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Stacey and Scotty made sure their children (from left) Hawaiki, Maiana and Kurawaka were given the opportunity to learn their mother tongue.

Our resident te reo columnist Stacey shares the special story connection between her children’s names and asks ko wai tō ingoa? What is your name?

This week my daughter asked what other names we had considered calling her when she was born, and initially she wasn’t very satisfied with the answer. I told her that before her pāpā and I got together, he had thought of names he’d like to call a boy and a girl if, or when, he became a father.

Ko wai tō ingoa? What is your name?

Our daughter’s name is Kurawaka and, as I’ll explain, she fits her name, as quite an impressive embodiment of mana wahine, even at 12 years old. Kurawaka wanted to know why Pāpā got to choose two names, and I assured her that he had just offered his ideas and I happened to love them both, but it was a joint decision.

Kurawaka’s brother’s name is Hawaiki. Hawaiki, as you may know, is the ancient homeland of Māori. To some, it is a physical place. For others, Hawaiki is a spiritual entity, something to hold in the mind’s eye for strength and inspiration.

Hawaiki is a spiritual entity, something to hold in the mind’s eye for strength and inspiration.

“Turou Hawaiki” is a sign-off my husband Scotty uses on Te Karere, in tribute to his ancestors who used this phrase to remind our people to let Hawaiki glisten on in our hearts as our spiritual home. Or, to put it another way: may the force (of Hawaiki) be with you. This is why Hawaiki was the name Scotty had imagined would suit a son, and, so that his daughter’s name would be further connected to her sibling, she could be named Kurawaka.

Kurawaka is the place at Hawaiki that our origin stories tell us the first woman, Hine-ahu-one, was formed, at the female centre of the world. The soil of Kurawaka was a sacred red clay, and as Ngāhuia Murphy describes in her important book Waiwhero – A Celebration of Womanhood this story also provides one of our ancient names for menstruation: ikura. Ngāhuia explains that ikura is derived from “mai i Kurawaka” (from Kurawaka), meaning that it is also the place of origin for menstrual blood.

I love Ngāhuia’s statement, “Using the name ikura reminds us that the blood is a symbol of our own unique mana and tapu,” and that our unique, Māori understanding of menstruation has survived the ages, and can guide us still. It’s definitely a lot more celebratory than the clinical way I was taught about menstruation at school, and I’m grateful my daughter’s generation has much broader kōrero than mine did, and revelations like period underwear – my teenage self would have been so grateful for that innovation!

Ko Kurawaka tōku ingoa. My name is Kurawaka

Listening to our conversation about their names, our youngest child Maiana wanted to be reminded of how her name was chosen. After joking that we couldn’t really have two deeply connected names and then call the third child Bob, we retold the story that Maiana is the name of the current that our waka sailed upon, from Hawaiki, place of Kurawaka, to Aotearoa.

Stacey and Scotty Morrison with their family

This is how all of our children’s names are connected, but as Scotty had only chosen two names initially, the naming of our pōtiki (youngest child) required some thought, and in the end, quite a journey. Maiana’s name is also a tribute to the baby we lost through miscarriage, two years before she was born. Our beloved mentor, Wharehuia Milroy, had told us that Maiana and Māia were dual currents, and although the waka had attempted to sail on the Māia current, the time was not right, so we needed to wait for Maiana.

I felt this was a way for Maiana’s name to honour the wairua (spirit) of the baby whose time was not right to join us, but who I believe still flows with our whānau.

At this point of our conversation, Kurawaka was satisfied that Māmā had offered suitable input in to their names, and she went on her young womanly way.


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