Mārama celebrates 110 years around the sun
The deep hues of early dawn whispered through the lingering mist, casting dreamy silhouettes upon the white sands. Dragonflies danced upon the pools of last night’s rain, while the heavens still glittered with wisdom and promise.
It was Mārama’s most favourite time of day, when the dew still laced the intricate spider webs, the Tui’s song rang out through the softened silence and where she sometimes met the last Kiwi heading home for its daily slumber.
This was Mārama’s magic time. When she dug her now wrinkled toes into the Papatuanuku’s cloak and wound her fingers through the branches of the Kawakawa. She whispered her karakia of acknowledgement and gratitude, reflecting on times gone by and the potential of journeys to come, while being deeply rooted in the moment at hand.
This morning she was joined by a wee imp of a bionic human, who had unenthusiastically travelled from the other side of the globe to filter through her extraordinary life. Extraordinary in that Mārama and the region as a whole, bucked world trends of poor health, high inequality and a backyard void of green.
The push had been to upload her memories, but Mārama insisted on kanohi to kanohi, knowing what the researcher sought could only be discovered by immersing themselves in the whenua.
The timing intentionally coincided with her 110th birthday. A celebration that would last three glorious days and nights, with her many whanau and extended village. It would be a feast of locally grown kai (none of that instant cardboard stuff she had insisted) and clear nectar, surrounded by a roaring fire and the lush, sweet smelling ngahere.
They sat on the edge of the ocean, perched on a jewelled rock, their toes dipping in the tranquil waves, while Miromiro flittered about, catching their morning breakfast. Mārama sensed the settling of her companion as the vibrations of nature eased their tired soul.
Mārama had allowed their wrists to connect, knowing that this would access the vivid memories she had chosen to share. The idea of all unspoken communication was rejected, as Mārama embraced the old ways of story telling and the comfort of a soothing voice.
Pointing to the heavens in the glistening dawn, she explained that Tai Tokerau had led the way in implementing only green energy at least 80 years ago, which, along with a number of other initiatives (including a no-fly zone of satellites and other such things during darkness) had ensured that generations could live by the wisdom of Maramataka, which helped ensure abundant kai, while respecting and protecting Papatuanuku, amongst other things.
While many land masses were negatively impacted by the warming, Taitokerau’s microclimate had been fairly protected. By retaining the wild canopy, along with heavy investment in plantings, the soils had been cared for and thus aided in not only protecting many of the ancient flora and fauna but the ability to grow nutritious plants for eating and other health initiatives. While there had been some loss, it was nothing compared to many countries around the globe.
Her companion shared her observation that they were surprised to see little sign of industry. Mārama grinned. ‘As you know we have a thriving economy, it’s one of the key reasons our region flourishes and there is no such thing as unemployment. All our people are engaged in productive activities that operate in sync with our environment.’
‘At least 70 years ago, our local leaders made the courageous decision to change the way we build our infrastructure, particularly buildings and the connections between them. Many industries are either buried under or sit within the earth. Their roofs are covered in plants, which not only provide a way of keeping things cool, but are their own microenvironment and are cultivated and used to collect and recycle water and other nutrients.’
‘There was also a shift to industries and approaches that worked in harmony with nature. Green energy, protecting and enhancing our clean water supply, a circular approach to how we do business and live was quickly introduced, where nothing is now wasted. As you know, Tai Tokerau is a world leader in working with the flow of nature, all our people and place have flourished because of it.’
‘I’m very proud of our brave local leaders of those times and the succession of great leaders they have since inspired. They went against mainstream thinking and nurtured the old ways, while encouraging innovation and technological approaches that would add benefit, without detracting from the importance of our connections, our relationships – with each other and with nature.’
‘We quickly realised as a region that we could produce, manufacture and sell highly nutritional and healing products, which are now world renown. These plants and medicines are grown and produced from our moana and our whenua, which is almost chemical free.’
‘Another wonderful opportunity was seized, in that Tai Tokerau became a peaceful retreat sort after by those that needed to ease body, mind and soul. We have a flourishing natural health industry, along with being a wonderful place to raise families, live simply and retire peacefully.’
For a moment, Mārama cheeks flushed. Her companion eyed her. ‘Oh, Āe my husband Torbjörn, was one of many migrants that moved their multi-million-dollar business to our shores, due to our ethos and way of doing things. Lucky for me!’ she giggled.
Being at the cutting edge of technology, with a number of research and development institutions that worked alongside the two universities, had allowed the region to stay ahead of the game.
Mārama chuckled reflecting back on the excitement of her sibling, Tama (a teenager at the time), when their small community finally got reliable high speed digital connectivity to the globe. ‘It was a game changer at the time. We’re come so far since!’
‘You know’ Mārama sighed. ‘It hasn’t been easy. The impacts of some terrible world events, change in our climate, political systems falling and rising, these and other more local impacts have provided some real challenges and we haven’t always got it right. One thing I know for sure, the resilience of our whanau, our care and compassion for each other has seen us through some of the toughest of times. It is because we are strong as a people, hold sovereignty and are clear on our purpose that we have managed to stay true to our course.’
‘E mihi ana ki a koe, he pēhea koe i tēnei rā? The words singing out from the bush behind Mārama, snapping her back into the moment with a smile. ‘He tino mihi ki a koe’ she replied.
Turning to her companion, Mārama winked. ‘There is plenty of time to discuss this. Come! Immerse and feel it for yourself. Join our celebration of life, there is so much to be grateful for!’
Her companion looked out over the horizon, feeling the warmth on the morning rays upon their chest. Their head swimming with the images of times gone by, the beauty and the pain. Already, they were formulating a way to remain in this tomorrow world of yesterday.