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Connecting with our culture

Friday 16 July 2021 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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Connecting with our culture
Ngamaru Tupuna Ariki with her Ui Mataiapo. 21071640

It’s hard to describe in words but yesterday’s investiture of Ngamaru Tupuna Ariki on Enuamanu signifies a time of transition, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

It’s a transition from father to daughter but also a transition from one generation to the next, a generation with other skills, other qualities and qualifications grafted from another country – skills that will help her to serve as ariki.

Ngamaru Tupuna Ariki is a symbol of the generation that is coming when in fact, it is already here. She is not a leader of the future. She is a leader of today, not just of tomorrow.

We are surrounded by leaders of today. Young ones talented and gifted. It’s simply that they ask from us the space to grow and for someone to make room for them and lift as they climb.

Whether it be the succession of a king or a queen, a church leader or a youth leader. Or maybe even someone in your job. What’s clear is that we cannot afford to choke the bottle full of potential inside them, and in doing so stifle our own future.

Because the leaders of today will be those working to pay for our pensions and our lifestyles when we have ceased working. It’s therefore in our best interests that we make room for them because in doing so we make room for ourselves and enable the opportunity to share our wisdom and broad understanding as the generation before them.

These last three days in Enuamanu have filled my heart in ways that nothing else can do. To witness our Pe’u Māori that is alive, vibrant, lived and celebrated is something all of us from the Pacific need to connect with as often as we are able to. This is only found in the lands of our forefathers who came to Aotearoa to access more for us. Maybe not realising, they also held the keys to treasures far greater than silver or gold, fast cars, education, and what we often call a better quality of life. It’s times like these I wonder if that is even true, though it is a reality I will return to.

The responsibilities that come with the sacrifice of our parents and for those of a king or queen also burdens us in that it is our responsibility to honour that sacrifice and to get around our new queen and support her role as Ariki, as well as the new King Rongomatane who will be crowned on Monday.

Leadership is critical in today’s world and it’s something that I have said over and again so I won’t repeat it.

Nonetheless we must be mindful, we must be thoughtful and pray for those who lead in our homes, our communities, our matakeinanga, or our countries.

There is something deep – deeper than words, deeper than thoughts or feelings – when we connect with our culture.

For all our people in New Zealand and Australia, what they’re often now searching for I suggest can only be found at home. And we all must make decisions and sacrifices to acquire what only home can provide.

If we don’t, it leaves us feeling quite disconnected and disconnection for Pacific can diminish our view of ourselves.

Wherever home is for you, we must invest time and energy and money to connect with home as often as we can because they are our taunga, our land and ocean and way of life. They are the knowledge holders that can point us in the right direction.

My heart is full, my mind is full, and my spirit is full. And I know, as I make my way back home to Wellington next week, my heart will break and long to be back home again. Because that’s what connection means. Connection means when it’s not there, we grieve. Connection means when it feels broken, we hurt. Connection means when it’s not there, we long for it.

But when we connect, it builds us from the inside so we can stand and say, Ko au ko koe ko tatou pirianga.

It is me, it is you, it is all of us together.