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August 14, 2017 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira |
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Te Ara Tauira

The word “taonga” as used in Te Tiriti has been on my mind a lot lately, as Matariki rises and has brought us a new year. Obviously the concept of “taonga” is much more than ownership of physical properties. As this new year awakens, I mihi to our whenua, our reo, and kaumātua, our mātauranga, and all else we hold as taonga

If we are to take Te Tiriti at its word, it is not only this country’s duty to look after Māori land and Māori resources. Our duty is also to look after our culture, our language, and our people. It is imperative that we protect our taonga, if we are to reach any sense of stability in our national identity in Aotearoa.

Protecting our taonga is so much more complex than just giving back ownership rights to the land we have been connected to always as Māori. “Protect our taonga” means encouraging te reo Māori to be taught in all schools. “Protect our taonga” means encouraging Māori voices in society, and allowing whakaaro Māori to flourish — decolonising our mindsets. “Protect our taonga” means connecting not just to modern medicine, but to the established ways of rongoa. It means making sure we are working hard to clean waterways and look after the native creatures of this land, over whom we are kaitiaki.

As the whetū rotate through the skies, they herald in tohu, and times of mahi and wānanga. For myself, I am using this fresh start as an opportunity to understand my whakapapa better, and learn about our history as a nation. To connect with rongoa and listen to our koroua and kuia. To realise for myself how our people’s taonga are manifested within my own life, and where I can foster new connections. This is a time to realign what kaupapa we as tauira are a part of, and the place of our taonga, behind us, and in front.

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