Dear Huhana and Kāhu o te Rangi,
E kore au e ngaro, he kākano i ruia mai i Rangiātea.
I will never be lost, for I am a seed sown in Rangiātea.
I read Ruia in this whakataukī as meaning the foundation and contributing factors in a seed’s potential. That’s what this letter is about.
A couple of generations before you, our people hunted and fished to share. They would string up the tuna or herring catch and take it around to the old people in Otaki.
That’s partly because in te ao Māori we understand the village (or hapū/iwi) thrives when one of us thrives.
Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi
With your basket and my basket the people will live
Also, the young people took care of the kaumātua. That was the tikanga. If you knew where to set the hīnaki or how to smoke the tuna, that knowledge often came from those before you. Your catch wouldn’t be what it was without them.
If you are successful in any measure of life, think about the part the village around you played. Even before you acknowledge the system of education you went through, and the specific teachers who helped you learn, remember the genes passed down from your tūpuna. The way your brain works, your raw curiosity and interest. Those are gifts, not rewards you worked for. That brain and those traits influence the choices you make, and the direction your life goes. That doesn’t make the waka you’re paddling any less yours, but the wood your paddle is carved from was a gift. Acknowledge and be grateful for it.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini.
I come not with my own strengths but bring with me the gifts, talents and strengths of my family, tribe and ancestors.
I come not with my own strengths but bring with me the
gifts, talents and strengths of my family, tribe and ancestors.
Your Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather, Te Rangihiroa was a rangatira of Ngati Toa who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and led our people alongside Te Rauparaha on their migration south. Your Great x6 Grandmother was Pohe, a wartime wāhine rangatira who was eventually captured and beheaded in Otaki. Those are your genes. Your inheritance from your Koko. The language, the trees, and the way we live have changed, but it’s the same blood that flows in your veins. Those genes and traits now lend your head its critical thinking, your heart its courage, and your shoulders their strength. Again, be thankful.
Then you have the way you were raised. For good or bad, that affects you. Your mum and I are lucky to have been encouraged by parents who cared about reading, education, morals, and community. They painted their values on the walls of the homes they housed us in. Those values were influenced by the way their parents raised them. And so on, and so on. Up through Te Rangihiroa and his line of Toitoi, Pikauterangi, Te Maunu, Marangaiparoa, all the way to Toarangatira and beyond. Then the same through Mater’s line, Poppa Joe’s and Nana Liz’s.
A lot of us adults seem to forget the part the soil played in growing us into what we are. We talk about intelligence like it’s something the thinker created from books or nothing. Grit and work ethic as things we woke up and decided on. As if the genetic lottery and the generations before us didn’t play a major part in the way our brains work. We reward mahi and determination in school and business – as we should. But don’t forget where the spark of that ahi came from. Acknowledge it and make those gifts worthy.
When you remember you are a seed of Rangiātea, give thanks, then take the time to water the soil that gave so much to you. Give back to that village, however you can. Your roots are still in the soil, you still need it, and the as yet un-sprouted seeds need you. They won’t all have the same gifts. So use that thinking, that courage and those shoulders for something worthy, give back where you can, like those before gave to you.