, the men who will undoubtedly be part of prosecuting him and bringing him to justice. are any of these human beings exempt from this?

or are they all just male trash?

i don’t believe Grace Millane would have wanted all New Zealand men to feel guilty and ashamed for something they had nothing to do with. but again — i did not know her.

nor did those grieving so publicly for her on social media, organising marches and candlelit vigils.

anyone can exploit a stranger’s death to further their own narrative. people do it all the time. no one can stop them. i wouldn’t even attempt to try. but i would like to respectfully suggest that Grace Millane’s name, her face, her memory, do not belong to any of us. they belong to her whānau and friends.  the people she knew and loved, who knew and loved her.

that’s not to say there is any shame in mourning for a stranger. i thought the sky photos were a nice gesture. i have friends who plan to attend one of the vigils, and i respect their choice to do that, but i don’t think i’ll be going. organised emotional outpourings aren’t my scene, and i suspect some of the attendance will be politically motivated. for obvious reasons, i don’t want to be a part of that.

i have said a quiet karakia for Grace and wept for her in private. no doubt i will weep for her again — her passion for animals and especially for her dogs is what keeps getting to me, and there we go, the tears are streaming now — but i’ll keep it to myself.

Grace cannot consent to being made a symbol for anything. her memory should not be a blank canvas for us all to project our personal politics onto. i know i may be accused of having done just that by writing this post, so i’ll say it one more time: i didn’t know Grace. i have no way of knowing what her wishes would have been in all of this.

and neither do you.

Grace Emmie Rose Millane deserves to be remembered for who she was, not who certain activists need her to be to fit their agenda.

the fact that she was murdered in this country should not automatically make Grace public property.

she was — is —  so much more than the pretty dead girl.

25/09/18

kia ora! if you’re one of the two or three people who still semi-regularly check this blog (hi Liv, Lily and Charlie!), you might have noticed that the layout has had a re-design. it used to look like this:

image

much as i liked the cluttered, tortured artist look, i wanted something a bit cleaner and more reader-friendly. order v. chaos.

i’ve kept personal handwritten journals for years, but lately i have this desire to say things. to the world. i guess it’s not uncommon in the age of social media and YouTube, broadcasting your innermost thoughts into the abyss, but it still feels weird for me. i’m super private and introspective by nature, but i’m finding myself increasingly opinionated, the more i look outside myself and learn about the world.

it’s gotten to the point where i need a public space to document my observations. twitter is my go-to zone to rant into the void, but sometimes my brain fills up with thoughts in excess of 240 characters. they chase themselves around in circles in my mind (dogs, tails) and i need to get them out. headlines. soundbites. chunks of text. years ago i had this vivid, graphic dream where my skull was full of rotting paper — i wrote it down. i might post it later. it could help to explain. the point is, i have some stuff to say, and i guess i want people to hear.

the name of this blog has changed too. it used to be unreliable-narrator.co.nz… not exactly designed for marketability, haha. English geeks will recognise the term. an unreliable narrator is a narrator in literature, film, or theatre, whose credibility has been seriously compromised. i won’t make any claims about the current status of my credibility. the astute reader might speculate that the new domain name reflects a solidification in the protagonist’s sense of identity… or something. it’s all a matter of interpretation. come to your own conclusions. or don’t.

ko Rahera taku ingoa. ko toku rangitaki tenei. 

projects currently in the works:

  • essay thing about identity politics
  • video review of Lizzie Marvelley’s ‘That F Word: Growing Up Feminist in Aotearoa’
  • YouTube documentary thing about free speech/media bias in NZ

i should probably write a proper bio section for this blog and an outline of the sort of things i want to write about, if only for my own benefit. anyway. whakawhetai koutou mo te pānui.

nga mihi ❤️
Rahera

17/09/18

[this article originally appeared on Whaleoil.co.nz, 15/9/18]

kia ora koutou,

i’ve never actually published a written article on Whaleoil before, just a few vlogs and satire videos. i’m currently working on a much longer article covering such topics as identity politics, victimhood culture, ‘privilege’, oppression and ‘allyship’, as they pertain to Aotearoa. fun stuff.

i’ll be back to making youtube content in no time — i have a copy of Lizzie Marvelley’s new book beside me as i type this and i’ll be doing an in-depth review of that (if ‘depth’ is the right word) so watch this space!

but for now, i’d like to take the opportunity to address a serious accusation that has been made about me on social media. because this is not just about me, but every member of the New Zealand Free Speech Coalition (there are hundreds of us), and more broadly, it’s about everyone who believes in and defends the principle of free speech.

twitter user Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (who i’ll introduce properly in the aforementioned upcoming article) has repeatedly brought up my involvement with the NZ Free Speech Coalition (“Don Brash’s club”, as she calls it), as though this is somehow supposed to reflect poorly on my character, or is evidence of some kind of ill-intent.

she’s publicly accused me of  “advocating for people to be given a platform for violence”.

