Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to spend two days being immersed in Māori culture and learn about our New Zealand heritage. Bounce arranged for some of our team to go and have an overnight stay at Rehua Marae and invited some other youth organizations to learn alongside us.
To be honest, when I first came to the marae, I was anxious about the experience due to spending time with a lot of new faces and being unsure of what the experience would hold for me. However, it turned out to be an incredible adventure I will not soon forget!
We were able to have many incredible experiences, but a few stood out in my mind. Being able to hear everybody’s mihi’s (a Māori greeting) and experience a little of the Māori language was exciting and humbling for me, as it is not a language I have learnt or had familiarity with before deciding to undergo this trip.
Learning about Māori culture and way of life including flax weaving and biculturalism was awesome, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to take away so much knowledge.
It is so humbling to be able to bring back all the knowledge that I have gained and to be able to bring some of the Māori values and worldview into my youth work with Bounce as well as to be able to look at wellbeing from an indigenous perspective.
It is so important for us to respect our roots; especially the culture, heritage, and wealth of knowledge our indigenous people hold. We are a diverse nation with similar and differing opinions and beliefs, but it is crucial for us to understand our history and background and to honour the Māori people and everything they have done to enrich our nation.
If you ever get the opportunity to go to a marae or learn about Māori culture, I would urge you to say yes and take the most from it that you possibly can. It can be daunting to go into an environment that is unfamiliar, but, if you leave your comfort zone, you can develop and grow in incredible ways!
In conclusion, I want to give a massive shout out to all those who worked so hard to make our experience so enjoyable, including our Bounce co-ordinators Amber and Stéphanie and all those who work and contribute to Rehua Marae. I would especially like to extend my gratitude to Tane, who was our guide and encouragement during this journey. I would also like to thank him for supporting me and for the conversations that we had, which continue to have a great impact on my life and encourage me on my own journey.