Mau rākau connects whānau living abroad to their heritage

By Regan Paranihi

Te Manawa Ora is an initiative which provides a pathway for Māori whānau living in Australia to stay connected to their Māoritanga through the art of mau rākau.

It nurtures the many values of te ao Māori both on and off the marae, and it's the only connection some participants have to home.

Member of Te Manawa Ora, Brenda Lee (Ngāti Kuri) says, "It is a waka for us to learn everything about te ao Māori."

It is also a forum where Māori tikanga is upheld despite living in Australia.

"We still hold the protocols, the Māori protocols, and customs to the best of our knowledge," says Pepe Nahu-Roberts (Waikato).

Many of these participants grew up across the ditch and this is their way of learning first-hand where they come from.

Ivan Karaitiana (Ngāti Tuwharetoa) says, "It provides a basis, a foundation for our people that have grown up here and that have never been home.

"There's so many realms you can step into just from being in this kaupapa, that's why it's so important because our tamariki need- our mokopuna, they need this kaupapa here."

Te Manawa Ora has managed to fulfil a yearning within whānau memebers living away from home.

Karaitiana says, "Our people here are hungry for this kaupapa they're hungry to learn, to understand who they are and where they come from."

Lee adds, "Its just an awesome waka for us to hold on to our te ao Māori living in Australia."

They have groups in the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth and plan to keep the art for anyone willing to learn.