A Home That Sings My Name

I was raised in a tiny community on the most eastern point of Aotearoa, New Zealand. My hometown has two dairies, a fish and chip trailer and a pub. It’s a community where people still ride their horses through the main street, you wave out to your neighbors and shoes are optional.

It isn’t a wealthy town but I’ve never found a place richer.

I was raised in a family that believes wholeheartedly in the deep bond that connects us, and with that thought I was brought up along side my 30 first cousins. They are without doubt my brothers and sisters, in every sense of the word. We love each other fiercely and we fight with the very same vigor.

We shared everything. Baths, clothes, beds, toys. We went to the same school and were taught by the same teachers.

And as adults not much has changed.

My grandmother believed that we would be stronger together. And she was right.

Living communally meant a lot of freedom but it also meant that I always had eyes on every move I made. Whether I knew it or not, they all communicated about every accomplishment, tantrum, phase and mistake. I was never without guidance, company or support and I never will be.

I come from a family of storytellers. Each and everyone of us able to spin a yarn and captivate an audience. I come from a family of hard workers. We were bred early to know that nothing worth having comes free. The world owes you nothing. I come from a family that agrees without reservation that knowing our history, the plight of our people and the intricacies of our language is what will sustain our future.

This is how we feed our own children. So that they too will know.

The biggest thing I learnt is that, home will always call you. She will not change, she will not reject. She will always welcome you with open arms.

From an outside perspective Ruatoria is a drive through blink, a pit stop on the way to better things. What those people don’t see are the Nannies that kiss you in the street. They don’t see our children playing in the park, building forts and rolling down hills. They don’t see the fire burning at the marae, or the boys fishing at the beach. They don’t see the fencers, the hunters, the bread makers. They don’t feel the majesty that is our mountain, or the memories in our river. They don’t see the tribal boundaries that both divide and connect us. They miss the detail that we love. They can’t see our story.

When I was younger I wanted nothing more than to run away from home and be on my own. I threw myself into my career, into my relationship, into my life away because I thought that’s how I would define myself.

But now I look at my home. I look at the foundational lessons I learnt in a little town that still kills its own meat, lives communally, and are all invested in one another and I know that everything I’ve ever needed to know has come out of that place.

It’s so easy to focus on all the chaos in our lives, on all the bits that could be better. I find that remembering my blessings fills me with power and direction.

What brings you happiness? What are you grateful for? If you take the time I’m sure you’ll see it and be empowered by it.

I am grateful for a home that sings my name.

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19 thoughts on “A Home That Sings My Name

      1. What a beautiful connection and history. Reading this gives true depth to visualising abundance and wellbeing. Mauri Ora

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      2. thank you Rawinia, that was beautiful, I too had the pleasure of being brought up in Ruatoria, many memories good and bad.. thanks for sharing your thoughts with us all, beautiful xx

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  1. Walking though Whakarua Park on the way to the corner shop to buy sweets carry on up the street to see the aunties and nannys selling their home made jams rewana clothing moving on to go play pool with friends everyone nodding their heads in the coastie hello grabbing fish n chips or going to the Kai Kart to catch up with friends. Hot days going to Ngata College pools or down to Sandy Bay. Walking or riding horses to get we’re you wanted to go. Rugby was a time for the whole off the coast to get together for fun laughter and friendly competition then go for a few jugs at Manutahi Hotel or for the young ones to go across the road to the movie theatre (later on movies were shown at Wakarua Park.) Miss not locking doors going from house to house talking with the aunties uncles nanna and koros listening to their stories which now I wish i had listened more intently. Driving out to Tuparoa for horse races/picnics. The kai moana which was plentiful and not having quota as u only ate what the whanau need. Yes memories remind us that we have strong roots that will not let us fall -sway abit yes however Ko Hikurangi to Maunga Ko Waiapu to awa Ko Ngatiporou to Iwi. Kia Kaha Kia To a Kia Manawanui

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    1. waking up early as, at 4 years old going outside and your best neighbour cuzzie Tum, tum is sitting on your step waiting to play (kidnapping their baby chickens and stashing them in our room)…..our papa ploughing the garden on the ole massey fergy with me my brother from another mother, billy hughes, lorna hughes hanging off bits of the tractor, bunking school (eh Thomas teka, Dale Haerewa and Lionel Beach) at sandy bay and getting caught by aunty Marie Collier.
      spending time at uncle Rons and unty Hiria cos they were the first to get t.v, the bro still has the scar in his foot where Mak stabbed him with the dart and i still have the scar from being burnt by a cracker eh BILLY HUGHES!!! lol
      building forts in the pines behind the pub, were we would run away to when we told our parents we were running away so mum would help me pack a pillow case with some bake beans (with no tin opener) lol. and much more…thank you Rawinia (taku iramutu) for bring back all those priceless memories….my mauri ora

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      1. Sleep walking down barry Ave to visit taiki tawhai coz she was so Kool. Still is. Playing tennis on the road because there were so few cars we could get a few games in. Playing skids in the culverts. Sliding down THE HILL on cardboard. Grass grazes on bums when you went too fast. Unconditional love from nannies and papas who have no blood connection to me. I love my RuaToria childhood.

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  2. Tena koe Rawinia. Your story is beautiful. and beautifully written It deseves a wider audience than FB where I read it. I have visited Ruatoria and loved the feel of it, and sensed the community glue which holds it together. Nga mihi.ki a koe.

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  3. Tena koe Rawinia mo tenei whakaaro ataahua hei mihi aroha e Te mokopuna o tatou tipuna o Ruatoria me Tuparoa Ko Lorraine Haenga ahua e Te mokopuna o na Graces me na Haenga umuariki me ruataupara na whare tipuna

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    1. Tena koe Lorraine. He uri au no Te Aitanga a Mate, ko Te Awemapara tena. Ko Hiria Te Kiekie Reedy raua ko Ron Parata oku matua tipuna. Tipu ake au I nga rekereke o Hikurangi maunga, ki Ruatoria. Tena koe, e te whanaunga.

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  4. E Rawinia autaia koe nahau to tatou ao nei i puta ki te whei ao ki te whaiao. Nga kupu i whakairo koe hei whakarakei i te tahuhu o te korero ko nga rangatira hei pou mo nga whakaaro nui ma te awa o Waiapu nga korero ka hono ka herea waiho te maunga o Hikurangi nga korero kua taurea nei koe whakarangatira

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  5. Te ataahua hoki o tou korero maumahara o tou whakatipuranga ki te kaenga e te whanaunga.
    Ahakoa kare wau i tipu ake ki reira, ka tautoko ana awau o whakaaro pai rawa atu. I tipu ake taku Papa ki Tuparoa, He uri awau o te whanau Kerehi (Ruataupare) me te whanau Kahu ki Waipiro. No reira, kia kaha koe mo tou mahi tuhituhi ataahua – tukua ki te ao xxx

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