At last, after months of prayer and pondering I finally have a title for my novel. The book has had four different names. If it was a person it would surely be suffering an identity crisis from so many changes! But thanks to my husband and sister-in-law, helped along by a few drinks sitting on a balcony in Bangkok, we have come up with a fantastic title: The Pounamu Prophecy.
Pounamu is a beautiful word for a beautiful stone. It is the Maori word for greenstone, a unique type of jade found only in the South Island of New Zealand. It is a sacred stone, treasured by Maori as a sign of status or power and used for making peace. It is often carved into pendants and other jewellery which many tourists buy when they visit New Zealand.
In the past it was also carved into tools and weapons. Sometimes these valuable and most beautiful weapons were given to another tribe as a peace agreement. Pounamu is still used this way today. My husband’s tribe gave pounamu as a gesture of peace to another tribe after a dispute over his beautiful Mum’s body.
As a child I grew up on top of a hill where once stood a Maori pa site. A pounamu mere (a short flat club carved in the shape of a tear drop) was found in my father’s vegetable garden. (It was given to the local museum.)
Pounamu is smooth and cool to the touch. It has a depth of pattern, as though looking into the deepest green waters. In The Pounamu Prophecy, Helene, one of the characters, experiences the cool, soothing effect of this remarkable stone. It is a stone that one could readily endow with spiritual qualities but as Helene is reminded by her friend, Mere, ‘It is not the stone, but the maker of the stone that gives us peace.’
Shalom. Kia tau te rangi marie.
Posted on : 08-11-2011 | By : Cindy | In : Maori kai, Travelling
Hi, this week I am away in Nelson situated at the very top of the south island of New Zealand. I’m a guest speaker at an Aquaculture conference and my presentation will be about the benefits of Omega 3 in one’s diet, and ways to promote it’s health benefits. It’s been wonderful here so far, am thoroughly enjoying being back in the heartland of New Zealand, even if it is only for a week. I thought I’d post a few of my powerpoint slides here to give you a little taste of what it is I am going to be talking about.
By the way, if ever there was an idyllic place to grow up as a kid, two of the pics here show that place: Matauri Bay in another (northern) part of New Zealand, sometimes called “The Winterless North”, with views out over the Cavalli Islands … my husbands home for the first six years of his life!
Posted on : 19-04-2010 | By : Cindy | In : Traditions
“See that manuka tree over there?” My father-in-law pointed to a lonely manuka by a small stream cutting through a horse paddock. “That’s where a cart fell on Te Kooiti’s leg and broke it. He died three days later. As a child my grandmother used to sit me down by that tree and tell me that story over and over again. I used to think: Oh no, not the same story again! Now I understand.”
For years my father-in-law, Haare Williams, has told us about how he grew up with his grandparents in a raupo hut on the side of a hill by the Ohiwa Harbour. They were given a strip of land where Te Kooiti, the famous Maori chief, was mortally wounded to be the kaitiaki (caretakers) of this historic, some would say, sacred spot.
Here’s my question: Is it possible to make a wholemeal version of rewena paraoa (potato bread) that looks and tastes good? For the past month I have been experimenting. Rewena comes from the Maori word for potato – rewa, and paraoa means bread in Maori. Before Europeans arrived in New Zealand there was no potato, flour or sugar. Kumara, a type of sweet potato, was one of the main carbohydrate or energy sources for Maori. But this tropical plant was hard work to grow in New Zealand’s cool climate. Potatoes are different. Just throw them in the ground and they pretty much grow anywhere – my type of plant. So it was no wonder the potato soon took over from kumara as the staple food.
I figure the rewena recipe developed as most recipes do – by using the ingredients at hand – in this case potatoes, white flour, sugar and salt. I’d love to know how it started. Perhaps someone accidentally left a pot of boiled potatoes sitting in the sun for a couple of days and noticed that it had fermented. It wouldn’t have looked too great but maybe they recognised the yeasty smell and decided it could be made into bread. If anyone knows the true history, please let me know.