Nothing does more for the health than a merry heart via a few days off over Easter.

We eat a little more, we sleep in slightly longer, read all of the weekend papers, and kick back to enjoy and watch life from a new lens, and along the way, we may spare a thought as to why we celebrate Easter in the first place.

For me and my whanau, Easter is the time when we hikoi to the Hui Aranga (Easter) Festival and join all the other Maori Hui Aranga Clubs in kapa haka, sport, whaikorero, quiz and choir, as well as religious services to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ.

Given this is a Catholic hui and I am not of that faith, I get a lot of time to do more thinking, reading and walking around a couple of the local golf courses in Whanganui. I even ticked off another must-do on my bucket list - no not by scoring my first ever hole in one, but by singing for the first time ever, solo, in front of a very large crowd.


It was while walking the fairways of Castlecliff golf course, after coming down from my stagefright, that I gave thought to Easter and the teachings of Jesus, and the two words that came to me most were forgiveness and democracy.

The forgiveness one morphed into two trains of thought. The first being the act of forgiveness, be it asking for it or receiving thereof, and I would like to do more of it.

So right here right now I will make a start by asking forgiveness of all who may have read my last week's column on the confessions of a night porter and the airtight contract of the Treaty of Waitangi.

In this column, I broke the golden rule of journalism and that is to always check and double-check your source of information and in my case I did not double check the translation that I quoted:

"Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te moana, ka ora te tangata (if the land and waterways are healthy, mankind is healthy)"

It turns out, although this is what these words mean and they were given to me by a dear wise old uncle, they were not part of the quote that he pointed out to me on the copy of the original treaty that was his prized possession and a taonga he shared with me.

As to the other part of forgiveness of fellow mankind - one to the other, I was heartened by an email I received from a regular letter writer to the Bay of Plenty Times, and by the gracious manner in her pointing out my mistake, but, more importantly, the invitation to come and sit with her and share our different points of view as to who took from who and why.

I will honour that invitation and celebrate the second word of my walk around Castlecliff golf course - democracy.

I have become an avid viewer of one of the more worthwhile programmes on television, Democracy Now (channel 83). Here in Aotearoa New Zealand we at times take democracy for granted, while others across the planet can only dream of the day when democracy will be part of their political landscape, especially those who worship a god that literally breathes fire and brimstone on the innocent, as we have seen these last weeks.

Easter is a good time to reflect on God, whoever we may believe him - or her - to be and, even if we don't believe in God, it is a good time to reflect on the message of forgiveness that a very cool person called Jesus left us with as a legacy like no other.

Easter is a good time to reflect on democracy, especially here in the land of the long white and multicoloured crowd, where we can get to vote on what flag we would like to fly and who we want to believe in or not believe in.

We can take our kids to any part of the country and celebrate religious freedom, even if we don't belong to that belief.

And on the way over Easter we get to get over ourselves, our shortcomings or our long-time failures, and we get to say sorry for mistakes made, with no other intent other than you wanted to take the time to listen to a beautiful old uncle who had a show-and-tell toanga worthy of a column in last week's paper.

Hari Aranga - Happy Easter.


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