Celebrating the women in our lives

On the day we celebrate the women in our lives, there is a story that needs to be expanded on. It is the story of Maui's grandmothers famous jawbone and how her stories helped shape the world we live in as Maui fished up Te Ika a Maui the North Island.

I was fortunate to grow up in rural Northland surrounded by strong, intelligent women and am married to a wahine toa from Misima Island, Papua New Guinea.

Being brought up this way, I have rarely seen women as anything but leaders. The view that women weren't encouraged to be in leadership is something I never saw in the Maori world. Yes, they did not korero on the Marae, but they made the choices on who spoke and what they said and how long they spoke.  From my first school primary principal, Mrs. Scully George at Punaruku Primary, to my last boss Pauline Kingi, all commanded respect from the most stubborn of Men.

I have always been in awe of my Nanny (pictured), Mum and mother in-law. These are women who have never taken a backward step when confronted with challenges. In my Nanny's case, it's her dogged pursuit of justice and ensuring her mokopuna know who they are. She is the epitome of the ANZAC phrase "age shall not weary them. " Nanny is a battler well into her 80's who has seen the world change in ways we cannot comprehend.

In watching Nanny and the many women I admire pursue their dreams, I'm encouraged to drive towards mine, as Maui did.

To get back to the story of Maui, it is often said that Maui used his grandmothers magic jawbone, to follow his brothers out fishing, then smeared his blood on it to catch Te Ika a Maui, the North Island. If we dig deeper, there is a stronger meaning and beautiful story of the role Wahine/Women played in Maori society. 

Maui being the youngest of his brothers was always with his Grandmother. He heard every story of every great adventure. He learned the secrets of the ancients while sitting at his grandmother's feet. He learned how to make fire and read the stars. He learned to navigate the turbulent waters and deepest secrets of Tangaroa. He learned of the life-giving forces of Papatuanuku, and the healing and nurturing nature of the ngahere forest surroundings, and the strength of Tane Mahuta.

Armed with this knowledge, learned at his grandmother's feet, Maui stood at the prow of his waka looking to the stars and listening to the ocean sliding past the creaking timbers of his canoe. As he watches and listens, the ancient words of wisdom of his grandmother whisper in his ears.

Everyone has women in their lives that whisper in their own unique way.
I have been fortunate to have an incredible wife who has always believed in my Maui spirit of entrepreneurship and adventure supporting me as I travel to her homelands, climbing mountains and sailing seas exploring, and growing our business.

I love the stories of courageous leaders like Mavis Mullens blazing a trail through the business world and friends who achieve success beyond belief. I feel honoured to be able to call on them whenever I am feeling a little lost at sea.

 Time to take heed and listen, brothers, our wahine toa know the way!!

Here is to celebrating International Women's day.

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