On her blog Exploring Colour, Southlander Liz Cowburn has selected some of her readers to answer questions she has formulated – each person being given a different set. I was lucky enough to be selected and I cannot wait to get started. (I just hope the questions aren’t too curly!)
Question One: What connection (if any) do you feel that you have with New Zealand?
I feel that my connection with my birth country, Aotearoa, runs deep. I am proud that part of my ancestry is tangata whenua – meaning that on my maternal side, I descend from the indigenous people of Aotearoa – the Māori (Kati Mamoe and Kai Tahu. Also Ngati Kahungunu – although the connection with this iwi often feels misty and mysterious …. However, I often include it in the interests of the ‘full picture’.)
I posted the picture of the tree roots above because I believe this image depicts this feeling I have about my country – that my deep connection to it stems (excuse pun) from family tree connections. I took the photo three years ago, one autumn day (I thought this fitting, as we are in the middle of autumn right now) while visiting my Aunty Lorna Lee – now deceased. It was taken in Gore, where she lived and where I too lived for a time in my teenage years. These trees are positioned outside the small green belt that runs to the west of the Gore’s shopping centre.
My son once said while travelling, that if he wanted to feel ‘at home’ in a strange place, he’d look for the oldest tree he could find, and sit by it to ground himself and gather in a sense of ‘place’. So in conclusion: the photo above depicts my deep feelings for Aotearoa / New Zealand and also how I feel about my particular corner of this country – my turangawaewae; the place where I stand’ -: Murihiku / Southland.
Question Two: What place in this world do you most love?
I have to say Home. My home here in Dunedin, betwixt sea and harbour.
Even if the couch needs fixing and the chairs upholstered (which was organised before the lockdown …) and the walls need re-wallpapering (or painted) and the carpet (well let’s just say it’s a good thing the photo doesn’t show the state of it) we still love our haven, our eyrie (as our friend Chrissie called it) our arbor view, our ever-so-‘umble abode.
One of the best things about it – among many in our minds – are the trees and the birds. When we first looked at it, almost twenty four years ago now, the Real Estate agent’s description for the house caught our eye. It said, ‘Birds, Birds, Birds.’ They weren’t wrong.
I’m going to leave the questions for now. Shall continue next time! (Nine questions to go!) Whew! I’m so long-winded. Give me enough rope and I’ll hang myself!