Critics often used this argument to counter the push for indigenous rights but now its clear I am a full-blooded Mori. And there will be others
Mum! You didnt tell me youre 100% Mori! My daughter Te Aomihia stormed my room this morning brimming with pride, I just read it on the internet!
Yes. I kept the results quiet even from my four children, two of whom are teenagers with social media circles that surpass my own. I stayed mum on what I was told would be a huge deal. I never thought of my results in that way, I still dont.
Outside work, I told only two people about my results; my mum and stepdad Gary. When I said, Im 100% Mori it seemed he was a little disappointed I wasnt anything else. That made me chuckle. Mums response was typical of her, Oh yeah. Well, your nan was full-blooded. So, yeah that sounds about right.
There are a couple of reasons why I took the test last year. I was working on a story about Mori identity for Native Affairs a current affairs series on Mori Television. I was given a test kit, and wanted to show viewers how easy the test was. While waiting for my results I thought Id have some non-Mori blood and thats what I was really curious about. I have one male English ancestor in both my mothers and fathers genealogy.
I only hoped Id be at least 80% Mori. Some laughed and thought I was being over confident.
When it was time to reveal the results I was a little nervous. As a follow-up story, I set myself up by arranging studio crew to record the reveal in front of an audience filled with my colleagues. The pressure was on. The results could have gone either way. So, you can only imagine my relief and surprise when I was told, Youre 98% Mori. (The remaining 2% was likely to be noise rather than an accurate result).
The way Brad Argent from Ancestry explained how DNA works was what fascinated me the most.
You get half of your DNA from your mum and half from your dad. Right? But its randomised, its mostly a random sample. If they were both just half Polynesian and half Mori they could have given you all their Mori half. It doesnt really say anything about your parents and it doesnt say anything about your siblings. So, it cant rule out anything for anyone else. It can just give you a view on the unique you that you are.
The interest in my story is startling. Cyclone Cook is threatening an already-ravaged eastern Bay of Plenty region my home town. Hundreds if not thousands are cut off, isolated and homeless. Aotearoa is on severe weather watch. Yet, theres so much attention on the Native Affairs presenter being a full-blooded Mori. It was the most read article on Stuff.co.nz and the NZ Herald website. I still have a few more media interviews to get through before my day ends. Its absolutely mind-boggling.
Being Mori is so much more than blood quantum. In New Zealand, many believed there are no full-blood Mori left. Its often been used by critics of Mori who seek equal rights and sovereignty. My results, at least, show there is one full-blooded Mori contrary to that belief. I believe there are more full-blooded Mori, they just havent done a DNA test. As Mori, we rely on passing down our ancestry or whakapapa from one generation to the next. This is how we identify ourselves.
My results havent changed me. Not one bit. While Im delightfully surprised with the result, I really dont view myself as being more Mori than anyone else. The fact my sisters and my parents have a different genetic code does not make them any less than me.
For me, being Mori is a way of life. I was born and bred in a Mori world where reo (language) and tikanga (traditions) were embedded in us. I received Mori-language medium education. Im a proud Thoe, Ngti Awa, Twharetoa and Te Arawa woman.
Oriini Kaipara is the Native Affairs presenter for Mori Television