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Rethinking Collaboration: Working the Indigene-Colonizer Hyphen.
Alison Jones and Kuni Jenkins

This, as so many of the readings have been for me in this paper, provides another very confronting read. However, I have now begun to process this discomfort a little differently, and rather than a mild anger and frustration. I have tried to understand, to walk a mile in the ‘Other’s’ shoes, which is not easy, as I have never been the ‘Other’, a place that I all too frequently find myself in today when engaged with Māori.
This reading provided several ‘aha’ moments for me as a I processed many of the mildly confronting situations I continue to endure in Maoridom.
Having a strong association with the Waikato Women’s Refuge as their Chair
and a 10 year friendship with their CEO, Roni, I know I will never be fully accepted, that there will always be an underlying mistrust (not with Roni), but with many that surround and support the Refuge mahi. I am learning to live with this. I have been on many coffee dates with Roni, where Māori wāhine approach to engage, and completely ignore my presence.

Does the trauma of encountering what is outside the subject, threaten the stability of my ego?

This readings example of Marsden’s first speech on the beaches of Aotearoa, and its discounting of the Western version of events, is absolutely credible, and starts to make me question all that I believe in, all that I’m foundered in. I now laugh out loud at the absurdity of the dominant version of Marsden’s first speech and the Māori skirmish’ (powhiri) on the beach, when I logically look at where we were at, in this place in time, from a Māori view point.
The introduction of the Hyphen in this reading and its meaning to the coloniser-indigene relationship, starts to give clarity.

“All collaborative relationships differ, depending on personalities, relative power and the academic desires of the participant’s “.

This has me reflecting on the correctional mahi that I’m doing, where I am working inside and outside the prison to privilege the voices of the incarcerated wāhine, endeavouring to change the delivery of the inside content. I know that my privilege will, and has gained the correctional ear we need. However, if I reflect on the fact that there is no ‘we’, as I have the power, I become displaced in my process.
This is not easy, but then nor has it ever been easy for Māori. I hungrily read on looking for permission to be part of my collaborative work in this reading, after all it is written by a Pākeha who had a deep friendship with a Māori.
How will I find a shared ground but also know that we can still speak separately? Do I accept that co-authorship, speaking with one voice, is not possible re getting a homogenous view point? Will my relationship with Māori always be seem as benevolent, based on inequity, power and social privilege? Will the Hyphen always emphasise the gap of difference and my positioning as a privileged outsider, when I seek to represent the Indigenous voice of the most marginalised communities, through my 10 years of RAW mahi? Therefore if I can never soften the Hyphen to reflect collaborative engagement, as this does not work, do I simply walk away acknowledging unity is simply the dominant’s fantasy. Then if ‘shared speaking’ is framed to only be the desire of the dominant, it would seem my correctional work to ensure that incarcerated wāhine eventually become mediators of their own narratives, actors in their own emancipation, is doomed. Detained and marginalised as they are, there is no opportunity to advance purposeful change. Yet the approach I am taking to advance a ‘social justice’ will be seen as more of a moral training for me? In that It can never be seen as advancing a collaborative voice to transform the inside?

I also reflect on the recent separation of the MĀORIS570 class to discuss our rangahau projects. I was disappointed, but not surprised to find that all the white students had been grouped together.
This reading talks to the same separation and the disgruntled uncomfortability for white students. I am learning to live with this approach to my ‘Othering’, I do however wonder why I now continually pay the price for the sins of my fathers, and how do I remove this stain of birth right, and cease to be positioned as untrustworthy and socially benevolent to the ‘Other’.
To sit with my labelling, simply creates discomfort, however, I acknowledge that the Hyphen equals a posture of alert vulnerability or recognition of difference, rather than a pose of empathetic understanding. Moreover, I respectfully suggest this approach should now be reflective of both sides of the coloniser-indigene relationship.
I will not give up, I will continue to become informed and I will ensure that my research space, amplifies an Indigenous voice to enable and redraw the maps of power. I will see the Hyphen as a bridge to give voice to the Indigenous incarcerated wāhine, so that it enables a direct and sympathetic hearing from others. I will locate myself in the ‘in-between’ and ensure my collaborative mahi is in the right spirit, has lasting loyalty, humility and trust.

Jones, A., & Jenkins, K. (2008). Rethinking Collaboration: Working the Indigene-Colonizer Hyphen. SAGE Publications, Inc. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781483385686