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The tree

For me there’s a lot of components that can be what we think it is, or what I thought it was; every day living, stress, broke, housing, te mea, te mea, te mea, te mea.

So, I ended up finding as time progressed anything was an excuse to drink. I was starting to create reasons to drink, but the core component was I had to deal with the sexual abuse. I use an analogy, and it’s about a tree; the tree has leaves it has branches, it has a trunk, and it has roots. So the leaves represent for me at that time, was my kids, my husband, work, house, business. The branches represent my childhood, that’s my siblings, my parents. The trunk was another representation of who I am, and then the roots was the stuff that never came out to the light, it was hidden beneath the surface, and that was the sexual stuff that was going on in my life, that happened to myself.

It wasn’t until the counselling, and the Taha Maori programme, that we got that root.

It was finally dealing with it the appropriate way because every time I’d bring it up, I’d bring it up and drink, I blamed my culture; I blamed the marae; I blamed everything. It was like, “you can go and get stuffed if that’s what you’re about”. I stayed that way until probably 13, 14, 15, when my aunties were teaching me how to kai karanga. And that was back up te ao Marama, this was where my marae is, or our papakainga is.

So then I started feeling, I don’t if the words cultural, or spiritual. I started feeling something inside me change. How do I explain this. When certain things happen, and your korero for those that have been there, and I believe this is more spiritual. For me it’s like the tupuna’s korero, and not my korero in there. I don’t know if you understand that? When I first started to learn kai karanga, I didn’t know after I’d done a kai karanga. It was like, “Ae.” It was like my mouth had opened but I never said the words.

There was a kuia. She was one of those wahine, kuia... who would growl, and had that tone, had that sharp tone. It’s like, “don’t hook around with me, you’re going to do what you’re told”, but you had so much admiration and respect. I did anyway, for her. Her ahua, and I could see it, her intent was not to hurt me. Her intent was to help.

So that was the pinnacle change in me is having once again, a different korowai. They were surrounding me and protecting me with love. Totally different.