Jessica Thompson Carr (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ruanui) is a writer, poet and artist based in Ōtepoti. You can view more of her artwork on her Instagram page here.

Kia ora koutou katoa,

I make my art with my people in mind and my whakapapa at heart. Māori are the original protectors and kaitiaki of Aotearoa. When fighting ugly polluters and companies who damage Papatūānuku, we must always check the spaces we are occupying as activists. 

In the past a lot of pākehā activists and organizations have overlooked and neglected the indigenous voice, and I want to tautoko Greenpeace in their movements toward working closer with iwi led initiatives. 

Artwork by Jessica Thompson Carr / Māori Mermaid

The kaupapa of this drawing for me was to highlight the basics: our corals are dying, our sea bed suffers, and we need to hold companies like Talley’s accountable. Entwined within this message is a reminder from myself and from the people I had wānanga with that we need to look to māori for guidance in healing our land and our moana, and allow māori to lead us in the cause. 

Many workers who are employed by Talley’s are māori and pacific islander. Laws like the Oyster Fisheries Act (1892) and the Salmon and Trout Act (1867) saw the exclusion of māori from commercial use of our own fisheries and the eradication of traditional fishing rights. The subsequent battle for fishing quota, and to restore customary fishing rights through the Fisheries Act (1996) and the QMS Settlement (1992) was hard-fought. But for the most part, it seems our people have been ignored. 

Our history of immigration and racism within this country meant that the government could take advantage of our pacific cousins for cheap labour, then turn on them as soon as they needed someone to blame for the country’s problems (eg: dawn raids). There needs to be awareness that many good people rely on organisations such as Talley’s to make a living. The system is broken. We need to work toward the liberation of all people, but especially indigenous peoples. From this a greener earth will follow. 

I want to express gratitude to the hard mahi of indigenous peoples who work jobs they do not necessarily want to work because of the capitalist society that has encroached itself upon us. People need to pay rent, feed their whānau, cover bills and simply get by. I want to push the idea of community-based living, and I support Greenpeace in their protest of Talley’s, who feed off of the moana and all its natural resources, as well as the hardworking people in their employment.

Talley’s is guilty of bottom trawling, a destructive and violent process which kills our coral beds and various marine ecosystems. They also repeatedly tried  to get permission to dump their wastewater into the already suffering Waitoa river, and have a history of litigation brought against them from employees and unions. 

In order to heal our earth, we need to fight together against rich, greedy corporations who proceed to poison and destroy our lands without a second thought. We need to make moves toward funding more community-based projects and spaces in which to exist so that we as māori and non- māori may live in a healthier world. 

You can view more of Jessica’s art on her Instagram page here. 

Read more on why bottom trawling is so destructive to the oceans.

Read more on Talley’s – the NZ business profiting from destroying the environment.

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At home and far out to sea, our oceans are being plundered for profit by the fishing industry through bottom trawling. But what is bottom trawling and why is it so destructive to ocean habitats?

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