A kaumatua told a story at Te Awanuiarangi on Friday at #digiday about how Maori are the only ones to retain the original karakia from Hawaiki out of all of the polynesian islands. He said how the missionaries taught the polynesians Christianity and made them put aside the old ways. Whereas Maori were happy to learn the ways around Christianity and to be taught many other things - but still held onto the old stories and karakia. As a result we still have the Hawaiki karakia.
He talked about two moments when he talked with his kaumatua and kuia about these karakia from Hawaiki - ones for travelling over water and for growing Maori Taro.
He saw two kuia doing karakia over the taro while they were sowing and growing them and asked them what the karakia meant. They said, "Kua ngaro nga kupu (meaning). Heoi ano, kei te pai." (We forget what it means but it's okay.)
When he and his company took over a dolphin watching business, he asked a kaumatua for the karakia from Hawaiki for safe passage over water. His uncle gave him 12 karakia. From these he made one based on the similar words and phrases in the karakia and translated it for the guide to use before going to dolphin watch. The guide said that when they got out to the water there were 20 dolphins waiting for them. She said to him that it had never happened before. The dolphins heard the karakia and knew to be there.
He realised then what the kuia meant by the words, "Kei te pai." Just because we may forget the meaning, it still means something to that which we do karakia over.
The same with the taro.
We may forget what the meanings are of our karakia but the intention is still felt.
The last thing he said was a moment from his own father who said, "Faith moves mountains... but bring a shovel just in case."
This koroua was none other but Waaka Vercoe. An absolutely beautiful storyteller, charmer and sharer of knowledge. :)