Inspired by the Humans of New York photoblog, we’re showcasing some of the incredible stories and experience of people throughout our organisation.
Mariam, Ethnic Liaison Officer Māori Pacific and Ethnic Services (MPES)
He tina ki runga, He tämore ki raro
Contentment above, firmly rooted below (Those with a good foundation and proper grounding in their own culture and heritage will find satisfaction and contentment in life)
My whakapapa is from the Middle East, but I grew up in the North Shore in Auckland. The North Shore however is not my tūrangawaewae; Hamilton is. I found myself there in my mid- 20s, and it grounded me; Hamilton opened my eyes and my heart to Te Ao Māori. It connected me to this whenua, taught me my reo, and challenged my mindset.
My haerenga (journey) in New Zealand Police began in 2017 at the Auckland-based North Comms, where I spent three years.
I was the only one in hijab (the veil) in the entire organisation during that time, nationwide. It made me reflect on why I was there, and the responsibility I held.
I learnt that privilege isn’t confined to certain types of people, and that I was in fact a person with extreme privilege too. I learnt that it was a massive responsibility to use that privilege to drive change for those more vulnerable.
How am I privileged; you may ask? I hold a Bachelor of Communications and a Post Grad in Interpreting, and come from a long line of highly educated forefathers, where not going to University was never an option.
I was blessed with a sharp mind and an equally expressive tongue, and an undeniable confidence in who I was and what I stood for.
My English was proficient enough not to make me feel alienated in society; I even published a novel at 18, and never struggled to achieve success due to lack of resources.
My five siblings and I were raised in a stable home, with two parents. We were never at risk of being homeless or left to wonder where our next meal would come from. Because of our tertiary degrees, we certainly were not left jobless or financially dependent.
We learnt and spoke our mother tongue, Arabic, without being whipped for speaking it. We kept our culture and faith alive at home without being penalised for it.
I’ve never been in a war zone or forced to leave my land against my will. In the 1990s, New Zealand called for skilled immigrants to come to New Zealand, and my parents answered that call voluntarily.
Having privilege doesn’t mean we are immune to hardship; we all have traits that puts us at a disadvantage. However, we must not dwell too much on what we don’t have, as it makes us forget all the wonderful privileges we do have.
Joining Police made me realise that all the unearned benefits I was born into meant I had a moral duty to contribute in changing any injustices in our current system.
There will be lonely times in your haerenga, and you will encounter turbulence that makes you question why you were even on that journey; but it is crucial to harness the things that set you apart, and embrace the wave of opportunities that inevitably present to you.
One such opportunity for me was to join the Police MPES team, as an Ethnic Liaison. In this space, I am an influencer; I advocate for and support tangible outcomes for ethnic communities in Auckland. I am also able to stay connected to Te Ao Māori, which is my happy place.
Nāku te raurau, nāu te raurau, Ka ora ai te iwi - With my basket and your basket the People will be well (The best outcomes for people is when we join our efforts)