#WĀHINEWEDNESDAY: Cinnamon Lindsay
Fiercely advocating for takatāpui in Aotearoa
As a queer wāhine Māori, Cinnamon is a fierce advocate for her communities, working hard to create space for takatāpui (queer, gender diverse and intersex Māori) in Aotearoa.
Cinnamon is dedicated to dismantling the colonial structures which oppress rangatahi takatāpui, and creating a future where they can thrive. She works to tackle the discrimination many face based on their LGBTI+ identity and racism, which significantly impacts their health compared to their peers. Cinnamon works hard to decolonise rainbow spaces and organisations, and is a volunteer board member and tāngata whenua representative for RainbowYOUTH.
Cinnamon moved around a lot whilst growing up and has lived in both the South and North Island of New Zealand, as well as Cairns, Australia. Due to this movement, Cinnamon did not attend any school for more than 2 years in a row. She also comes from a big family with 7 siblings (two of whom are pictured with her above)! Her favourite food is currently the pies at Blue Rose Cafe in Auckland, in particular, the Palusami pie and the Lamb and Taro pie. Cinnamon recommends these as a must-try!
One of Cinnamon’s favourite places to relax and rejuvenate, away from her Auckland abode, is Northland - where her nana, aunty, uncle and cuzzies live. Christmas is often spent here, and with all the beaches and swimming holes available, it is a perfect place to reset for the year ahead. Taking some time out of her busy schedule, Cinnamon kindly participated in the below Q&A with us:
You seek to create a space for all takatāpui (queer, gender diverse and intersex Māori) in Aotearoa.
How do you do this, and what does this look like in reality?
For me, it’s all about collaboration. These goals can only be achieved by working together with other takatāpui who are doing so much in so many different areas.
It’s about listening to our young people and their mātauranga and passion. I believe they already have all the answers there for us, we just need to listen.
I’m really lucky to work in a research environment where this kind of work can be included in my research goals.
During your Master’s degree, you led a kaupapa Māori research project focusing on the experiences of wāhine Māori.
What were some memorable, meaningful or learning moments from this project?
My Masters research looked at the experiences of Māori mothers at University. It was such an amazing experience being able to conduct interviews with some of the most incredible Māori women I have ever talked to. My participants had the most powerful, reflective, moving reflections about what it means to be wāhine, Māori, and a mother, as well as the power of mātauranga Māori in colonial institutions. They talked about the challenges of balancing such hectic lives and how crucial whānau was to their success. Mātauranga Māori is so integral for social change and it can take so many creative and innovative forms. I felt really lucky to meet and gain such valuable knowledge from these wāhine. Honestly, the hardest thing about writing my Masters was trying to make my analysis and writing as good as the quotes I was so lucky to receive from all my participants!
As a volunteer board member for Rainbow Youth, what do you love most about this organisation and what they seek to achieve?
It’s really lovely being part of an organisation that is willing to have bold and difficult conversations about social action and change. There are so many amazing staff members at Rainbow Youth who are doing extremely important work in these areas.
What I love about Rainbow Youth is that conversations I think would be quite difficult to have in some mainstream organisations, are quite easy to have in these spaces.
We all share connections in different ways and it’s a continual journey of self-growth and learning.
Through your advocacy towards dismantling the colonial structures that oppress rangatahi takatāpui, what positive changes have you seen occur through your actions to date?
To be honest, I’m not sure if there’s anything I’ve done on my own for rangatahi takatāpui well-being. I’m lucky to be surrounded by amazing and inspiring people at Rainbow Youth, who do so much to try and advocate for our rangatahi takatāpui whānau. An initial scoping report was led by Kendra and this highlighted a lot of integral changes we needed to make at Rainbow Youth, so I am so grateful for that mahi. Through this report, we have been able to set up a working group called Te Haerena Hou to help achieve these goals. Through the work of incredible staff and amazing board members, we have been able to implement changes. One thing that I’m really excited about currently is a scholarship we’ve been able to set up for our rangatahi takatāpui and MVPFAFF school leavers, who are going into tertiary education in 2021. The link for this is below, so anyone who is interested can apply!
You are a busy young woman involved in many different projects and causes, where and what do you do to relax and rejuvenate?
I’m really lucky to live in a flat with some of my best friends, so when I need time to relax there’s always someone around to talk to or watch a TV show with. I also started at a swim club a few months ago, so if I ever need some time out from work, I’ll go swim some laps with my beautiful friend, Nessa. On the weekends, we also like to go for long walks. Currently, our favourite place to go is the Hakarimata Summit track, and although there are 1,300 steps to go up, you are rewarded with a beautiful view at the top.
Lastly, is there a lyrical line, movie script, or quote from someone that you think sums up how we should live, or view the world?
I’m not great with quotes, but the person who I aspire to be like the most is my mum. So, if I had to give a quote for how we should all live, it would be: “Be like Cinnamon’s mum!”