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Jonathan Tautari and Robert Nathan from CCS Disability Action Northern Region talk about journeys and why we should reflect and draw from others in the way we live today.

The night sky containing an immense number of stars guided early Polynesian voyagers to Aotearoa more than 1,000 years ago. Pleiades, also known to Maori as “Matariki”, is an important cluster of stars for Maori. Its appearance marks the beginning of a new year and it was, during the great migration to Aotearoa, a key navigational beacon for the crossing.

The early Polynesian voyagers that ventured across the pacific left their home because they could see that resources were slowly depleting. For the survival of their people, they needed to find a new land that could deliver them a better life with an abundance of resources.

When these ancient seafarers set sail, they stepped into the unknown, to traverse an ocean of uncertainty.  They could not know for sure what awaited them on the other side of the ocean, but they understood that the future of their people rested with them.

For two and a half years now, CCS Disability Action Northern Region has held a series of Hui on Marae under the name ‘Karanga Maha – Many Voices’. The aim of Karanga Maha is to create safe environments that support whanau haua (whanau with a lived experience of disability) to gain an understanding of culture as a pathway to developing confidence and strengthening social identity. Culture is central to the way Maori view, communicate, engage, interpret and experience the world.

As we celebrate Matariki, it is worthwhile to reflect on the journey of those early pacific navigators that came to Aotearoa, draw upon the legacy they left and glean lessons for the 21st century.

For these early navigators it must have been an unenviable task to decide to leave “home” forever and start life somewhere else in a new land. Leaving a place of familiarity for somewhere, or experiences, unknown to you is always difficult. Those early navigators show us that leadership takes courage and that we need to move forward towards the potential of tomorrow, regardless of what barriers may be faced today.

In the same way that early navigators were guided by stars, we today are guided by values or “tikanga”. Tikanga and/or values guide our behaviour, the words we express to others and the way in which we engage with the world around us. The legacy left over 1,000 years ago urges us to look to those values that would help us navigate a pathway leading to the betterment of ourselves, our whanau and our community.

When reflecting on all the challenges and adversity that must have been faced by those early navigators that journeyed great distances across the Pacific to Aotearoa, one is drawn to ask why they did it in the first place. After millennia of honing their sea-faring and navigation skills, they knew they were well equipped to make the demanding journey.

However, in simple terms, they left because they had a vision for reaching a destination that could create a better life for them and future generations. In the work associated with Karanga Maha, we have the privilege to work alongside many whanau that embark on many amazing and inspiring journeys.

We are all descendants of a legacy and as we revel in the festivities connected to Matariki, we should reflect and draw from what has been left by others and make their lessons real in the way we live our lives today.

Jonathan Tautari and Robert Nathan
Pou Arahi
CCS Disability Action Northern Region