It’s not that hard to listen / Mary-Lynn Huxford

it’s not that hard to listen
Poem written by Mary-Lynn Huxford in response to the Oversight of Oranga Tamariki bill passing the second reading. As the Government have continued to progress the bill this week, it feels specifically relevant.

I felt nervous and nauseous
All day
Waiting
For the debate to start
MPs from each side of the aisle
Arguing about the future
Of tamariki
And how to keep them safe

I don’t really like arguing
I remember my parents doing it
Feeling torn between the two
Until eventually
I was torn from both

Uplifted
Uprooted
Transplanted

I didn’t belong to anyone for a while
Absent parents
Absent government

Emotions constantly swirling
Until one day they stopped
I almost stopped

I was almost gone

Deep breaths, it’s going to be okay
It will all be okay
Will I be okay?
Will they be okay?

I am tired of the arguing
The debating
JUST LISTEN
It’s not that hard

We’ve come to you
Our MPs
Our elected representatives
With our lived experiences
The scars on our hearts
The solutions in our brains

Some of you have heard us
Some of you, I think,
are long overdue a hearing check

We stand in strength
Not in pain or anguish
We know our place
The kaupapa is written on our hearts
As we fight
For our younger selves
And those younger than us
To serve
To protect
To love

We lay down our names
Our reputations
Our hearts
For this cause
Because it’s bigger than us

It’s not that hard to listen

Sometimes politicians say it is
Or excuse themselves with
“It’s complicated”
“We don’t normally do things like that”
“You wouldn’t understand…”
I would understand
I do understand
The invisible barriers you refer to
The systems
The structures
That keep you tied up

How are you sure that it’s not you?

Hear the voices of tamariki
and rangatahi atawhai
Listen to us
Embed our wisdom

We don’t need your awhi
But the next generation needs your action

It’s not that hard to listen

—————————

glossary:

Tamariki
children

Kaupapa
topic, policy, agenda, issue, initiative

Rangatahi atawhai
youth with state-care experience

Awhi
embrace, care, support, cherish

Mary-Lynn is a care-experienced youth advocate and education policy advisor from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her early years were spent separated from her siblings in New Zealand’s state care system. As a young adult, she has advocated for child-centred policy reform in NZ.


She is the vice-chair of the National Youth Council at VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai and sits on their board as a youth representative. She is also an advisor to Oranga Tamariki’s Ministerial Advisory Board.


For fun, Mary-Lynn runs the @auckland.adventures Instagram and TikTok pages, encouraging people to get active and explore their local region.


@marylynn.hux on all socials

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