Why has it taken me so long to spend Waitangi Day on my own marae?
Yesterday we had the pleasure of attending Waitangi Day celebrations down at Motupōhue (Bluff), on the beautiful Te Rau Aroha marae. It was the first time I have ever attended official Waitangi festivities and now I am unsure why I waited so long.
We were waiting at the marae gates with the other manuhiri/visitors when one of the Ngāi Tahu organising members asked for Ngāi Tahu iwi members to come up to be part of the tangata whenua (local people) to welcome the manuhiri on. I wanted to go up but held back but when the lovely young man came down a second time, I couldn’t get up there fast enough. I love listening to the kai karanga (wahine callers) weaving their calls together to welcome the manuhiri, acknowledge and welcome the spirits of our tipuna (ancestors) and discuss why the visit is occurring. I always get quite emotional during the karanga as I imagine the tipuna surrounding us in a korowai of love and protection and maybe the odd question and jibe about who’s there and why!! ????
As always, the kai at Te Rau Aroha marae was A-mazing!!! The ringa wera (hot hands) in the kitchen and rangitahi waiters were a well-run machine and I am incredibly grateful for all their hard mahi/work. Pete never left our table, as it had on it starter plates of paua patties, oysters, blue cod, salmon, titi (mutton birds), crayfish and tuna (eel). I enjoyed the beautifully smoked hangi and the titi – OMG it is so lip smackingly delicious.
The entire event was incredibly well run. What organisation or people cater to such a high standard, for kai without knowing the exact numbers of how many will be attending? But you know what two things I loved the most? Meeting 2 lovely, spritely wahine from Auckland who were down this way and decided to attend. I loved their marvel at the incredible carvings in the whare nui and whare kai. But most of all I loved their openness to being part of the celebration. I also got to chat to a handsome tāne and his husband who were from Hawaii. They were with their friend – Bridget Rewiti who has won the prestigious Frances Hodgkins Fellowship and is based in Dunedin and decided to pop down for the day. They too marvelled at the beauty of the wharenui.
I questioned why it had taken me so long to get to my own marae for this important celebration and yet here were people from around Aotearoa and the world immersing themselves in the whānaungatanga and manākitanga of the day. Fear of getting “it” wrong. Fear of not knowing enough. Fear of rejection. All these fears that play out in my mind but don’t really come to fruition. As I mentioned in my previous blog – I am now officially a crone and I am learning that this crone can have some amazing experiences if she doesn’t overthink things and stays in the moment.
So, my challenge for you is embrace something that is outside of your comfort zone – visit a marae that is celebrating Waitangi Day and for us as a whānau it is one day visiting Waitangi and be part of the 6th of February festivities.