The presence of the past: Maori history in contemporary reflection
Mahuika, N. (2016). The presence of the past: Maori history in contemporary reflection. Presented at the MO’NA: Our Pasts Before Us: 22nd Pacific History Association Conference, Conference held at Guam, Mariana Islands.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12525
This is the opening line of a famous saying in my tribe. For our people - Ngāti Porou - these words have become embedded in our tribal identity as important directives that we are encouraged to aspire to. In the “days destined to you”, Ngata reminds us that each generation has its own mana (or authority), our own responsibilities and challenges, our own dreams and destinies to fulfil, and our own histories to tell about Ngāti Porou: who we are, our past, present, and future. If we consider this expectant, and I think hopeful, affirmation as a gift and responsibility, then taking real ownership of the “days destined to us” requires us to know what our forebears have entrusted us with. What are those historical gifts that we might use to “centre” and assert ourselves as Māori, as Ngāti Porou? We might look at this directly, i mua: the past before us because it is our history that is so crucial to us as we walk consciously, and with determination, into the future. Our past before us helps us to know where we are going, it helps us correc our course when we stray, keeps us mindful of the “kaupapa”: whatever that might be in our generation and corner of the Maori universe. We’ve heard already today from both Enoka and Arini how Māori, in our own ways, are engaging with our past, drawing on our korero tuku iho (our oral histories passed down across the generations), on our whakairo (our carving), to illuminate the many ways Māori do, and think about, the past.