The phone rings and the security at the main entrance to Parliament, in Wellington, tells me there is a woman named Mata waiting for me.
I don’t recall having a meeting so I make my way down to the lobby to be greeted by one of our people in Wellington wanting to catch up, and as we make our way to the cafeteria and have a coffee together I am also reminded of how connected we are as a people no matter where we may be in the world.
Somehow, somewhere we find each other and glow in the fondness of a shared Cook Islands lived experience.
Aunty Mata is one of eight Cook Islands people I have caught up with this week who have made contact and we have caught up for lunch or coffee and I expect that this will be a regular happening as we do what we have always done and connect, and strengthen connections because that is who we are.
That is what we do and this is what it means to be a Cook Islander living working, or studying outside of the Cook Islands as so many of us have had to do, and I miss home, for so many reasons, so, so much.
Connection is significant for us as Maori, for many reasons but none more so then the strength and resilience we derive from connection. Connection is how we meet, how we greet, how we exchange our first conversations, Peea ua, ko ae koe, searching for blood and familial or village connection.
It is in our DNA it is in our lifeblood, and as we see the Manatua Cable arrive in Rutaki and the fibres exuding outside of that cable, like fingers of a hand, they connect us to a whole new world of possibilities, commerce, communication and connection.
he arrival of the cable, or “the cable has landed”, reminds me of watching the first men on the moon on July 20 1969, as a kid, and hearing those now famous words of astronaut Neil Armstrong: ”The eagle has landed.”.
Neil Armstrong landed on the moon alongside Buzz Aldrin and his phrase has become a touchstone in discussing technological progress ever since.
For us, the Cable has landed, safely arrived on the shore of Rarotonga on January 8.
Generations will look back at this cable landing in the Cook Islands and around the world as a significant milestone in our country’s history, as they have done with men landing on the moon.
And as the landing of Men on the moon in 1969 heralded the space age and a whole new era of possibilities, so does the arrival of the Manatua Cable in Cook Islands.
And yes, we have so many to thank from its inception to its landing for making this happen.
Let us be mindful also that with a new age comes not only new opportunities, but also new challenges.
We still enjoy children playing outside till it is dark, and enjoying all there is of the outdoors, but they may change as online games like Fortnite, which have taken over the minds of young ones globally, become more accessible.
Pornography is already accessible but will be more so once we are up and running on fibre, and is something we may wish to consider filtering before it even hits our shores. Iceland considered that in 2013 but has not followed through with legislation.
The gates of our digital world are blown wide open with this new technology, but let us also be vigilant as citizens, as government and as parents, on the eye gate, the ear gate and the heart gate of our mapu and our people, so as not to spoil this new age that stands before us.
Let us instead be like the Maori proverb commends us to be “moemoe a panako”, like the small ika that never closes its eyes fully to sleep, or vigilant as the good book compels us.