Former actor and TV journalist Toi Iti has read and interpreted the signs. Image: Facebook

Toi Iti: Someone painted a cock and balls on my hoarding and I love it

Toi Kai Rākau Iti, who is running in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Kohi Māori constituency, encounters an unlikely channel of youth engagement.

In te ao Māori you’re always looking for tohu, or symbols. They guide you through uncertain territory and help you make sense of the world. The arrival of Matariki? He tohu! A bird flies in the house? He tohu! Your local Lions Club turns up to the Santa parade in blackface? He tohu! So when a cock and balls mysteriously appeared on my hoarding? He tohu!

What was the universe trying to tell me? Was this some kind of homoerotic signal from the gods? Was I being anointed with mysterious powers of the super fertile? Then it hit me. The youth had spoken! They had come, they had tagged, they had made me into a dickhead!

I know it was silly of me to get excited about some punk defacing my overtly serious, arms crossed, “I mean business” hoarding but I felt like I had just passed through a time-honoured rite of passage. You can’t truly say you’ve campaigned until some little shit defaces your image for lols.

A part of me feels like I should be upset but I’m not. I actually get it. I had always smugly dismissed the pile up of desperate “vote for me!” billboards that periodically infringed upon the landscape of my morning commute. I had often slung silent, disparaging thoughts towards their imploring faces. “Vain” and “douche” were two words consistently fired from my mind’s sling. Now, here I was, on the other side of the douche fence and the comeuppance was palpable.

So I dug deep and called on all the reframing skills I had studiously honed as an out of work actor. There was an ure, it was red, red is the universal symbol for hot, the Māori word for hot is wera… Eureka! They were telling me that I had left Te Urewera out of my list of ticks! How thoughtless of me. Youth, I hear you and I agree. Te Urewera. Tick.

But wait, that was barely tickling the undercarriage of this phallic motif. There was more to be caressed from this carnal metaphor. Mā nga raho ka tū te ure! It is the balls that brings the mast to attention. Tā tātou reo rangatira! Te ataauhuatanga! So poetic! These youth are so eloquent! It is from having balls (figuratively speaking and so also applicable to non cis-men) that things get done.

They were telling me that I had balls and I was getting things done! Amazing! Thank you! Yes I do and yes I am! Kei te rongo au te tohu. I have felt and heard the message.

You know, communicating with youth in this way is kinda like listening to Papatūānuku. They both use a complexly intuitive language and both are trying to speak to us. They are even trying to say the same thing in many ways. Treat us like Te Urewera, we are living entities with our own rights and mauri, not objects for your use.

Also, have some balls and get out there and do the work that needs to be done. There is heaps of it and if you don’t, who will? Lastly, don’t be a dickhead. Nobody likes a dickhead. And if you are a dickhead we will treat you like one.

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Got it. Seriously, thanks for the talk guys. I actuals appreciate it.

Your old mate,

Toi


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