Māori artist first international invited to join US indigenous organisation

By Talisa Kupenga

A Gisborne woman has been selected to be the first international board representative and Māori voice for the US-based indigenous organisation, Seventh Generation Fund. Tawera Tahuri was surprised when she was approached but is very humbled by the opportunity.

Her art and her people, two of her strongest passions; which caught the eye of the directors who appointed her to the Seventh Generation Fund board.

Tahuri says, “the love really that I have for my family, for my people and for our whenua, that's all I can offer.”

Father Owen Lloyd says, “I am so proud of her. I highly commend her for the work she is doing.”

The Seventh Generation Fund is dedicated to promoting and maintaining the sovereignty and uniqueness of indigenous peoples. Its proverb is "Be a good ancestor".

“Our decisions that we make will have an effect seven generations into the future, so it’s our responsibility to ensure we make good decisions,” says Tahuri.

The Seventh Generation Fund approached Tahuri out of the blue but was familiar with her advocacy for water rights, her work with the Global Indigenous Women's Caucus, and her indigenous art and Ph.D. studies.

“Obviously I was a bit surprised. My first response was, well actually I'm an artist and I'm not a lawyer or a judge, so I wasn't sure how I would best fit. They said that I actually had quite a lot to offer, so I was kinda humbled by that.”

It is an opportunity she is humbled to have received and has high expectations of herself.

“There is a lot of pressure and the responsibility is huge because I'm the first international board member, and people will ask you know why you? I can't answer those questions all I know is the relationships I have.”

Tahuri will be inducted to the board in America this October.