“Sorry but if you don’t want to be aligned with Don Brash then I think you need to re-evaluate your club membership. I’m not saying you have the exact same views as him, nor am I saying that yours are quite as problematic, but you’re a member of a group whose actions, as it stands so far, have been primarily to throw support behind a duo who came to NZ and spread racism, sexism, transphobia and other hate. Particularly given their attacks on indigenous people, it’s hard to reconcile your claimed support of us while you’re also advocating for people to be given a platform for violence.”

— Kera Sherwood-O’Regan

when the controversy over Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux first arose, i knew very little about either of them. now that i’m more familiar with who they are and what they’re about, i find myself in varying states of agreement and disagreement with each of them on the many issues they discuss.

i can’t think of a single human being i’ve ever met or heard of that i agree or disagree with 100% on every single point they’ve ever made, can you? that sounds a bit cult-like.

the suggestion that i would ever support someone who promotes violence is more than a critique of my politics — it’s a total mischaracterisation of who i am as a person. other members of the Free Speech Coalition who might be reading this may be able to relate.

i would never directly or indirectly support the promotion of violence. anyone who knows me — actually knows me — knows that. they’re the ones who matter, but it’s still disconcerting to see accusations like this being thrown around on social media by someone with Kera’s influence.

there is no evidence that i’m aware of that either Lauren Southern or Stefan Molyneux has ever called for violence. if there were, i would not have supported their right to speak. i wouldn’t have needed to, even if i’d wanted to — there are clear laws against that.

we went through all this when the controversy was hot. i’m probably preaching to the choir, but it’s important to get this out there.

i’d like to correct another inaccuracy: the NZFSC is not, and was never, “Don Bash’s club”. it is an apolitical advocacy group for defending the lifeblood of democracy, creativity and dissent in Aotearoa.

i was part of the original steering group; i offered my support in the early planning stages — it’s quite possible that i was on board before Dr. Brash was.

Don Brash is not the leader of the group or even the frontman. it was the media that insisted on putting him in the spotlight to serve their own agenda — that is, to mischaracterise the Free Speech Coalition as a right-wing organisation.

it’s not. we’ve been consistent in our principles: people should not be discriminated against on the basis of their political views, whether that’s Southern and Molyneux, speakers from the international humanist and ethical union, a councillor in Rotorua, Don Brash or Chelsea Manning.

the left’s desperation to mislabel the Free Speech Coalition as a right-wing group is an indication of how threatened they are by the idea of civil discourse.

since publicly voicing my support for freedom of speech, i’ve been called conservative, right-wing, hard-right, far-right, and of course, “alt-right”. again, this reeks of desperation. i’m a socially liberal, left-leaning former Green Party supporter. last year i voted for Labour.

image

i even paid five bucks for a non-waged labour party membership, though somewhat tongue-in-cheekedly:

image

i have since misplaced the card.

i shouldn’t have to provide evidence of my personal politics to prove that i’m not “right-wing” (as though the mere fact of being right-wing would immediately discredit me if i were), but given that i’ve also been accused of being secretly employed by conservative Canadian news outlet Rebel Media (what the…?), it seems like that’s what it’s come to.

also, this is irrelevant, but here is my dog:

image

as i said to Chris Lynch on Newstalk ZB (you can jump to 3:20), Don Brash and i have very little political common ground. this was a polite understatement, but in any case, it’s totally irrelevant in the context.

a coalition, by definition, is not a group of individuals who agree with each other on every single topic. it’s about uniting for a common purpose. in this case, the purpose is defending freedom of speech. i may disagree strongly with Dr. Brash on any number of issues (and probably agree with him on others), but what he and i do agree on is our right to disagree.

it may be an overused and often misattributed quote, but the old classic: “i disapprove of what you say but i’ll defend to the death your right to say it” really does sum it up.

Dr. Brash is free to say, for example, that he doesn’t want to hear te reo Māori on taxpayer-funded media. i’m free to say that i’d like to hear more reo, not less.

Dr. Brash can say he thinks the All Black’s haka promotes domestic violence. i can say that, while the haka obviously conveys aggression— its purpose is to be a fierce challenge, after all —i see it as a proud cultural icon which, done properly, sends a patriotic tingle down my spine.

