Kia ora whanau ☺ Well I don’t know about you guys but this past month has flown by for me!
Now that I’m working full time I swear the days are getting shorter and the ‘to do’ list that little bit longer every day. As I write this I’m watching the late, great, Billy T James comedy gala repeat. The funny thing is, a lot of the topics that he is talking about, are still relevant today. The state of the government, the state of the maori people in general. It makes me wonder if things have really changed that much in the past 15 years, since the show first aired. Are they ever going to?? How far have we come as maori? Have we even really made that much progress at all? The optimist in me says yes, we have made progress, the realist in me knows there is still a long way to go. A few weeks ago I was further south at the marae and the sad truth is, every time I go back there it looks that little bit more run down each time. This particular marae was one of the busiest in the area and compared to my dad’s side, has always had a lot more support people. But I’ve noticed over the past few years, those numbers are slowly declining more and more. So I ask again, are we really making progress?? There is a meeting tomorrow at my dad’s marae where they are hoping to discuss the state of the urupa. Hopefully a lot of the whanau turn up and it’s a success.
The reason I went down to the King Country in the first place was because a couple of my cousins were here from overseas. They decided to organise a get together for only us cousins because who knows when we would be under the same roof again. So about 25 of us got together and I swear the amount of travelling and things we managed to squeeze into two days would make a professional event planner jealous! And the best thing is it wasn’t just a big drinking session. We did stuff for the kids, went visiting other whanau, watched movies, and it was just what I needed. I try to go to go down to the King Country at least once a month (unless its winter) but this was the first time I’d managed to get there since last October-ish. I truly learnt the meaning of the word whanaungatanga that weekend, and it was great for the soul!
We have our first assessment coming up for my te ara reo course soon. Classes have gotten a lot more challenging so it’s really good. And they’re focusing a lot on waiata as well which is good because I don’t actually know a lot of waiata myself. One of the responsibilities of a kaikaranga is to have a suitable list of songs in her repertoire and be able to choose/lead a fitting song for every occasion. So learning as many songs as you can (and the meaning/history behind them of course) is important for today’s modern wahine I think. Just as its important for today’s modern tane to have a range of whakatauki, mihi, and karakia etc in their repertoire for times when they stand to korero.
Meanwhile in class, it’s all about tenses, short and long sentences, and negating those sentences. And the good thing is, the kaiako gets us to do a lot of group activities, as opposed to sitting with a paper and pen. So we’re learning by doing. I have an uncle who believes that maori people (in general) learn better that way. Some people learn better by watching and repeating, others by reading a manual. According to this particular uncle, the best way to teach maori is by physically putting them in the middle of it and getting them to do it for themselves. Something I can believe when I look at my own whanau. I know my brothers are like that. I always thought I was the read the manual type until recent years though. Although the main thing is to retain it I guess.
A little while ago, I was pottering around the house with the TV playing in the background (on the maori channel of course) when I hear a someone declaring – ‘I’m gonna become a mowri’ – needless to say it made me stop what I was doing right there and then. It was a documentary made by Christchurch native Ben Edwards – One Sixteenth – in which he details his journey back to his ‘scant’ maori roots, in his attempt to obtain any amount of Ngai Tahu funding and rebuild his life after the Christchurch earthquakes. My first initial reaction was me wanting to throw something at the tv and start yelling obscenities! How dare this pakeha, suddenly decide he wanted to learn his maori roots, just for his own benefit! But, the more I watched, the more it went from cheesy, cynical, and borderline-offensive, to a story of a new beginning, knowledge, and heritage.
I jumped the gun and I can admit it.
But I do think it’s well worth a look if you haven’t seen it already. Ben can trace his whakapapa to exactly 1 maori tupuna. So his question was – does that make him Maori? And if so, what does that mean? Then he realises that technically, he would be considered 1/32 maori, as opposed to the 1/16 he always thought he was. During his travels, Ben meets with several people, and even visits the burial site of his one Maori tupuna. When he meets one of the Ngai Tahu kaumatua, he questions him saying, when does it stop? In true form, the kaumatua replies, it doesn’t. If you have one drop of maori blood in you, then you are maori. We don’t draw a line. We are all-embracing, and aroha is one of the main fundamentals that we live by. It’s quite simple, if someone needs help, help them. Be nice to others always, and in all things.
So that’s my rant for this month whanau. Remember though, feel free to message/contact me via my facebook page with any comments, queries, or just cause you feel like it. I’m going to make some plans for matariki now which is only a month or so away.
As always, thanks for reading, ko te reo kia tika, ko te reo kia rere, ko te reo kia maori e. Haumi e, Hui e, Taiki e.
For today’s modern Maori, the choice to learn and embrace their maoritanga isn’t a process that happens overnight. More often than not, there is a catalyst, a starter, someone or something that leads you to ask questions. Something that makes you ask yourself what it is to be Maori.
I can think of many people asking these questions, but where to go for answers? For an Australian-born maori (or mozzie) such as myself, the massiveness of these questions, and Te Ao Maori in general (The Maori World) can seem like a dark hole of unknown mystery. How to begin? Who to speak to? What will be expected of me?
While I would never dictate how a person should live their life, what I can share is how I am personally approaching it. From a self-proclaimed “mozzie” point of view. Detailing the highs and lows, the places I visit, and the people along the way. From someone that generally had a pakeha upbringing, it’s a complete shift in how you view the world.
Who am I to be writing this you may ask. Why keep reading? What is it about my opinions that merit your consideration? well, I’m a little political, and a little crazy. I have a lot to learn and my opinions are just that – opinions. They are not gospel, they are not law. I don’t aim to discredit anyone, but more to share my experiences with those who are interested. If one person reads this and decides to look into maoritanga for themselves, ill be happy. Check out my facebook page missmaorigal for more updates and information.
I should state from the start that at present I am semi-fluent in te reo so apologies in advance for any and all types of errors I may write. Obviously I will make all efforts to avoid any possible mistakes in the first place though. Not only with the language, but everything I write overall. My mother is Ngati Hari from Taumarunui, and my father is Ngapuhi from Nukutawhiti. This is my journey of discovery to find out what that means to me, Missmaorigal.