Tuia te herenga tangata kei ngā tōpito katoa o te ao
Ko ngā tauwhirotanga o te ao wairua ki runga i a tātou i te ao kikokiko nei
Mate-urutā Korona, COVID-19, Coronavirus… It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongues, it’s on the brink of everyone’s minds. Whatever your worldview, however you think you’re immune or invincible – prepare yourself to think again.
Hei tauārai atu i te Mate-urutā Korona, kua rāhuitia e Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato ā tātou tikanga Māori mō te waa poto, ko te harirū, te hongī me te kihi. As a precautionary measure, the University has placed a temporary ban on our rituals of encounter including the shaking of hands, the hongī and the kiss.
Which brings us to an ever evolving kaupapa kōrero at the moment; tikanga Māori in 2020 and the Coronavirus. I must admit I have been pretty calm despite the World Health Organisation declaring the virus to be a pandemic. This deadly ngārara is seeking refuge in our most vulnerable – our pēpē and our kaumātua; the rito and the tūpuna of our pā harakeke. But for those of us awhi rito who don’t fit among those demographics, we’re not safe either. We raise pēpē from the teachings of our kaumātua – we are just as part of this circle of life.
Enforcing a ban on the practice of the love we are used to giving has been tough. Ka mate ahau i te aroha, e! In this circumstance, I could die of love! But isn’t our tikanga supposed to keep us safe?
Tikanga moves when the people move and we have been shaking up society for many years now. Tikanga Māori has never been stagnant but has always been constant. It is our custom to follow correct procedure, lore, manner and protocol. Embedded in our Māori DNA are values and practices passed on by our tūpuna that have developed over time for survival in the social context.
Now is the time more than ever to practice tikanga Māori, but at a social distance. Coronavirus’ impact on tikanga has shifted society’s paradigm of tikanga Māori in praxis. But what about every other tikanga that exists within te ao Māori? Māori mā, matike, maranga! Hongī is but just one way to put tikanga to praxis. Manaakitia, arohatia, whai whakaarotia ki tēnā ki tēnā o tātou. E kore e memehatia te tikanga Māori i te rāhuitanga o te harirū mō te waa poto.
Experience the beautiful things we think we don’t have time for in our day-to-day ‘normal’ lives pre-pandemic. Put your energy into resourcing the survival of our tikanga that has been put to many tests. We are not the only generation to fear for our tikanga.
Measures have been put in place to ensure that we don’t suffer further loss of life. And I believe that is what’s most important at this time. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. These measures move to protect whakapapa, whānau, hapū and iwi until such a time when it is safe to practice harirū and the rest of it again.
So take heed of Aunty Jacinda’s advice: adopt the East Coast wave, the Kahungunu Tukemata or even the Ngāpuhi kisikisi (not a real kiss, the juju lip action).
Love from a careful distance.
Think about our future.
We’ve got kids to raise, whakapapa to teach them, pepeha to show them, lands to walk with them, fresh water to drink with them, te reo Māori to speak with them, Māori empires to build with them and colonial structures to tear down with them.
Our reconnection post-pandemic will be a beautiful encounter.