Kurt Grayson wearing a grey tshirt, standing in front of a black and white Toi Tangata banner

Growing the Puna | Kurt Grayson

Kurt Grayson (Ngāti Porou) 

My journey with wai started like everyone else’s; suspended within mother’s sacred waters. This then followed the natural progression of life with the need to drink water and stay hydrated. In turn, playing in and around water became a large part of my life, particularly with the past times of swimming, fishing, and surfing. 

Although I have had experiences with water before this internship, it was the Māori lens expressed by the other interns  that catalysed much of my learning and understanding of this topic. With haerenga to waterfalls, swimming holes, roto, awa, and moana I started to gain a greater understanding and acceptance of what water is. And even though my knowledge has progressed tenfold, I have plans for future discovery of what wai is to me that I intend to undertake, in large part, under water. 

This internship for me has caused an eruption of te ao Māori beliefs and practices, an internal shift from a dormant state to an active state. Because although I have been exposed to kaupapa Māori, the depth of mātauranga Māori has been amplified greatly in the past 10 weeks. This has allowed me to experience a somewhat greater appreciation of some finer aspects to life which I was not fully aware of beforehand. 

Mātauranga Māori is based on what we have observed and what our ancestors have observed (recorded in part through whakataukī and pūrākau etc) and this gives me peace of mind. There is something reassuring knowing that this knowledge comes from somewhere close by. 

Mauri is one philosophical Māori idea which cannot be restricted by one definition. However, in this report mauri will be considered as life essence, that which sustains life. Therefore, anything which diminishes life in any way is seen having diminished mauri. This idea is extremely prevalent when considering the different types of wai. Some waters elude to a positive cleansing energy whereas some pose the opposite. Hence, wai is an extremely deep idea which needs to be explored to gain an understanding.

Learn more about Kurt’s kaupapa here.