Tu Maia
The hope to gift pounamu to every child in state care

This is an article re-posted with aroha from stuff.co.nz by Pou Tiaki reporter, Katie Doyle. More info on the Tū Maia kaupapa and how to support it can be found here.

Kia tū māia rātau – So they can stand strong, brave and confident

Timoti Moran is a carver who wants to give every child in state care a pounamu pendant to call their own.

It’s why he’s launched Tū Māia, in partnership with VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai – where for every purchase made at his store, a little pounamu will be put aside to carve a taonga for a child in care.

“Gifting pounamu to the young ones in care has been an idea that I came up with about four or five years ago,” he said.

Moran (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato Tainui, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi) had been dreaming a lot about pounamu, which he ended up finding close to where he lives.

“Because we’ve never been one for a love of money, that’s never been our kaupapa … the question came up, what are our tūpuna [ancestors] trying to show us? And why are we, in particular, having these moemoeā [dreams]?”

Later, while at a wānanga, Moran met a young person who had been in state care.

The young man’s story had a real impact on Moran.

“He got chosen to visit the UN with Lance O’Sullivan and that was to promote our young ones … here in Aotearoa.”

Moran and his wife, Morganne Bryan Moran, flew the young person down to Nelson, gifting him several taonga to take overseas and tattooing his arms with the help of Moran’s cousin who was a tā moko artist.

“It was the right thing to do to start [Tū Māia] because of not only his reaction to pounamu, but it’s been every person that we meet … the reaction, the emotion, the mamae [pain], the feelings that were associated the moment the gifting took place …”

Pounamu, explained Moran, carried a wairua more than a million years old and that wairua, when gifted in the form of pounamu, was solidified.

“So when you hold pounamu in your hand, you get that connection instantly because it’s a water stone, and we are made of water, and it also carries the mauri, the essence and the wairua of our tūpuna and essentially of Papatūānuku [Earth mother].”

Alongside the buy-one-gift-one option, people can also donate funds through the Taonga by Timoti website.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, which works to amplify the voices of tamariki and rangatahi in care, said it was excited to work with Moran to distribute the pendants.

“Every young person is a taonga, deserving care, support, safety and aroha. We are looking forward to working with Timoti to support this kaupapa,” said Shane Murdoch, VOYCE’s Kaiwhakahaere for Te Waipounamu.

More information on Tū Maia to come.