Friday, 18 May 2007

Nga Kupu Aroha #16: Denis O'Reilly

"Those that have ears let them hear"
The killing of Jhia Te Tua (2) in a drive-by shooting in Wanganui on May 5 has created grief among her family and iwi - and quite possibly a tipping point in New Zealand gang history. In the latest post in his Nga Kupu Aroha: Words of Love series, Denis O’Reilly tells of Jhia Te Tua’s tangi at Tukorehe marae at Kuku south of Levin (pictured); the talk of whanau and warriors; triangulation between gangs, police, officials; the geo-politics and zeitgeist of Black Power and other gangs; linkages between gangs, social development and criminality; factors, findings and recommendations of the latest Government report on youth gangs in Counties Manukau; a New Zealand gang timeline; international strategies for community-wide approaches to gang prevention (Divert; Contain; Redirect); and five “Maori stones” from James K Baxter – aroha, korero, matewa, mahi and mahuhiritanga – that set philosophical values for ways forward. 5,500 words of intel, analysis and advocacy.

Says O’Reilly, “being in the trapped lifestyle of a gang is a waste of time and human potential.” He asks: “What would it take for the brothers to put down their patches? I don't just mean for an event or such - they'll generally do that if asked respectfully - but as a lifestyle. Well, what would it take for us as a nation to resolve this whole issue? If the brotherhood acknowledged that in fact they don't want a trapped lifestyle that means relative poverty, jail, and underachievement; if the brotherhood said we want to join in socially because we want our kids to succeed and we don't want them in jail, we don't want them to repeat our mistakes; as a nation what would we do?”

Denis O’Reilly is a Hawkes Bay social innovator, coach and businessman. He is a life member of Black Power. His methods of social development at the edges of our society have been honed by his experiences over three decades of mediating with gangs, working in State systems, academic research, and corporate business.

1 comment:

Jules Older said...

Kia ora, brother, and so much gratitude for sharing this with me.

I think it’s fucking wonderful.

It’s a best mix of poetry and science, Maori and Pakeha, feeling and thinking. And it’s a uniquely New Zealand document.

Once, long ago, late at night, at a hui on the Otaku marae, I stood and asked, “What's the difference between a hui and a meeting of the New Zealand Psychological Society?”

I answered my own question, something like this: “At a hui, there’s feeling as well as learning. You laugh, you cry, you argue, you attack and defend and do the dishes. At the meetings of learned societies, there's learning. Full stop.”

In this — what is it? Essay? Memoir? Cry? Awakening call? — you've captured the fullness of the hui, even unto doing the dishes.

I hope it’s widely read and widely considered. If there is any way I can be of help during my month in Aotearoa, please let me know.

Arohanui, Denis.