I grew up in Cambridge and attended St Peter’s School. I was the kaea in the school’s kapa haka ropu for a number of years, however, I did not grow up speaking Māori. My Koro speaks it fluently but since my parents split when I was young, I did not spend much time learning the language. I have always had a very strong connection to my Māori hertitage and I was very proud to be Māori at school as there were not very many of us.
This course has reconnected me to my roots. Even the little things, like having a conversation with my Koro and friends. My reo is getting better because of the classes, but I am lucky as I had a little bit of a head start compared to other people in the class.
Growing up I didn’t really celebrate Matariki as I lived with my mum who is New Zealand European. However, I looked to my Koro to help me understand what Matariki means to our whānau on my dad’s side, those from the far North, Ngāpuhi. I found out that it was hugely significant for him and Māori in Aotearoa as the Matariki stars were used to guide them for the year ahead in all of their horticulture, hunting and fishing events.
A simple example is if the star Waipuna-ā-rangi is very bright then it might mean that there won’t be a lot of rain so, it could be a dry season and it would be wise to get your plants in the ground a bit earlier. Or if the stars Waitī and Waitā are very bright then it could signal that the fishing and eeling will be good this season.
Heaps of my whānau still live up North, and they still get together to have these type of korero to discuss the season ahead and how they are going to approach it. It’s also a time to remember the tupuna that have passed on and time to just spend together.
To most people, they think that the stars of Matariki were used for navagation on the moana, but it’s been cool to find out that they give our people direction for the future too. That is what Matariki means to my whānau. For me specifically, I feel incredibly proud to be Māori, my connection to my hertigage is strengthening and I want to encourage other Māori to stand tall and be proud.