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United voices build community

By Ra Smith
You know you’re from Wairarapa when you go to the beach and when you arrive at your destination there is another vehicle and you think: overcrowded.
School students throughout Wairarapa lifted their voices in kapa haka last week. The one voice here was mainly a Maori voice. It is a rite of passage in New Zealand to perform the haka and sing waiata. Now, in Wairarapa, a rite of passage is performing with a Wairarapa Maori voice.
The planned world record attempt by all the Year 1 to Year 8 students of Wairarapa to perform the homegrown haka, “Ko Wairarapa” has been a point of provincial pride. It is a pride in the Wairarapa Maori voice. Recently Kahutara School performed this haka for me in Hauariki marae. My thoughts raced back to the poet’s aspirations, “Not I, some child born in a marvelous year, will learn the trick of standing upright here” (in New Zealand). The Wairarapa voice is being heard and we owe our children a debt of gratitude for supplying the volume. These are voices that work with others.
The unified voice is undervalued. The voice standing for a position and winning the argument is often heard above the voice that works with others. Reflecting on the current American election in what should be a choice between two voices but all I hear is distasteful utterances. It could be about collaborating to include all voices so they can build a community for everyone. Every community has this choice between the voices of the supposed winners of the Kardashian variety or the voice of the whole community.
Our recently completed local body elections allowed for a community voice. What can be concluded from people choosing not to vote and not using their voices? Could the competing noises from Facebook, Twitter or Instagram make the local voice insignificant? Why would we want a voice in local issues like neighbourhood parks, clean waterways or better community infrastructure, when you can voice an opinion about world affairs?
One of the ways we find a voice in Wairarapa is in the solitude of our place, where we have time to think, time to think how our single voice can be a part of the community voice. Fads come and go, but home can be our rock.
You know you’re from Wairarapa when your voice joins your neighbours.

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