Tommy Wilson: Weaving our stories together

By Tommy Wilson

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Reporters deserve a salute for bringing the issue of homelessness to the front pages of the paper.
Reporters deserve a salute for bringing the issue of homelessness to the front pages of the paper.

Not a lot impresses me these days. I guess it's the combination of having seen and experienced so much by so many in such a small timeframe of six decades, you get a bit blase to new stories and experiences - who knows?

But one thing that does impress me is the art of raranga or weaving. It's more so the deeper meaning and stories behind what our wahine weave, one of them being my wife who tutors raranga, as does her mother.

The masterpiece of weaving for many is known as a korowai or a traditional cloak. It carries with it a mana of its own, steeped in traditional tikanga (cultural practices) and its creation is a very delicate, painstaking process, put together feather by feather, often taking the best part of a year to make.

I like to think of life as a korowai, woven together by the feathers of experiences we get to share with others and at times just with ourselves, and as a writer I get to share these stories as do my fellow writers and journalist friends.

Too often we are criticised for not telling the story according to the way others see the feathers falling and not often enough we as a society are quick to chide, and slow to bless, the special stories worthy of being part of life's korowai.

The perfect example is the mana of the media who covered the series on homelessness in this paper and the way they conducted themselves around the sensitivity of the subject by not wanting to highlight the "war stories" of homelessness, but instead choosing to focus on the success stories of solutions.

To Annemarie, John, Andrew, Cuzzy, Carmen, Allison and editor Scott - I salute your endeavours in bringing the kaupapa of homelessness and emergency housing, to the front pages of your paper, so we all may gain an understanding of the problem and, more importantly, be part of the solutions.

These are the times when you feel honoured to be in a position as a writer where you can share a story with a wide audience who hopefully will add it as a feather to their own korowai of life.

This is another one of those special stories: It happened on a footy field last Saturday, when two college rugby teams were battling it out to gain the upper edge and take away the spoils of victory.

One of the players was a flyer and the son of a mate we grew up with at the Mount.

My friend carved out a career chasing the Patagonian toothfish and orange roughie around the deep south , and from all accounts made a good quid out of the bounty that Tangaroa shared with him and his crew.

He was a great provider for his family and a proud husband.

But sadly his health turned against the tide and he was battling a rough sea where there was no shelter from the raging storm of lung cancer, and his son carried his dad with him as he carried the ball across the try line on Saturday.

A try that any father would have been proud of if he could have been there to watch.

In fact, at that moment my friend had headed home to the great fishing grounds beyond the veil and family members were notified, one of them being his daughter, proudly standing on the sideline cheering her younger brother on after scoring a great try.

Overcome by grief from the news her dad had passed away, she ran on to the field to seek solace from her brother and together they collapsed on the field, crying a river of tears.

The game stopped in silence and all that could be heard was the sobbing of a brother and sister who had just lost their dad.

The referee and the coaches came together and the game was called off , but what happened next is the magical feather we can all add to our own korowai.

Both teams then formed a circle around their mate and his sister, and chanted a waiata and a haka to awhi their bro and his dad.

How proud must he and his wife be right now? Not just for the try their son scored but by the way his children were consoled and looked after underneath a korowai of aroha.

A korowai we can all carry and add to, feather by feather.

- broblack@xtra.co.nz

- Tommy Wilson is a Tauranga author and columnist.

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