Once were Gardeners
My parents, grandparents and all the parents before them had gardens. Pre European and right through to not so long ago Māori hunted, gathered and cultivated their food. Some still do but they're few on the ground. Mostly all the hunting and gathering these days goes on at Pak'n'slave or New World (how ironic).
Now I think Kai has become a problem for us as Maori. And yeah it's not just us, but Maori are my concern because we are dropping like flies. I've watched whanaunga, friends and kaumatua digging their graves with their teeth for long enough. And I think we're better than that.
When Ahole Cook arrived here his doctor did a study on the Native inhabitants of the land they were 'discovering'. He noted that the Maori were happy and healthy, the old people and kids were strong and well looked after, they were all muscular, fit and had good teeth. I don't want to get into what we look like today but you get the picture. It's fucken sad.
I call it Colonised by Kai. It seems like Maori and other indigenous peoples take to eating like its a national sport. I often think why? OK so we all know the post colonisation story, trauma and all that and yeah it's real. But does that mean that even though we're educated and on to it as that we have to accept that we as a people can't sort out our dependency / addiction to something like food? And I don't think it's a poverty problem, well not in the physical sense, I know plenty of well off intelligent Maori who are just as good as any other at ignoring whats good for them.
I've come to think that it's really about connection. We used to have a deep connection to our environment, to everything around us, to our experience as humans being. That presence of mind and connection to land, sea, air, trees and sky meant we knew our place as part of the whole and with that the responsibility of caring for ourselves and the environment. That was the level of respect we had. These days i hear Karakia getting thrown around like info commercials and I'm not one to sit back and think, thank god I'm saved.
So I think when there's disconnection there's no responsibility. If you take say a chicken you buy from the super market, or KFC, you didn't see that chicken's life, feed it or take care of it. It wasn't honored when it was killed. Or when you buy those made up foods of processed shit, there was no honor in their making, the steps taken from when that food was taken from the earth or plucked from a tree to what it is today doesn't resemble anything of what it was in the first place.
In the past we as people lived collectively, we were connected to the earth, the elements and to each other. We had to, to survive. Today we don't need to be connected to anything, or so we believe. We can just reach into the fridge any old time and get our ice cream or whatever 24 / 7. When in the past we hunted and gathered for each other, we toiled the land and had respect for the animals we killed, we prayed and gave thanks. These days we can't even walk to the shop. I hear a lot of talk on our marae about Papatuanuku and atua Maori, we sing about them, tell stories and carve them into our whare and most of time I think it's just empty words. It's like the Brian Tamaki syndrome, preaching love wrapped in crap, or like praising Rongomatane then taking the kids to Mac d's for a super sized combo with a diet coke. I mean please.
When I think about Papatuanuku or my tipuna I think about the cells of my body, about my blood and bone that makes me up, they're all in there. This is the living gift that was given to my soul to occupy while I'm here on planet earth. When I connect to Papatuanuku, to Ranginui, to atuatanga, I connect without thinking. Papatuanuku is not a naked woman lying on the earth, Ranginui is not a moko'd man in the sky. We are them and they are us. It's the same thing as god being some white man on a cross.
I believe that seeing ourselves as atua and respecting the taonga tuku iho that were given to us, is honoring our tipuna. And if you look in the mirror or look at your kids you'll see that gift. That's what im talking about. And yes there is a difference between thinking and being, which is too much to go on about here, but something you may want to consider.
Tino Rangatiratanga is not just about protest, its about choice. Everyday choice. Choosing to take control of how we live, how we commune, how we support each other as whanau, how we give thanks, how we build our houses, look after the whēnua, grow our gardens and take control of our lives. What we choose to hand onto our kids. And I say the first step is through the garden, through working together. That's communication with our atua, sovereignty and aligning ourselves with our true potential.
I know there are some Maori whanau, organisations and marae that have been holding onto the old ways and taking on new ways of doing things that align with Kaupapa Maori which I fully tautoko. There are also Pakeha and others out there who align and support kaupapa Māori, tikanga and care for the whenua. All we have to do is change our focus and look. They are the Ahi Kaa, the real leaders we can look to and get involved with. Marae like Papatuanuku in Auckland, the first organic certified marae in the world, Para Kore the Maori zero waste movement, or Reuben Taipari, what he's doing with housing, community and living sustainably. There's plenty of it going on.
You and I know that things aren't gonna get any better for our planet, or for us if we do nothing and follow the same old story, which means our kids and moko are vulnerable. Don't wait for the govt. or your runanga to do anything about it. They're mostly too busy talking to themselves and lining their pockets. The responsibility is yours and ours. Grow your garden, raise chickens, do it with your whānau talk about it, pool your money and resources. Up skill in every way possible. Learn from those that are doing things, Maori Pakeha or whoever. Get back onto papakainga, build your houses and live together. The last thing we need as a people is to be unprepared, sick and reliant while the world falls apart around us.
We Once were Warriors for sure, but before we were warriors we were Gardeners, Gatherers and Hunters. And without food we were nothing.
Mauri ora ki a tātou katoa.