1. Inspired by Kerry Ann Lee’s lecture and Tze Ming Mok’s essay, create a piece of creative non-fiction in which you talk about your own cultural identity. You must make at least one connection to a significant moment in the history of Aotearoa (i.e. like Tze Ming Mok did with the attack on Chi Phung, the National Front protest, and the Seabed and Foreshore hīkoi), and you must draw from your own lived experience. (200 words)
Kerry Ann Lee’s lecture resonated with me as I am a 2nd generation Korea in NZ and made me think about my own cultural identity as a Korean Kiwi. While I was born in NZ and consider myself a kiwi, I’m not always seen as one as people still to this day assume I am a ‘foreigner’ as I look Asian in appearance.
A connection with a significant moment in the history of Aotearoa to me, would be the attack on Chi Phung, the 23-year-old Vietnamese student who came to NZ six years ago. She was brutally attacked by a skinhead who punched her in the chest and while she lay on the ground crying and hurt, no passing people attempted to help her. This vicious and cruel attack not only showed the racist ideals of people but also showed how it was enabled and allowed to happen as no one tried to help her. The passing people may have been not directly racist but refusing to help her contributes to the racist ideas and enables such hate crimes.
“He punched me under my breast so hard that I fell down and I cried for about 20 minutes. Nobody in the crowd stopped to help.” – Chi Phung
It reminded me of when I was little and I had to learn quickly that I was different. Like, Laura Toailoa, I became totally aware that I was not the same as other kiwi children. I would get verbally abused in the streets by strangers; things such as “Go back to China”(despite the fact I’m of Korean descent), “stop taking all our bloody jobs” (despite the fact I was a child and was in no position to take anyone’s job), “Bloody Asian invaders” (despite the fact I didn’t invade here, I was born here) and one instance I even had rubbish thrown at me from passing cars. Children would even yell racist slang at me yet their mothers who witnessed this did not correct them. This shows just like Chi Phung’s incident, that people enable this race hate by not standing up, not correcting others and choose to look the other way. Did it matter to these people that they didn’t know me and I was Korean Kiwi? No. All they saw was a foreigner’s face and despite knowing my cultural identity and who I was, I felt attacked, isolated, and helpless at the lack of anyone coming to my defense.
Such blatant racism and the microaggressions I faced during my younger years made me feel that my cultural identity as a second generation ‘Kiwi Korean’ was something that hindered me in life and often asked my parents “why couldn’t I be born kiwi?” to which they responded, “but you are.” They were right but at the time I couldn’t seem to stop wishing I had been born a ‘white kiwi’ because then I wouldn’t have to face the negativity that was attached to being an Asian in NZ.
2. Go to the library and ask for one of the 237.131 2 hour loan books. Find the name of a creative practitioner in that book, then search for that name on the book catalog PCs (upstairs, Level B – don’t use Discover). Locate an image of their work (preferably in print) that fits with your creative writing. Scan this and upload it to your blog, remembering to include a caption.
My chosen creative practitioner is Andy Leleisi’uao. Born in NZ, this Samoan artist uses a ‘Kamoan’ (Kiwi/Samoan) perspective in which he “provides a voice for the generational experiences of the Newz Zealand-born Samoan people living between two cultures” (Home AKLE : Artists of Pacific Heritage in Auckland.69). Leleisi’uao, like myself, is Kiwi Born with immigrant parents, who has faced the two cultural clashes of being Samoan and Kiwi.
“Waking up to my Polynesian spine” is a work of Leleisi’uao who he says is part of 23 artworks in his exhibition where he exposes the true realities of Pacific migrants and their experience of the land that was supposed to be ‘Milk and Honey’. The artwork below demonstrates his “raw and confronting style” of addressing and creating awareness for the issues for NZ born and island born Samoans.
Tze Ming, Mok. “Tze Ming Mok: Being Asian – the Struggle to Belong.” New Zealand Herald. N.p., 1 June 2005. Web.
Toailoa, Laura. “Where Are You From?” E Tangata 11 Sept. 2016: n. pag. Print.
Robertson, Christine. “Growing up Samoan in New Zealand and the Racist Microaggressions I’ve Faced along the Way.” Thatsus. Human Rights Commission NZ, 21 Oct. 2016. Web.
Brownson, Ron, Kolokesa Mahina-Tuai, Albert L. Refiti, Emma Tavola, and Nina Tonga. Home AKL : Artists of Pacific Heritage in Auckland. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.