Whenua … Perfect in her divinity

He manuhiri
Bird from far off lands
You settled here
To take rest
To find breath
Aotearoa New Zealand
Quite different from your home
She may not even be perfect
… in your eyes
But she is in ours
Perfect in her divinity

Land as whenua
Sustenance to nurture
Land as whare tāngata
Sanctuary to protect
Land as whānau
Commune to care

We welcomed you
To take refuge
To find your feet again
To stand tall again
To live again

And now you honour us
With a wonderous gift
Of thanks.
A gift of time
A gift of space
A gift of giving
And a gift of love

Your homes adorned
like your home afar
Filled with the colours,
of your homelands
Filled with the sounds,
of your homelands
Filled with the smells,
of your homelands

And in that moment
When my back foot settles
within your home
I am magically transported
From my homelands
Settling upon yours
I know this sensation
Rituals indicative of space
I have landed
upon your marae
I have landed
within your whare

Sensors overwhelm me
You feed me
You feed all of me
My body
My mind
My soul
You’ve transformed before me
No longer a refugee
Instead you are host

Abundant you are
In all that matters
Abundant in love
Abundant in integrity
Abundant in humility
All shared unconditionally
Overflowing me
Reminding me of home
And with this
I am replenished
I am humbled
I am ready to return
To continue hospitality
In our sanctuary lands
Of Aotearoa New Zealand.

But before I leave
I ask one thing
Remember the land
Remember her
Remember she is perfect
In her divinity
She is our home
She is our mother
She is our life
And we will protect her
As we have you

Nāu te rourou
Nāku te rourou
Ka ora manuhiri
Nāu te rākau
Nāku te rākau
Ka mate te hoariri

So thank you
for your kindness
Thank you
for your hospitality
Thank you
for your reciprocity
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou
kia ora tātou kātoa.

This poem is inspired by the refugees, students, and staff of AUT who gave so generously to the co-creation of the cookbook “Tastes of home” proceeds to build a scholarship fund for refugee students

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