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He Maori ahau I am Maori

Ka tu au i raro i te korowai o toku Papa, ko Tommy Bidois. Ko Te Purei te Hapu. Ko Ngati Rangiwewehi te Iwi. Ko Te Arawa te waka. Ko Mangorewa Kaharoa te taumata Ko Kaikaitahuna me Te Awahou nga awa Ko Pekehaua raua ko Hinerua nga Taniwha Ko Rotoruanui a Kahumatamoemoe te moana Ko Tarimano te marae, Ko Tawakeheimoa te Tupuna.

Ki te taha o toku Mama. No Ngati Tahu Ngati Whaoa ahau. Ko Dreen tokyu Mama. Kua mate ia I te tau 1982. Wha Tekau ma toru ana tau. Ko Orakei Korako te ukaipo o te iwi. Ko Waikato te awa, he maha nga Maunga. Ko Kararina toku hoa wahine, ko Eruera raua ko Tumanako aku tamariki. Ko Ngahihi o te ra Bidois taku ingoa. He Maori ahau.

I present myself before you under the cloak of my father, Tommy Bidois. On my father’s side, I am from the Maori sub-tribe known as Te Purei and the tribe known as Ngati Rangiwewehi of the Te Arawa canoe. I am from the Mangorewa Kaharoa mountain range from which two beautiful rivers flow, the Awahou and the Kaikaitahuna. These two rivers once held our awesome guardians, our spiritual guardians known as Pekehaua and Hinerua. They flow into our lake Te Rotoruanui a Kahumatamoemoe. Tarimano is the name of our sacred meeting place where our tribal ancestral house, Tawakeheimoa stands.

On my mother’s side, I come from a Maori tribe known as Ngati Tahu- Ngati Whaoa. Unfortunately, my mother Doreen passed in 1982 at the tender age of 43. The birthplace and principal papa Kainga of the Ngati Tahu Ngati Whaoa tribe is Orakei Korako, on the banks of the Waikato river. There are many mountain ranges in the territory of Ngati Tahu Ngati Whaoa, including Maunga Kakaramea, the Paeroa range and Pohaturoa. Ko Mataarae te Whare Tipuna.

At 425 kilometres long, the Waikato River is the longest in New Zealand and is situated on the North Island. The Ngati Tahu, Ngati Whaoa boundary includes the most land on the banks of the Waikato river than any other Maori tribe beside that river. Three out of four of our Maori villages are situated on the banks of the Waikato river, with the fourth, Te Mataarae being adjacent to the Mangahoanga stream, which runs into the Waiotapu River, a major

tributary to the Waikato River. Thus, we are known as the river people.

My wife of nearly 37 years is Carolyn, and Eruera and Tumanako are our two children. My name is Ngahihi o te ra Bidois, and I am Maori. Ngahihi o te ra is a Maori name and means “The Rays Of The Sun”.

I have just given you my Pepeha, the way we introduce ourselves as Maori. I have introduced myself to you through the mountains, rivers, ancestral houses, tribes and places of significance to the territories of those tribes on both sides of my parents.

Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au. I am the whenua and the whenua is me. I am the land, and the land is me. I have been told that my Maori kuia (grandmother) was a passenger in my mother’s car and told my mother she was pregnant. My mother was very surprised and denied it. My grandmother, who had the gift of matakite (‘seeing’), also told my mother that I would be very sick when I was born, but not to worry about me, I would be okay because I had important things to do with my life. My mother was even more surprised when a couple of other kuia told her that my name would be Ngahihi o te ra ‘The Rays Of The Sun’ even before I was born! So was my father, who insisted I be given an English name too. So, it was at the intervention and the insistence of my father that I received my name, Patrick, after my Grandfather, who had adopted my mother before he went overseas to fight in the Second World War as a member of the famous 28th Maori Battalion. Unfortunately, he made the ultimate sacrifice for our people and country and lost his life far from the shores of his homeland and now lies in a war cemetery in Tunisia. My father had also served in the Army in Malaysia and knew the importance of my Grandfather Patrick (or Pakau’s) sacrifice. So in naming me after him, I guess my father wanted to make sure we all remembered my Grandfather’s sacrifice.

My French surname Bidois comes from my Grandfather. He married a beautiful princess from the named Te Rangikahiwa from the Maori tribe known as Ngati Rangiwewehi, which can be found on the west shores of Lake Rotorua in Aotearoa, New Zealand. So having fully introduced myself in the customary Maori way, I would like to share a couple of attributes of our Maori culture with you that I hope will encourage, provoke and inspire you and your LEAD community to be the best you possible. Ahi Kaa – Keeping the home fires burning.

There are many aspects of the Maori culture in New Zealand that apply to the LEAD community worldwide. One of those is Ahi Kaa. Ahi Kaa keeps our Maori people linked to important places in our lives and has been passed down through generations of Maori ancestors. Ahi kaa (noun) burning fires of occupation, continuous occupation – title to land through work by a group, generally over a long period. Through genealogy, the group can trace back to primary ancestors who lived on the land through their military strength and defend successfully against challenges, thereby keeping their fires going. As a child, I remember those home fires burning in my Fathers Marae (Maori Village) Wharekai (dining hall) located down beside our tribal Awahou river. Big pots containing kai (food) such as watercress and wild pork were hanging over the fires. That food was to feed our guests who were at our Marae for important occasions. So the fires not only generated heat to cook our food but were also always warm and comforting to our visitors and us.

