Skip to content

Braided Rivers and Manaakitanga

Braided Rivers and

I’ve recently been reading Owen Eastwood’s book “Belonging: The Ancient Code of Togetherness”, which has gotten me thinking about whakapapa and our sense of identity and belonging to each other as a Presbytery whānau. This, in turn, has led me to reflect on the imagery of the braided rivers which are a part of our Presbytery logo. 

Did you know that braided rivers are globally rare? They are an iconic part of the south island landscape (64% of New Zealand’s braided rivers are in Canterbury, 8% in Nelson-Marlborough and 15% on the West Coast). They are life-giving ecosystems that are biologically rich, highly dynamic and ever-changing. For Ngāi Tahu, they are also a part of mahinga kai

Mahinga kai is about understanding the value of the natural resources around us that sustain life, it is closely tied to mana and manaakitanga – respect and how we show hospitality, kindness and generosity. It is also about kaitiakitanga – how we steward and look after what we have been given. It is intergenerational, and is concerned with teaching the younger generations. 

Mahinga kai is about thriving and maintaining the things that sustain and nourish us and bring us well-being and life.

In many ways, the imagery of the braided river feels aspirational, especially as we go into the third year of a global pandemic. (Well, the “ever-changing” part could be accurate, especially when it comes to the different traffic light levels and phases!) 

As we stand at the beginning of what looks to be another challenging year, I wonder about what we need to do as Presbytery to help promote the wellbeing of our people, both those in leadership and in attendance in our communities. 

What are the things that will sustain and nourish us through this season? What are the things we need to allow to lie fallow because the landscape has changed? Where are the places where our “braids” intersect? 

While there are things that we are working on to address these questions, I am very aware that these are questions that cannot be answered in isolation, and would really welcome and value your thoughts on this.