2 February 2012

I ngaro Aotearoa

Literally, these three Maori words translate into "I miss The Land of the Long White Cloud", or more specifically "I miss New Zealand".

Fact is, I do; I really, really do. Anyone who's been there will tell you the same. It cannot be explained. Could it be the sheer natural beauty of New Zealand? Her serenity? Her wonderfully hospitable people perhaps? Wish I knew.

One thing's for certain though; I suspect it has something to do with what the Maoris term as "Manaakitanga - Feel the Spirit". A deep-rooted Maori cultural concept, manaakitanga places a responsibility on Kiwis as hosts to give us the best of themselves, their time and their history. It is a powerful promise as well as an invitation to experience a slice of New Zealand. Manaakitanga has to be experienced to be felt. But more importantly, it has to be experienced to be understood.

Since Oi Len and I first visited NZ in autumn 2000, we have always longed to revisit. And we did actually. Twice to be precise. In winter 2002 and in spring 2006. "Three times? You mad?!!", many have asked. Errrr... I don't think so. You see, most who've been there will tell you that, every now and again, they'd experience a "calling" if you will.... a calling to "come home". There is simply NO OTHER WAY to describe it. I've felt it for a good 12 years now; and believe you me, it's as strong as ever. Well, actually it gets stronger and stronger.

Many of you will have at least heard of the beautiful Maori love song "Pokarekare Ana". Allow me to share with you some of its lyrics.

Pōkarekare ana, ngā wai o Waiapu (The waves are breaking against the shores of Waiapu)
Whiti atu koe hine, marino ana e (My heart is aching for your return my love)

E hine e, hoki mai ra, ka mate ahau i te aroha e (Oh my beloved, come back to me, my heart is breaking for love of you)

Now, nearly six years on since my last visit to NZ, I'm feeling the need (yes, it's a need) to go "home" again. And man, I tell ya it's really drummin' in me head this time! I mean, yeah of course there are many other places in the world to see; but unlike in the past five years (where I've opted to visit Europe), this time I'm NOT gonna ignore that calling.

So, I'm made up. E hine e, hoki mai ra, ka mate ahau i te aroha e... I'm coming home again.

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