From the Puku to the Tail : A Journey of Whānau Wellbeing.
In the small town of Turangi, suicides have sent huge waves of grief throughout the community. In the midst of sadness and grief, whānau in this town have come together and are now working hard to build solutions to prevent any future losses from happening.
As part of this movement, organising marae-based activities for rangatahi (such as learning taiaha & life-skills) during the school holidays, has become the norm for one whānau in particular. Known to be working hard in their community, the Ellison whānau aim to re-connect young people back to their roots, to their culture and heritage, in order to build wellbeing for their whānau and prevent suicide.
As an extension to their activities in the community, the Ellison whānau organised a ‘healing journey’ in January this year, for more than 30 adults, young people and children. This special journey took the whānau from their Turangi home, in the heart of the North Island, as they set off to traverse the land (Te Ika a Maui) and travel all the way through to the north (to the tail of the fish), to the sacred place of Te Rerenga Wairua.
It is said, that the wairua of those who have passed on, travel to Te Rerenga Wairua. They then descend into the underworld (Te Rēinga) by jumping off the headland there and sliding down the roots of the Pohutukawa into the sea below. The spirits then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the islands and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-Nui.
It made sense then, that this place of significance became the destination and focus for the healing journey of the Ellison whanau. So, the whānau set out, photos of their dearly departed loved ones in hand and set off for this sacred place. A journey that would the ensure the spirits of their loved ones would find their way safely to the spirit realm.
The trip proved to be very successful. Through the actual physical act of the whānau going on this journey together, many members of the Ellison whānau were able to come to terms with their loss and begin to deal with the grief that they had been holding. Such an important time and event to take place. For this whānau, it truly was [in their words] “A healing journey to complete all healing journey’s -Together, united as one, on an adventure of a lifetime”.
*This whānau initiative was supported by the Māori Suicide Prevention Office.