Dear Mum,

You, Awa and Mike Muller would have been toasting Te Puna from your front row seats this last week, as you watched your mokopuna Kiritapu join Mike's son, Todd, as the second Member of Parliament, both of them propagated from the eternal spring waters of Pirirakau here in Te Puna.

I know we are not supposed to say how sweet our own kumara tastes and you were humility personified - but in this case, I am going to throw whakahihi [show off] out the window and tautoko the successes of last Thursday for all of us to celebrate.

When times are tough, and they have been a bit that way of late, these milestones of mana brought back to our whenua [land] by our whanau doing well out there in the big wide world carry a korowai [cloak] of hope.

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A korowai to shelter from the storm that so many of our own endure daily.

To hear Kiritapu honour you, our mother, in her very first parliamentary korero left our lounge room with rivers of boohoo juice. Had to do a couple of rewinds because the blubber bubba next to me was drowning your mokopuna out, Mum.

Not me though, tough as totara eh Mum? Yeah right.

To think our girl could go from a fries on the side, Colonel in the house KFC employee to a Labour-led, Jacinda in the house, KFC (Kiri from the Coast) Member of Parliament, is akin to going from crayons to perfume or dreadlocks to diva.

Still wearing the same korowai on the inside and the outside, woven together by your unconditional aroha.

And wait, there is more. No, not your debonair gold card-carrying darling Winston, who you and Aunty Lena adored and would never allow a bad word spoken in our whare against him.

While KFC Kiri was standing tall on the political platform, and Jacinderella and Prince Charming were free trading in Vietnam, on the same day, your other mokopuna Waiwhakaata Honfleur was standing tall on the kapa haka stage at Te Mana Kuratahi, the biannual national primary school competition up the line in Gizzy.

They rocked, Mum, and again there was plenty of boohoo juice from the proud parents in the crowd.

As Kiri mentioned in her maiden speech, you changed your name from Kiritapu to Kitty at the age of 5 to deflect the stigma attached to a scared little girl punished for not being able to speak English in a school built on land donated by your grandmother.

Today, in the same school, your moko can proudly stand on stage, as can your mokopuna in Parliament, as a testament to how far we have come as a country growing up and owning up to its true cultural identity.

That's where my boohoo juice was coming from, Mum. There is hope for us all when we can celebrate our successes together, no matter what political party or culture we belong to.

I know what would have warmed your heart most, Mum, when watching our little country school going up against some big as kids was seeing little Olivier, without an ounce of Ngati Ranginui in her, or any other iwi for that matter.

There she was all of 5ft nothing - and lily white, giving it her all for the honour of representing one of the five Tauranga Moana groups at the kapa haka nationals.

I am sure when you could take the channel changer off Mike, you would have switched across to Waru - the most amazing movie to grace our screens in a long time, co-produced by another of your gifted mokopuna, Chelsea, the wife of New Zealander of the year, Taika Waititi.

It must have warmed your heart to see Chelsea up in the Parliament balcony with her cuzzies, aunties and whanau, wailing out the waiata that says it all.

Tauranga Moana, Mauao te maunga, Ngati Ranginui, Ngaiterangi e mihi nei e tau nei.

I would have loved to have jumped up and joined them but my haka's still suck, Mum.

My one and only time I had a crack at performing, you were in the audience. You sunk down in your seat watching me. Nothing sweet about that kumara eh Mum?

Yes Mum, tell Dad to make it a double for you and Mike and a water for Awa. Perhaps a treble, to celebrate your kids from Te Puna who have taken the seed you planted in them from birth and watered it with unconditional aroha.

KFC Kiri from the Coast, Tata from Te Puna and the Waru wonder woman Chelsea are a trifecta of talent we, as a whanau, a community and an iwi of Ngati Ranginui, Ratana and Ngaiterangi, can proudly celebrate.

Always remembering the kumara vine can now and again say how sweet their own tastes.

Miss you, Mum. Say hello to Dad, Mike, Bubba and Awa as I write this on this 11th day of the 11th month.

Your hoha son, Tamahaehae.


tommy@ttw.org.nz