Tommy Wilson: Wise heads guide new starts

By Tommy Wilson

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Nelson Mandela knew only too well the power of forgiveness to give you back your life.
Nelson Mandela knew only too well the power of forgiveness to give you back your life.

While some of us relaxed in bed this morning, savouring the sleep-in courtesy of the huritau of Irihapete (Happy Birthday QE2, it won't be long and you will have to write yourself a congratulatory centenarian letter) a group of dedicated followers of the traditions of Matariki (The new beginnings of the Maori New Year) were up on top of Mauao, catching the morning light and calling out across the Moana of Tauranga to welcome in the Maori New Year.

Matariki is all about preparing the whenua for planting. In doing so we prepare our own lives for new beginnings, so we may grow to reach our potential for the benefit of others and ourselves.

Matariki is almost the entre to the main course of mana, a term once described to me by an old and wise kaumatua as a title bestowed on those whose deeds benefit the well-being of others.

Many who follow the traditions of Matariki see it as a process of dry cleaning the soul by breathing in fresh thoughts and finding a place in our hearts for what Nelson Mandela considered the thing he learned most after being locked up on Robyn island for 27 years - forgiveness.

Mandela's Xosa tribe have been practising and celebrating ubuntu (forgiveness) a lot longer than any other civilisation on the planet and for me the new beginnings of Matariki is all about moving forward under the korowai (cloak) of ubuntu.

They say those who anger you own you and the most effective process to counter anger is forgiveness. This resonates above and beyond most other reasoning to this thing called life and the more I understand the long walk to freedom that Mandela took, the more I see how Matariki, mana and Mandela are laced together for us as a planet to learn from, if we are to survive.

There are little and large things in our lives we can seek forgiveness for, just as there are little and large parts of our lives where we can apply new beginnings.

The All Blacks are entering into an era of a new beginning as to are our "keep the faith" Warriors, who kickstarted a new beginning against the buck-less Broncos on Saturday.

The Excited States will hopefully wake up to a new beginning and stick a stamp on Don's derriere and send him back to wherever it is he and the "waka blond" possum perched on his head come from.

Locally there is a new beginning of council candidates and a captain to guide them as mayor.

And for those throwing their potae in the ring, the kaupapa of emergency housing for the homeless should be given a high priority in their korero. Especially for those incumbents who thus far have stayed as silent as a cold winter's night.

Solutions based around communities empowering communities, supported by front line social services, is the garden we should be preparing for the homeless and our civic leaders need to get to grips with how serious the situation is, if they are to stay seated in the cosy confines of their warm council chambers.

When we start talking to and not at each other anything and everything can be achieved, including a new beginning for the homeless, and better understanding of each other's worlds here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Listening to the wise words of great minds can help steer our communities and our country to a place we all want for our kids.

Great minds with an insightful understanding of how Maori and non-Maori can collectively share in the silver lining of this long white cloud we call Aotearoa.

A silver lining that celebrates Matariki, embraces mana and encourages ubuntu at every opportunity.

One such beautiful mind was that of Dame Anne Salmond, who sprinkled her Bay Court audience yesterday with aroha for the Maori world she grew up with. To watch and listen to this wonderful wahine of mana ordain an army of culturally cool ambassadors, by opening up an avenue of understanding for her audience to walk down, was truly inspiring.

It was the perfect way to kick start Matariki and prepare life's garden for the new year ahead.

Matariki could be a new beginning where mana comes from finding forgiveness at every opportunity, while sowing new seeds of understanding of each other's culture in a garden well prepared for the benefit of others.

Matariki Tauranga Moana Festival runs from today until July 22. Do your soul a favour and find out more at the Matariki marquee next to the hot pool at the base of Mauao.


- Tommy Wilson is a best-selling author and local writer.

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