SMALL THINGS WITH GREAT LOVE

Parenting - - Contents -

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

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