Hero photograph
Extract from a 1927 Maori Prayer Book
Photo by Heather Fraser

He Whakaaroaro

Keita Hotere —

Our most recent Minita-a-iwi from the Taranaki Rohe, Hemi Haddon recalls his public experiences of the use of the Lord’s Prayer, in English and Māori. His engagements here and overseas remind us of a different time when te reo Māori was not as widely spoken as it is today. Te Pire Reo Māori (Māori Language Act 1987) has provided a vehicle for te reo to be recognised, acknowledged and used through everyday use in government institutions, in education, the courts and in the media amongst other avenues. Hemi offers his story.

Te Inoi A Te Ariki: Hemi Haddon

“Tū te pō

Tū te ao

Tū ka Maranga ki te whāiao

Ki Te Ao Mārama”

“The route to Maoritanga through abstract interpretation is a dead end. The way can only lie through a passionate, subjective approach. That is more likely to lead to a goal” (Royal, 2003). As I reflect on conversations and statements made by the lecturers and those between my colleagues regarding the subject matter of, ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ this quote by the late Māori Marsden, an Anglican priest comes to mind. I use this as a way of expressing my view that Taha Māori and Taha Pākehā are two quite different approaches when it comes to studying scripture, such as The Lord’s Prayer.

The depth of meaning with the language in te reo is evident through the pronunciation, the rangi (the sound and rhythm) of the kupu (words) conducted by the Kaikarakia, (lay preacher) which resonates with the wairua (spirituality) of a skilled practitioner.

The Pākehā version of the Lord’s Prayer can also be spoken with a tune/ rhythm, and is the most familiar of prayers across churches in Aotearoa, New Zealand and throughout the Christian world.

My earliest recollection of participating in the public pronouncement of the Lord’s Prayer en masse was during weekly assembly at Otahuhu College in 1976. School assembly was a way of introducing formal activities such as prayer for educational purposes and to provide a structure for managing the fluency of the gathering in relation to the seating of the many students for the announcements, the current events, the notices, and the agenda of the day.

I cannot say that I remember very much from those school assemblies in terms of the messages of the day, except that we recited the Lord’s Prayer and avidly offered our own interpretation including adlibbing with supplementary dialogue, as schoolboys and girls have done time immemorial. “Give us this day our daily bread- ‘and don’t forget the butter.’”

In 1978 I left school to join the New Zealand Army. It was while I served with the Army in 1979 that I first heard the Lord’s Prayer recited in the te reo version by our Chaplain Padre Patua-Nathan. I recall standing (rigidly to attention) on the parade ground in Waiouru and in Burnham Camp, Canterbury and again in Dieppe Barracks, Singapore hearing “E to mātou Matua i te Rangi….”. Not knowing the reo at the time didn’t matter to those of us soldiers who had no reo, it was the fact that it was in te reo and it was a karakia. The wairua had a profound effect on us.

The decades of the 1970s and early on in the 1980s was not like today in relation to the widespread availability of te reo Māori classes and wānanga. Back in that era if you were Māori, generally speaking, you were one of two groups: a native speaker of Māori or you weren’t. The native speakers in my age group were limited, therefore to hear our te reo in this format filled us all with ihi, wehi, and mana.

E tō mātou Matua i te rangi Our Father who art in heaven

Kia tapu tōu Ingoa Hallowed be thy Name

Kia tae mai tōu rangatiratanga Thy Kingdom come

Kia meatia tāu e pai ai Thy will be done

ki runga ki te whenua on earth

kia rite anō ki tō te rangi as it is in heaven

Hōmai ki a mātou aianei Give us this day

he taro ma matou mō tēnei ra our daily bread

Murua ō mātou hara and forgive us our trespasses

Me mātou hoki e muru nei as we forgive them

i o te hunga e hara ana ki a mātou that trespass against us

Aua hoki matou e kawea kia whakawaia And lead us not into temptation

Engari whakaorangia mātou i te kino but deliver us from evil

Nōu hoki te rangatiratanga for thine is the kingdom

te kaha me te korōria the power and the glory

Ake, ake, ake Forever and ever

Āmine. Amen.