The dining hall after that one by the river also had a fire. That fire did not have pots of kai hanging over it but was used to heat the hot water for our kitchen and showers. It also warmed up the kitchen, ensuring we were all kept comfy and warm, especially on cold frosty mornings. The kai was cooked in steamers and more modern commercial ovens, those steamers still cooking our age-old favourite kai. The new dining hall does not have a fire.

However, the concept of Ahi Kaa is more than keeping fires going to ensure everyone is warm and the kai is cooked for manuhiri (guests) or showers have continuous warm water flowing. Ahi Kaa is also about keeping the marae “warm” through the presence of our people. It is about us maintaining a presence to support our place.

I lived away from my home town of Rotorua and my Marae for 20 years. During my time away, I learned about the true meaning of Ahi Kaa and the importance of keeping in contact with my Marae, whanau (family) and Iwi (Maori tribe). I maintained contact by coming home to “keep the home fires going”. This usually meant doing various mahi (work) during important gatherings of our tribe. During those latter years away, my wife and I would endure long trips home with our two kids in their car seats in the back of the car, continually asking, “Are we nearly there yet?” Maintaining Ahi Kaa came at a cost, but the benefits of being with whanau (family) and iwi (tribe) made it all worthwhile. Building our brand new Wharekai has come at a cost too. During the building period, our Marae was closed for most activities. We could not host our visitors for important gatherings such as funerals and relied on neighbouring Maori tribes.

Our new Wharekai (dining hall) will make it possible to host more people more efficiently and improve our ability to look after our elders. The building truly is a thing of beauty, but the real beauty can be seen in the people you will see returning home to the Marae to keep the home fires burning. Unlike the previous wharekai, there may not be an actual fire in the new dining room, but Ahi Kaa stated that Ahi Kaa is never just about the actual fire.

So how do you practice Ahi Kaa in your LEAD community?

What brings people back to you and your family village, business and your people? How do you keep your people fed and warm, and what motivates them to endure long trips where their children may be asking if they are nearly there yet? What home fires do people return to help you with? Hopefully you and your people are keeping your winter home fires burning at your place too, so your people, visitors and “tribe” are always welcome at your place at any time, whether you have a fireplace or not. So let’s keep our LEAD home fires burning as we practice Ahi Kaa in our LEAD world.

He aha te mea nui? He Tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

This is the end of a well-known Maori proverb that translates as, if you were to ask me what the most important thing is in my Maori world, I would tell you it is people, people, people.

As outlined in my introduction of this LEAD Magazine article, I have not only established a link to my parents, but I have also established a link to their ancestors through the Ancestral houses they have genealogy to. This has also been re-emphasised by linking to the mountains, rivers and significant places of interest to each of my parents tribes.

At the core of all of this information are people. The people who travelled to Aotearoa, New Zealand, through various forms of transport to establish tribal boundaries. The people who established the Maori villages within those tribes and regions and those same people

who maintained ahi kaa to ensure the survival of our next generations. When finding business partners for the Maori organisations I lead, we ask potential partners is what your 100-year plan is? Most can produce 5 or 10-year plans but have never heard of 100-year plans. We then outline to them that we are looking for partners who will be with us in business for the next 100 years. One of our Organisations motto or “words of guidance” summarises the values of that Maori Land Trust nicely through the following words: kia mau ki te whanua, whakamahia te whenua, hei paingia mo nga uri whakatipuranga.

This translates: As we will hold fast to the lands and resources we currently own, and we will develop those (and other) resources for future generations. Having people as the most important aspect of our Maori culture naturally means that we are not just going about our business for the current generation. But, still, we are in business for future generations as well. So when we have a 100-year plan, we realise that nothing will succeed unless we have the people to continue that plan and make it better. One of the phrases being heard in the Maori culture lately, which applies to other cultures, is, “Me mahi pai koe hei tipuna a apopo.”

This translates as: Be a good ancestor. So, leading is not just about today, but about 100 years from now. I ask you - what is your 100-year plan for your whanau (family), tribe, organisation or business? How are you showing that the current and future people in your LEAD community are the most important resource and looking after the most important person, namely yourself? As a part of the LEAD community, we need each other today for those born tomorrow. As one of my Maori elders, Mita Mohi, always used to say, “Ko au ko koe, ko koe ko au. I am you, and you are me.”

Inspirational International Speaker “Ancient Wisdom and Modern Solutions” Ngahihi o te ra Bidois is described as a Modern-day Warrior and a Living Piece of Art. You have only to look into his eyes and speak to the man to feel the humble deep-seated knowledge that is Ngahi.

He has spoken for many corporates about his leadership experiences in the Business, Education and Maori cultural sectors.

Ngahi has many years of running as a manager in a multinational Oil Company. He has been a leader in the Tertiary Education Sector, where he was the Head of Arts, Fashion, Journalism and Maori Studies. In addition, he has been a teacher and Head of Department in a secondary

school, a tertiary sector lecturer, a Kura Kaupapa Maori teacher and an Academic Adviser.

Further accolades Ngahi holds are: a Marketing Business degree, a Post Graduate Diploma Secondary Teacher’s Qualification, a Tourism Qualification and a Master’s in Education with

Honours. He is the National Speakers Association New Zealand (Auckland) 2007 Master of Ceremonies of the Year and the 2007 Bright Star Speaker of the Year, the 2008 Inspirational Speaker of the Year, the 2008 Speaker of the Year and the 2009 Master of Ceremonies of the Year. There is no doubt that this man was born to speak. And, if you've ever been privileged enough to witness him live, you will know the power of his presence and words.

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