Taku Mātātoa – Putting Kai, Kori and Hinengaro first

Mātātoa is a reo Māori, ngākau Māori kaupapa that celebrates yet another sport, CrossFit, that Māori are just loving! Personally, it has been a great motivating event to work towards not only for myself and the Toi team, but where being Māori wins. Te Reo Māori wins. Ahakoa te aha.

On 1 July 2023, teams from all over the motu will come together to participate in this kaupapa. Kori tīnana and kai oranga are vital pillars of hauora. We all know that achieving those on a daily basis can be challenging for us all when we are busy working parents. All of the team at Toi have our own ways of staying active through sport, playing with whānau etc. The majority of us love crossfit not only for the challenge it gives but the whānau hāpori vibes it brings. I am always proud of the Toi team for ensuring that we ‘whakatinana ngā kōrero’ about kai oranga and kori tīnana.

Mauri moe, ka mate, Mauri tū, mauri ora. 

This tuhingā is really about me. Sharing the humbling journey to get back to activity and using Mātātoa as a goal. To be more specific, it’s about regaining my sense of being well by focusing on my hinengaro first through kori and kai. The upcoming competition has been a motivating event for me to prioritise myself. 

Working for our hāpori, being a parent, organising life, sports, and tamariki, we know that we can forget ourselves and leave ourselves behind in our own hauora. For me, although I have always been active in some way, it has only been in the last five years or so that I have been able to recognise the impact on myself and my whānau if I am not active. I had started to recognise patterns of thinking and responses to daily life when I had not exercised in a while. 

My work and whānau routine came first, and if, in that day, I didn’t manage to get out and exercise, then, ah well, I’ll try again apōpō. Over time, the hours at the laptop meant irregular eating patterns. Breakfast maybe, then skip lunch, 5 coffees later I’m turning tino hangry. Being a parent I would work during school hours, be with the tamariki then work again once they were in bed. Sometimes, depending on what was needed to be done, that could mean a 12am, 2am or sometimes 3am bedtime. There was no way I was then getting up in the morning to go for a quick kori before the kids woke up!  Full-time mahi, full-time parenting, full-time whare-looking-aftering, life happenings, moving out of Tāmaki to Rotorua, new people, a new life, realising that not eating regularly and definitely not exercising enough – the tinana crashed, and the hinengaro was about to pack up. 

So I changed up my perspective around wanting to be active again to making it a No.1 priority. This is not a ‘no excuses’ kōrero here, but a ‘māmā is in the main character’ in this story. It has changed my motivation, stopped me listening to the inner voice that tells me I am being selfish, or letting someone down for taking time. Māmā guilt is a real thing, and it can play on the hinengaro in big ways. Chasing the ‘inner gold medal’ has been a big mental shift for me. Taking time out to have that ‘hauora hour’ every day has been a conscious and uncompromising decision that can sometimes seem overwhelming. 

Putting myself as the main character in this story has been a really hard thing to do. I mean, I’m pulling in ALL the whakatauki to keep me going – all the hopo and angitū kōrero here. I’ve let go of the years that I put being a working māmā first and not putting what I know and have experienced about hauora both in a personal and professional sense, first for myself. Whakatinana te kōrero. So, the tamariki have to come with me to crossfit classes. They don’t like it. But hei aha. I tried when they were babies and it was hard. Now, they are a little older and it’s a little easier. I don’t feel that ego coming in anymore telling me I can’t do it or I look stupid. I just look stupid being not good at something, then all of a sudden, I nail it. 

Kia ora ai āku hiringa i te whakatika o āku whakaaro. 

Yup, I fail some days. More often than not it feels like. One of the things I am juggling will drop. But putting my thoughts, feelings – my hinengaro first, the ripple effects of that on my tinana, and my whānau where all of that feels somewhat manageable. 

Hoi anō e tātou mā. Going back to the basics, putting me first, but mostly making that decision to put my own hinengaro first through kori and kai, I feel much more confident going into Mātātoa next week. 

Tāku tū, he tū toa
Tāku Mātātoa. 

Hei reira whānau! 

Renei Ngawati

Renei comes from a health promotion and Māori development background as a former lecturer in Māori Health at AUT University. He uri ia no Ngāti Hine me Ngāti Porou.