Kahungunu Hook Summit

As told by Crystal Pekepo, Kaiārahi, Community Research and Co-Design Specialist

While there are many benefits to eating healthy, exercising and drinking plenty of water, looking after our taiao (environment) is very important if we wish to continue to live fulfilling lifestyles. Everything that sustains us is sourced from our taiao.

On behalf of the Toi Tangata team I was fortunate enough to have attended Ngāti Kahungunu Annual Hook Summit held in Napier at the end of May.

Kahungunu is made up of six taiwhenua from Wairoa to Wairarapa. It was a privilege to be listening to the pecha kucha presentations of mahi delivered and led by various kaimahi throughout each taiwhenua. Mahi ranged from te reo revitalisation, mauri monitoring of wai, papakainga, curriculum and resource development, food sovereignty and water monitoring education schemes.

As always, renowned rongoa practitioner, Pa (Rob) McGowan, put things into perspective and gave an emotional presentation around restoration and revival of mauri.

“Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata”

“When you look through the eyes of a healer, all you can see is sadness. This is a land that has lost the power to heal itself”

Pa spoke of the role of rongoa and its mana to heal the whenua first. Ecosystems that work collaboratively to keep the land in good health and the water clean. This is an indication that the mauri is alive. Mauri is the connections of life, when those connections are in place, the whenua is healthy.

The sheer reality of us depleting our natural resources has made it difficult for our whenua to heal itself.

In summary, I really wanted to touch on some key messages from his presentation. When we consider embarking on or continuing our healthy living and lifestyles, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • The whenua – Papatūānuku is the source of all life, she is the mother. Everything needs to be measured against that as she is our first priority.
  • Look at the wellness of the environment that surrounds you. Are the any tohu that present themselves where the whenua is letting you know that it is unwell?
  • We must take responsibility for our actions when engaging with the taiao. Are we doing things that is hurting the whenua?
  • Our tamariki and mokopuna have a right to expect that they can enjoy a fruitful lifestyle in the future. Are we leaving a legacy for them to sustain themselves?
  • Once we are able to focus on healing the whenua and allowing the role of our ecosystems to do this, only then can we thrive and be well ourselves.

There are seeds lying dormant in the whenua waiting to present itself to heal our whenua. Only then can we truly exemplify the meaning of tangata whenua.