Saturday, May 30, 2009

a series of interconnected musings on time, Ngai Tahu, Ranganui Walker, and our tamariki

Time is an interesting subject. We know it is relative, we notice that time has sped by sometimes and at other times it seems to drag. In the western framework we have tried to tame time, to control it. We built clocks and created the time for money exchange known as 'work' and developed adages like, “Time is money.” We become slaves to these creations and we lose sight of the truth – that time is relative. And within that relativity is infinite space.

What happens in that space is interesting. Some view the past as gone and unavailable for access. Others feel connected to the past.

Some cultures have a circular view. Maori get mocked when they describe the connection they have to their tupuna, the fact that they are there beside them, with them at all times.

I'm reading Ranganui Walkers Biography Mata Toa at the moment and it's got me thinking. I'll post my review when I've finished it, but at the moment, 172 pages in, I'm reading a lot of what he did, but not too much why he did it. A great man who has done so much.

Anyway, the book is a very good chronicle of what has happened for maori from the 1970's to now. It really is brilliant and enlightening. It is easy to forget how far we have come in such a short time.

In 1959 a publican in Papakura refused to serve Dr Henry Bennett because he was maori. That was around 600 months ago.

The pilot for kohanga reo was first run in Wainuiomata in 1981. That's 336 months ago.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu was established by the Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu Act 1996. That is 156 months ago.

In 2004, Tariana Turia resigned from parliament and, as a maori party candidate, contested and won a by-election in Te Tai Hauauru with more than 90% of the vote. 60 months ago.

Many of my posts have an urgent feel to them and it is true to say that I would like everything yesterday. But I also believe in thinking things through and mulling and considering before action is taken.

Most times we spend 20% of the time thinking about the problem and 80% of the time on the solutions. The better way is to spend 80% of the time on thinking about the problem you want to solve. Often the solution just jumps out as obvious. But you really need to think deeply about what actually is the problem.

“Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei For us and our children after us”. We are doing amazingly well for such a short time. As Ngai Tahu we take the long view, just as our ancestors did. By thinking of our children we connect with our ancestors. The eternal connection is always there and many know it even if they don't talk about it. If we facilitate discussion and debate for all Iwi members on subjects that affect all Ngai Tahu whanui then we are furfilling and continuing the climb towards collective tino rangatiratanga. The journey is long and it is short. We have only a few more months to go! We must keep the long view, because it helps us concentrate on the problem rather than leaping into solutions too early. When that happens you often get worse, unintended circumstances developing.

But we must also keep pushing forward. We are a people that enjoys movement, we are hunter gatherers, we move, we adjust, we modify, we succeed. Our Iwi is made up of unique individuals with multiple strengths. You can't just have accelerators, any more than you can just have brakes. To get and keep the car moving, without crashing, you need a good combination of accelerator and brake.

Time is relative. The past is right there beside us. We need to start thinking about the problems we want to solve. We need all of our Ngai Tahu whanui minds, experience and knowledge to be mulling the big issues we have. Time is relative but we need to start now.

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