No Whangara Ahau..
So, i come from a little place called Whangara on the East Coast of New Zealand, now famously known for the movie ‘Whale Rider’. I grew up in its very back yard. Throughout my childhood i came to love & adore its landscape, simple & quaint like a ‘real country’ setting. Summers & Winters – the fiercely hot & shivering cold. Autumns & Spring – crisp colorful leaves & the sound of baby lambs.
My great and grandparents houses are the first two on Waiomoko Road. It runs parallel to Pah Rd (which runs down to the pa & beach) back up opposite into the hill country, divided at one point by State Highway 35. I had a great childhood. Beach, hills but hardly ever down at the marae unless there was a function on. I attended Whangara School until moving into a town school for Intermediate & High School. I then commuted back & forth whenever mum & I would be staying out there. Real ‘simple’ & ‘sheltered’ upbringing but i sure had a lot to be thankful for – it was the best place on earth!
Every holidays, birthdays, weddings, tangi (funeral) – there was a lot, family would all come home & i’d just kick back with my cousins – plenty of them too, & mostly in my age group. My Nanny & Papa had nine children – 5girls & 4boys all mixed in age – my mums like in the middle somewhere. As i never got to know my father from birth – for what ever happened between my mum & him, this family was all i knew but like i say, i never was without. Plenty of brothers, sisters & father figures within my uncles, my male role models.
I was a pretty good kid really..i had strong family values from a young age. It wasn’t until i got to high school – when i discovered boys, alcohol & fast cars that i really made life a living hell for my poor mother & grandparents. I look back & it makes me sad to have done some things but at the same time, it was frustrating because i felt quite responsible & i was like, i would have fun & be a bit reckless but never morally irresponsible. I just needed freedom.
At the age of 16 I moved to Auckland – 10 years i was there until i finally moved back to Gisborne three years ago. Not Whangara yet.
My Nanny passed away in that time & it really tore the family up. Still many a drama today. She was the backbone of us all. Even though i grew up in Whangara & visited regularly while living in Auckland, i suddenly felt that i had never had a lot or enough ‘cultural’ learning..it was more ‘farm & country’. With her passing left a lot of knowledge that i feel sad has now gone. It made me aware that i must reach out & learn about my whakapapa (geneology), rohe moana (sea) & rohe whenua (land). Now that i’ve moved back, i have a family & a husband that love this place as much as i do, how could i not want that?
Since attending Toihoukura (Maori Art School), putting my children through Kohanga Reo (Maori pre-school), spending more time with my Papa & getting involved with things in the Whangara Community, i have enlightened my mind – ‘culturally infused it’ as i like to say! My dream of studying at Toihoukura to learn about Maori Art & Design has opened up many doors of discovery. Not only am i learning about art, more of my whakapapa too. Tikanga Maori (Maori protocols), Waiata (Song), art practice, business, social & life skills. Im now also a member of Te Tapui Mataitai O Hakihea Committee. A committee put together of locals from the area to guard & protect our seabed, our Marine Reserve. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Whangara, its land & sea. Our next hui (meeting) is on Monday 23rd April so i will try to blog about it.
This is a photo of the plaque i made to officially open the reserve on Sunday, 20th November, 2011.
I feel blessed to be able to enjoy my surroundings, the lifestyle it has to offer & i am looking forward to learning more as my journey continues.
Ka Kite Ano,