Roseanne reflects on her journey as the inaugural recipient of the Whakahoa Kaitoi i Te Ara Poutama Arts in Corrections Artist Fellowship 2022.
As the inaugural recipient of the Whakahoa Kaitoi i Te Ara Poutama Arts in Corrections Artist Fellowship 2022, my fellowship has come to a close. I take a moment to reflect on the transformative path I have travelled, the significance of connection to self, aiga and hapori, and the immense power of storytelling.
The completion of my fellowship project was a moment of triumph and celebration. Surrounded by the vibrant energy of Home Ground, the support of my family, and representatives from Arts Access Aotearoa and Ara Poutama, we marked the end of a dedicated journey. Guided by my mentor, Tusiata Avia, and inspired by the Home Ground community, I delved deep into my creative process, exploring the power of storytelling.
My be-ing is the tapestry that gives depth and meaning to my storytelling. It anchors me, connects me to my roots, and infuses my words with a unique perspective. Supported by my loving family both here in Wellington and Samoa, I found the strength and courage to embrace my passion for writing. Their unwavering belief in me has been a guiding light throughout my journey. I’m so grateful that I was able to share my fellowship journey with my parents and family during my 3-week stay in Samoa.
Through both my fellowship and the mahi of Home Ground, I have reaffirmed my belief that when women are empowered through creative expression, it can be transformative. Given the opportunity to share stories in their voice, through their lens, the ripple effect is profound. It goes beyond personal growth—it inspires and empowers others, creating a wave of change that has the ability to echo through generations. My vision: celebrate women’s voices, amplify their narratives, and let those stories become catalysts for compassion and understanding in the world.
My journey became one of self-reflection and introspection. Through poetry, I found solace and a means of expression. I delved into my lived experiences, exploring the impact of the justice system on my family and myself. Poetry became the vessel through which I channelled raw emotions, offering healing and understanding. The poems I have drafted are testaments to the power of storytelling, as they reframe pain and shame, while speaking of resilience, and hope.
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Arts Access Aotearoa for their vision and foresight to supporting artists like myself. I am immensely grateful for the unwavering support and love of my family, who have stood by me and contributed through every step of this journey. My mentor, Tusiata Avia, has been an invaluable guide, nurturing my growth as a writer and igniting my creative fire - The Savage Coloniser Show opened my eyes to so much more than stanzas on a page. And to the Home Ground community, you have embraced me, believed in me, and shown me the power of collective strength.
May it, please
By Roseanne Leota & Ieremia Tuivaiti
In a realm where justice's tapestry is torn
where whispers of a broken system are born
we seek to decolonise its age-old frame
to review the meaning of punishment's fiery flame.
May it please the court
let us explore anew
the essence of justice, pure and true
beyond the confines of a flawed design
to foster compassion, to truly refine.
May it please my child
the purpose of punishment, let us perceive
not as retribution, but to believe
in a justice that seeks to reform and heal
to nurture souls, to help them reveal.
May it please my family
a justice system steeped in colonial strife
must transcend its wounds, the scars of life
embrace the principles of fairness, to ignite
a transformation, shedding darkness, embracing light.
May it please the hordes
reparation, rehabilitation in our sight
as we navigate through justice's might
addressing systemic flaws, a crucial tasking
to create a future that we may bask in.
Decolonise the pillars that hold it firm
amplify voices, let unheard souls affirm
that justice, when purged of bias and vice
can foster harmony and pay its rightful price.
Let us envision a world where justice flows
not confined by chains, nor coloured by shadows
a tapestry woven with threads of compassion
where punishment finds purpose in true ration.
May it please the court, let us embrace
the journey to transform, to erase
the broken echoes of a flawed design
and usher in justice, radiant and divine.
In reflecting on the completion of my fellowship, this part of an on-going project, I am filled with a sense of relief, gratitude and purpose. There is a fire fueled by knowing myself, the value of my story and the many ways in which those stories can be expressed and told to the world. Through creatively writing, I have found healing and understanding, and I hope my words resonate with others, fostering compassion and empathy. With heartfelt gratitude to Arts Access Aotearoa, my family, and the Home Ground wahine, I step into the future, eager to continue this empowering journey of storytelling and to envision a world where everyone's voice is heard and valued.
To read more about her the Fellowship, visit Arts Access Aotearoa
Watch this very awesome reel to see Roseanne presenting!
Roseanne, congratulations on such a ground breaking fellowship! We are so proud to work with you, share your successes and always experience the power of your writing. Thank you for all of your generous words- they are a gift!