Twelve Questions: Mihingarangi Forbes

The new presenter of Maori Television's Native Affairs, Mihingarangi Forbes, is best known for her interview with Alasdair Thompson, when he was head of the Employers and Manufacturers Association, over women taking sick days.

Mihingarangi Forbes is not a fan of chickpeas. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Mihingarangi Forbes is not a fan of chickpeas. Photo / Sarah Ivey

1. Congratulations on the new gig: did you ever imagine yourself as the perfectly groomed, high-profile, media-spotlighted TV presenter type?
Not at all. I find it hard even now when I see myself first thing in the morning after a night of being kicked in the head by my 2-year-old.

2. How did you imagine your adult self at age 8?
Brown. I got a hell of a fright when a kid from school called me a "honky". But being fair-skinned has meant I walk in two worlds - my mum was a Pakeha, Lovell-Smith from Canterbury, and my dad was a Tainui bushman. I sit down and people say racist things around me thinking I'm Pakeha and vice-versa. Maori are bloody racist as well.

3. Did you grow up in a politicised household?
My mother was highly political and active across a range of issues from the Springbok Tour (we were anti in case you need clarification) to women's liberation and environmental issues.

4. Who or what were your major influences as a child?
My mother and her coven, who used to play hopscotch in the Feilding town square on Saturday mornings, much to my and my sister's mortification.

She also made us eat chickpeas, which we called chuck peas. I just wanted a ham steak with pineapple on top.

5. What is the most important issue facing Maori?
Systemic poverty. It's not helped by the growing disparity between the brown elite and those disfranchised from the Treaty settlement process.

6. Who is the most effective Maori politician at present?
1. Tariana Turia for getting runs on the board - Whanau Ora plus plain packets.
2. Metiria Turei for consistently advocating for the whenua and the disfranchised.
3. Winston Peters for looking at issues like asset sales with a historic eye.

7. How would you describe Titewhai Harawira in a few words?
Taniwha, self-assured, uncompromising, entitled, impervious, consistent, energetic, dedicated, fierce, historically aware, politically astute, regal, matriarch and kuia.

8. Do you have any regrets about that Alasdair Thompson interview?
No. He sent me a letter that Christmas suggesting that if I wanted forgiveness I could make contact with him. I didn't ring. He wrote in Maori at the end of the letter. He also sent me about 10 copies of a religious Maori book, for me and my tamariki.

9. Is discussing periods in public an important step forward for women or cringingly difficult?
Given that my mother promised to celebrate the arrival of my menses with a full-on party, talking publicly about periods doesn't bother me.

10. How did you cope becoming a working single mum with two children?
It wasn't an issue at all. My mother had done it with three kids before I did.

11. Got any John Campbell secrets to share?
No. His TV personality is a pretty accurate reflection of how he is in person. He is intelligent, compassionate and really does love the Hurricanes.

12. When was the last time you faced any kind of discrimination?
Here at Maori Television last week when I didn't instantly know who was who on the Te Matatini stage. You have no idea how Maori feel about kapa haka!

- NZ Herald

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