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Listen to 'The tree'

'The tree' is written and read by Hākui Hūhana.

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I would like to tell you a story about a tree. The fresh young seedling was trying to grow. However, some people damaged it as they walked by. They trampled on it and broke pieces off. This made the tree misshapen and not confident but it continued to grow. The wind and rain thrashed the tree. People forgot to nurture or water it: so it fought for what it could get.

Actually, some poison was sprayed nearby and the tree drank this. Then it drank some more, which made the tree unhealthy. But it was moisture, and the tree continued to grow without a main support. Instead of flourishing, it was wild and unruly, developing its own protection mechanism by growing barbs to attack people. The tree survived with a clump of others to protect each other. They all drank the poison which was waipiro, but of course, this made the tree sick.  

After a while, people became really annoyed with the tree and restricted it behind wire netting. Initially, the tree hung its head, closed up and stayed withdrawn. Then the inner strength had time to flourish. The tree started to grow, develop, and mature. Its roots stood firm, and slowly it began to retract its barbs. It became balanced and no longer unruly. They removed the wire netting. The tree realised it had a choice not to drink the poison. 

Although the tree was independent and strong, it chose to have a small stake firmly planted beside it. The stake nurtured, supported, loved and assisted the tree’s growth.

When I speak of this tree, I think of my whānau member who I am so extremely proud of, for surviving all the battles endured, who flourished into a tall, strong, protective Kahikatea tree, nurturing the stake and the new saplings they produced. 

In the bush, the Kahikatea do not stand alone. They grow in groves, with the roots intertwining to provide support and strength for when the storms occur. It is essential that we stand together as a community to assist people to find their own inner strength and self-esteem.  

He waiata: E Tū Kahikatea

E Tū Kahikatea

Hei whakapai ururoa

Awhi mai, awhi atu

Tātou tātou e


Stand tall like the Kahikatea, to brave the storms.

Give assistance, but also be able to embrace and receive it – all of us, together.

E Tū Kahikatea is composed by Hirini Melbourne. It is sung here by Hākui Hūhana.

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