Who can use the Ma¯ori word ‘mana’?
Q: Myson’s in his last year at school and he’s doing pretty well. He splits his time between his father (Ma¯ori) and me (Pakeha) andwe all get along OK.
Other kids look up to our son and when he turned 18 recently, myfather said in a speech that our boy had mana.
HisMa¯ori grandfather said my father should stick to words he understands.
The two old men argued then andmy son’s gutted. No one’s talking to anyone now. Myex says just leave it, it’ll blow over but I don’t want the bad blood.
This situation is a shame because in all probability, both grandfathers are very proud of this boy and love him. It’s hard to know from your letter how these two men normally get along and whether or not this is unusual.
But whatever the situation, I agree with you that the lingering bad feeling should be addressed, as the main loser now, is your son.
On the surface, it seems the misunderstanding arises from
the use of the word mana. This word is so frequently bandied about nowadays, it’s become part of our vernacular.
The word carries weight, which people like, so it’s used to describe anyone who shows leadership qualities, has great stage presence or manages to score a try in a tough game of rugby. Your father, whilst well intentioned, has hit a nerve.
But to look at this from your ex father-in-law’s viewpoint, the word is culturally significant. The fact that it’s been hijacked doesn’t change the fact that it’s a word imbued with meaning and mysticism.
Mana is amulti-faceted concept and it’s not about doing well in achievements or goals. The misunderstanding has happened because to one grandfather mana is just a label, a descriptive word, but to the other grandfather, mana is an intangible quality and has a far deeper meaning.
Either way, the two men need to talk away from the hype, alcohol and crowd of a party. Someone has to open discussions and Iwonder if you could ask your father to make the approach?
It’s a tough thing for anyone to step up and offer a genuine apology but your father has unwittingly caused this rift by straying into a sensitive area.
From what I can gather, mana holds hands with humility. If your father could do this, it would be a great example to his grandson.
Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and written three novels for young adults, including Sticking With Pigs which was released in March 2018. (One Tree House). As one of seven sisters, there aren’t many parenting problems she hasn’t talked over. To send her a question email firstname.lastname@example.org with Dear Mary-anne in the subject line. Your anonymity is assured.
The lingering bad feeling between the grandfathers need to be addressed, as the person suffering the most is their grandson.