Nōku te tūranga, nō koutou te mana

Nōku te tūranga, nō koutou te mana

This whakatauki acknowledges the kaumātua and ruruhi (elders) of their marae and communities who helped raise them to become the prominent leaders they are today.

It’s “about the survival of Māori culture in the next generation. This is the reason I am so passionate about Māori customs and practices which influence my stance in the world today”- Mahaki Albert. 

Three dads Turongo Paki, (Waikato-Ngaati Mahuta) Kaimanaaki Tikanga, Senior cultural Advisor (Counties Manukau Health) Mahaki Jack Koopu Albert (Tūhoe, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui,and Ngāti Porou),and Mururaupatu Maipi (Tainui) share their childhood memories of growing up on the marae, honoring their past, the legacy it’s bestowed on them, and how it inspires the future. While their individual experiences differ, their sentiment is consistent - the positive memories of their childhoods are lessons that have shaped who they are today.

Mahaki was lucky to grow up in a family “steeped in Māori customs, and rich in Māori language”. This was largely due to the fact his tīpuna were so involved in his upbringing. Their influence has been profound. Turongo expresses his sentiment and privilege of the nannies bringing him up, most of whom have since passed. These women were pivotal in his childhood with their teachings. 

Mururaupatu grew up in Te Kohanga Reo o Waahi. He recalls a fond memory of mornings on the marae, the ritual of 9am Milo and biscuits prepared by kuia, then laughs how if the mokopuna dared ask for another biscuit they were labelled garbage. He did not view this as a growling but rather a lesson that the “elderly knew how to nurture you and what was best for you growing up” and in fact “in their growling’s were teachings of how to care for people ''. 

This feeling is shared by Turongo who says that it’s about “Ensuring you don’t withhold knowledge and keep it to yourself”

It is clear to see the fondness that Mururaupatu holds the memories of his childhood on the marae, stating that “these memories are the lessons I carry from my childhood, now, it makes me sad for my child because that way of learning is but a memory”. 

Mururaupatu highlights the collective approach that he experienced as a child in his upbringing. How the “elderly women were always there to support you and help you to prepare for things relevant to your world”. The constant support at any event or circumstance is one of his most cherished memories from his childhood. “Especially if you did something of significance- they’d celebrate it as if it were their own success”, similarly when he did something wrong “he could see the hurt in their eyes because they see you as their own”. 

“It takes a village to raise a child” - “Mā te pā harakeke te tamaiti e whakatipu”

All three men reflect that their own children’s upbringings are different from what they experienced. In their day communication was key and due to the dynamics of growing up on the marae this was a tool that they effectively developed early on. Compared to children of this generation who spend a significant amount of time on technology. For them, it was simple “use your eyes and ears, zip your mouth and go play” – Turongo. 

This is an effective tool to teach tamariki about cultural practices. Because in his experience through observation their play mimicked events that occurred on the marae, through play they would practice karanga, imitate kaumatau, practice mihi. Through repetition and rehearsal of practices, tamariki became familiar. 

“You can learn all over the marae.” – Mururaupatu

Mahaki refers to the marae as the playground of their generation, the kitchen, the work and responsibilities that came with being raised on a marae gave them “a strong foundation to be confident independent steadfast humans in the world we live in today.” From this foundation stemmed their values and knowledge which can only be gained via their experiences growing up in the marae, “it could never be achieved in a classroom nor tertiary institution or university.” - Mahaki

The skills and lessons that Makaki, Turongo, and Mururaupatu learned during their childhoods at the marae have shaped them as men. They acknowledge their privilege of growing up with a  community approach to the upbringing of a child. Attributing these experiences to their views, skills, and morals as an adult These strong memories are something that they all wish to bestow upon their children. Through their shared honouring of the past, it is clear to see their hope for future generations and the preservation of Māori culture. 

“They did not allow this to prevent the next generation from accessing their language and traditions.  To them, it was their duty and responsibility to pass on their knowledge to ensure the sustainability and survival of our language, our history, our traditions and lastly, to ensure that the knowledge would sustain our wellbeing”- Mahaki Albert.