Kohanga was great. They were such a nice bunch of women and the kids were awesome. I did my bit by being on the committee and was even secretary for a while. There were regional kohanga meeting, weekend hui that I attended as well. They were interesting. It was a good place to talk about what you were doing in your kohanga and learn from others.
I will never forget my first one, It was at a tiny marae over the Kaimai Ranges tucked under the hills called Omahine. There people from all over the region and some important women from Wellington. We arrived the night before so we were part of the welcoming group in the morning for new arrivals. It was great.
Halfway through the morning, word came that the husband of one of the Wellington woman had passed away. It was really sad. The Kaumatua send us off the marae. We were then called on, as if it were a tangi. It was very emotional. Koha was collected to ensure she could home as quickly as possible.
It was such a little place, no shops are anything. It was the first time I saw a kunikuni pig. They are so cute. And please forgive me all you vegetarians out there, they taste delicious.
The second trip was to Whatawhata on the other side of Hamilton. I went with Matangi and somehow we got lost in Matangi, It was hilarious. I remember it was really cold there. I also remember it was the first time that I smelt rotten corn.
We all went to breakfast and as I walked in I smelt this awful smell. Everyone was so excited, Rotten corn they said. It is real delicacy but not for this pakeha. They told me that once you get past the smell it taste great but no, I didn’t even attempt it.
Being at kohanga was great. It kept me busy. I tried really hard to learn Maori but it was really hard. Simon picked it up quite easily. Every now and then, someone would say, today we only speak Maori but it never lasted very long.
The kohanga was expanding as well. We had got funding for a new building and we had been given a corner of the school grounds closer to my place to built it.
Then word came through that IHC were opening a residence for children. I knew the time was coming that I would have to make a decision. A really hard decision. But really I didn’t want to think about it. I was coping, it was hard but I made it through each day. And I got up each morning and started again.
Admittedly my mood was lower than it should have been. But I mostly ignore that. There was just too much to do.
© Barbara Hart 2014