Updated: Jul 30, 2021
Sadly our Whaea Miriama passed away a few months after this interview - She is greatly missed by us all.
In this conversation between Whaea Miriama Solomon, Jane Mihingarangi Ruka (my mum), Drew Kahurangi (my eldest) and myself, you will hear just a small piece of a much larger story. Whaea Miriama is one of our Waitaha Executive Grandmothers Council members, she is a 86 years old, a Reverend, and a Great Grandmother. She was 11 years old when she started to raise her younger siblings, over her life time she has raised more than 30 children. Whaea Miriama's life story is an example of the direct impact of colonisation, her family's ancestral land was taken by the Education Board and later sold. The immeasurable detrimental affects of this have filtered down through the generations.
To add to the injustice, Whaea Miriama has lived in a house in Auckland for 45 years, secured by her husband through the former Māori Affairs department in 1975. In 2015 she received an eviction notice from Land Information NZ who want to sell the property. In 2020 this has still not been resolved, it is beyond shocking that at 86 years old Governmental departments are still trying to take her home*. This is what she is fighting for in her claims WAI 2750 Housing Policy & Services Inquiry with the Waitangi Tribunal and compensation for her father's stolen land in Waimamaku.
Whaea Miriama, is an absolute taonga (treasure), hilariously funny, with a wicked sense of humour, enthusiastic, strong, kind and loving. I will let her introduce herself below..
1. Map of the areas mentioned through out the conversation here
2. Waimamaku village.
3. Waimauku Native School images here (https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/338333)
This school sits on the land that belonged to Whaea Miriama's fathers family. They grew mile long gardens, orchards and wild food was plentiful from the Waimamaku river that ran past their house. Miriama's family had to move away from the home of her birth in Waimamaku, so that her father could find work to feed their family. We were told in those days young girls were sometimes sold to wealthy land owners or business men. After the early deaths of her siblings (due to heart disease), Whaea Miriama legally adopted their children, so that this would not happen to them.
Whaea Miriama spoke of Lake Omapere, she features in the documentary 'Restoring the Mauri of Lake Omapere' 2007 produced by our family friend Mairi Gunn .
Thank you to Whaea Miriama for sharing her story and our Waitaha Executive Grandmothers Council for being the strength and the light in the dark.
Nga mihi aroha Grandmothers
*Te Ao Maori News 2015 Miriama's eviction notice https://www.teaomaori.news/maori-pensioner-not-giving-being-evicted