Busting Ghosts


There is something strange, in my neighbourhood. Recently I confronted the kēhua (a lingering spirit) that has been squatting at one of my neighbouring flats. Spooky hooky things have emerged lately and as a ‘concerned’ neighbour I thought it best I contact the property manager to express my very-much-down-to-earth opinion that they may want to call Bill Murray and this team to cleanse the place. Needless to say I was dismissed and labelled a fruitcake. Whilst the manager stated nothing directly that could be construed as “OMG get this crazy off the phone”, she was not at all interested in alternative vantage point that corroborated the tenant’s statement.

Granted, sensing ghosts sounds a little nutty. However, at least three neighbours have seen things; others have felt it. No one stays in that place for very long (the previous two lasted one month and one week respectively), and children become monsters (possibly literally as much figuratively). Ok…

But the dismissal of my beliefs and concerns made me realise just how much of a bubble we can put ourselves in. I didn’t necessarily expect to get my way, but I did expect to be ‘heard’. I had no intention of pushing my beliefs onto someone else; but neither did I expect to be written off. Far from some hippy dippy who makes daisy chains and chants naked in the moonlight (it’s just too cold), I think (?), I thought (?) I had a good grasp on life. To be made to feel like a Sabrina the Teenage Witch turned my world upside down.

It made me reflect on the PhD process itself, which is often mocked by outsiders—that easy breezy student life we have: sleep all day, party all night. What good is a PhD anyway?? In my situation we add to the mix that my topic is about wishing on stars and producing unicorns—some people are just not going to get it. And so we distance ourselves from those who cannot appreciate our views. I have realised that although I am expanding my social field, I am simultaneously narrowing my bubble. It is when I take myself out of this comfort zone of my straight-shooting-yet-ethereal homies I realise there is a whole other world out there ready (and perhaps waiting) to tear me down. This is the real kēhua that lingers on my shoulder, and it’s incredibly scary.

Scary as it may be, it is life. Not everyone is going to agree, not everyone will be diplomatic about their dissent. Kēhua can haunt the dark corners of our physical and psychic realms. They have the ability to wreak havoc, bringing to light how flimsy that solid wall of identity, self-worth, and belief can sometimes be. In order to keep leaning forward, we have to hold onto those beliefs—they are what drive our passion and dreams, and influence our thoughts and behaviours.

I have no prescriptive method of how to deal with dismissive people or undesirable kēhua, but for me, I find my solace and strength in that bubble I have intentionally created. I am surrounded by people who choose to listen to my ramblings, who choose to believe in me, and without whom I would cease to exist. There may be a ghost living next door, but I have plenty of ghostbusters I can call on when I need. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. Tino nui taku aroha.


  1. Dara Kelly

    Yes I found that perhaps one of the trickiest times in the research process is the phase you are in – planning and finding the research gap. That anxiety remained until I was sitting in the interviews asking the questions and finding that no one found my questions difficult to understand or questioned their relevance. It is a craft to find those questions and swing away from the academic jargon in order to be understood enough to garner responses, but when you hit it, your kēhua disappear and a new task emerges to make meaning from the gifts before you.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Manuhiri

    Is it just me, or did Dara just bust a kēhua with her comment? I wish I had a ghostbuster comment to equal it. But instead I only have this to offer. Your post brings to mind a quote – not entirely fitting but I’m going to forge ahead anyway. “Be who you are, and say what you feel. Because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”. You will always have around you people who believe in what you are saying, simply because it is you saying it. And the dismissive ones, well, like the quote says, they don’t matter.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Abigail McClutchie

    Choice post Amber. Those internal testy kehua! Luckily mine are mostly like Casper and quite friendly but there are those times – which seem to be more often on this PhD journey where dem historical ugly ones pop in my head and need to be kicked to the curb. I think the lady denying the ghost next door and refusing to acknowledge your concerns has probably had a few visits of her own that she wishes to forget.

    Liked by 3 people

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