I've made all these changes, what for?

Third week into our transformation, how’s it going? Can you see it yet? Are you transformed - have you hit your quota for the month? Have you been posting up on IG? 'Coz everyone else needs to know too right... it keeps you accountable.. haha I'm only playing but whatever works for you is what you're supposed to be doing. Remember what I write is what I've experienced and how I view the world, if yours is different it's normal.

Onwards! To break it down, we've covered: Awareness, that something or all of what we're doing isn't getting us where we want to be (achieving goals, fulfilment), followed by an understanding and appreciation of whakapapa, to trace our circumstances back to their origins so we can adjust course, moving forward. As only in the present do we have the capacity, ability and consciousness to create our past and our future.

You're pretty much set to take over the world. Add in some hard work, mix well, cook for *an amount of time dependent on goal* and there ya go. Oh, one sec, I think you're missing something: WHY.

Why change, why grow, why realise your potential, why improve, why come into the world in the first place?

For instance, we come into this world unable to fend for ourselves, heck as newborns we don't even realise our limbs are attached to us - or that our mothers/caregivers are separate from us amongst other things, but over time we pick up a thing or two. Prior to this, whilst still in the womb, we learn about the world through our mother and the experiences she encounters. Into te ao mārama (world of light) we arrive, and as we grow older and bigger, the act of internalising new information and growing is already in full effect. Eventually we learn of our limbs and their ability to do stuff, and so start reaching, grabbing and rolling over. Then came the crawling, and when we wanted to move faster and reach higher; we learned how to walk, run and so on.. We’d expose ourselves to new information then act on it. It's neither good nor bad it just is, right? It's expected, it's the whakapapa (process) of our existence; yes some may develop earlier or later than others, but eventually we transform physically, psychologically etc..

With this as a basic example of how we've been adding to our kete (baskets [of knowledge])* and transforming ourselves since before we were born, when did it become ok to stop? When did it become socially acceptable to go against nature and disrupt the natural order of continuous growth and development? Was it because we as a society decided to value money and status over self-awareness, self-expression and contributing to something meaningful or bigger than ourselves? Hmm.. something to think about. Ask yourself;

Why transform from who society has conditioned us to be, to become our true selves˚?

I DON'T KNOW. Hey you don't hear that every day.

I'm not you, I don't know the wars you face each day or how sweet your victories taste. I can't say this or that is why transformation/self-mastery should be encouraged and fostered, I can only offer my perspective and what works for me. Without further adieu,

Self-improvement, growth, transformation is natural, it's a function of nature. For instance, the process of creation; 

Te Kore > Te Po > Te Ao Marama: The Potential > The Darkness > The World of Light

“idea (formless, potential) > develops (transforms, takes on form) > created (realisation)”

This story is about one of the major shifts and transformations in the way I see myself and my connection to the world.

Two years into my degree and I decided uni wasn't really my thing, maybe I'd go back to it later on but not right now. I didn't drink so the allure of going out every night wasn't keeping me there and my course wasn't what I expected it to be. I was also money-poor and wanted to fund my escapades. Then there was the label of being a “Psychologist” - I'd be put into a box - no deal, not for me thanks. My mindset and goal of wanting to look after myself and my whānau prevailed, I just had to figure out a new way to do that.. In the meantime I joined the workforce and invested in the travel fund.

In 2011, I was introduced to a group of rangatahi (youth) Māori whose kaupapa (objective, purpose) was to develop, encourage and build high-trust connections between other rangatahi around the country who serve their communities. This group is called, Tuia. My first time meeting the Tuia whānau (family), I was unsure and hesitant. What's the agenda? What are they getting at? Why are they putting in so much effort to support others? Crazy.... like, how dare they, right. The audacity to want to give back, to tautoko (support/help), to affect positive change at a grassroots level within their communities, let alone form a network with other Māori doing the same in their community so they can collaborate and contribute in more ways than before... How dare they... Powerful stuff. 

It was my connection with this group of awesome rangatahi, that accelerated the shift in how I viewed myself in relation to other people. I'm blessed you know, we all are but we'll stick to talking about me (for the sake of the post..) - I know things, I have talents and skills but more importantly, from this encounter I learned that I had the capacity to tautoko my wider community as well as my whānau. Like a baby learning that I have arms at my disposal, my reach just extended.

