Monday, May 18, 2015

Tangata Whenua

One of the units at college I'm studying is "The Torah-or Pentateuch" and we're currently dissecting the account of creation. The biblical account of mans creation tells us that the human race derived originally from the dust of the ground, Genesis goes on to tell us that God's instruction to man and woman was to labour in love for the living animals and the land.

This connection between human and earth has run through the DNA since the beginning of time, but it's a low down dirty shame that over generations and generations of people where farming was mandatory, we've now come to a sudden halt with a mass of people just have to meander through aisles of shelved and packaged food items to purchase from the local super market.

My dad and his mini plantation back in Auckland NZ
Some people I know have a green thumb and keep a garden out of enjoyment and leisure rather than necessity. My wife for example loves planting herbs, veges, and flowers in her little patch. And my dad, had a massive passion for planting taro etc when we lived in New Zealand. He often likes to reminisce and share stories of when he'd spend weeks on end sleeping at his family plantation in Samoa and working the soil and all the hard toil that came with it. There's a twinkle in his eye when he talks about the time of harvest, and I feel the excitement at our dinner table when my wife announces that the herbs and/or vegetables used for our dinner came from her little garden.

One of the most fascinating and peaceful people I've noticed that have a healthy relationship with the earth are the Native Indians of America. I've never lived among them, just spouting from a bank of knowledge that I've acquired from reliable sources like Hollywood :P , Encyclopedia etc. (oh and people that lived among them), It seems they have a mutual understanding of giving and taking and a deliberate aim to learn life principles by observing nature.

In New Zealand, or Aotearoa where I grew up, the natives, or the Maori's were synonymous with "Tangata Whenua" if compared to the Samoan language, we'd say "Tagata Fanua" literally "People Land", therefore the Maori's were known as the People of the Land of Aotearoa. I enjoyed listening to the myths, legends and songs from the Tangata Whenua. Even the art reflected their value on the importance of the land. They fought for their land and worked it for all the necessities in life. And from a young age, I believe the stories made an impact on a young suburban Samoan that didnt' know didly squat about gardening.

But the fascinating thing is, the populace of todays' first world countries have toppled the natural way of things on it's head. As God instructed in the beginning to "tend and keep" (Genesis 2:15) the land and animals, we tend to have kept it and consumed it. The more we consume, the less the land has time to heal and provide. How can this earth keep going on like this? Even in it's degenerate state it still sustains us.

I'm convinced every person that confesses to be a Christian ought to give time to acquiring the skills to tending the garden, or someway contributing to replenishing the earth around us. I'm not challenging myself and you to change the world, but just the environment around you. See how much you end up connecting with your piece of land. We should all pledge allegiance to being part of the Tangata Whenua.



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