Manaakitanga

I’m low on words lately so here’s my reflections on the past week as told to HPCC

Many Samoans are taught from an early age that family is everything; that the safety and welfare of your aiga (or whanau) is paramount. Whilst reflecting on the past week I’m overwhelmed with how far the boundaries of aiga have stretched. An earthquake strikes and pictures of a few hundred people rush to my mind in quick succession with the question, ‘are they ok?’ But then I’m inundated with text messages from my young people in Rolleston saying, ‘are you ok?’

Maori have a beautiful community concept called Manaakitanga, where love is demonstrated in the responsibility people take to look out for one another. These past few days, I’ve seen the lines blur. I sat in a Welfare centre on Monday and watched as teenagers walked across the generations to offer water and service to struggling families. On Tuesday, I joined the masses of students (and our mini-troopers Asher and Hannah), who walked across the suburban boundaries to shovel silt until their backs gave way. And these past two days, I’ve had the honour of sitting at Hornby’s Community Cafe and getting to know the people who live in my neighbourhood (whilst drinking A LOT of good coffee).

Manaakitanga – this is what our family and community is about. It’s about sitting with that frightened and lonely neighbour. It’s about going to the places without electricity, and offering your gas stove. It’s about babysitting those scared kids so mum and dad can have a break to deal with their own anxieties. It’s about Aroha – loving people.

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