I have travelled a lot around our beautiful planet, learning different ways to think, behave and enjoy life. I went backpacking in Africa, Asia and the Paciﬁc. I have lived in Ireland, Spain, and New Zealand. With all of this, I experienced all different aspects of international mobility, positive and negative. Challenging situations such as the difﬁculty of ﬁnding quality work, being a foreigner with a different and sensitive nature, being misunderstood, and the loneliness of being an expat’s wife. Conversely, there are many enjoyable moments as well, such as my maternity experience in New Zealand and how the mélange of culture affected my soul. This is this experience I would like to share with you: my beautiful experience among the Maori People.
I lived for four years in Christchurch. During this time I decided to learn the Maori language at the University of Christchurch, and through this, I discovered in depth this wonderful culture. By taking courses and participating in different Maori cultural events, I noticed that nature is always present in the songs, dances and music. This omnipresence stems from their original belief regarding the world’s creation. It deeply forged their way of thinking and behaving in their environment, and is still very present today.
Papatūānuku – mother earth
In Māori, Papatūānuku is the land. She is a mother earth ﬁgure who gives birth to all things, including people, trees and birds. The land, which emerged from water according to the Maori, nourishes everything it gave birth to. In most tribal stories and mythologies, humans were born or made directly from the earth and clay (like in the bible). In Maori tradition, Tane Mahuta, Papatūānuku's son, shaped a woman into body with clay, and breathed life into her. She was the ﬁrst mortal woman, the ﬁrst woman from the land.
Maori and the land:
Knowing the importance of Papatūānuku, Maori people considered themselves the guardians of the earth as if it was part of themselves. Women and land: I associate women with the land, because the land gives birth to people, and so do women. Women give birth, nourish, care and protect; so does mother earth. From my point of view, the respect of women is the basis for the respect of the whole humanity, and leads to the respect of the planet. This is the beginning of my awareness.
To introduce themselves Maori people say: I am from this river, I am from this mountain, I am from this tribe and my name is… They asked me to introduce myself in a Maori way, and I didn’t know how to respond. I was born at a hospital in France. All I knew was the name of the city where I grew up, but I had no clue of a single natural feature of my close environment. I realized how in France, for those born in an urban setting, we are far away from mother earth.
My daughter and the placenta:
In Maori tradition, when a baby is born, the placenta and umbilical cord are buried in a special place. I gave birth to my daughter in Christchurch. My husband and I followed the Maori tradition: we buried the placenta and umbilical cord in a special place, and planted a native tree called a Totara. This tree is a connection between the land and the sky, and to us in France. Back in Montpellier, I organised an exhibition regarding the Maori tradition and culture. I felt a deep desire to share the richness of their culture. Unfortunately I experienced a reverse culture shock, once back in my own country. This awareness of being part of the land was not welcomed from many, especially our families. I had to face questions regarding my breastfeeding, and the way I was carrying my child etc...
But I am strong enough to listen to what I really feel rather than what people think! For me, learning this new way of life has been a source of cultural wealth. It is a way to know myself better, to learn, to discover new ways, and to grow.
Once a month, I organize a cultural exchange/meeting in Montpellier on the subject of Families.
- Maternity in France compared to other practices all over the world, to help mothers to ﬁnd out what feels good for them, regardless of what the cultural environment is dictating.
- The French background culture: codes, rules, way of thinking, and gathering around typical French cultural “classics” to understand what’s in them and debate around it.
- Mixed Marriages community.
FREE conferences in Montpellier: The Golden Rules of Successful International Mobility
- Saturday 17th march at 6.30pm The Bookshop, 8 rue du Bras de Fer.
- Friday 23rd March at 4pm Maison de l’Europe, 14 Descente en Barrat (next to the Corum).
To ﬁnd out more visit www.objectif-go.com or call me on + 33 (0)6 49 29 87 55