Tēnā koutou e te iwi
I felt privileged to be part of this special Wangapeka event. Our exploration of this profoundly important kaupapa was facilitated in a well-planned, beautiful way. The leadership and commitment of these rangatahi is heartening – ngā mihi whakaute ki a koutou!
Two parts of our day moved me deeply. Firstly, the outdoor mihi circle, during which Willow and Eli led us in greeting all the atua, kaitiaki and iwi connected with Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka: mountains, rivers, lakes, seas, giants, fairies, taniwha, iwi of the ancient past, iwi still living in this region. It felt like we were channeling fresh energy into the land as we greeted each entity: Tēnā koe! Tēnā koutou!
Secondly, the group go-round reading of events marking the colonisation of Aotearoa and the relentless, strategic dispossession and alienation of Māori. To read this history is challenging. To absorb, acknowledge and respond to it with authenticity is a practice in itself. Whatever our whakapapa, we must take responsibility for this history – because we are here in this land.
The hui made me even more determined to build relationships with Māori, to whakamana (honour) their language, stories and worldview by listening and learning. I will also continue to pay close attention to the Black Lives Matters kōrero and the implications for myself as Pākehā. Racism is a system that causes real suffering, and I am complicit in that system. How can I/we do things differently? How can I/we let go of privilege and power? How can we share this land in true partnership?
Heoi anō, ānei he whakatauki: ‘Ka mua, ka muri’ – Look back in order to move forward.
Photo – tim-marshall-cAtzHUz7Z8g-unsplash