Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Bring mana to your name. . .

Will our memory live on?. . . 

We each have a name given to us
One we must protect 
And they will leave a legacy
Of values we hope are kept
A memory of who we were
Who we belong to and what we lived for
And when we are all gone
Will our memory live on?

This is my 1000th blog post on the homepage of my blog.
I had been mindful of this milestone for a while (probably the last ten blog posts building up to this) and I hadn't decided for sure what the track would be. I only found this particular track a few days ago and knew that this would be the one.  In light of recent events, this song has now come to mean so much more than I could have imagined.  I believe that I am very lucky when I think about the familial connections on both sides of my family.  I am very lucky that I have had access to both my parents together with the learning that comes from generations of knowledge and values that we must continue to uphold.  The hope is that regardless of where we go to in our lives, that we never forget what we carry inside of us, who we carry on our shoulders as progress through achievements and excel at every turn.  I would like to think that we teach the next generation what we believe is important to hold onto, to sustain a future that allows others to build on and extend from our vision.

What I do with this name is up to me
Will I honour my name and my family?
Oh you can decide now
We can make our tupuna proud

Will you make the right decisions to honour yourself and your family?
If you have not been taught the value of responsibility in being a knowledge holder, you can be forgiven for thinking that you do hold an important position in your family.  Far from it.  Everyone has their part to play in order for you to learn, and wade your through until you reach a point where you no longer learn, but just experience the fruits of all the labour that you have put in.  You might start to ask yourself, how will you know if you bring honour to yourself, your family or your tupuna?  We forget that the works that we produce with our hands, have ways of traveling, whether they continue to bear fruit for other people to enjoy, or provide seeds that others can plant once they have learned what you have had to teach.  Your tupuna will visit you in your dreams. to make sure that you know whether you have made them proud, or at least be aware of what your destiny is.  

Kia tiakina to ingoa
In all of your days
Be true to your name
Kia tiakina to ingoa
Don't be afraid (don't be afraid)
Stand up and bring mana to your name

How can you be true to your name?
The most authentic thing about you will be your name.
In Pacific cultures we value our names quite highly because you will most likely be named after someone, whose name is gifted to you because there is an intent that you carry the qualities of that ancestor.  I like to think that when families are consulted about prospective names for newborn children, they consider which ancestor's traits are missing within the family - and they agree on a name.  This can be true for when the name has been gifted to you, and it has been given to you because you have a role to fulfil within your family and wider community.  

(We live), We live in a world of fear and sorrow
(Let's join),  Let's join the fight for a brighter tomorrow
(Let us) Let's bring strength to our name
Don't be discouraged, don't be ashamed
(If we), If we just reached up to our fallen brother
(And he), And he will learn to reach out to another
Strong and true to our name
(That's why) Together we can make a change
We can decide now, can make our family proud

I can't help but think that with the change of government in Aotearoa, this song is a great way to think about what legacy political parties want to leave behind, what MMP - the electoral system we abide by in this country can be used in a way to benefit the most vulnerable of our society.  The last government bragged about the strong economic growth of our nation, but it was done at the expense of those in our society who needed protection the most.  A brighter tomorrow needs to be one in which people can help to support each other and learn how to collectively strong together.  Why would you want to subject people who are less fortunate to sanctions that continue to put them into further poverty.  Education is the one area in which those who are considered from the lower socio-economic section of society - can rise above their perceived position.  (I should know, I'm a product of a system that I wasn't supposed to be successful in).  The irony of being seen as a success in mainstream society in my country is that people that I am meant to represent, are always seen negatively.  The stereotypes don't do us justice at all.  We can use our names as vehicles to allow us to stand strong.

Kia tiakina to ingoa
In all of your days
Be true to your name
Kia tiakina to ingoa
Don't be afraid
Stand up and bring mana to your name
Mana to your name

It is very easy to be subsumed into larger parts of society and classify people like me as belonging to places that label me as lazy, ignorant and uneducated because of my skin colour.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Is this what it means for us to be true to our name?  Even those who are of mixed heritages and may accidentally be classified as enjoying the benefits of white privilege, being the lighter shade of tan, chocolate, cinnamon, umber, burnt umber even - should we continue to be afraid and stuck in places that do not accept us whichever way we might turn?  

Kia tiakina to ingoa
Don't be afraid
Stand up and bring mana to your name

I hope you take into consideration what your actions do and how your thoughts translate into actions.  We live in terrible times right now.  I use the word terrible to mean things being extremely serious - where things that we thought would be preposterous, suddenly don't seem to be anymore.  Our current normal was once thought to be that of fantasy and fiction, but yet, here we are.  There is no time to be wasted being afraid of what we cannot control.  We also cannot stand by and allow terrible things to happen that could also be prevented.  What if people are misinterpreting what bringing mana to their names actually means?  Mana is defined as as a Polynesian, Melanesian and Māori belief meaning an impersonal supernatural power that can be transmitted or inherited.  I question the use of the word impersonal, because I think mana is most certainly the complete opposite of impersonal.  How will you choose to transmit mana?  How will you take the mana that you have inherited and make your family proud?  It doesn't matter where we are, what journeys that we are on - just make sure that you stand up and bring mana to your name. . .