Thomas Tarurongo Wynne: Exchanging ambition for service, humility and grace

Saturday August 29, 2020 Written by Published in Editorials
The vaka Marumaru Atua ties up at the harbour in Mangaia, ahead of today’s investiture for Numangatini Ariki. This is a time of changing leadership.  TUAINE PAPATUA 20082702 The vaka Marumaru Atua ties up at the harbour in Mangaia, ahead of today’s investiture for Numangatini Ariki. This is a time of changing leadership. TUAINE PAPATUA 20082702

OPINION: Ariki take their seats by right, but politics is different. Politicians must not convince themselves they are there by entitlement.

Meeting old friends this week, I couldn’t help but notice how much they had aged, how much they had changed the lines in their smile, a little deeper than they were the last we met – and then suddenly I realised they were probably thinking the same thing.

That another season had come and change had come also and there was of course nothing we could do to stop it.

Change is sometimes something we have little control over, and though we may have some control over physical change, by keeping healthy and fit, even that is no guarantee for the days we are numbered and the time we have left on this earth.

Any of us over 50 understands this so much better when we simply get out of a chair after sitting there too long.

Covid-19 has brought radical change, like a wave that has hit our planet so hard, and as the tide of that wave has receded past the reef, it has hit again and again and again.

Borders open and close and lockdown levels go up and down here in New Zealand and as we look out over the sand and reef as the water of change has drawn back, we see what was sometimes hidden by the ocean waves.

Disparity and inequity, those that have and do not have, has been left behind, those with disabilities, those old and frail and those we have walked by every day and never taken too much notice.

We call them essential workers, those that work while New Zealand is in lockdown, but the truth is they have always been essential, we just never saw them as essential until now.

Change is happening whether we want it or not.

Change happens in leadership as the vaka captained by Peia Patia and crew makes a significant journey to Mangaia for the investiture of Tereapii Tangi in the title of Numangatini Ariki and brought in by a pod of humpback whales.

Significant also because Sam Napa Jr  representing his Mother Pa Tepaeru Teariki Upokotini Marie Ariki of Takitumu is on board, and significant because it represents today, what Pa Ariki and our people have done for centuries on occasions like this akakoroanga and investiture, sailing from Rarotonga to Mangaia or Auau.

Phillip Vakatini assumed the title of Vakatini Ariki just last month, and can I share my condolences with Koa and the family with the passing of Papa Terangi and our Mataiapo Teava from Tupapa.

What should be clear to us all is globally, socially, and at home, change is happening. A new generation of Ariki takes the helm, with skills and vision for the journey ahead, though what differs with our cultural leaders and political is of course that element of democracy and our power in that change.

Ariki are there by blood links and ties, they have an entitlement to these positions because of their akapapa’anga, but politics should never be confused to be the same.

No one is entitled to leadership or political representation, and to think so is simple arrogance because that power sits with the voters.

A power that no one owns and was exercised in Samoan politics this week with the rise of a new party and candidate winning his seat, and an election looms in New Zealand.

Life and death is out of our hands, in fact when we look at our lives and the change that happens the scriptures are clear there is a time and a season for everything done on earth, and yet it is our responsibility to be aware and to be working in rhythm with the creator of those times and seasons, acknowledging we are accountable to someone and something far greater then ourselves.

Where accountability lives, entitlement and arrogance cannot, because when we acknowledge we are not the masters of our destiny we exchange our arrogance and selfish ambition for service, humility and grace.

A grace we need more and more as the change in my friend’s faces, in those deepened lines told a story of brokenness lives lived, and seasons of change.

And in finishing can I say meitaki ranuinui to editor Jonathan and Georgie and the children as they face the change of returning to New Zealand and a new chapter starts, and to thank you or your tireless work and integrity as a journalist and as a human being.

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