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  • Guest Writer

NT: Son of the Tribe

Words by: Mana Puketapu Hokianga | Te Atiawa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Poporo, Ngāti Ruapani

Listen to the song “Māori boy” by Jgeeks and the Geeks before or while you're reading this to set the mindset for the read. This is only a short story, so surely.


Hidden In the lush valleys of Aotearoa, a Māori boy named Tūkōrehu grew up with pure naive optimism. Here he would learn traditional waiata, haka, mōteatea, absorbing the pūrākau passed down through generations, treating the knowledge of whakapapa, tikanga and kawa as wealth, rather than the accumulation of money. Yet, as he matured, Tūkōrehu found himself grappling with the conflicting expectations of his iwi and the evolving world around him.

In the eyes of his kaumātua, Tūkōrehu was to become a kaitiaki of his whānau, and the Rangatira of his iwi. He was expected to master the art of carving, to tend to the gardens of his home to provide for his kin, and to uphold the values of mana and tapu. But in the midst of modernity, these ideals often felt like distant echoes, drowned out by the clamour of a rapidly changing society.

Tūkōrehu would venture out of his papa kāinga to travel a world where success was measured by academic achievement and material wealth, where emotional expression was encouraged, but traditional stoicism still held sway. He felt the pull of tradition tugging at his soul, urging him to honour the past, while the allure of the future beckoned with promises of individuality and progress.

As he journeyed through adolescence, Tūkōrehu grappled with his identity, torn between the expectations of his culture and the realities of the modern world. He sought guidance from his kaumātua, drawing strength from their wisdom, yet yearning to forge his own path.

In the end, Tūkōrehu realised that true maturity lay not in adhering blindly to tradition or embracing change for its own sake, but in finding a balance between the two. He learned to honour the wisdom of his ancestors while embracing the opportunities of the present silently, and calmly, knowing that his journey to manhood was not a destination, but a continual evolution of self-discovery and growth. 

And that's it.  

This is the end of part one of a fictional series named Son of the Tribe, about the breather named Tūkōrehu. Take the page to VUWSA if you want to see more of this series.


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