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March 10, 2014 | by  | in Opinion |
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Māori Matters

Ka mura, Ka muri.

This proverb represents the beautiful way in which Māori traditionally viewed the future. The idea is that we are all walking through life backwards. We can’t see the future just as we can’t see where we are going when we are walking backwards.

Instead, we look to the past to inform the way we move into the future. We learn from those who have gone before us. We regard the past and present as a single, comprehensible ‘space’ because that is what we have seen and known. We walk backward into the future with our thoughts directed toward the coming generations but with our eyes on the past.

The concept explains a lot about different aspects of the Māori worldview. Tradition and consultation with elders is important whenever a decision is to be made about the future. Whakapapa and ancestry are key parts of Māori identity; who you are now is determined by all of the people who came before. Māori view land as a sacred taonga (gift) and believe we are merely kaitiaki (guardians) of the land. We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children.

We can learn a lot about the way we think about the future from this Māori proverb.

Speaking of the future, last Monday we welcomed the University’s new Vice-Chancellor, Grant Guilford, with a powhiri at Te Herenga Waka Marae. It was attended by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Chancellor of the University Ian McKinnon and Auckland University’s Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon.

The powhiri brought together past, present and future. V-C McCutcheon comes from Victoria’s past – he was the Vice-Chancellor here from 2001 to 2004. V-C Guilford will lead the University into a new era. He’s leaving behind Auckland University, where he was the Dean of Science. He will bring the skills he has learnt from his past roles to his new job.

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