Who can use the Ma¯ori word ‘mana’?

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - OUT & ABOUT -

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 life.style@stuff.co.nz 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.

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