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WOMEN IN SURFING SERIES | KELLY MOANA MURPHY

Introduction from Ambassador Easkey Britton.

Kelly and I first met as we were about to dive headlong into that turbulent impact zone of our early 20sWe were both on the contest circuit. In her I recognised a deeper truth. We felt at odds with the ‘sexy side’ of women’s (‘girls’) surfing that dominated the surf industry at the time. The financial insecurity and precarious, poorly paid sponsorship deals making the voicing of any real opinions or needs risky business. Kelly is not someone to stay quiet. She lives with a fierce passion and honesty, calling life how she feels it. Kelly was one of those women who, by her own actions and truth speaking, gave me permission to step outside the traditional ‘contest path’ and choose another way. 

For almost 10 years our paths diverged, although Kelly found herself on my native Irish shores, even surfing my namesake wave, ‘Easkey Right’, brought there by love. Then, two years ago I found myself on sitting on the floor of her house in Raglan, drinking tea while her new born daughter played next to us. I was there for the Surfing Social Good Hui, hosted by Waikato University. Kelly joined us as a guest speaker on a panel on “Surfer Identities and their experiences”, challenging dominant assumptions on what it means to be a surfer. I know Kelly was wary of it all being a bit to idealistic, yet she said after;

“It is undeniable that creating the space to consciously look at our surfing community and how that community takes responsibility for the environment (both physical and social), is very, very important. Surfing is most likely not the golden egg to save humanity, but could play a part in the change of the tide that is required.”

We shared a magic surf at her favourite surf break, the legendary ‘Indicators’. A long, reeling, left-hand point break where Kelly has fine-honed the powerful, bold lines she draws across its steep face. We hooted at each other riding down the point, and as Kelly said, we were, “back in that shared space where our friendship began, though this time without the guise of competition influencing our relationships, and instead settling in to where our commonalities meet.” With her family, Kelly is growing down into her roots and awakening a more grounded and feminine way of being in the world. Reconnecting with the land, both ancestrally through her heritage and creating a beautiful home and eco B&B with her Irish husband and two daughters, growing food and living by the seasons.

Words by Kelly Moana Murphy, New Zealand.

Due to a lack of surfing mums in the media, contrary to my suspicions prior to having children, I didn’t fall off the side of the earth once I birthed my first child, or even the second. Although right now, as my father just put it, it’s like i’m hanging on by my nails to the blackboard of surfing, painfully letting my family know I would like to go surfing, so won’t someone please look after my children.

Maybe it seems like women fall off the side of the earth because they’re now so busy multi tasking they don’t have time for the corporations lining up wanting to use their image in the latest campaign*. For instance as I write this, I am also yelling at my husband to get off just another online vehicle auction, and get our 2 year old daughter, who is way past her bedtime, naked, and playing a ukulele outside the window of our sleeping newborn.

I tried to share a story that was clean with a clear message, and it wasn’t working, and I think the point my juno** was trying to make, is embrace the messy, because this change thing is really not easy. I thought about International Women's Day and I thought about the two suns in my life, surfing and family. My Dad gave me the gift of surfing, and my husband was my biggest support in childbirth. And so in my mind, I think this rising needs to happen together - you know, with the males. Yet in reality, my Dad in one breath will be my biggest support, and in another say “there’s too many vaginas in the lineup.” Taglines are nice, but I sometimes i feel #pressforprogress is more #bangingmyheadagainstabrickwallfornothing

Which is what I have been doing for two years. Not every day, but most days, because that’s how change happens. Spurred on by the birth of our daughter and asking ourselves what sort of world we are contributing to for our kids, two years ago my husband and I committed to a vision. Now, after blood sweat and tears, and lots of them, we are 11 working days away from stepping into our new life. Away from the 60 hour working week, and onto the whanau whenua (family land), our newly built small house, and eco bed and breakfast. It’s not everyone's answer, but it’s the one that feels right for us. It’s planting trees - for us, for birds, for bees, for shade, for shelter, and for pure enjoyment. We’re growing food to get those kai (food) kilometers down. We’re wanting to generate our own energy, and closing those loops to be as efficient as possible.

We’re both there when our kids wake up, go to sleep, and for as much in between as possible. We’re trying to regenerate, because the world needs more than just to sustain. We’re going surfing because everybody needs to have fun and rejoice!

So what’s the moral of my ramblings… if making change requires you live 6 hours drive away from your husband for four months, in a 40ft container with a toddler while quite pregnant, with toilet and shower at the neighbours, down a steep hill, that the 2 year old requires being carried down and up, and at various speeds, depending on the level of “busting” - you can do it.. Just make sure it’s nestled above one of the worlds longest left handers. You’re going to need that sweet salt salvation. #bangyourheadagainstabrickwallforsomething

* Emoji’s were never a big thing for me, but since being a mum, I really just can’t get past that crying laughing face. It pretty much sums up every situation in my life.

** Juno is the divine spark that every female has. The equivalent of the males’ genius. Also the name of our 3 week old baby girl.

She will give you everything and ask for nothing.
She will feed your soul, push you to your limits, humble and inspire you.
She will simultaneously wash the day off, and make it a day worth living.
She will be both dance partner, and platform for you to meet and grow to love, your own particular beat.
She will give you lessons in breath, which will carry you through the sorrow of heart breaks, and the joy of birthing.
What will you give her? Your Mother?
What will you give her? Our Ocean?

#prayerforprogress

Follow Kelly and the beautiful Huts hideout here.

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