By Deb Stanfield
This year I read Dr Hinemoa Elder’s new book Wawata: Moon Dreaming. I buy the book at my local bookstore, and learn what I can from her about mātauranga Māori and the beauty of te reo Māori. I learn that Whiro is the Māori name for the new moon – the lunar phase under which I start to reflect on what happened in 2022. I’m inspired by what she whispers to herself: “To persevere, no matter my ability to see in the dark.” She tells herself that Whiro is a “protective time for insights, a time to call on that deep core of resistance and fight for what is right” (p. 36). This voice speaks to me as a social worker.
Hilary Mantel, who is famous in Europe for her historical novels, died unexpectedly this year. I read some of her work too – what I enjoy most is the wisdom she shares about what it’s like to write about the past. She talks about the many gaps in history, the complexity of how we remember, our inconsistencies, falsities, and how as a society our memory is political – based on glory or grievance – rarely on hard, cold facts.
Dr Elder also writes about the past and the influence of tūpuna, those who have gone before us. “Our ancestors reach forward into our lives as a source of strength in our strange modern world, a source of ancient wisdom and technology” (Elder, 2022, p. 11). Mantel talks about how we make sense of the world based on who our ancestors are. “We carry the genes and the culture of our ancestors, and what we think about them shapes what we think of ourselves, and how we make sense of our time and place” (Mantel, 2017).