Why te taiao is important to me, Ngato

Department of Conservation —  09/02/2021

By Ngato-Zharnaye Livingstone

Kia ora my name is Ngato-Zharnaye Livingstone and I’m a 20-year-old filmmaker who hails from Ngātihine and the valley of Te Urewera.

I’m currently working with DOC and Storybox facilitating the Rangatahi mō Papatūānuku video competition. This means I can’t make a video to enter into this kaupapa that I very much would like to be a part of. So, to make up for it, I figured I would just write a bit about my perspective on why te taiao is important to me. 

Me taking a much-needed break during summer school of my first year at university 2019

Most people know that whenua means land, but did you know whenua could also translate to placenta?

It’s because us Māori bury the placenta back into the land. The placenta that followed you as a baby then settles within the womb of Papatūānuku, allowing you to eat the food she provides once again. Not only does this mean that the placenta then becomes the whenua, but it also establishes this intangible cord between you and Papatūānuku.

That connection is like the warmth you feel from being wrapped in a mother’s arms.

But it’s that intangible connection which is the reason why my heart yearns so much to just run into the ngāhere in every urban setting that I’m in.

It’s a calling to return to my roots as that’s essentially where the connection between Papatūānuku and I began, an essence of my identity that without such a connection I will never be whole.

Shadow selfie with the tree during lockdown 2020

I guess that’s why I’d always cringe whenever I saw a young couple’s initials carved into the trunk of a tree. It showed that we see the land as separate and not a part of us. Which is part of the reason why I decided to take on this kaupapa of Rangatahi mō Papatūānuku in the first place.

It’s essential for people to hear these stories through our lens and who better than for us to be the one to tell them.

So that’s my story, now tell us yours: www.doc.govt.nz/rangatahivids

One response to Why te taiao is important to me, Ngato

    Shirley Newman 09/02/2021 at 1:44 pm

    That’s lovely. Thank you for sharing that wonderful information 🙂