Normally, at this time of year, ngā morehu gather at a small settlement outside of Whanganui to celebrate the birthday of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana. Ratana, of Ngāti Apa and Ngā Rauru, founded a movement that transformed the spiritual and political landscape of our nation.
Every year followers, politicians and Māori leaders flock to the Pā, to take part in days of celebrations; music, sports; bands; church. In 2021 the celebration was scaled back to just one day. This year will be the same, the Rātana Komiti has decided. The usual church service will go ahead, but no politicians are invited.
ANZAC Day; Gallipoli services; Christmas parades; Hui-ā-Tau; 21sts; weddings. Cancellations and postponements have become part of our new normal. We have postponed joy – but at the same time we have confronted the challenge of COVID. We have made hard decisions, in the best interests of our whānau.
We have eliminated the risk of an outbreak; we have reduced the chance of increasing transmission of Delta.
Momentum is now building to put in place barriers to the transmission of Omicron. But the precautions we take – to postpone, to defer, to cancel – should not mean we postpone joy. Our most important task could be to find new ways to enable joy.
They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. The key to getting through this time is to concentrate our efforts on these three things. Large-scale events; mass celebrations may all too quickly become super-spreader events – so we need alternatives. Our imagination; our inspiration can be mobilised around something to do, something to love, something to hope for. We can all get involved in Project Joy.