Kia ora! The student loan extension makes medicine fairer for all whānau

Medical student Kera Sherwood-O’Regan on what the student loan extension means for Māori studying medicine.

“… That relief comes from knowing that far bigger than me, this policy will affect so many students to come, so many whānau, and so many patients. It’s not a magic bullet, but it’s going to put a whole bunch of possibilities on the table for our people to feel respected, and heard, and seen in our health system.

This policy is going to make medicine fairer.

It’s going to mean that our rangatahi who didn’t have the privilege of attending King’s College or Auckland Grammar, but instead call Manurewa, Waiuku and Kelston home have support that gives them the best shot at getting into this competitive degree. They can go do Hikitia Te Ora or a Tertiary Foundation Certificate, or whatever they need to prepare, without worrying about running out of student loan …”

>> Read full article on The Spinoff Ātea

Bob Jones anti-racism petition has been delivered

Photo credit: Rick Zwaan

Yesterday a nearly 70,00-strong petition was presented to Parliament calling for the revocation of Sir Bob Jones’ knighthood following racist comments made in the NBR. Kera Sherwood O’Regan was there.

“A petition containing 68,760 signatures asking for the removal of business magnate Sir Bob Jones’ knighthood was presented at a pōwhiri on Parliament steps yesterday, following a swiftly removed National Business Review column in which Jones proposed a “Māori Gratitude Day” in place of Waitangi Day where Māori would serve non-Māori out of “gratitude for existing”.

Over the past six weeks, petition initiator Renae Maihi and Bob Jones have faced off in the media, with Jones accusing Maihi of defamation and threatening to mount a legal case. Maihi has refused to back down from her criticism, saying that his words were ‘takahia mana’, or trampling on the mana of her people.

Despite the continued standoff, Maihi yesterday issued an invitation over social media for Bob Jones to attend the pōwhiri prior to petition delivery, to face the people and have an opportunity to apologise for his comments, which she labelled “racist”…”

>> Read full article on The Spinoff Ātea

Indigenous youth say “Pass the Mic” to decolonise COP23 climate talks

Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu) is an Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute delegate to COP23, the United Nations Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany, reporting over the three-week conference. This week: she’s tired and no one’s listening to indigenous people.

“If you were looking for a nice and neat overview of the COP23 UN Climate Talks, I’ll save you the bother now. I can’t even pretend to have a handle on the full breadth of the negotiations. While we’re all trying our best to keep whānau at home abreast of our mahi in Germany, the reality is that it’s a giant clusterfuck we’re all struggling to make sense of.

For November, Bonn is the city that does not sleep. We’re gradually becoming immune to the cacophony of dings, rings, and whistles, that sound minute by minute into the wee hours as if all our devices have been issued a directive specifically to fray our nerves to the point of delusion. I’ve never felt exhaustion so deep in my bones.

It’s impossible to keep up to date with everything in these negotiations.

Hell, even following one topic (like the Indigenous Peoples’ Platform) you find yourself drowning in a rising sea of pedantic yet necessary text edits; circular arguments; action proposals; action invitations; press conferences; mailing lists; informal informals; and “bilaterals”… If I’m being honest, it feels like you need a law degree just to order a coffee here, never mind follow the negotiations…”

>> Read full article on The Spinoff Ātea

The COP23 Climate Change Bubble Needs to Burst

Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu) is an Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute delegate to COP23, the United Nations Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany, reporting over the three-week conference. This week: COP23 is finally over, but what did it achieve?

“Two weeks of intense negotiations have come to a close and I have no idea what to make of them.

I suspect it will take weeks, if not months, to really process everything that happened in the alternate reality bubble that existed in Bonn this month. It felt like the entire city was swallowed up by a political force field, completely cut off from the rest of the world. In that bubble, all the rules you learned in POLSCI; the years of activism; the social norms; everything you thought you knew about climate change, and yourself even, all gets thrown out the window.

In this parallel universe it is so easy to get swept up in the pedantry and the strength of a specific word in square brackets. Soon, you too become a COP zombie: three week’s sleep debt propped up by your fancy badge and sense of superiority in understanding the intricate details of a precise tidbit of text.

With such a narrow focus, it’s easy to forget that there are lives enclosed in those square brackets, and livelihoods at stake in between each line…”

>> Read full article on The Spinoff Ātea

The COP23 climate talks’ ‘Fijian flavour’ tastes a lot like tokenism

Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu) is an Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute delegate to COP23, the United Nations Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany. Over the next three weeks, she’ll be reporting on the conference’s outcomes for indigenous peoples.

“Talk to any climate nerd about this year’s UN Climate Negotiations, and you’ll likely be met with excited proclamations about ‘the first Pacific COP’. After all the hot air (pun intended) of Trump’s apparent exit from the Paris Agreement, I’ll admit it’s nice to have something to celebrate. Certainly, throughout the first day of the conference, it’s been impossible to escape the air of optimism and hope among attendees.

Whether in the queue for extortionately priced organic pretzels (justifiable only due to the palaver that is getting through UN security to get in or out of the centres); in the various briefings; or amongst the international displays and pavilions, everyone is revelling in the unique ‘flavour’ brought by Fiji’s presidency this year. Phrases like the ‘Talanoa dialogue’, ‘bula spirit’ and ‘Fijian flavour’ melt on people’s tongues like a buttery croissant, and mentioning that you’re indigenous is met with unanimous good cheer, support and interest.

On the surface, it all seems quite delightful. Dig a little deeper though, and I feel like the so-called Fijian flavor has got a slightly bitter aftertaste… and it tastes a lot like tokenism…”

>> Read full article on The Spinoff Ātea

Love Letter to Myself


I’m proud of you
Your resounding wholeness
When the world wants you to believe you are broken.

I’m proud of you
How you embrace your divinity
And fuel your own fire to heights that make men tremble.

I’m proud of you
Your laughter like rich warm honey
Emanating from the core of your bleeding heart when you are in nought but your own company.

I’m proud of you
When you openly invite them to break you
So you can feel the raw humanity in that sorrow
And put yourself back together somehow more exquisitely complete than before.

I am so glad I finally figured out how to love you.