SMALL THINGS WITH GREAT LOVE
Hannah Haiu shares her whānau's story
WNo matter how big or small the bank account, the wealth of a family is measured in love. Hannah Haiu beautifully illustrates what this looks like for her and her whānau.
hen we were young, it wasn’t uncommon for my brothers and I to descend the stairs in the morning to discover sleeping bodies extended on couches or the lounge floor, or our table full of people eating last night’s leftovers (that we had missed out on!). There was always noise, laughter and fun. Mum and Dad’s description of their transformational community development work was, “Simply having an open door, open cupboard, open fridge and a spare square inch on the floor.”
Dad would bring anyone and everyone home. Gang leaders, African American civil rights leaders, burned out pastors, recovering addicts, broken men and women, and indigenous people from around the world. They all came sharing stories, dances, songs and so on. We were raised amidst the beautiful chaos of it all. Our home was often referred to as ‘grand central station’ – people constantly coming and going. There was no regular income for this line of work, so we lived as Mum and Dad would say, “On the smell of an oily rag.” But we were wonderfully rich. Dad had lots of one-liners to affirm this way of life – “All that we have we’ve been given and can make available to others.”
Mum would back it with creative expression. She has a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all things throughout time. Our home was a space in which she could explore and express her gratitude for being part of creation and she could do much with little. Scraps of fabric and lace would enhance displays of pinecones and red and gold leaves in autumn. Splashes of colour and scent from freesias and daffodils beside scripts of William Wordsworth’s poetry would proclaim the promise of spring. Spiced buns and wall hangings would retell the Easter story, and boughs and wreaths of evergreen, ribbons and candles would grace our banisters and entrance ways at Christmas time. And there was always, always lots of music and food.
Mum taught us to behold the beauty that is readily available to us all. Our parents taught us that every person is a reflection