Monday, February 11, 2013

Diversity has a high value

As we look at increasing our public profile and continuing the strengthening of our membership, we need to remember that a strong Club is one that shows a diversity of gender, ethnicity and age.

Here is a report from a local Club who visited the local marae in Porirua - near Wellington, on Waitangi Day.  This is the day we celebrate our heritage and the value that maori culture has given to the cultural fabric of New Zealand.

A group of members from Rotary Club of Porirua Sundown attended the Waitangi Day celebration at Takapuwahia Marae, in Porirua. The group was there as guests of Nick Leggett, the Mayor of Porirua, who had also invited the many families who have moved to the area from overseas. The ceremony started with a welcome or powhiri on to the marae. Rotary member Pania Houkamau-Ngaheu began with the exchange of calls, or karanga which clears the spiritual pathway for the ancestors of the host and visitors to meet. We were then challenged by a warrior who laid a leaf on the ground. The leader of the menfolk picked this up to show that we came in peace.  The women were led into the wharenui (meeting house) first, followed by the men. There were a series of speeches and waiata (songs) in Maori followed by the traditional greeting or hongi for the hosts or tangata whenua to greet their special guests. Then there was a welcome in English and an interesting history of the Ngatitoa tribe. The interior of the whare was decorated with traditional carvings with woven wall coverings. It was a very interesting experience and a great chance to be part of a genuine example of local culture. All the visitors really appreciated the opportunity to visit the marae.