Dr. Brash and i can each put forward arguments for our positions. others can do the same. this kōrero happens on a national scale. ultimately, the best arguments will win.

in this scenario, i suspect Dr. Brash’s views on te reo are widely considered to be outdated, and we will likely continue to see an increase in the use of te reo in radio, television and print. the haka will continue to chill Kiwi spines and intimidate rival sports teams.

this is the ‘marketplace of ideas’ concept in practice.

right now, there are people who want to burn that marketplace down.

i don’t know what they hope to re-build in its place, but i for one am choosing to defend the principles of free speech and non-violence. kōrero herekorenga ko te tumu o manapori.

thanks for reading.

tena koe.

Rahera

10/09/18

“Are we talking Rachel / “Rahera” Poulain?” — Kera Sherwood-O’Regan

putting my Māori name in sarcastic quote marks, as if it were a gimmick or a joke, isn’t a great look when you’re claiming the moral high ground on kaupapa, Kera.

you don’t know the history of that name. it was gifted to me, it’s taonga, and it’s mine.

thanks for reminding me how special it is, though. i’ll be making an effort to use it more. people can call me Rach or Rachel or Rahera, i’ll answer to whatever. he rōhi e tētahi atu ingoa.

“First noticed her dragging my comments about pakeha needing to do better where she just went all te reo to silence me.” — Kera Sherwood-O’Regan

(i’m still perplexed by Kera’s claim that i “silenced her”, so for the sake of transparency, here are the full screenshots of that interaction.)

so, without knowing anything about me or my background, you’ve determined that my going by my Māori ingoa or my use of te reo in conversation is somehow disingenuous or inappropriate.

you’ve assumed my whakapapa, which is fine — i’m so pale i’m practically see-through, and for reasons i’ll get into soon, i don’t concern myself with ethnic labels. i’ve been vocal in my rejection of identity politics. i don’t ‘identify’ as anything other than myself — ko Rahera ahau. still, it’s interesting to think that you might treat me differently if i looked like my brown-skinned, dark-eyed cousins.

Sherwood-O’Regan sounds suspiciously Irish. if i thought genetics were relevant, i could analyse your Anglo-Saxon facial features and make inferences about the authenticity of your claim to be “indigenous”.

i wouldn’t do that, because 1) history has shown that attributing value to the concept of “racial purity” is a very, very bad idea, and 2) it’s just a shitty thing to do.

i don’t know the full intricacies of your whakapapa, and you don’t know mine. it doesn’t matter. you don’t know my whakatipu. you don’t know my whānau. i was born in this country, just like you. i whanau mai au i konei; this is my home.

ko Rahera taku ingoa. i’m a citizen of Aotearoa and i’m free to learn, speak or write in whatever language i choose to. it’s not your place to tell me what sounds i can and cannot utter with my own māngai, or what combination of letters i write with my own pen or type with my own fingertips.

“You don’t get a hall pass to do what you want with our culture just because you wear pounamu & pronounce names correctly.” — Kera Sherwood-O’Regan

around my neck is an exquisite pounamu toki. i also have a wheua tohorā hei matau.

you don’t know the significance of my taonga. you don’t know who gifted it to me and why. you don’t know whose hands carved it, you don’t know who blessed it or the words of the karakia that was spoken that day. these are symbols of my wisdom and power, my strength and resilience — my mana.

“you don’t get a hall pass” to dismiss the taonga i earned as though it were cheap plastic tiki from a souvenir shop, just because my skin is pale.

ko enei moutere he kainga ki nga tangata mai i te ao katoa, nga tae katoa o te kiri rerekē. you don’t have the authority to dictate who can and cannot embrace and celebrate Māori culture.

my kirituhi, my taonga, my akoranga are mine.

hei aha atu māu, Kera. don’t worry about it 🙂

10/09/18

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

this is the “distressing” interaction where Kera felt “silenced” by me. she said i went “all te reo” on her and went on to mock my name.

posting because it’s te wiki o te reo Māori and i’m not going to let some privileged intersectional feminist bs shame me for using the reo i love ❤️🇳🇿

11/07/18

kia ora koutou,

if you’re reading this, you might be here because you’re wondering why my name is on the list of people who support the NZ Free Speech Coalition.

i get the vibe that defending freedom of speech isn’t the controversial thing here, so much as defending the freedom of speech of people with controversial views. in this case, it’s Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux.

i’m not a supporter of these particular speakers (i’m unfamiliar with Molyneux but i’ve watched a few of Lauren Southern’s videos, specifically on the topic of feminism) but when you believe in freedom of speech, you sometimes find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having to defend the rights of people you don’t particularly like.

