Te umu kohukohu whetū ki Ōkūrei

Toi Tangata was humbled to support te umu kohukohu whetū ki Ōkūrei, a beautiful and wairua filled kaupapa to bring in te tau hou Māori. Toi Tangata board member, Leonie Matoe, shares her whakaaro about the experience. 

One of the things I love about being on the board of Toi Tangata is how intentional we are with our whanaungatanga both within the organisation and with our kaupapa.  We have our CEO Darrio and chairperson Hakopa to thank for that. The umu kohukohu whetū at Ōkūrei was our first ā-tinana connection together with our operations team, a kaupapa connection affirming our values as a Māori health agency.  

Being together with the next generation of Toi Tangata whānau felt uplifting.  With our Kaiaarahi Ranginui Rikirangi-Thomas supporting Mataia Keepa in the leadership of the ceremony, it affirmed how as an organisation we want to support the responsibilities our people carry for their whānau, hapū and iwi – he kōkiri kaupapa, he mātauranga tuku iho.  

Staying at Whakaue Marae we got to have some mean catch ups, reflect, share a few stories with our new kaimahi and with the whānau from the marae.  A couple of kaimahi asked me about our shift as an organisation from Te Hotu Manawa Māori to Toi Tangata, something I didn’t appreciate would be seen as a courageous change by the next generation of the Toi Tangata whanau .   

It felt right to be falling asleep that night to stories of how koura are always on marae tables in Te Arawa and with good intentions to bring to Ōkūrei the next morning.  

The sky was clear before dawn, heightening our hopes to observe Matariki clearly.  It was neat as a kaupapa whānau to be alongside the 200 descendants of Tamatekapua heading up to the site.  Being part of a ceremonial offering of food to the stars of Matariki from the umu brought an exciting sense of revitalisation, imbued with karakia and karanga of Te Arawa waka – it is kaupapa like these that are our motuhaketanga.   

There was a richness in hearing from Ranginui – who gathered the various foods from different taiao sources, from ocean, land, air and freshwater food sources – about his observations while gathering kai. His kōrero came to mind as we watched the steam from the umu rising with our hopes and good intentions to the stars.   

I want to see this team reach its true potential, and based on everything we have seen the team apply themselves to in the past year, it feels like this umu kohukohu whetū has doubled as an invitation for us to bring our best selves to the kaupapa we all hold as tohunga, kaikōrero, kaikaranga, māmā, pāpā, whaea, matua, kaiaarahi, kaiwhakahaere.  

Kaupapa like these help us as individuals to keep unfolding our true nature as we reconnect with whānau, reflect, remember and make new connections.  Kaupapa like these support us as a Toi Tangata whanau to keep unfolding our purpose as an agency advancing kaupapa oranga Māori and supporting whānau to achieve their full potential.  

I am truly thankful for the experience, thankful for our team and the relationships built up over time, and thankful for everything that Matariki and Puanga have brought our whānau whānui, kia tipu, kia ora kia toi tangata e.