January 11, 2022
Karakia is key to water safety
The top Māori manager at Tautiaki Moana Aotearoa – Coastguard New Zealand – says traditional practises such as karakia (prayer) could hold the key to New Zealand’s horrific drowing toll.
Kaihautū Māori, Pererika Makiha, says the Māori god of the sea, Tangaroa, has the final say when it comes to swimming in his domain.
More than 30 people have lost their lives in rivers, lakes and seas over the summer holiday period. Coastguard and its volunteer rescue crews provide the primary maritime search and rescue service in the country.
Pictured at a special ceremony held by Te Arawa iwi to gift a Māori name to Coastguard late last year are – from left to right – Water Safety New Zealand kaihautū Rob Hewitt and chief executive Daniel Gerrard, and Coastguard chief executive Callum Gillespie and kaithautū Māori Pererika Makiha.
Karakia are the way people – children as well as adults – communicate with the gods.
Makiha says there were numerous kinds of karakia – some are still recited today for activities such as gathering kaimoana (seafood) and the sport of waka ama – and reviving those rituals of old could be a way to help keep people safe in the water.