He haerenga ki te kāinga

It has been two months since I moved back to the Wairarapa. It’s been a whirlwind of hui, wānanga and haerenga (journey) up and down the north island (and a trip to the South Island in there too). I thought I’d take some down to write down my thoughts and advice for other people looking to return back to their rohe. This is by no means an expert list, nor an exhaustive list. Just some thoughts I wanted to put down into a post for others who might want to do a similar haerenga.

He tawhio noa koe ki ngā tāngata mīharo | Surround yourself with amazing people

I don’t know how I managed to do it but I have surrounded myself with the most amazing people. So that above all else would be my top piece of advice. There will be lots of emotions, there will be lots of tears but there will also be lots of fun and laughter. These are the people that will help facilitate that. Whether they’re around the corner or remotely sending you words to keep you going. They’re the people who inspire you, who you look up to, who check in on you to make sure you’re ok. They’re the people who will sit you down and ask you “Are you actually ok?” then you’ll cry your eyes out and eat ice-cream together (via video conference) and chat about your feelings. They’re the people who make you strive to be better but knowing that you as you are is enough. They’ll be the people that you can talk to about the stirrings that are occurring in your heart, with your wairua and they 100% understand what you’re doing, what you’re feeling and give you the courage to keep going on this haerenga. Find these people. They will make you laugh, they will cry with you and they will lift you back up to continue on.

Awhihia tō mataku me kaua e whakaaetia te haere | Embrace your fear and never turn down an opportunity

It’s absolutely terrifying. I’m not going to lie. This haerenga has had me terrified for most of the time. Whether it’s turning up to hui and knowing no one. Turning up to meet whānau who you never knew existed. But it’s lead me to some amazing places and meet some even more amazing people. I’ve ended up tuna (eel) hunting, I’ve gone on hikoi to places of significance for my tīpuna. I’ve learnt stories that my whānau have never heard before, I’ve learnt about our kaitiaki, I’ve learnt about the stars and sat in the middle of a field in the dark by myself staring at the blanket of stars above me. I’ve learnt about the marama (moon) and how it affects me.

One of the things that has helped me get through this time is to know that my tīpuna stand with me and that they’re guiding me. But the thing above all else is that I’ve learnt about myself.

Whaiwhai pīhau ki te manawa | Do what your heart tells you

When you start to learn who you are it is indeed an interesting time. When you’re on your whenua, you have endless opportunities and you start to feel so awakened. You have no choice other than to follow your heart. With this also comes a spiritual awakening. Ensure you have people that will support you during this time. It’s hard because a lot of western society tells you that it’s wrong. Within te ao Māori it is so natural and it’s really important to go with it and accept it.

Ka huri koe | You will change

Sometimes we get stuck in ways and fear the change. But it’s inevitable. We change, the world changes and if we choose not to change we go backwards. I have changed even in the past four months. I have chosen not to do things certain ways anymore, I have chosen to start new ways of doing things and the great thing about that is that it’s my decision to do that. That I know who I am and stand facing into the wind ready to take on the next haerenga.

I have had many messages that I have been inspiration for others to return back to their papakāinga. It makes me cry every time just thinking about it because I didn’t do this haerenga for others. I did it for myself and the deep down feeling that something wasn’t right. But I can tell you one thing that is for sure. There is no other feeling in the world then being home and your heart swelling.