Man on a mauri mission

By Raniera Harrison

Riqi Harawira is a man on a mission. He says he's been on his own personal journey battling depression.

“When you've got no pou, when you won't stand for anything, you'll fall for anything,” says Harawira, of Te Aupōuri and Te Rarawa.

“I started to use solvents as a way to escape, of course, that grew in to alcohol, marijuana, then we got on to heroin, amphetamines, and then we got in to meth. I'll be straight up about it because I want to be a voice for all of us - not just Māori.  There are ways to rise up through that.”

Harawira says his new album, Mauri, released today, has been a labour-of-love, and his companion through his dark moments.

“Mauri is that special invisible force that's created in the cosmos by Io Matua, and the atua.  That's the thing that binds our tinana with our wairua and our hinengaro.  That's why we come apart sometimes, because our mauri becomes brittle.”

Harawira, who has just entered The International School of Māori Weaponry, says reconnecting to his culture has helped him through his journey.

“The discipline, the hinengaro, the tinana, the tikanga, the reo - everything all in one and the whakawhanaungatanga, it's hard. I call it brutal. It's brut-iful.”

Harawira hopes that he can inspire others who are battling depression.

“You know I'm not a psychiatrist, but I can share my story anyway of how I restored my mauri.”