Tiwaiwaka weekend July 2023 – Mānawatia a Matariki! – by Louise Petzold

Ka ora te whenua, Ka ora te tangata

When the land is well the people will be well, is a central theme to the Tiwaiwaka principles that streams through Pā Ropata, Rob McGowan. In July we spent a weekend with an almost full house of people, for the first time without Rob, to explore Tiwaiwaka and what it means to be kaitiaki of the whenua.

Tiwaiwaka is a gift from the mātauranga of te ao Māori which reflects the wisdom of the land as understood by the first people of this land. It speaks of the mauri of all things- the web of connections that sustains life, the interconnectedness of all things, the need to know how to listen and care for the tiniest creatures and of Papatūānuku. Tiwaiwaka is a reminder to ourselves that we humans are the last born- the pōtiki, despite what we may believe or how we may act!

Through a weekend in a melting pot of Dharma, Tiwaiwaka and honouring of te ao Māori, we brought our interest to the place where these three rivers may interweave, without claiming expertise in any of them. But curiosity has power and it was a rich weekend, of sitting silently under the stars, taking refuge in the vastness, and feeling the connection and supports of these human bodies and this breathing planet. As a group, learning kotahitanga is about listening- to each other, to the land, to body.

To understand us humans as pōtiki is to also acknowledge all that has gone before. Universe and Earth as ancestor. Trees, plants, birds, animals and insects as ancestor. To acknowledge tangata whenua and mana whenua, and the movement of Iwi across the valley, and the flow of Dharma in an unbroken chain from the Buddha to the dharma teachers and teachings that have shaped and continue to shape the lives of so many who pass through the Wangapeka.

The whenua at the Wangapeka is vibrant with mauri ora- as Pā has said, and in ways we all notice when we spend time there. We are well when we are on that whenua and the whenua is well after nearly 50 years of practice, teachings and blessings have rained upon it. We are blessed to have the gift of the Wangapeka as a place of refuge, as are all beings seen and unseen on that land.

We sat in the Whare Wānanga and felt blessed by the weavings of Namgyal Rinpoche and Kaumatua Tom Bailey- whose descendants had visited only days before. And just above the horizon before dawn, after rain and cloud of previous days had cleared- the first glimpses of Matariki could be seen.

Ka ora te whenua, Ka ora te tangata- when the land is well, the people will be well

Ka ora te tangata, Ka ora te whenua- when the people are well, the land will be well.

Mauri ora.