I been fortunate to ‘achieve’ many things; from growing my first garden, to learning īnoi and karakia, being asked to conduct karakia Māori at a funeral, performing with my whānau of Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao at Matatini, coming together as a whānau during times of grief, attaining a Conjoint Degree of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws... so on and so forth.
My proudest however would be the organizing of a kura reo at the University of Waikato. It was attended by over 60 tauiraranging in te reo Māori fluency. We were fortunate to have reo champions as the kaiako; Mataia Keepa, Rāhui Papa, Tahangawari Tangitu-Huata, Tiare Teinakore, Greg Koia and Te Ataarangi. This kaupapa ultimately relied upon relationships, trust and commitment to the goal of propagating te reo Māori, the language of our ancestors, in the next generation of Māori and non-Māori. What however makes this the stand out achievement was not only the quality of the amorangi, but the excellence of the hāpai ō. Having limited funding my whānau and my partner’s whānau came in to support the kaupapa to see it’s fruition. #UncleMikeTables #IYKYK
I always refer back to myself being a whāngai and the iwi of Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao ‘giving me my wings.’ I however mentioned this to my grandmother Whariki Gardiner who said “you already had the wings, they just needed dusting off.”
I say this because there are many people who are more capable than I am but have not had the opportunity to see beyond what they currently know, to be subject to the tikanga of our ancestors that ensure the greatest outcome for our people.
What I think is required is what Moana Jackson refers to is the belief in our systems. If, for a moment, we are able to escape from the entrapment of colonization we would see that our strength lies in our Māoritanga.
We often measure success against a western view; this includes the qualifications one has received, their salary, home ownership, marriage and having children. In te ao Māori, however, success is often measured on how a person is, not on what he has; and in my view, what one has is often determined by who he or she is.
My view of success therefore is not what you have, but what you can give to your people. Māori often had a role in the community and they took great pride in providing their ‘service’ to the greater community. To reach this level of giving however one must not misapprehend their purpose and what they have to give.