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Thomas Wynne: We walk in two worlds

Saturday 24 June 2023 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Thomas Wynne: We walk in  two worlds
Columnist Thomas Tarurongo Wynne. Photo: CI NEWS/16040843

‘E rua oku, takai’anga vaevae i teia nei ao’ is a phrase often thrown around by many of us that walk in te ao Maori and te ao Papa’a, but how true is it, questions Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

Do we step one foot into one vaka and the other into another, or do we stand in one, and at times step awkwardly into the other?

When our tupuna said yes to Christianity nearly 200 years ago, they said yes, not just to a new God, but also to new commerce, new learnings, new values and new ways of seeing the world.

When Paul Napa (Lynch), in a letter to the editor, commented on Howard Henry’s column on the coming of Christianity, challenging him on this view that it was more of an actual spiritual encounter, than just the things of the new God – is the truth of the matter maybe a combination of both?

This new world we were about to celebrate was multi-layered, and more complex than maybe our tupuna considered, because it brought so much more than just a message of faith to our tribal leaders so many years ago.

And with those two worlds, we had to learn quickly, a new financial literacy, the language of the courts, of legal terms, commerce and politico.

We had to adapt quickly to the transformation of a subsistence economy of fishing and planting to feed the family, to monetising the fish and planting and to markets in Aotearoa and Australia.

Nonetheless, our ability to walk in both worlds, tea o Maori and te ao Papa’a, is challenging, no matter which is stronger in your own life.

I do all I can to grow te ao Maori, so I can walk with a greater sense of balance and equity, drawn by a deep sense of who I am, who I am connected to, and their aspirations sitting on my shoulders.

Nonetheless, I have privilege because of all I have learned and experienced beyond the reef, and yet, together we can prosper with each other with our gained and lived experiences, if we see working together and sharing, as a way to improve the world we live in, and the aspirations of our Cook Islands, no matter where they are.

Walking strongly in a world is sometimes understood as privilege, and for those born here, and who are fluent in te reo Maori, you are privileged.

As landowners we have privilege and certain families, who hold large blocks of land, titles and the wealth attached to those also enjoy privilege, because privilege is more colour blind.

When you look at our history as a democracy and as an economy, those with business acumen, saw political and economic opportunity, and privileged themselves because of it.

As a country and as a people, and diaspora, we work hard at building our capacity in all these areas so we too could capitalise on this privilege and take our country with feet in both worlds into a 2023, where we all can prosper for all that call this place home, because it will take walking in two worlds, both feet firmly planted to achieve that.

E vaka eke noa – we will need to be both feet in both vaka to do this and all of us to achieve this.