WE ALWAYS SAY THAT WHĀNAU ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR HAUORA... BUT HOW DO WE SEE THAT PLAY OUT?
Kia ora MK fam! As I write this, I send you my aroha from the tropical paradise of Bali! Yes, you read it right—I'm here for my brother's wedding! Be jealous, be very jealous!
It is a wedding long overdue as it was cancelled due to the dreaded covid back in 2020 (but just quietly, I wasn't mad at it! Originally I wasn't going to be able to go as my little boy Rākau would have only been a one month old at the time and unable to travel. I like to call it fate!).
Anyway, as I soak up the sun, dip my toes in the two pools of our villa, sweat my butt off in this glorious weather, and rest my wairua, I can't help but reflect on the significance of this occasion and the role our whānau (family) plays in shaping my hauroa (well-being).
You see, my little bro lives in Ahitereiria (Australia) so coming together like this honestly is when I feel most complete - and of course, for a celebration like this... it just takes it up a notch just that little bit more.
The whānau connection: more than just relatives.
If you've ever had your kuia (nanny) bust out a wooden spoon or an auntie give you the "look," you know exactly what I'm talking about. Whānau isn't just a group of relatives—it's a connection that goes beyond genetics. It's the people who have seen you at your best and worst, who have shared laughter, tears, and countless kapu tī with you. Have encouraged you to do better and be better and celebrate your wins.
Whānau is that unstoppable force that gathers around you like a protective shield, ready to take on whatever life throws your way. They're the ones who make you laugh until your sides hurt and give you the reality check you desperately need when you are being out the gate! They're honestly like your partners-in-crime, secret keepers, and best mates all rolled into one.
The whānau hauroa: nurturing our well-being.
Our well-being isn't just about physical health—it's about feeling fulfilled, supported, and emotionally balanced. And guess who's at the core of that? Your whānau!
I can not begin to explain how that support has kept my mum, brother and myself in check. When they say it takes a village - honestly, I totally get it. You see, when I was only five, and my brother one, my father was tragically killed in a boating accident. Us kids were incredibly too young to understand what was going on, and of course my mum - she was a bucket case.
I always remember her telling me in later years how on flying down from Tamaki Makaurau to Mahia where he was, she had quietly willed for the plane to go down to stop the pain. She honestly had no idea how she was going to be able to go on without him. It is the most heartbreaking thing to hear something like that come from your mother's lips - and the thing that pulled her out of that darkness? Her brothers and mother who rallied and implanted themselves in her life until she was able to look up on her own and walk forward, and us kids.
Think about it. When you're surrounded by the support, wisdom, kindness, and unbreakable bond of your whānau, you're experiencing a kind of hauroa that can't be replicated anywhere else or anyway else. In these moments, they remind you that you're never alone, that you're loved, and that there's always a reason for living life.
Whānau moments: fuel for the soul.
Let's take a moment to appreciate those family get-togethers! You know, the ones that involve endless kai (food), a bit of friendly rivalry over who can do the best waiata, and those "remember when" stories that never get old (and of course a few bevies and drunk dancing!). These moments aren't just about having a good time—they're essential for our wellbeing.
For most of my 'younger years' I spent them travelling the world, so whenever I was coming home for a couple of weeks the first thing I always did was call up the whānau and order in all my favourite kai from everyone! Pork bones from nanny, curry from Uncle Phil, raw fish from Uncle Jimmy, chop suey or roast chicken from mum, and spring rolls from Uncle Eddie & Mary! Like clockwork they would all show up and fill my puku with kai and my soul with love.
These moments recharge us, reminding us of the things that truly matter in life. And let's be real, nobody knows how to roast you better than your own whānau!
The power of whānau support: through thick and thin.
Life isn't always a sunny beach in Bali. We all face challenges, big and small, and that's when the true strength of our whānau shines through. An increasing load on mental health is certainly making whānau play a bigger role in supporting our hauora.
Whether it's offering a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a "chin up, you've got this," our whānau support system is an anchor that keeps us steady in the storm and can have the potential to pull us out from a space that may not be good for us.
Whether its a failed exam, lost job, relationship breakup or similar your whānau can be there to pick you up, dust you off, and remind you that you're more than your mistakes - IF YOU LET THEM IN.
The tūpuna connection: from beyond the realms.
This may seem like a weird point to bring up when we are talking about whānau support - as mostly people think of this in the context of the 'here and now'. But... in te ao Māori, whakapapa, wairuatanga, whanaungatanga, kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga and all the 'tanga' have a link to those who have gone before us. It is an acknowledgement that very few Māori will not understand or connect to.
Every time we are starting events we will always acknowledge our tūpuna and invite them into our space to support and protect us in the kaupapa we are embarking on.
I know when we are listening to Brendan make his vows that my dad will be there, my nanny, and so many other loved ones who have crossed over to another realm and journey. This spiritual wananga with whānau is just as fulfilling for my hauora as what we get from those physically around us! It brings a sense of peace, belief, hope and protection all in one.
Embracing the whānau magic.
So, as I soak up the Bali sun and celebrate my brother's upcoming wedding, I'm reminded of the magic that is whānau. It's a connection that transcends miles and bridges gaps. It's a support system that's always there, no matter the time zone.
Whether it's cracking jokes with your cousins, sharing stories with your siblings, or having a heart-to-heart with your parents, these moments are the essence of our hauroa. They're the gems that make life sparkle, the threads that weave our stories together, and the heartbeat that keeps us connected.
As we journey through life, don't forget to cherish every laugh, every tear, and every memory we create with our whānau. They're the ones who remind us that no matter where we are, we're always home.
Ka kite anō, whānau! Until next time.
P.S. Seriously, how good is mie goreng. I can't even with the kai over here!!