My aunty massages fekei and chops taro with feeble fingers
– she knows what love feels like. The way it bounces back after time apart.
Every poem I write is, first and foremost, a love letter to the strong Indigenous women in my life – my late nan, aunties, mentors and friends. It is a reflection and testament to their sacrifices and strength.
Between the lockdowns of 2020, my mates and I would take to the Whittaker Place court – Lavalava strung together for a make-shift volleyball net. We would play Rhianna’s discography and laugh with our entire bodies. Years later, I notice how our sisterhoods shapeshift but remain fiercely tender. After months apart, we’d be packed into a car all the same, snaking our way to Te Henga, Point England beach, Westfield Manukau, up North Head. We map suburban Auckland with meet-ups and conversations that make it out of the group chat.
In recent years, I’ve also noticed the rise of similar sentiments shared in podcasts. Share The Elevator and Island Roots, Auckland Ways explore the value of nurturing connections. Both emphasise that we carry each other’s words into spaces they may not otherwise see, by setting boundaries, holding courageous space and leaning into laughter.
Share The Elevator, hosted by Gyllian Falute Taei and produced by Ella Simanu, amplifies brown sisterhoods with an intersectional focus. The podcast embraces conventionally tough conversation topics; everything from pay equity and trauma dumping to body acceptance and healing – from a place of warmth and tenderness. There is something to be said for our Pasifika voices modelling what it means to hold hearty conversations between friends. The podcast affirms what we already know – that Pasifika and BIPOC twenty-somethings are the blueprints when it comes to lifting each other up to love.
Island Roots, Auckland Ways celebrate the multitude of ways South Auckland slays. Co-hosts Allyssa Verner-Pula and Mariner Fagaiava ground their talanoa in love for place, people, and community. Meanwhile, also draws on guest speakers’ diverse experiences to speak to what there is to love about South Auckland. The podcast dives into everything from music, places to get a feed, memories, aspirations and, crucially, meets listeners on common ground. Ground from which courageous conversations can occur.
Selfishly, this piece was an opportunity for me to write with some of the sisterhoods I love most in mind. However, it’s also comforting to realise in podcasts and other digital media platforms, our communities are increasingly demonstrating that the tough conversations, the bold discussions and the crackup conversations are not ones to shy away from. Just as Share The Elevator and Island Roots, Auckland Ways provide a bus-ride listening company, they also reflect the love and aspirations of aiga, communities and whakapapa. We must never forget – she knows what love feels like. The way it bounces back.