Tasha Hohaia is of Ngāpuhi descent, a dynamic leader who set out to be a lawyer and was admitted to the bar in 2013. In 2017 she stood in the NZ General Elections as a Māori Party Candidate for Manurewa. This year she attended the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, compelling her to look at systemic shifts and changes needed in NZ.
She has featured in X Factor NZ, released songs to radio and is passionate about decolonisation, chocolate, Instagram, her nephews, and how all people in Auckland and Aotearoa can move beyond surviving – to thriving.
Ko Whakarara te maunga
Ko Ngāmoko te awa
Ko Ngaāti Ruamahue te hapu
Ko Ngāpuhi te iwi
Ko Tasha Hohaia tōku ingoa
What is your story, Tash?
My story is that I’m the product of an amazing village in Auckland, though I’m from Northland I’ve grown up all my life in Tāmaki Makaurau, and I love this city and the pace and tenacity we all have here. It really takes something to live here, it can be expensive, and sometimes it can be hard to live here, but for me it’s been what I’ve known as home all my life. I love these places and its people. We all just get on with it to make things happen. I love that spirit of tenacity that we all seem to carry. If we need to drive for an hour in traffic to get somewhere - we do it (even if we don’t necessarily like it!). We don’t just stay home, we turn up and we make things happen.
Everything is do-able, you know? I came from a decile one school and hadn’t really seen people go to University, but I wanted to so I could get a law degree (I did). Through this I learnt how to overcome challenges and get a bit of resilience while aiming for a goal. I’m also the eldest of three sisters and we have done life together. It’s a good idea to do things together.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my sisters. One of my sisters had to leave her partner who was drug dealing at one stage. It was a brave move, but we knew it had to be done. We all moved in together so we could support the kids, she went on to finish a Masters in Marine Biology while full time working. My baby sister also is completing a Law and Commerce degree, while she cares for one baby. It will take her longer, but she’s completing it. Don’t get me wrong, I know education isn’t the magic answer to everything, but it’s that ability to commit to something and overcome challenges, despite what happens, while loving your whanau along the way. I think we kind’ve paved a way for one another and were eachother’s cheerleaders, and now it’s just normal for a whole lot of others from our school to go to University too, particularly Maori girls, and I love that.
What does a smokefree Tamaki Makaurau mean to you?
To me, being smokefree in Auckland, means that my hair won’t smell like burnt toast. I don’t even smoke, but gosh my friends do and I always try to stand near the wind because I don’t want to stink like burnt toast! I also get asthma, not badly, but when I’m outside and someone feels like they can just blow their stink air into my face, as if they own the air, it’s annoying. I want clean air for everyone to breathe, not just me.
What do you think we need to do as a country to achieve Smokefree 2025?
To achieve smokefree by 2025, we need to support alternatives. I hate that tax is so high on cigarettes to be honest, because I know what it feels like to be over-taxed (bruh, petrol! How do they get away with this?)
But anyway – it’s not about penalising with taxes because that just creates more poverty. It’s about making alternatives more accessible. I’ve got friends and friends’ friends, who have used vaping. They say it’s helped them. (It also smells nice!) I also have friends from work who we all said when it got stressful to just go out and have something to eat together quickly, so they didn’t have a smoke. Or friends who we helped count the days smoke-free and replaced those at the gym.
It’s about creating a culture of clean air, but helping people along the way in a kind way. I don’t want kids like me to grow up with asthma. I want it to be normal to have clean air in public and not have to do the awkward “cough cough I can’t breathe please don’t blow smoke in my face’ - and so we don’t all have hair that smells like burnt toast.
What would you say to encourage tamariki and rangatahi?
Go get those goals and dreams one day at a time- whether it’s study or to be smoke-free, hoping one is a smoke-free Auckland. Everything is do-able and we’re the city with the spirits that know how to overcome.