Written by Kararaina McLean
Ko Horouta te waka
Ko Hikurangi te maunga
Ko Waiapu te awa
Ko Taharora te marae
Ko Ngai Taharora te hapū
Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi
Ko Kararaina McLean ahau
This is my pepeha which is a Māori traditional tribal saying that expresses our connection to significant landmarks of our tribal area. It tells a story that I descend from our ancestral canoe of Horouta, which carried my ancestors over the Pacific Ocean to the East coast of the North Island in Aotearoa. My waka is spiritually anchored to our mountain called Hikurangi, the highest point that looks over our land. Our river is Waiapu which is the source of life, healing and nourishment for us and the land. Taharora is the name of our marae complex, which is a place our whānau (family) and our subtribe called Ngai Taharora gather within the shelter of our carved meeting house. Ngāti Porou is my tribe, as we are all descendants of our ancestor Porou-ariki-mata-tara-a-whare-te-tuhimāreikura-o-Rauru. These are who I descend from and who I am, I am Kararaina McLean.
Often Māori have an insatiable desire that ignites from within our wairua (spirit) and stirs our emotions deep within our puku (belly) to return home. This desire fills our heart with a sense of yearning and then these emotions enter our consciousness and manifests as thoughts. It feels like our whole being is longing to be closer to and reconnected to all the things I mentioned in my pepeha. Like an unborn baby is connected by their umbilical cord to their mother for nutrients and life, we have a spiritual umbilical cord that connects us to our ancestral lands where the bones of our ancestors lay and to Papatūānuku, our Earth Mother. It is as though because of our spiritual umbilical cord we feel the sensation of a tug or a magnetic pull to return home.
We have a saying “Hokia ki tō maunga kia pūrea ai koe e ngā hau o Tāwhirimātea”. Return to your mountain, to be cleansed and purified by the winds of Tāwhirimātea. This saying reminds us of just how important it is for our holistic wellbeing to return home to be strengthened by our maunga, to be cleansed by our awa (river), to be one with our whenua (land), to be nurtured by our whānau (family) and to be embraced by the historical kōrero carved, woven and painted inside our ancestral meeting house. This centres me I feel revitalised, re-energised and peaceful within myself spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically when I am here. When I am distracted in the hustle and bustle of life in the city and engrossed deeply in my everyday life, the gentle ever persistent magnetic tug reminds me of who I am, where I come from and who I descend from.
So where or what re-centres and revitalises you? I think it is important for each of us to identify this for our holistic wellbeing. It also allows us to pause from our busy and sometimes chaotic, fast paced or stressful lives and to reset or recharge our energy and to be one within ourselves.