Amiria Raumati weaves together Tupuna Māori world views and traditional plant wisdom with poetry, storytelling, motherhood and art. She sat down with Womenclan for a kōrero on her journey to healing. (Photo: Kylie Tukuitonga)
‘I long for this,
the freedom to
I was raised
by a river.’
A winding, unsealed road with birdsong cascading into the valley leads to Amiria Raumati’s home. Pīwakawaka hop from tree to tree, and tūī call in the mānuka. The Mārahau Awa bubbles behind their song. A banana palm stretches above the deck. In the kitchen, Amiria brews horopito, kawakawa and lemon myrtle tea in a pot.
Te Waipounamu (the South Island) has always called. Up until January 2021 Amiria and her whānau were Te Henga locals (on Tāmaki Makaurau’s West Coast). “The moment I stepped onto this Waka I knew I was home. There is an ancient connection I feel in my bones. The old ones speak, especially when I'm in the mountains. Te Waka o te Atua is the teacher I've been waiting for my entire life.”
Amiria (Te Wai o Hua, Ngati Te Ata, Ngati Mahuta, Te Ati Awa) was raised in Taranaki, where the natural environment played a significant role in her childhood. Her whare backed onto ngahere (forest) with the Waiwhakaiho Awa running through it. “I was raised by an awa. The fondest memories of my childhood are being with the land and plants, playing in the harakeke, and just feeling so at home. I swear the patupaiarehe [fairy-like people who live in the forest] were communicating with me as a child.” The ngahere was her safe-haven and a place of solitude, particularly precious to her as she came from a big family with six tamariki.
She spent her early twenties based in South Auckland, mentoring youth and carving a career in dance. But at 27, she felt a shift in herself energetically. “Hip Hop is a very masculine, competitive and ego-driven space, and my wairua eventually became sick. So I retreated...
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