Ko Tuwhakairiora te iwi
Ko Hunaara te hapū
Ko Hinerupe te marae
Nō Te Araroa tēnei whakapapa
Kei Manurewa ahau e noho ana
Ko Alehandrea Manuel tōku ingoa
My father hails from the East Cape, North Island of Aotearoa and my mother hails from Cagayan Valley of the Philippines. I was born and raised in South Auckland. Currently, I work as an audiologist and the Eisdell Moore Centre Maori Hearing Research Co-ordinator. And full-time studying a PhD in Audiology and Māori Health looking into how older hard-of-hearing Māori and whānau view hearing loss and hearing services.
There are many things which motivate the work I do which includes my whānau and friends. I also want to ensure that one day I be a really cool ancestor by reducing inequities in hearing and ear health. It's an invisible disability so it's often not viewed as an issue in a hearing world.
One day I want to be a 'Kaitiaki Rongo' (Guardian of hearing). I envision that the responsibilities associated with this role will include challenging systems that create barriers from whānau optimally communicating with each other; sharing voices of tāngata whenua who live within hard-of-hearing and Deaf worlds; and to help out tangata whenua to self-determine how they communicate and access services.
I also draw motivation from connecting with other great indigenous researchers and health workers. I believe that this inspires more Māori to get into the hearing and ear health workforce.
It can be difficult identifying mechanisms which can better support and transform the realities of whānau Māori within this space. Over the year, I've questioned how our ancestors used to think about hearing loss and deafness as well as the various communication techniques that were used. I've also been thinking a lot more about atua Māori who were deaf and blind and how we can learn from such knowledge. We need to learn more about Māoritanga and Indigenous ways of knowing on hearing loss/deafness/our senses to guide current practices.
It is important that we continue to address the ongoing impact colonisation, racism, and globalisation has on current delivery of services for whānau. There is a needed shift towards decolonising hearing and ear health care.
Exploring and enabling our tino rangatiratanga enables transformation, allowing hard-of-hearing Māori, Deaf Māori, and whānau to have full control and autonomy. We need to build and maintain meaningful relationships with hard-of-hearing Māori, Deaf Māori, and their whānau themselves. Through this we should listen and be respectful of hard-of hearing Māori, Deaf Māori, and whānau truths and understanding of the world, what has worked, and what hasn't worked.
It is also important that I stay self-aware and cautious, reflecting on my position as a Māori-Filipino, researcher, audiologist, hearing person, wahine, student as so forth. As such, I am open to critique and happy for others to help guide my journey.