A three-year-old Indigenous Māori boy in New Zealand named Taraia has stolen the hearts of many after he was captured randomly bursting out into a “ceasefire now” chant – widely heard at protests in support of Palestine – while in the car with his dad one day.
“We were on our way to Waimarama beach and as I’m driving Taraia just starts chanting ‘CEASEFIRE NOW!’,” Taraia’s dad, Te Otāne Huata, told Almost.
33-year-old Huata said that he had been bringing Taraia and his three-year-old brother, Mokoia, to protests in solidarity with Palestine in Hastings every Sunday since the end of October, but he was still surprised because the children are being raised speaking Māori and Dutch and not English.
“Taraia is a fast learner and is very observant,” Huata said. “[Taraia and Mokoia] do understand a lot of English and perhaps loves Pāpā’s surprised reaction when he speaks English out of the blue.”
Huata shared the video of the moment on his Instagram on Dec. 27, and it recently went viral, gaining more than one million views.
Huata said he felt it was important to talk to his kids about what’s happening in Gaza and bring them to protests, just like his mom would bring his oldest sister to protests for Māori rights and against apartheid in the late 70s and 80s.
“Our kids may not fully understand what’s going on now, but they’ll know why Pāpā brought them along to every rally when they’re older,” he said.
Huata said for him, it is more than bringing his sons to a rally but to bring them to be a part of a community that stands against injustice and surrounding them with people that are empathetic, caring, intelligent, compassionate, assertive and loving, all attributes he hope they have when they grow older.
“Whether we care to admit it or not, the truth is, New Zealand is a settler colony, the same as Israel,” Huata said. “The same racism, oppression, colonial violence, superiority complex exists here but on a less confronting scale.”
“The war on Palestinians is a story every Indigenous community understands because the Palestinian story of today was our story of the past,” he said. “We’ve experienced colonisation, ethnic cleansing and genocide and we do not stand for it, ever… Māori stand for Palestine and always will as fellow Indigenous and oppressed brothers and sisters.”
“Talking to them about Gaza is teaching them that injustice is never okay and we must take a stand in whatever capacity we can,” he said, adding that he is teaching them patience at the same time because they go and eat ice blocks on the playground after every rally.
“Taraia sees how passionate our small community that show up each week for the rallies we run in Hastings. He knows it means something to us, and so now it means something to him,” Huata said.