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Matariki reflection

Sione Tu’itahi, HPF Executive Director and Global President, IUHPE reflects on Matariki from a health promotion perspective. 

'Celebrating Matariki as a national holiday tomorrow reminds me of several important points, from a health promotion perspective.

First, as an astronomical phenomenon, Matariki is part of the knowledge system of Māori.

This knowledge system is part of the taonga protected by article two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the foundation charter of modern Aotearoa New Zealand. Additionally, Te Tiriti is one of the two foundational bases for health promotion in our country, the other being the Ottawa Charter and other subsequent charters of the World Health Organization.

Second, acknowledging the wisdom and knowledge of Tangata Whenua is a sign of our growing maturity as a nation. We learn that all knowledge systems have value to inform to our collective journey as a nation and as a part of our world community. As humanity stands at the abyss of environmental calamities and other such human-induced catastrophes, indigenous knowledge is now being recognised as effective solutions. The UN Secretary general Antonio Gutteres recently pointed out that our planet is broken because humanity is waging war against Nature. Based on evidence, he saw hope in indigenous knowledge and called for a heeding of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and leadership. The 2021 Geneva Charter of the World Health Organization calls for a centring of indigenous knowledge and leadership

Third, tomorrow’s celebration reminds of my ancestors who were navigators. They danced, not against, but with the elements of the sun, sky, and sea to reach their destination across the biggest continent, albeit – aqua, to gather resources for the wellbeing of their fānau/whanau/families and communities. They took enough for their need, and not their greed. They taught me to look up to the heavens and see stars, including Matariki (Mataliki in Tongan) and tune in my head and heart compass so that I will not be confused by the maze of life as I navigate for the wellbeing of others.

So, as I quietly celebrated Matariki/Mataliki on Frid June 24, I reflected on promoting happiness, health, and wellbeing, which can be achieving by serving and promoting the wellbeing of all, among other things, through good governance and service-leadership at all levels of society, from the local to the global.