Whiria te tangata – weave the people together.
June marks the beginning of Matariki – the Māori New Year. This is signalled by the rising of the Matariki star cluster (also known as Pleiades or Seven Sisters), which brings the past year to a close and thus a new beginning. Matariki is recognised within the Maramataka, the Māori calendar, which records the turning of the moon and marks its phases in a lunar month.
There are many amazing events happening around our district to celebrate this significant event. I was privileged to attend one last Saturday night in Whangaroa. One of the speakers was Rueben Taipari, who explained Maramataka and the rich wisdom in following the lunar cycle to plant, harvest and more. Two other speakers were First Nation women, one from the United States and one from Canada. They gave us a glimpse into their past and their journey.
The depth of their stories, the sadness, but also the hope was highlighted. The similarities between their people and our tangata whenua was clear. Although, perhaps, what the First Nation people continue to fight for – their respect, their freedom, their identity – has a lot further to go.
I was reminded, once again, of our human connection. That no matter where one travels and who one meets, our stories are interlinked, our wisdom shared and, often, our battles are aligned. Having said that, we still have much to learn from each other. It is incredibly important we take the time to sit and listen to those we may not understand. That we learn to share our hopes and dreams, our stories of old and our hopes of new. That we grow in understanding and importantly, respect. To recognise that the path of another may not be the same as one’s own, but is no less important.
We learn that we all hope for the same things: to feel valued, to feel a part of something bigger, to feel important and, although not all will agree, that we are allowed to be ourselves (as long, of course, as it is not detrimental to others).
On the matter of learning from another: My eight-year-old daughter taught me a beautiful lesson over the weekend. It was her first gymnastic competition and she had a complete fear of ‘the bar’. She could not do it and didn’t want to go. Then, on the day, with a face full of determination, she overcame her mental block and achieved success. Her smile said it all.
I watched all those young girls. Admired their poise and their grace. I admired their courage and the fact they had put themselves out there in front of hundreds to be judged at such a young age. Some fell off, some fell over and some just struggled. But not one gave up. Resilience and courage. A future of strong, graceful and determined people willing to make their mark.