i support freedom of speech because i value personal autonomy, liberty and individuality. freedom of expression is obviously an integral part of those values.

free expression is the lifeblood of art, culture and creativity. without it, no one could push boundaries or challenge the status quo. without freedom of speech, there would be no subversive literature, music, comedy or theatre.

freedom to speak is an extension of the freedom to think. it is an essential part of how we communicate, learn and grow. sharing our thoughts with other human beings and receiving feedback on those thoughts is how we develop our ideas and beliefs. it’s how we self-reflect. we voice our thoughts, find out what others think about our ideas so we can then analyse them, re-evaluate them and change our views accordingly.

freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy. it is the fundamental means by which a civil society settles its differences of opinion. it is what gives us the ability to question, challenge and oppose the powers that be. it is how we evolve, how we grow, how we move forward. without freedom of speech, there would have been no civil rights movement. there would be no liberation of marginalised groups or recalling of archaic laws. there would be no change, no progress.

protecting freedom of speech sometimes means defending the right of people you disagree with to express views you may personally find abhorrent.  ‘objectionable speech’ is to be debated, reasoned and argued with, not censored or banned. it is not up to the government to decide which speech “divides” and which “unites”.

history never looks back favourably on those who try to eliminate dissenting thought. the word ‘Nazi’ has been thrown around casually with regard to these Canadian speakers — in my opinion, disingenuously. what the people who would ban them are forgetting is that the real Nazis came to power by suppressing free speech. their hideous ideology took root in part because they banned any ideas they deemed subversive. they silenced their political opponents, they censored art and they burned books. suppression of free speech led to unimaginable atrocities.

suppression of freedom of speech as it pertains to this situation may have unintended side effects.

attempting to silence a certain sector of society can sometimes have the opposite effect. if people with dangerous ideas are not able to express them in public, they will be driven underground where their ignorance and hatred can fester and thrive. the process of feedback and self-reflection is removed when you put people in an echo chamber. sunlight is the best disinfectant. dangerous ideas should be examined in broad daylight, not hidden in darkness.

if these speakers are truly bringing hate to Aotearoa, the people of our multicultural country will recognise them for what they are. they should be free to voice their opinions, just as we are free to counter, criticise and reject them accordingly.

the price of freedom of speech is that each of us will inevitably be exposed to opinions we disagree with or find offensive. this is the cost of living of a free society, and it’s a very fair exchange. we cannot afford to trade our freedom “of” for freedom “from”.

as an artist, i cannot tacitly condone censorship, political or cultural.

this is why i am speaking out and why i support the Free Speech Coalition. my pro-diversity values include the diversity of thought and opinion. i believe in freedom of expression for all, not only those who share my personal world view.

without freedom of speech, there is no freedom.

if anyone has any futher questions about why i support this initiative, please feel free to ask.

i am also on the twitter.

aroha nui.

♥ Rahera

01/07/18

01/05/18

spent waaaay longer on this than i intended to but got stuck on the details! wanted this to have a comic book-y feel, but the design is meant to suit a realistic universe (think The Dark Knight or Azzarello’s ‘Joker’). so weird to think i’ve been drawing this character for nearly 10 years now and i never get sick of her. 🔨♦️🃏💣

likes/shares/feedback etc always greatly appreciated 🖤

instagram: [x]

29/04/18

super sped-up little progress thingie! hair is time-consuming but oddly soothing to draw. looking forward to finishing this.

instagram: [x]

17/03/18

teeny tiny progress video from a digital painting i did a year or so ago. please excuse the general messiness, i don’t think i ever intended for anyone to actually see it, but when i came across it just now i thought it was cool!

11/03/18

I don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil.

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

10/03/18

ok full disclosure these photos are like two years old now but look how utterly #Slytherin i was. and i looked quite pretty. 🐍😎

27/11/17

work in progress! i need to finish this, haha. i have so many unfinished drawings. i always get these sudden frenzied bursts of creative energy, followed by a long cooling-off period wherein i am absolutely useless 😑 

instagram.com/rachelkpoulain/

29/10/17

oh my god i have actually made a facebook page for my creative stuff. it even says ‘art and writing’ on the header. so i have to put stuff on there. what is happening

06/10/17

yo! so, i’ve had this blog for ages and never done anything with it… i’ve been encouraged to try and get my art out there, so here goes. i’ll post stuff i draw here, and maybe some writing further down the track 🙂

rach

11/04/17

The sky is darkening like a stain,
Something is going to fall like rain
       And it won’t be flowers.

— W.H. Auden