What does culture mean to you?
Is it the outside colour of someone’s skin (cos everyone’s skin, and organs are the same colour on the inside)?
Is it the sound of someone’s voice?
Is it where someone’s Mother and Father were born?
How someone dresses? How spicey or vegetarian-y they take their food? How they dance? How they pray?
For me, someone’s culture is what’s important to them. What shapes them, or gives shape to their life. Something of their purpose, a collection of essences that help someone make meaning from living, and a feeling that is
L O V E
A R O H A
that is comforting, that is nourishing, that is belonging, that is a rhythm, a practice.
Culture can be shaped by the land (where is sits, how it flows, whether it is hot, cold, dry, wet, consistent or tempestuous).
Culture can flow with time, political, generational, which can be moved by the stages of the earth or climate.
Culture is the intersection of people and their environment?
Culture matters most to me, because i want to live a peaceful life.
My current and personal understanding of peace is resolution.
I am an expressive person. I am ‘out-spoken’, my thinking and feeling ‘comes out’. Some may say i’m a confrontational person. Or perhaps many may say that. But some may belief this is a negative thing, an (in the true sense of the word) unattractive practice – to confront. I just so happen to question and be interested in talking about answers or solutions.
Sometimes i offend or disturb people.
Some may say the peaceful process is to NOT disturb people, to live with having the least amount of impact on people / our environment.
Perhaps this is true P E A C E, and / but i currently haven’t mastered living in a way that doesn’t negatively affect others, at times.
For now, i need to live with a commitment to resolution.
Love is continual forgiveness?
I believe one of the fastest ways and therefore possibly the easiest, to find resolution, is to talk and to listen.
When someone is courageous (coeur – the french word for HEART) enough to talk openly about her/his experience
When someone is courageous enough to listen to the other person’s experience, and see it as that, the other person’s experience, in this moment (rather than ‘the truth’, or the ‘only’ experience, or how this person will ‘always’ feel)
When we allow the other person to communicate
When we give that person our time
When we are secure in ourselves to stand in our ‘own’ space and be present with the ‘other’
we open the opportunity for connection.
Within connection (talking, listening, plugging into each other)
what we share
where we agree
where we both struggle
When we find this mutual ‘ground’
we can have empathy or compassion
and we can soften
I believe to help foster peaceful land and peaceful people (relationships) we do in fact need to cultivate ‘relationships’, the sense of listening and talking.
Here i share a short tale…
This summer i was running dog. Dog and i run without a lead. I have reconciled the risks. I ‘intellectually’ accept he could get run over if he doesn’t obey my commands to wait at roadsides. He is a fast happy dog. I am a slow happy runner. The lead hasn’t (yet) worked for us. We run early in the morning (or when the traffic is minimal). Blah Blah. I carry 2 poo bags. We make an excellent happiness team. One morning a gardening lady living on a corner took offense to the off-lead-ness. I got assertive. We ran on. I decided i needed to go back and LISTEN to the gardener. I knocked one morning, no answer. I returned. I arrived with open hands (palms facing upwards) breathing, and i began by introducing myself (hand on heart), reminding her of who i was/the disagreement and that i’d come to listen to what bothered her. I was genuine. I didn’t know if we would find a resolution. I didn’t have a fixed view on what was right or wrong and it wasn’t my intention to find it. I came to firstly listen and to understand her. Once i felt, she felt listened to, i explained my ‘conditions’, ‘experience’ so she understood the background to my choice to walking without a lead e.g. i feel guilty not walking our big dog. I understand it’s not the safest option for him, but if it means he gets walked, i get runned, then so be it. I explained time is limited due to raising 3 young children 6 years and under. I asked her did dog (in general) poo-ing on her lawn bother her? She said yes you didn’t have bags. I then got the opportunity to say i had two tucked in the back of my bikepants she may not have been able to see. Once we gave each other space to talk and listen i learned she didn’t have enough money to fully fence her corner section, that she’d lived there for years, that she had a cat (that got chased by dogs), that before council introduced the ‘culture’ of owners picking up your dogs dirt,’her’ corner had been a dumping ground, so much that she’d go out once a month with disinfectant. I learnt she’d had a dog and lived on a farm. She learnt i grew up on a farm too. In the end without prompting gardner said “You keep running your dog”. We parted with empathy. There were some elements that weren’t resolved. I didn’t come away feeling like we worked out who was right and who was wrong. Instead, we talked and listening to find common-unity.
Another soul-shifting way to listen and talk is through ‘cultural practices.’
When i open my sensory being to another person i gather, i learn, i find the similarities, the allure, the tender.
When i push pause, and listen to a waiata. When i breathe in that haka. When i taste the smokey earth in a kumara from a hangi. When i smell the fragrance of frangipane versus lavender versus eucalyptus. When i see poi dancing from the palms of wahine toa…
that transmitted experience,
when we allow it,
when we trust it’s for us,
our sensory experience is medicine,
to bring us closer to each other,
and to open our hearts,
the magic blissful point
Ironically, i have just realised i see ‘my’ culture as what makes me unique, or different, or in my own mind, non-conforming, the stand-out bits. And i’m morphing, taking on new rhythms, ideas, building my culture daily. I wonder if others see it like this, or whether in fact others see it as what unifies them, with which ever like-spirited common-unity they are with at the time.
I encourage us to extend our circle of friends, even though all change can be stressful, all friendships take time.
I encourage us to go to live cultural local events.
Each year Tauranga has the Multi-Cultural festival late summer. The city often celebrates Diwali in November. Matariki is celebrated in winter. The Primary Schools do their Kapahaka Championships Term 3 or 4 each year. The International Film Festival happens Spring each year. The Tauranga Arts Festival happens bi-annually in October.
Auckland celebrates Chinese New Year with a remarkable lantern festival at night.
Sakura Sakura (Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival) is a beautiful chance to picnic in Springtime with people under coconut-ice-fairy like fluttering blooms.
Polyfest in Auckland hosts Secondary Schools’ cultural groups in Term One each year.
WOMAD a festival of WORLD music, food and culture occurs each year in March in Taranaki.
The Hamilton Gardens have an enchanting and FREE collection of international landscapes, set on the Waikato river, with gardens inspired by Italy, Japan, and India. They also host an Arts Festival on site in summer.
I wouldn’t know where to start to recommend cultural tours of Rotorua, there’s such an abundance…
But if you’re reading this mid-February you may like to jump onto Maori TV (who incidentally air an impressive array of International Film and Documentary) to watch
23-26 February 2017. Sign up or Log in and watch the online livestream offering at maoritelevision.com
OR tune in via Māori Television Sky19, Freeview 5 for all the Live action!
For those who prefer their content bite sized, Luke Bird – judge of The Stage: Haka Fusion and ex performer for Hātea will be among the fans on the ground, delivering regular updates via Snapchat throughout the festival. Māori Television’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will also be providing more up close and behind the scenes haka than you can handle.
Live Stream only available to NZ, Australia and U.S.A
Culture is of course all around us. Celebrate and share what makes us different, for when we talk about that, we find where we are the same also. Be me. Be you. Be brave. Be trust. Our uniqueness sits within our families, in the neighbourhood, up at kindy, at school, in our parks, playgrounds, libraries, theatres, galleries, markets, museums. Yes it can be housed or welcomed in the buildings, but let’s remember it’s the people.
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.