This blog post was written by Ray Totorewa, a member of the YWAM Ships Aotearoa (YSA) Board. Ray is a remarkable leader throughout NZ and beyond. Much of his life is spent encouraging indigenous people all over the world to take their place and stand true in their identity. Earlier this month, in preparation for the YWAM KOHA’s deployment, Ray participated with a delegation of YSA leaders in a meeting with Fiji’s High Chief Turaga Bale Na Vanivalu Ratu Epenisa Cakobau.
Walking in ancient paths has a depth to it that is unexplainable by mind and word but rather understood by heart and by spirit.
These ancient paths are held together by beliefs and values manifested in beautiful expressions of protocol.
Such was the experience with the people of Fiji from all walks of life.
We were often welcomed with ceremonial greetings and shown to the table to feast.
I wonder to myself if there will be food left for the family hosting us once we leave.
We are humbled by the hospitality shown to us from family homes.
Reminds me of growing up where the first thing you are greeted with when you visit your relatives, are the words ‘cuppa tea’? or ‘have you had a feed’ followed by ‘have a feed’ as the table is set.
We had the honour to visit Bau a little island off Viti Levu to meet with the newly installed high chief Turaga Bale Na Vanivalu Ratu Epenisa Cakobau
Wrapped around this context were beautiful layers of honour and respect from the way we approached house to the order of speeches and presentations of sacred gifts, it was truly an honour to sit with the high chief to exchange greetings and to present our 10yr commitment to Fiji.
This was received with much thanks and appreciation.
It is said that the waka Tākitimu took refuge on Bau when Māori ancestors voyaged Hawaiiki.
It brings a smile on my face to know this story as it weaves into the narrative of our own Waka the Koha
and also where our current office is located in Tauranga, that being among the people of Ngaitamarāwaho of the tribe Ngāti Ranginui whose waka is Tākitimu!
It surely was a divine lineup of key meetings which continued to follow each day after.
Going through the right gate with a posture of humility and an awareness of ancient pathways creates opportunities of favour and deep connection.
Fiji, it’s an honour to walk with you as we seek to serve our people in isolated places because we too are from the moana.
I am the moana and the moana is me.
So let’s continue to dream together as it is said ‘Herea tō tātou waka ki te whetū, kāore ki te titiwai (Tie our canoe to a star and not to a glow worm)