Why is it so hard for non-Māori to accept that they don't need to police how ngā iwi Māori exercise their tikanga and cultural identity?
How often is it that Māori, especially our rangatahi (youth) Māori, see a headline or read an article that slaps them with the condemnation of their cultural identity? The short answer: all the time.
It is my fear that some of them will open a mental space for self-hate, all because some journalists and media outlets ask us to compromise who we are, our tikanga, for the comfort of all Pākehā.
It is my fear that because of the lack of compassion that has been displayed in journalism over the last week, rangatahi Māori will pose the question: "is it okay to be Māori?".
Waitangi weekend provoked an embarrassing effort from some non-Māori journalists, and I wondered how much they understood Te Tiriti o Waitangi themselves.
"It's time to move on with the times," said a columnist in last week's Weekend Herald, as she advocated for Judith Collins to speak on Te Tii marae on Waitangi Day, while apparently forgetting that this document explicitly obliges the Crown to protect Māori interests and taonga - in exchange for Pākehā to settle here.
Partnership, participation and protection was the objective for Te Tiriti, but on Pākehā terms, it seems.
"Well done," to Collins for her call for women to speak on thea marae, a tauiwi (non-Māori) said, but when Māori Marama Davidson said this is a discussion for te ao Māori to lead, because this is a Māori topic, they called her "sour".
I admire the advocacy for women to have equal rights as men as the western world continues to dismantle a stubborn patriarchal system, but let's get something straight - te ao Māori is not part of the western world.
Tikanga Māori is a world where one gender does not disempower nor overpower the other, all roles are crucial and significant to the well-being of Māori.
For example, let's take our Māori kupu (word) for pronouns "he" and "she" which both translate to "ia". One and the same.
Pākehā women demand to have a right to speak on a marae they visit once a year, but are oblivious to the fact that kaumātua/tāne cannot speak without our karanga, an integral part to our pōwhiri process which is not more or less than a whaikōrero.
A karanga is the call of a kuia (elderly woman) you will hear as you enter a marae. The karanga carries mana of its own: as wāhine represent our whare-tangata (house of birth), they too can call us back home.
I wonder how many people are aware that women in te ao Māori are deemed sacred for our ability to nurture and give life, and also sacred during the time of our periods.
Now, I would love to see headlines endorsing that, but with tauiwi journalists' attempts to lead the way on Māori topics, we'd never know.
So, let's not act as if this week's headlines have been a feminist cry for equality when in te ao Māori wāhine are held in high regard. It's a cry for Pākehā only.
As Dr Ella Henry and Melissa Wikaire wrote in The Brown Book, it's important for Māori to be the storytellers of kaupapa Māori, to uplift, endorse, and support the revitalisation of Māori culture, including our tikanga.
If it's important for you to speak on a topic or culture you do not identify with, ask yourself why. It is almost the same as asking a marine biologist to teach architecture - why would they?
Let's create more content where tangata whenua can see themselves and thrive – and let Māori be, the shot callers of change if perhaps our tikanga needs updating.
Let ngā iwi Māori be the navigators of tikanga and rangatiratanga as encouraged by Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Let ngā iwi Māori decide what to do on their marae, not tauiwi.
Let them know it's great to be Māori.