People & place: Nanny Kahu. Rotorua, 2016.
I love my nan. She and my Koro (her brother) live together in our whānau homestead in Rotorua and make themselves busy whenever they can whether it be out in the garden, around the house, travelling overseas or being naughty and staying up til 2am playing solitaire on the computer. They're hard case together; they bicker, laugh, and ignore each other (by turning their hearing aids off which comes in handy because nan can be bossy at times). Growing up, I didn't really spend that much time with my nan probably because she lived up in Te Kōpuru (Dargaville) and that was a trip and a half x 10.. but a couple years ago she moved back to our whānau homestead in Rotorua, we started to spend more time together, and I quickly became the favourite mokopuna (grandchild) of all time, ever. (if anyone of my cousins try to tell you otherwise, they're just jealous). We'd go out to lunch, she'd come support me at my rugby tournaments, I even took her out a few times for a walk out to the road and back (200m round trip) and she threatened to tell everyone I made her run and was being cruel to her... she can be pretty funny like that - she'll play the kōeke (senior/grandparent) card every time and milk it very well.. She only agreed to let me take these photos because she thought a modelling agency would see them and sign her up, make her famous so if you know someone who knows someone.... let's make a deal (and maybe give her some fashion advice too...) I miss her a lot and try to get her on the phone, but most of the time she's either in another country or city, busy with the church or out with her sister. We spent the last two weeks of my dad's life together and you could feel her love for her eldest son; waking me up well before visiting hours to go to the hospital, anxious to be with him as much as she could; singing and sharing stories with him to boost his spirits.. a time I will always cherish and hold close to my heart.
"I was brought up for a Pakeha world" - Nanny Kahu.
I was working on a project about what being Māori meant and so asked a few people what it meant to them to be Māori; this was my nan's answer. She went on to tell me that her mother and father wanted their children to become successful in the colonised world, to be educated in the Western schooling system, mainly because they didn't see the value or relevance of Te Ao Māori (Māori worldview/culture) to their lives at that time - a sad reality for many kōeke of that generation. It wasn't until she met my koro, John Tapiata, and learned from/with him how important her culture and language were. When I asked her about they met; her eyes lit up, a big grin stretched across her face and you could just see in her eyes that she was back in that moment. He caught the bus from Tauranga to Rotorua for a 'sports tournament' and nan caught the same bus, she noticed him and thought he looked quite handsome.. that was that, the rest is history! Then came marriage, nine kids, 30+ mokopuna (grandchildren) but only one favourite (me), about 10 greats and one great-great mokopuna (as of July 2017), a career in education, a devotion to the Lord and more overseas trips than anyone else in my family, including me! Her one piece of advice she's been consistent with, is if I ever feel life is getting too much, just look up to the sky and say "Help me, Lord!" I haven't got to that point yet but please, feel free to take that for yourselves, sharing is caring.