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Journalist, photographer and activist honoured2 min read

Jul 11, 2023 2 min

Journalist, photographer and activist honoured2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Qiane Matata-Sipu is a King’s Birthday honours recipient. (photo supplied)

King’s Birthday honours recipient Qiane Matata-Sipu recognises the conflicting emotions of receiving an honour from the Crown, an entity which represents the colonial structures she has been working to dismantle throughout her career.

However, Qiane is happy to have 20 years of hard mahi (work) recognised, and to have her life’s purpose – to amplify the voices of marginalised communities to change the narrative for future generations – gain a higher profile.

Qiane (Te Waiohua, Waikato, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Pikiao, Rarotonga, Mangaia), who lives at Ihumātao, was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to the Arts in June for her work as an artist, journalist, photographer and social activist who has contributed significantly to Māori and Pasifika self-determination for 20 years.

“The letter you receive says it’s to recognise your mahi (work) for Aotearoa New Zealand and I put a lot of weight on that sentence because a lot of the work that I have done is for Aotearoa, for our future generations, for my daughter, my grandchildren and the seven generations after me,” says Qiane.

“If my voice has a platform to be amplified, that in turn means that the voices I speak for and on behalf of, are further amplified and it can only be a good thing to bring more awareness to indigenous women, to bring more awareness to indigenous rights, to bring more awareness to issues of land.”

Qiane grew up in Māngere Bridge, and now lives on whenua (land) that was once home to her great-grandfather’s orchard, in a house across the road from where her grandmother was raised. She is a founding member, communications and political strategist for the SOUL Protect Ihumātao campaign, living up to the example set by grandparents who were “leaders who continuously served their people.”

“I look at the top of my whare tūpuna (meeting house) every morning, which is a blessing. Not a lot of people get to live in their papakāinga (housing on ancestral land) and on their marae,” she says.

A journalist and photographer who runs her own multi-media production company, QIANE + co, Qiane works with brands and companies that are working for social or environmental change and in 2018 she founded NUKU, a social enterprise which amplifies the voices of indigenous women via videos, blogs, photos, podcasts and a self-published book, which was short-listed for an Ockham New Zealand Book Award.

She is also a trustee at Makaurau Marae, is the strategic communications lead and Aotearoa Histories Curriculum lead at Te Ahiwaru Trust, which is due to release a collection of resources about their history, hapū, whakapapa and whenua during Matariki, which align with the new curriculum.