Add to this discovery, the wealth of knowledge I gathered, working for my iwi (tribe) at Te Papa Tākaro o Te Arawa. I learned about the history, whakapapa, waiata (song), karakia (incantations/prayers) of my people and also how long I could go without updating the log book for my work van before I got a growling - not that long actually. But to my delight, I learned something much more valuable, I learned about my responsibility to serve my iwi, to serve my people. I am responsible because I am my people and my people are me. We share the same origins, therefore our futures are intertwined. To help my people - in whatever way I can big or small - is to also help myself.

Pair together the capacity to serve with the responsibility to serve and I shaped my WHY pretty quick. Here are some questions to think about before reading on;

How will my Psychology, Business, Law etc. degree, entrenched with Western principles and values help my (Māori) people who are failed by the very same institutions?

What's the point if I crack it and make the big time in whatever I do, if it doesn't do anything to help my people?

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that university degrees and other such certificates and accolades have purpose and value but consider how will whatever it is you do, say, learn, be... help you to help your people?’

Take my uncle, Muhammad Ali for example. In this interview, he talked about how he'd just won the gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics, and upon his return home to the United States, he set out to liberate his people - dark skinned and Pakeha ('touched by a ghost' - fair skinned) folk weren't integrated at that time. He went downtown to a restaurant restricted to Pākeha only; he ordered his food and was served with an order to leave immediately. So, he fought for his country - the United States of America (not just the dark skinned ones); he was the OLYMPIC CHAMPION and yet it meant nothing back home.. He'd achieved the very pinnacle of sport, but so what? You know, he achieved so much, but for a long time it didn't affect any positive change. You may notice that I've used Ali as an example many times in my posts because I admire the heck out of him - he was an incredible athlete but unlike most in his position, he didn't define or validate himself by his titles but instead used them as a platform to spread his message of equality for his people in America. 

Consequently, for the last 3-5 years I've been consciously thinking about how my actions will affect people in a positive way. I was inspired by many people and examples but my core beliefs have mainly been reinforced by my tupuna (ancestor) Houmaitawhiti; who I introduced with part of his ohākī (dying wish) in this post (about how we must deafen our ears and refrain from hearing such things that are detriment to our success). My tupuna was a very clever and intelligent man (unless I got it from my mums side..), evident in his ability to weave multiple themes into his ohākī/farewell to his descendants, here is another excerpt: 

“E tae ki uta ki tai-ki-mau kotou, ki tai-ki-noho; he huhu, he popo, he hanehane, he mate-aitu ka he. Erangi me mau ki tai-ki-Tu! He puia! He angina! He Kotuku! Mate ka ra, ka tika te mate...”

"..Upon landing, remain forever alert. For becoming indolent precedes a maggoty, rotting, decaying or accidental death, thus unacceptable! To the contrary, be at constant readiness as the right to pass onto the after life is only permitted if your full potential and the highest standards are met.."

Or in normal english, 'Go to this new land and don't waste your time there, live in excellence and be the best you can be to earn the right to an honourable death.' I dunno how you say goodbye, but if you're not asserting your expectations for an honourable death, you're doing it wrong. 

So how about you do yourself AND the world a favour by doing what you love. When you do the things excite you, that give your life meaning; you get empowered, you grind and fight for it and people notice and they get inspired too! They vibe with your energy and start feeling better, subconsciously. How do you motivate people? You don’t! You live your best life and the people will rise up with you.

THAT is why I think you should invest in self-mastery and personal transformation. Become aware of where you are in your life and where you're headed. Appreciate the understanding of whakapapa and your ability to create the past and future - which is only possible in the present. Identify why... Make it specific to you; serving others is what excites me and the best way I can do that for where I am in my life at the moment, is to master myself. If it isn't for you, who cares - find your why and when you do, OWN IT!

Kia ora rawa atu,




*Maori creation story states that Tāne/Tāwhaki climbed to the heavens to retrieve the baskets of knowledge. Each pertaining to different forms of knowledge. And so filling up or adding to the basket is a metaphor for acquiring new information/knowledge and adding it to the memory banks.

˚True selves: in my opinion is a constant, ongoing process. To refine our skills, our knowledge. Always striving to be better and master our skills and talents to serve our purpose and mission.

He mihi ki a Stephen Te Moni mo te whakapākeha i te ohākī.