Aligning with the Ancient wisdom for a better life

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 7 October 2022

Marcus Garvey rightly said that people without knowledge of their past history, origin and culture are like trees without roots.

In a society that has grown used to having the world at its fingertips and fast pace living being the norm, our cultural roots are not being nourished with any information or values.

As humans, we are becoming more disconnected from our own identities and making efforts to get lost in the crowd almost at a frantic pace. The essence of individuality is a scary feeling for many as it makes you stand out.

We spoke to Dr Hinemoa Elder, a renowned and respected Scientist, professor in Indigenous research, Youth Forensic & Neuropsychiatry expert, and Te Reo Māori advocate, thinker and Author. Dr Hinemoa Elder: A Thinker and An Expert

Dr Elder is hugely respected and her recent book “Aroha, Maori Wisdom for a Contented Life Lived in Harmony With Our Planet” has been well received gaining the spot for The top-selling New Zealand non-fiction title of 2021 and being read across age groups and even being used as a tool for team building by some Corporate business houses in the country.

She is now ready with her new book, “Wawata – Moon Dreaming, Daily wisdom guided by Hina, the Maori moon”. (We will also do a review and a brief introduction of the book on its release, scheduled for the 12th of October, 2022.)

Wawata: The latest book by Dr Hinemoa Elder

On her way back from a busy day after signing almost 700 copies of her new book, it was gracious of Dr Elder to find the time in her busy routine to talk about her new book and passion project.

When asked what inspired her to write a book, she explained how she keeps a Maramataka (the traditional Māori lunar calendar). But often, she had trouble remembering the different names of the moon phases. She then started exploring the stories and the legends behind each name and its significance in one’s life. The more she learnt, the more she wanted to share with the world.

Dr Elder said “ There is a lot of intergenerational stress that all of us are experiencing. Especially since the onset of Covid, the concept of time has become more valuable and meaningful. We all have tried to snatch moments from time to see family and to stay calm and positive. The book is an insight into the wisdom of our ancestors to guide our way into the future.”

She said the book would resonate with people of all age groups, but was of significant importance and value for women, young and old alike. She said, “women across different generations would find this book to be a useful tool in navigating life and bringing synergy to their life and thoughts.”

Dr Elder spent most of last year trying to live the rhythm through the lunar cycles every month. She consciously made the effort to align her days with the specific phase of Hina or the moon.

In the process, there were some challenges in dealing with her feelings and emotions which were deeply rooted in her identity as a Mother and as a Woman. The thoughtful introspection helped her immensely and she said that as a society, finding a healthy way of expressing all feminine energies would change mankind for the better.

Aroha: Top Selling Non-Fiction Book of 2021 in New Zealand (Penguin Books Photo)

Asking her advice to all parents raising the next generation and how they can assure their kids have self-belief and greater self-worth, Dr Hinemoa Elder said “ Calling on our cultural resources is key to parenting. We need to call on the wisdom of our ancestors and encourage and strengthen the values of our elders. We need to find what grounds us as humans and makes us joyful in our existence.”

She said parenting in the modern world has its challenges but going back to older days for knowledge on food, family ties, healing practices and thought processes would help deal with many challenges.

Praneeta Mahajan is our Waikato Reporter based in Hamilton.

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