Karanga: Connecting to Papatūānuku
Karanga is the formal call of welcome in Māori culture. Māori are tangata whenua, the Indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand. Karanga as an expression of culture is more than a call: it is an aspect of intangible heritage. The call is performed by women, representing specific roles within traditional Māori culture, to transfer expertise and information (Ruwhiu, 2009). Karanga is the first voice heard when groups are ceremonially meeting, traditionally occurring as an exchange between senior and trusted women on behalf of the groups. In taking this role, the women assert their place in the extended section of the tribe or group, as well as in Māori ritual and protocol. The karanga may also be sent out to other indivisible life forms such as forests, creatures, mountains, rivers and metaphysical deities. It is an exchange between people, and between people and nature. The elements of nature – birds, insects, land, all life – hear and respond (Menzies and Wilson, 2020, p 60). Adopting a kaupapa Māori rangahau methodology (S Walker et al, 2006, p 331), this paper is based on wānanga karanga which took place at Te Whare Wānanga o Wairaka, held quarterly with practitioners. Karanga is practised as personal and group expansion of life experiences and knowledge of language, tikanga and customary traditions. This is related to land, place identity, and healing. Ancestral knowledge enables cultural practice in a contemporary world that can point to solutions for more sustainable ways of living with Papatūānuku | Earth Mother. This paper addresses how karanga as a cultural practice can enhance landscapes through relationships with land and by offering strategic ways to tackle wicked manmade problems, including biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution.
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