Karakia to free Ngāti Awa of centuries old 'whakamā'

By James Perry

Ngāti Awa will hold a special karakia ritual this weekend to lift what it calls a long-standing curse.

Sir Hirini Moko Mead says tribal elders believe descendants are still suffering from the words of one of their tīpuna, Te Tahi o te Rangi, "Waiho mā te whakamā e patu" (Let their shame be their punishment) upon his return to the mainland from Whakaari where he had been abandoned by his own people to die.

With the aid of his taniwha, Tūtarakauika, he survived and returned home to his people where, rather than exact revenge with violence, he uttered the famous phrase. Mead says while it could be mistaken as a softer approach, the effects on the people have been the same.

"Waiho mā te whakamā e patu. Kei te mau tonu tērā kupu e patu." 
(Let their shame be their punishment. It still has that implication of being punished.)

Sir Hirini believes that incident, thought to have occurred more than 500 years ago, has links to recent troubles the iwi has endured, including the deadly eruption on Whakaari three years ago.


Ngāti Awa lift tīpuna's words off their people.

The power of words

"E mōhio ana tātou he wero kei roto i te kupu. Ana ka mau tonu ngā wero, ngā whiu kei roto i te kupu a te tangata. Ahakoa he pai te wairua kei roto i te tangata, ko tana kupu kāore i te pai."
(We know the power that words can have on people. That power, that curse within can have a long-lasting effect on a person. Even if a person is decent within, his words can be harmful.)

The karakia will be conducted by tohunga Sir Hirini says are steeped in the traditions of their ancestors. He hopes the karakia will ease the burden his people have carried for generations.

"Ākene pea ka māmā ngā whakaaro o te iwi whānui kua kore e titiro, āe kei te mahi tonu ngā whiu a te kōrero a te koroua rā ki runga i a tātou. A muri i te hui nei kua wātea ngā āhuatanga i whakararuraru a Ngāti Awa mō te hia tau. He nui ngā raruraru i pā mai kia Ngāti Awa. Ko te mea nui ko te hūtanga o Whakaari ka parekurahia ngā tūruhi."
(I hope as a people we can change our perspective on the world and not be weighed down by the words of our ancestor. I also hope that as an iwi we can be freed of the troubles that have plagued us for centuries, which have been many but none so major as the last eruption of Whakaari that led to the loss of life.)