Episode 1 | Mez & Mahlete

From Generation Next, 12:19 pm on 1 October 2020

“If anything can describe the experience of being Black in New Zealand, it’s being simultaneously visible, and invisible.” 

Mez and Mahlete Tekeste had only envisioned themselves, and a few of their friends, would turn up to Aotea Square for the Black Lives Matter march for solidarity. 

But the flyer they’d made just 24 hours before had been shared by some of the biggest names in New Zealand. As they looked out into the square, the crowd began to swell.  

Fellow organisers Shalane Williams, Elyssia Ra'nee Wilson-Heti, Shelley Te Haraa, and musician Mazbou Q made routine reminders for those present to keep their distance. Still, thousands steadily streamed into the square. 

Mahlete recounts a heaviness felt by Black people across the world during this time. She says organising the protest was a means of catharsis. 

"Screaming and shouting and losing my voice was just the most therapeutic thing. If we didn't do anything productive that day, if that was all that happened, I'm happy with that because it was a release of all these built up emotions." 

The Black Lives Matter Auckland march was held on 1 June in response to the killing of George Floyd, and others before him, at the hands of US police. 

*With thanks to RE:, Jordan Cherrington, Nick Knoll (@regularnick), @musterrnew and Jos Wheeler for providing additional footage for this episode. 

Generation Next is a video series profiling young New Zealanders talking about the issues they care about.