Kotahitanga: Unity

I sit writing this post after a few weeks back into the work year. My heart is full of gratitude.

Over the past weeks, I have worked with the most incredible people. Prior to our days together we have planned, discussed, shared and collaborated. This is hours of mahi that goes into preparing a day that will guide their teams towards exploring and applying the intended learning. These days do not happen in an ad hoc way. They are personalised, and crafted to suit their unique context.

And then the day arrives. I am often greeted and shown manaakitanga with genuine feeling. I automatically feel comfortable, at home.

The day begins with karakia to open the space for our kaupapa and to call upon our forebears to guide us through our journey, closely followed by a waiata that unifies our voices and sends them to the heavens for all to hear, so that they might honour our journey with their wisdom. We are respectful.

Whakawhanaungatanga is closely followed, where we dedicate time to connecting, human to human, whakapapa to whakapapa, heart to heart. We are connected.

The path is open, and the learning is ready to proceed.

Throughout the learning that has been carefully crafted, there is time for group work, partner sharing, individual reflection, hands-on mahi and a variety of modalities to enhance the learning and honour the different ways we learn. And most of all, there is humour, belly laughs, giggles and wide-as smiles. We are present.

There are times of group reflection, where we honour the learning we have received, and share with courage the areas we would like to lean into. As this occurs, nods and affirmations can be heard as people support each other’s learnings, and show them that they are not alone. We are vulnerable.

Kai is blessed. Honour and thanks are given to those who prepared it. There is a reverence towards how our kai is prepared, presented and partaken. It is also everyone’s responsibility to clean up afterwards. We are one. 

And at the end of the day, we reflect on our learning, placing these and our next steps at the altar of those whose wisdom and shoulders we have stood so that we might see new horizons. We are grateful.

We close with a karakia, to show our gratitude and set us safely on our way.

And this to me is learning. It is the collaborative creation of a space where magic happens. It is where we each bring our ancestral and present knowledge and skills to co-create a new possibility that is grounded in our shared values.

I am utterly grateful to those who have taught me. Nowhere else in this world would I have grown into this kaupapa. 

And so, as Waitangi Day is with us, I encourage you to lean into unity. Kotahitanga is our way forward. It takes us all.

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