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If the ancestors’ eyes what might we see, if their hands what might we touch, if their ears, what might we hear? Whakarongo ki te tai. E tangi hāere ana. ‘Listen to the tide, lamenting as it flows on.’ Words radiate a ring path, skimming thin, slicing obsidian smooth — a face.
Like the tohunga ‘spiritual expert’ scanning the pools of Te Waiāriki — have you ever tried to read water? Can you feel their thinking about movement, sound, rhythm, light, space, distance, surface and … silence? In these words and their sounds:
wai whakaata ‘shadow water’, waiwhetu ‘water where stars are reflected’, waipōuri ‘dark water’, waipīata ‘glistening water’, waitematātuhua ‘water smooth as the face of obsidian’, wainono ‘water that oozes’, waingaehe ‘murmuring waters’, wairere ‘water that rushes’, waitangi ‘waters that cry’, waimate ‘stagnant water’, waimano ‘deep flowing water’
waikorohihī ‘hissing water’, waimāreparepa ‘water that splashes and ripples’, wairoa ‘long water’, waipao ‘water that causes the rocks to clatter’, wairua ‘second river’, waihi
‘strong current’, waimaha, ‘many streams’.
Like abundant tributaries feeding the flow, nurturing our art, refreshing our identity, the past is a point to which we must return. Me hokimai tātou ki ēnei puna waihanga ‘these are springs of creativity to which we must always keep coming back’. Whakarongo ake ana au ‘there might I listen’ — to reflect on, to consider, to feel, to encircle and to remain. Into these collecting points, ngā puna i te ao mārama ‘the pool of the world of light’:
that which wasRangihīroa Panoho, MAORI ART History, Architecture, Landscape and Theory, Batemans Publishers, NZ, 2015/2018: 22-23
that which has departed
is increasingly returning.