Joshua Iosefo, Pasifika, Treatygate

Brown Brother: the words

In response to your requests, here are the words of
Joshua Iosefo’s poetic speech from the previous post:




Brown like the bark

of the palm tree

which supports my heritage.

Brown like the table

at which my family

sits and eats upon.

Brown like the paper bag

containing burgers and fries

by which my people consume.

Brown like the mud

on a rugby field

by which my people play.

Brown like the coat

of the guitar

by which my people strum.

Brown like the sugar or the crust,

the grain or the nut,

whatever ingredient you want

to use to mix up

and around.

You see, my brother,




My demographic is

high school cleaning ladies,

fast food burger-making,

factory box-packing,

rubbish truck drivers,

bus drivers, taxi drivers, sober drivers

and living-off-the-pension joy riders.

I am a dropout.

I hate science, maths, English,

love PE, music, dance and drama.

I play rugby. No –

I’m pretty good at rugby.

And if I am lucky

my future in rugby

might be sealed,

not to reveal

my flaws in education

which are faulty

because hey,

who needs to be able

to quote Shakespeare

if you can play rugby?

I will probably never graduate,

and if I do I will be the first —

either by myself or with a baby

in, or beside, me –

victim of teen pregnancy

with a guy in high school

I thought was skux.

(Which really sucks.)

You see, when push came to shove

he just couldn’t pay the bucks.

While I was focusing

on this relationship

I was trying to get my

NCEA 1, 2 and 3

purely on luck.

Now I am stuck

in the muck

trying to scrub

my skin with Lux

soap, trying to scrub

away the fat

that I have added

to the brown statistic.

While my mother

is a gambler

and my father

is an alcoholic

I will always blame

the government

and everybody else around

me, but never myself.





And whenever someone tries

to breach my comfort zone

or whenever I don’t

have anything else to say

in defence in an argument

I’m just gonna say

that “you’re a racist”;

that your words are a mockery

to my skin tone and my colour.

Oh, but brown brother

you were doing that

the day you performed Cinderella,

or Bro Town, Sione’s Wedding,

and do I have to mention… the GC?

Now I don’t mean to condescend –

I mean, these shows are great, don’t get me wrong –

but can anyone explain:

Will there ever be a time

when our representation goes deeper

than putting our own people to shame?

Will the stereotype

of an illiterate, misbehaved,

unintelligent Polynesian

still be the same?

Will it ever change?

Or are we still going to sell ourselves short

for a few seconds of fame?

Are we not capable

of an art form

that is thought-provoking

or seen as a form

of intelligence?

Or are we going to keep

to our low standards

of what we feel

is “culturally relevant”?

Instead of mocking our foreign traditions

we need to start being real

about the world that we live in,

like our fight against drugs,

or our fight against violence,

or our fight against what reasonable force is

with our kids,

or how statistically

Maori and Pacific Islanders

are low academic achievers,

brown brother.

Now I’m not saying

that we need to forget

our culture in order to gain,

for we are all the same.

I’m just saying

that I’m sick and tired

of my people feeling

that they belong

at the bottom of the food chain,

brown brother.

Are we not more

than an F.O.B. —

immigrants from the islands

in search of a J-O-B?

Are we not more

than the eye can see?

Can we not move

mountains from point A to point B?

Are we not more

than assets to the 1st XV?

Are we not more

than gamblers at a pokie machine?

Are we not more

than [jandals and golden teeth?]?

Are we not more

than our gamblers at the T.A.B.?

Are we not capable

of attaining a bachelor’s,

a master’s, or a PhD?

Brown brother – look at me!

You can do all things through Christ —

Philippians 4:13 —

you are more than capable.

And I don’t say that

just to make you feel better,

I say that

because I know,

because your creator told

me to tell you so.

You will go places,

you will tell stories,

so do not feel alone –

for your God,

your family and your home

will forever be inside

the marrow of your bones.

So do not fret,

do not regret,

because wherever you go

you take us with you,

brown brother.

Do not be afraid to be the first —

the first to graduate,

the first to climb,

the first prime minister or

the first good [wife?],

brown brother.

Do not be afraid

to be the change —

not a change in skin tone

or colour,

but a change in mindset.

From one brown brother

to another.

Thanks to Michael for transcribing.
I’ve been chatting to Josh Iosefo on Facebook and
hope he’ll come here and fill in the gaps in my (ie his) script.

5 thoughts on “Brown Brother: the words

  1. Brilliant, John, and thanks. That guy is an inspiration and his video clip should be viewed in all the schools. Actually I’m wondering if you should also post a link to his video so people can see him in action because he really reinforces his words.

  2. Such an amazing word, relate able and encouraging. I am interested in using this poetry speech for a uni assesment? Hope its ok ?

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