More Top Stories

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Thomas Tarurongo Wynne: An attitude of gratitude

Saturday 1 April 2023 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Thomas Tarurongo Wynne: An attitude of gratitude
Cook Islanders in New Zealand celebrate the national team’s win against Wales in the Rugby League World Cup in 2022. Photo/PMN Cook Islands/23033139

Grateful - it’s such a powerful posture of the heart and I just wanted to highlight two of those reasons, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

Firstly, it faces outwards and turns back to all those that hoped, prayed and dreamed, and love you just because you are you.

Grateful is honouring them because without all their love, hopes, prayers and dreams, maybe our today would look more like yesterday and less like the tomorrow we work so hard to create for all those whose lives we impact, and a world we want to change for better.

Many writers have written about gratefulness and I wanted to just capture some of those thoughts.

At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.

Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lit the flame within us, gratitude turns what we have into enough, and is the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.

More importantly, gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow, and gratitude, is born from the seeds of thankfulness.

However, gratefulness is in a battle with our hearts and minds, and this battle is with the toxic poison that is outrage.

Outrage on a daily basis attempts to gaslight our minds often through social media platforms.

Those platforms have discovered that outrage means clicks, and likes and engagement, and on a social media platform they also mean money.

When Jesus said the love of money is the root of all evil, He wasn’t joking, and when we see something monetised or turned into a dollar, or when its intrinsic and real value is siphoned off into profit alone, then our thoughts and attention have been hijacked and gate-crashed.

We must never lose the battle over gratefulness and outrage.

But outrage has its place, it speaks to our deep sense of justice, or our deep sense of injustice.

Outrage is the opposite to apathy, where we sit silent and do and say nothing, and this can never be tolerated either.

It is the balance and source of our outrage, or just the thought that our deep sense of justice is then manipulated by others and steered down a path we maybe did not imagine, and one we don’t become conscious of until we can’t turn back.

And why gratefulness is so important, and if we take a moment, as we go about our day, we can reflect on what there is in life we are grateful for.

Grateful for life, grateful for our children, grateful for our partners, our families, our culture, our language, and the place that we call home.

As the New Zealand Census gathers its data, my anticipation is that our numbers of Cook Islands people in New Zealand will have grown.

Closer to 100,000 or 120,000, as opposed to the 80,000 figure we have been talking about since 2018.

And let me say, there is not a week or day, hour or moment, where I am not grateful for being a Cook Islander, though I will be more so when we change that name.

Grateful for the place that we all call home and that we have a place that we can come home to.

We are inextricably tied to each other, no matter where in the world we go, and for me, after an 80-hour week of work, many late nights as NZ Parliament sat late and bills were being passed in the House, to see two Cook Islands friends on Friday just brought sunlight to the cloudy day.

I felt my cup fill just a little from us doing what we do best; laughing, talking about home, laughing again and connecting about family and friends.  

Make no mistake, those of us that spend a season or seasons offshore, and for whatever reason, are grateful for the opportunities and learning this affords us.

But our heart is always grateful for who we are and always turned towards home.

I am personally grateful for the season that I am in and that it will come to an end, and we should take the time to reflect on not just what we learn, the good times, the difficult times, the learnings and the mistakes, the people we meet and build relationships with, and the experiences we gain, but also that in it all, we can look back and be grateful.

From the seed of thankfulness comes gratefulness, and from the tree of gratitude, so many of us can enjoy its shelter and shade.

The fruit of toxic outrage is division and there is nowhere to hide among its leaves and branches.

I know what I chose, and I hope you do also.