By Anna Douglas, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Raukawa, and Ngāti Kere.
A reflection of Tū Manawa Ora, Rangatahi Camp .
I was excited to have a day dedicated to the Divine Feminine (Matua te Hine).
Because she isn’t talked about enough.
Truthfully, when I arrived in Whanganui for our wānanga [educational gathering], Matua te Hine and I were going through some shit, so I had distanced myself from her. I think it was symbolic,
driving post-Hawkes Bay flood, running on an overflow of ‘things’ that had slowly been eating away at my spirit;
unaware of how disconnected I was from the environment, myself, and by default, others.
Throughout the wānanga, after having kōrero [discussion] around Matua te Hine, mindfully reflecting on te Marama [the Moon] and connecting to Papatūānuku. through kai [food] I got to leave in flow, with a replenished mauri [life force], and commitment to te taiao [the natural world].
We live in a world where the divine feminine often goes unnoticed, particularly put into context with the current climate crisis. But not at the farm. At Pīwakawaka farm, she is loud, she is a guide, and she is honored. As a rōpu [group], we had kōrero about what divine femininity means to each of us. This kōrero, as they would have happened historically, involved both whāhine [women] and tāne [men].
Later in the evening, our rōpu sat around the campfire and were lucky to hear from Meretini Bennett-Huxtable who shared mātauranga maramataka [knowledge of the Māori lunar cycle] and its significance to us. It was a blessing to be wrapped underneath the stars and the light of te marama whilst hearing about how we can utilize this knowledge for specific purposes. For example, moon phases have an impact on gardening, fishing, and our bodies.
It felt validating to hear about the natural cycles of wāhine and tāne, and how te marama and her cycle influenced our bodies of water.
It is heartening to know that our old kōrero around wāhine, and our power through our whare tangata [womb] is happening. Meretini talked about the experience of life and death that happens within our bodies, EVERY MONTH, and it made sense as to why sometimes, we get grouchy.
Unfortunately, this kōrero sat in contrast to those I grew up hearing, ikura [period] was sometimes referred to as ‘being on your rag’, and this was a kind of ‘dirty’ thing that was kept silent. But this was not always the case, as a woman being in your ikura was a time of letting go and a celebration of whakapapa [genealogy]. This kōrero was a beautiful reminder that tāne were never shut out of these conversations and that bringing life into the world is worthy of respect, and some fricken space.
Matua te Hine signifies the importance of living in balance. During our wānanga, we explored and connected with Te Taiao. I would compare living in our camp to being in another world. I never understood the saying
Nature is our greatest teacher
Until our wānanga. During our day, we got to recognize Te Marama, Papatūānuku, and Matua te Hine. All great teachers of living in flow, acceptance, strength, and compassion.
It was impossible not to appreciate and connect with Papatūānuku because she was everywhere. Every day, we gathered and enjoyed kai from the māra [garden] and acknowledged the whakapapa. We were able to explore pieces of the landscape. It was beautiful to see any alterations had been made to work with Papatūānuku,rather than in an attempt to fight her. Flat ground served as a foundation for a māra and the orchard. Everything was in balance.
Matua te Hine made me think of all the women in my life. Who had somehow been silenced along the way. These women are beautiful, talented, and creative. But; as the story goes, been subject to self-neglect, abuse, and silence. These women are me. We are Papatūānuku.
Throughout the wānanga, I grew to have more compassion for these women. And slowly, for myself. I arrived rigid, but throughout the various cups of tea, gathering kai from the glorious māra, and small conversations, I could feel myself becoming more at ease. There was suddenly space to think about my dreams that I once held higher than anything and room to realize half of my worries were not worth worrying about. We laughed, shared more, and voices that were quiet, grew louder.
I liken this to our growing connection with Te Taiao and Papatūānuku.
Matua te Hine lives in all of us. In our tāne too. I wish sometimes our tāne realized that yes, we were once warriors. But we were also gardeners, lovers, poets, and dreamers. Sometimes strength does not live in shouting, it resides in listening, understanding, and Aroha [love].