A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, writing

W is for Wahine

There are many wonderful words that start with W, and I’ve had so much trouble deciding which one to go with that this post is now several days late – but, better late than never right?

Initially, I was going to go with Whānau, which is a really important concept of family and the ways in which we interact, the interweaving of generations – and these days, for me at least, the flexibility of the family unit. This lead me to think about Whanaungatanga, which is also about family, but those connections you make through experience and commonalities, the bonds which strengthen us as individuals and as a community. Which led on to thinking about Whakapapa, our histories, and another way to express connections and claim identity.

All of this, in some respect, ties in with what I hope I’m building with the Kotahi Bay series. It’s what I am also working at building in my every day life – a tribe, a sense of belonging, surrounding myself with people who help me to be more ‘me’, who give me strength and challenge me and whose support I feel even when they aren’t right next to me.

I was lying in bed last night thinking about my series. Thinking about how the majority of the demi-gods in the books are female. Which is interesting, because the large majority of Maori gods are actually male – all of the children of Rangi and Papa were sons. I was thinking about how so much knowledge of the gods and Maori religion is lost and that all the research I do leaves me wanting more.

IMG_20150426_144851087 (2)Which made me think of when I took my two youngest to the park by the sea the other day and it was SO very windy, and my littlest said to me ‘I can control the wind, mama!’ and the smile on their faces were just beautiful, and the way that they yearned for the wildness of the weather, the way our faces were plastered with smiles as we stood on the rocks and felt the kiss of the ocean against our skin reminded me of myself. I very clearly remember thinking that I could control the wind as a child. I remember the way I felt connected to the living world all around me, and it really hit me that THIS is what inspired my series. I’m reaching for my roots. I’m finding connections with the gods of my people. I am a female, and so it’s natural for me to want to explore what it would mean to be part of the gods, as a wahine – as a woman.

It’s funny that when I started off writing this series I didn’t think it was very personal. Gosh, I had no idea just how personal it was! Then again, maybe that was what I needed to believe in order to begin. Now I know better.

life, writing

Gods of the living world

Growing up in New Zealand it’s impossible not to be exposed to some Maori culture. It’s taught in the schools, and the growing belief in celebrating all the cultures represented by the people of our nation has meant that there has been somewhat of a resurgence in interest in Maori culture and mythology.

Long overdue, I say.

I admit, by the time I got to my mid teens I was sick to death of learning about it – but that was mostly because other people said it was uncool. My mother was going through something of a ‘born again Maori’ phase, and it irked me. What can I say, I was a bit of an angsty teen 😉 It took me growing up a little more to really appreciate my roots, my heritage, and even longer to dare to write stories that captured aspects of that culture.

One of the things I love most is the mythology surrounding the Maori gods – they are a part of the living world, the landscape. Papatuanuku is the goddess beneath our feet, and her husband, Ranginui is the sky father that spreads above our heads. Their children embody aspects of the world – the sea, the forests, the weather and so on. Their family tree is heavily dominated by gods, but there are a few goddeses in the mix.

I’ve always felt a deep connection to the land, especially to the land around where I live, where Mount Taranaki keeps watch over us, and the sea can be seen in almost every direction, and the wind can be so punishing, that it’s impossible not to believe their are entities inhabiting the sky. New Zealand is a magical place, and I’m blessed to live here.