Today I marched for Moko.
It was a first for me. I’m not a protestor, silent or otherwise. I have been known to mock those who hikoi for a purpose… and have said on many occasions that ‘there is no issue I believe strongly enough that would ever make me participate in a protest or march’.
And yet, here I was today. One in a crowd of hundreds, in the freezing torrential rain. Walking shoulder to shoulder with strangers, sad and silent in our dreary march down the main street of Taupō.
We were there for Moko. We were there for the 200+ other children who have been killed by the hands of others in New Zealand. We were there for justice. We were there for change.
As a community, Taupō came out in force today and I was proud to be part of it. As a Mum, the story of Moko completely broke my heart. And as a Taupō resident and someone who passionately advocates for how amazing Taupō is as a place to live, work and play, this case made me physically sick.
So, what did I learn from my virgin protest?
I discovered that the roll call of murdered children in New Zealand takes longer than ten minutes to read out loud. And each name hurts.
I heard a father of a murdered child speak. His words will resonate with me, always.
My son is 847 days old today. He is lucky to have been born into a middle-class family, who live in a pleasant neighbourhood with two loving parents who are financially able to support their kids. He is not marginalised nor representative of a minority group. He is loved, universally and unequivocally. He has never known hunger, violence, neglect or torture. I pray (to a God I don’t really believe in) that he never does. He is my world, and yet I truly don’t believe he is entitled to anything special or extra above what every child is entitled to. A loving, safe and stable home, a home that is free of violence and full of love, a place where a child can grow, explore, play and just ‘be a kid’.
Sometimes he is a little shit. And sometimes he gives me the shits. But I am lucky in that I was raised in a home where values and respect reigned. I wasn’t abused as a child because my parents knew other tools and techniques for discipline. I wasn’t perfect. No one is. But my parenting skills are a reflection of that I experienced as a child and I’m confident that my children will grow up to be awesome parents as they will be shown guidance and leadership from their parents.
And there’s the biggest challenge for our society.
We need to break the cycle. We need to educate parents of all ages and stages to enable them to be better parents. We need to empower them with tools and techniques to help them deal with the hard times without resorting to physical violence. We need to be brave enough to remove children who are at risk before they become a statistic. And we need to have safe, stable and caring foster homes for these children to live in. We need to embrace parenting as a job - reward and acknowledge those who do it well – and support those who struggle.
This is not a brown problem. Nor is this a white problem. It’s not God’s problem. It’s not the State’s problem. It is OUR problem. It takes a village to raise a child, and it also takes a village to keep our children safe.
I can only hope that some good arises from this tragedy. I guess time will tell.
|Taupo crowd squeezes into the Great Lake Centre at today's March for Moko|