“I remember the days leading up to Christmas when all the whanau would arrive from the four corners of the world to celebrate this wonderful occasion with our Nan. We’d all stay in her two-bedroom stone house in Whanganui and claim what floor-space we could. Hopefully we chose well because this was our sleeping area for the next week or so. Then began the numerous preparations for the festive day and the allocation of jobs.
The aunties, sisters, nieces and grand daughters, were kitchen-bound, cooking and creating all the delicious Christmas meals with all the trimmings. Aunty Olly’s famous rewana bread, Cousin Ema’s beautiful steam pudding and Nans famous sponges were amongst the delicacies.
The uncles, brothers, nephews and grandsons were set about their task to hunt the wildest pork, dive for the fattest paua and bring back the biggest eels they could!
Christmas Eve was a time for wrapping the presents and singing our favourite Christmas carols in both Te Reo Māori and Pākehā. ‘Whakarongo ki te reo’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Pō Mārie-Silent Night’ were among the timeless tunes!
Christmas Day lunch was always eventful and yummy!! Eventful in the sense that us young ones would have to wait for everybody else to get their meal before we could even get a spoonful of the creamed paua. “Tuakana-Teina principle will forever rule our lives we’d remind ourselves.”
Finally we’d make it to the kai table and load our plates up with the yummy wild pork, delicious raw fish and succulent smoked eel.
Up until this point everything was go, go, go, however once that last spoonful of pudding went down the hatch, everybody turned into potatoes! Lounging about on the mattresses, uncles snoring up a storm and aunties having a quiet game of cards.
Those are my favourite memories of a Māori Christmas…how do you spend yours?”