Ambassador of indigenous wisdom: Pauline Tangiora from Aotearoa (New Zealand)

Peace Award 2017: Award Winner "Public Engagement"

Pauline Tangiora from Aotearoa connects the tribal knowledge of her ancestors and the message of protecting and preserving our fragile planet. The Maori woman campaigns throughout the world for the rights of indigenous peoples.

Pauline Tangiora belongs to the Rongomaiwahine who come from the east of the North Island Aotearoa. As the tribal elder, she plays a leading role when the Maori people deal with important questions such as land rights or a common foreign policy. When there are conflicts within her community, Pauline successfully mediates as a justice of the peace.

However, her sphere of activity extends far beyond her own tribe. She communicates the ancient wisdoms of indigenous peoples throughout the world: "The earth is my mother" or "If you destroy mountains, you also destroy yourself". For more than the last four decades, the 76-year-old has been campaigning worldwide for peace, justice, environmental protection, indigenous rights and women's rights. Wherever she resides, she emphasises the fragile nature of the planet and advocates the protection of people and the environment from destruction.

With a caravan of peace through North America

The mother of nine and grandmother of over 50 grandchildren has many contacts to indigenous peoples all over the world. In this way, she helps the San in the South African Kalahari to preserve traditional places and their cultural heritage, and she also assisted the Australian Aborigines in reviving a lost ritual with whales. She was the only indigenous woman to have ever travelled through North America with a peace caravan in order to draw attention to the problems of the indigenous people in the South Pacific. 

Pauline Tangiora repeatedly calls for a change in our way of thinking by explaining the holistic view of the Maori at national and international conferences. Within the United Nations and at other international forums she represented peace groups from New Zealand. She worked as a regional representative for women at both the World Council of Indigenous Peoples and at the World Charter, is ambassador of the Earth Council International and member of the World Future Council. 

Compensation for stealing land enforced

One of the greatest success stories of her tireless lobby work for the rights of indigenous people took place only a few months ago. In November 2016, the Crown apologised to the Maori for stealing their land and for destroying their cultures. In addition, they signed a treaty for compensation payments and social support. More than thirty years ago, Pauline Tangiora initiated such a campaign which, thanks to her perseverance and tireless commitment, has finally proved successful. This event is symbolic as it shows that colonial guilt does not have to be swept silently under the carpet of history as was, for a long time, the case in Germany with regard to the Herero and Nama in Namibia. Laying a claim to responsibility is a chance; showing responsibility a step towards more justice.



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