Saturday, February 27, 2016

Te Whare Tapa Wha

Had an amazing week here at my new endeavour. A real adult portion. Early in the week had a day out at the prison. Something that is part of what I am doing.
On this day, however, most of my morning was spent in the Te Tirohanga unit, meaning most closely as The Focus, and programme. Which is a total immersion into Te Ao Maori, or Maori world view. To walk slowly into the whare, or house, while 50-60 men are engaged in a full fledged Haka is a pretty humbling and intense experience. A powhiri, or welcome, as a manuhiri, or visitor, is a highly emotional moment. To listen to the Whaikorero, or formal speech, by men who a few months ago never had uttered a word of Te Reo Maori is powerful stuff. To hear those 50-60 men then sing us Manuhiri, visitors, waiata, songs, will make the hair on your arms stands straight. All are required to speak and acknowledge themselves, their whakapapa, genealogy, and place. When I stood I spoke of the Ruahine. The deep breaths and inhaling of my words by people now my whanau moved me deeply. It is not difficult for me to speak of my aroha and hononga, love and connection to the mountains which have gifted so much to me. Yet my eyes were filled with tears as I did so. I am still moved by the experience as I write these words.

I have been learning and exposed to the Maori concept of Te Whare Tapa Wha. Developed by Dr. Mason Durie in 1982 it is a philosophy that incorporates Maoritanga, or values, beliefs, and way of life into a way to assess and monitor physical and mental well being.
 I am pleased to be part of an organisation, that despite the negative views around it, has recognised and embraced the need to incorporate such values into it's work. And I identify strongly with the essence, again in particular to my own relationship with the Ruahine and how that really expands into the rest of my life. Such fine lines divide us all.

Te Whare Tapa Wha essentially translates to the Four Walls of Our House. If one wall is weakened or at risk it threatens the entire structure. So to balance our house is to be mindful and present around the need to nourish and support all four walls.
The four walls are:
Tinana...or our physical well being. Exercise, food, diet, how we nourish our earthly presence and care for it.
Hinengaro....our mental well being. The balance of our thoughts and emotions
Wairua...our Spiritual Well we nourish whatever connections we feel or seek.
Whanau....our family. And the definition of whanau also includes anyone who supports us and nourishes us.

It seems so simple, and perhaps the cornerstone of all organised religions, philosophies, mantras, courses, and so on and so forth. How many of us can write in any given moment all four of our walls are in line? Certainly not me.

I thinks in terms of the Ruahine. Rarely have I ever gone into the mountains with my my Te Whare Tapa Wha truly balanced, or "all my ducks in a row". If too far out of whack it would be dangerous so I can perhaps write that the balance has been enough to have me still writing. What I can acknowledge is that coming out of the Ruahine is that my four walls feel stronger, my foundations more settled. The truth is those foundations are settled upon a very volatile land, and I lead a very volatile life. The real beauty of Te Whare Tapa Wha is the gift of Awareness. I am taking that into my heart. It brings back memories of times I did travel in the Ruahine, alone and wounded of heart. I recognize now that my own Hinengaro was unbalanced and I had to compensate with the other other three in order to carry onwards. That might be okay in the short term but is not condusive to good health in the long run. On the other hand carrying that pain to such a place for me was a burden worth bearing. For being alone in the mountains I was able to focus on the whys and whats in an honest way and even if I did not know it then I was nutruring and repairing my own Te Whare Tapa Wha...

19 April 2006

"Maropea Forks


The corker stove warms the hut quietly, rain bounces on the tin roof, I can hear the river as it mutters past outside. It was a magic walk down from Top Maropea, I almost felt outside myself as if watching my own self, I felt light and free. I came down river with no burdens, I shed those last night at Top Maropea, and I realized my fear of not Being Connected here was baseless. Shedding anger and pain and frustration has allowed me to feel something other than the thick fog of those heavy emotions. I suspect they will still be waiting somewhere beyond my mountain cocoon, but not today, not here at this beautiful place. I did not hurry down river, I was hardly cognizant of any time, I walked very slow and deliberate and arrived in faster time than ever before. How is that? A whio greeted me at the waterfall 20 minutes from the hut. I sat on the huge log and watched him, he also seemed in no hurry. When he finally left in his graceful unerring flight back up river it seemed as if in slow motion, every detail stood out, the sound of the river, the sound of the waterfall joining the river, the rocks and bush, and the whio seemingly hovering above me. I arrived at the hut with tear stained cheeks.

I feel very clear, and very focused in this moment. Everything seems to have a reason and make sense, even the pain I brought here with me. Maybe letting go of that is measure or mark to where I am at as a man. I have two more days to contemplate these things. I have been given a great Gift. I am content for me.".......
I am moving into new terrain but these encounters are validating. My life has moved and shifted in ways I am still gathering. Ti hei Mauri Ora!