Tommy Kapai: Inspiration from above

By Tommy Kapai

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Once upon a time in Tauranga there was a beautiful bay called Pilot and the people who bathed in its waters and walked along its shores wanted to make sure that future generations could enjoy this beautiful bay as they had done.

But the big white boats came and brought the bobby sox and walk shorts brigade who also fell in love with the beautiful bay called Pilot and they too wanted to walk along its shores.

Suddenly, without warning, there started to appear long lines of worn out tracks along the bay.

These deep ingrained lines looked like the worry wrinkles on a Warriors' coach and they carved their way into the beautiful bay.

The wise ones who the people had elected to look after them knew something had to be done, and done quickly.

So they called a meeting on the shores of the beautiful bay called Pilot and the multitudes gathered to await the word of the wise ones.

The council enclaves had met and grappled back and forth so they could meet the needs of the people and save the beautiful bay for future generations.

The people prayed and the council of wise ones cried out for divine intervention.

Suddenly a thin plume of white smoke curled its way skyward from the summit of the people's precious mountain they called Mauao. On the other side of the world, at the same time, a similar plume of white smoke curled its way skyward from the chimney of the secret conclave room in the Vatican City.

The people stared in awe with tears in their eyes and a song in their heart. The decision had been made. The enclave was in a common chorus for the common unity of Tauranga Moana and the new boardwalk had been chosen.

Wheelchairs "walked on the wild side" for the first time and the elderly threw away their carved canes and promenaded with their partners, hand in hand like the good old days.

Spontaneous singing broke out, led by a Sam Cooke look-alike, and the people lifted their voices toward Mauao as the thin veil of smoke curled its way northward to Cape Reinga and returned to the realm of the other world from where it came.

"Under the boardwalk - Down by the sea

On a blanket with my baby - Is where I'll be."

Now you may say this is a far-fetched story tinged with cynicism but this is not the first time such signs and wonders appeared from the summit of Mauao - far from it!

Back in the day, a long time before French Bishops showed up on the shores of Tauranga Moana with a message from the Pope, there was a paramount chief named Taiwhanake, who lived on the summit of Mauao.

Taiwhanake descended directly from Tamatea Pokaiwhenua, the great navigator of the Takitimu waka, who first founded the rohe (district) of Tauranga Moana.

Taiwhanake was a charismatic peace-loving leader who summoned his people by communicating to them with storytelling cloaks, and it was his two cloaks that this great story teller is remembered for by the people of Ngati Ranginui today.

Tradition has it in times of urgency, when Taiwhanake needed to contact his people, he would suspend these two great cloaks above Mauao to a great height - almost in a semaphore signaling pattern. When he needed to send a message, he would wave his cloaks and the people would come to hear his stories.

Just like Taiwhanake, the newly elected Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina will need to broadcast and focus the church's message and this may require more than humble charm and holiness. He could well learn from the art of storytelling that Taiwhanake mastered.

This Wednesday is world storytelling day and the story of "The Two Korowai of Taiwhanake" known as Parorouri and Parorotai is a beauty to tell our kids.

Just like Mauao, the Pope stands watch over his flock keeping them together in times of trouble. Just like Taiwhanake, the Pope sends his message up on high for all the people to see - and thank Francis for that!

Take time to tell your tamariki a story this Wednesday, they will remember it for the rest of their lives.


- Bay of Plenty Times

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