I have a vision, of a new dawn for Aotearoa. I have a vision of a flag which heralds this dawn. Its name is Kotahitanga. What it looks like is not clear, but its meaning certainly is. Unity, Oneness, Harmony.
Kotahitanga is a flag which represents arrival to this country. I picture the experience of a man setting out in the spirit of discovery and adventure sailing into the unknown, with no land in sight. And then, through the clouds, a land emerging on the horizon. Aotearoa. This is the experience of my father, travelling from England 50 years ago. It is a story which echoes throughout the ages, one common to all our ancestors, Maori, European and all people who call this land home.
Kotahitanga reflects our physical and spiritual connection to this land, to the world. It reflects a dawning realisation (globally, not just in Aotearoa) that we are simply guardians of this land, that we are obliged to take care of it.
'Toi tu te whenua, whatu ngarongaro he tangata. The land is permanent, but man disappears.'
Kotahitanga acknowledges that our sense of ownership has been superceded. We exist in Te Ao Marama, the Realm of Being, as part of a whole greater than ourselves. Kotahitanga asserts that we must let go of any sense of ownership, but that in doing so, we all get to have a share.
Kotahitanga sends a message which reverberates around the world. It reflects an emerging spirit of sharing and understanding in humanity. A world where people of different origins, races and cultures can accept their differences without always understanding them, embrace and celebrate each others gifts and move together along a new path, together as one. It allows a bright new future to unfold, the one we are destined to fulfill.
Kotahitanga honours the Spirit of Waitangi, a declaration signed by our forefathers which, in its finest incarnation, can be read as a gesture of faith, made in a spirit of partnership. Kotahitanga stands for a nation with a history of conflict, but one which reached a form of resolution in an agreement between two peoples to live together in harmony. We have a choice to honour it.
'He iwi tahi tatou. We are one people.' William Hobson
I hear the words of the karakia 'Whakataka te Hau' and I am stirred to the core. I revisit times I have taken the plunge into the cool oceans of Aotearoa, and understand the spirit of facing challenges in life, and the experience it provides of feeling alive. The beauty of this land and its people strike at my heart. 'Tihei Mauri Ora!'
'When these things are done, the soul rises to the surface of the friend's face, like a fish to the surface of the water, and the soul is always beautiful. When Maori and Pakeha do these things together, the double rainbow begins to shine.' The Double Rainbow, James K Baxter
I am not alone in this vision. We are together. We are one.
image: Mt Kariori at sunrise. © Ken Hansen