“It [Mauri] is the force that interpenetrates all things to bind and knit them together and as the various element’s diversity, mauri acts as the bonding element creating unity in diversity.”
– Royal, Te A. C. (Ed.). The Woven Universe: Selected Writings of Rev. MĀori Marsden. Otaki: Estate of Rev. MĀori Marsden, 2003.
GIFT was initiated by Foundation North in 2016 to ignite innovation and solutions that would improve the mauri of Tīkapa Moana Te Moananui-ā-Toi. Foundation North had limited knowledge of the value and tikanga that a focus on mauri would bring. Having mauri at the centre of the GIFT kaupapa is increasing unity and bringing a diversity of thought and approach, to regenerating and upholding the wellness of Tikapa Moana Te Moananui-a-Toi, the surrounding whenua and its people.
“The beautiful thing about inviting people that share the same principles as you is that you end up with a whole suite of mātauranga and research and evidence-based knowledge from a Science perspective, that you can use to drive different conversations with different groups and also enable us as kaitiaki to be the best that we can be.”
Since the inception of GIFT we have been on a learning journey to better understand the concept of Mauri.
“Western Scientists can embrace the concept of mauri when they have strong Te Ao Māori mentors beside them”.
Despite COVID-19, GIFT has continued to create a space of offerings around mauri. In 2020 a Mauri Wānanga series was presented virtually by Te Kaa. As part of the Mauri Wānanga series, a session was held with four esteemed mauri practitioners. The panellist quotes below give a flavour of each of their kōrero.
Matua Kevin Prime
(Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Whātua, Tainui and Welsh descent)
“Everything has a mauri. A rock has a mauri and science has already discovered that when you get right down to the atoms and molecules that everything is alive and moving and even though we talk about inanimate objects, all those things are living.”
“Whakapapa is the iho of mauri. Without whakapapa we are unable to enjoy the pre-eminence of mauri.”
(Ngāti Io, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki)
“When I speak what I know, that comes from our tūpuna, these are tāonga brought down. When we start speaking this way people really engage because it is in the hearts of everybody”.
“We own our own metanarratives and our own creation story. Being mana i te whenua is about owning all parts of the creation story and our origins. Rangi had a few wives and we come off the first wife Pokohārua I te Po and from there comes our whole natural make up of our land and the endemic species that you will not find anywhere else in Aotearoa and every single thing has a whakapapa”.
The Mauri Wānanga sessions continue to inspire and generate an openness from people to listen and learn and work together in different ways to regenerate the mauri of Tīkapa Moana Te Moananui-ā-Toi.
Feedback from participants included:
“My way of being has been impacted from the understanding and insight I gained”.
“Te Ao Maori concepts and perspectives are fundamentally important in the restoration and regeneration of Tīkapa Moana”.
“With this knowledge, I will work to ensure that mātauranga Māori is prevalent in our mahi, and that we are viewing our mahi with the intent of mauri being honoured and valued”.
“From this session, I will keep trying to build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with Māori. I will constantly listen and learn and consider things in a different way and stop looking for a quick fix or quick understanding”.
This tide of change is building momentum. Through GIFT, more people are discussing the effect that Te Ao Māori has had on their learning, in their relationships, project design, organisational practice, attitudes and language as they work to regenerate and sustain the mauri of Tīkapa Moana Te Moananui-ā-Toi.