along the road of my travels i have met some very wonderous and unique people, each of whom had a voice that i found to be quite beautiful. the voice, in a way, is a perspective of its own, a choice we make, an emotional, or spiritual vantage point from which it rises to meet the world.
this blog will be dedicated to writing about the different people i have met over the last 30 years, in whatever capacity i can remember them. we begin with one of the major influences, Tohuna Rose Pere:
This is a woman that I met in New Zealand. She lives on a very spooky and exilarating mountain near Lake Waikeremoana. She has fruit trees that grow beside her little cottage, a natural spring of beautiful water that flows on her land, and she is widely known across NZ and many parts of the world, not only for being a renowned healer, but for being an unashamed, loud-mouthed gaurdian of the language and the stories...
How i came to meet here was quite amazing. after a week of wananga (teaching time) at the marae (spiritual community house) one of my teachers, Papa Joe Delamere, I was heading down the east coast with some new friends for a look about the southern side of the north island. we were driving on a high ridge, with the sea far below us to the left, when a bumble bee flew into the window of the truck and rested on the back of the driver's headrest, right in front of me.
at this, the conversation stopped abruptly and all eyes were on the bee. i thought that it was because they were trying to find a way of getting it out of the car before one of us got stung, but after a few moments of silence, i noticed they were all smiling, and doing nothing to try and rid the truck of the bee.
then one of the women said something in Maori, then turned to her friend and said, in english, "well, we've got to take him to see Rose." and her friend smiled, turned to me and said, "you're a lucky boy, you are, " to which the other woman said, " or a very unlucky boy!" at this the whole car errupted with laughter.
at the next town, we changed directions and headed for Waikeremoana. before i was to see Rose, however, i was taken to her sister's house, who lived in town. she was waiting for us on her porch, dressed in a black dress down to her ankles. "that's my auntie," said the woman who had spoken to the bee. before we made it up to the porch, the old woman called to her in maori, to which she promptly responded, and with an acknowledging nod, took me by the hand and led me down the road, away from the house. after a small walk around the bend, we were standing at the entrance to the family cemetary. i was already barefoot, and after a moment's rest, she led me in among the graves.
if there was a particular reason i had to visit the cemetary, i was not made aware of it, though i sensed it was to take me among the ancestors. at each little stone i was given a brief story of a life lived before mine began. then after a while, she said, "it's time for tea. let's go back to auntie's."
this time we were greeted in the traditional, and warm way of the maori. we went inside and shared tea and crackers together while Rose's sister asked me all sorts of questions about why i had come to New Zealand. Then, she held out her hands with a gesturing look for me to place mine into hers. she made a long blink, then looked in my eyes for maybe a few seconds. then she squeezed my hands and said, "good. off you go then."
we made our farewells and were back in the truck within five minutes.....
it was to be the next morning that i was taken to see Rose, so that night i went to stay with a man named Thomas and his family. Early the next morning, on our way our of Wairoa, we stopped at a store to buy her a gift of some sweet foods. then we began the long, winding drive up the mountain to Rose's house.
.............i pause here to mention, that due to time, and relevance, i will not divulge all that happened while i was at Rose's house..................i'll pick up the story after our afternoon tea........
Rose took the dishes into the sink, and told us to go and wait for her in the living room. so Thomas and I went and sat where we had earlier and waited for Rose to come back. After a few moments, she was back in her chair. She said that she was going to say a karakia (prayer). this excited me, becuase i loved the way the maori language washed over me when it was sung. as she began her song, i closed my eyes and settled back into the chair. it wasn't long before i opened them though, i couldn't help wanting to watch her sing. when i opened my eyes, i saw that Rose's were closed, as were Thomas', who was sitting across from her in his chair.
when the song was over, she opened her eyes and smiled at me with a quick wink. Thomas, on the other hand, did not. He was fast asleep and every once in a while, he let out a little snore.
"why don't you ask me the question that's on your mind, now?" she said. (in a way that was more of a command than a question).
so, i told her that i was very moved by the matriarchal nature of the maori culture, and that it was very important for me to understand how and why my culture, and so many cultures had become so ruthlessly patriarchal. she smiled hugely and began to tell me a story that I have come to call, The Legend of the Singing Waters.
after her story and a brief conversation, she said it was time for another Karakia. When she finished singing again, Thomas woke up from his little nap...
I am currently working the legend into lyric form, and hope to have it published in my next book.
to see videos of Rose Pere being interviewed, please visit the following links:
Causes matt urmy Supports
globalaace.org: global artist alliance for community equity
Alliance for Native American Indian Rights: anairtn.org