Blessing of Queen Street Houses, Wednesday 9th March 2022.  Photography: NomadAv

“Westport Flood Recovery and MBIE came together this Wednesday to organise the blessing of the Queen Street houses before the new tenants moved in.

Mana Whenua’s, Te Rua Mason (Kai Tahu, Kati Waewae), led this wonderful ceremony. In Māori culture, the blessing of a house involves anyone who partook in the process and anyone who has helped bring people together for these houses. A Kaumatua (Elder) would lead a karakia (prayer) and you would all follow them and walk through the houses, touching all the walls. This is ultimately to give life to a space, give the breath of humanity. Spaces that are yet to be occupied are considered tapu (sacred) and the blessing of them, lifts that sacrality.

In an ever-changing environment, tīkanga(Cultural protocol) is adapting too. Considering Covid safety, Te Rua Mason took a different approach. Instead, we opened the windows and doors to all the houses, gathered in the centre space and Te Rua carried out the blessing there. This was followed by beautiful karakia (prayer) and waiata (songs).

Finally, to finish this blessing, we all shared in kai (food). Sharing food after a sacred moment is to ground ourselves and to “break the bread” with others who helped with this awesome project.

The blessing was a great opportunity for us to acknowledge MBIE for their support in financing the houses.

Also thank you to the many teams of workers: those that provided and moved the homes, the designer, carpenters, electricians, plumbers & construction workers who worked tirelessly to get our flood affected people into the homes. To Tonkin and Taylor and Fisher and Paykel for the amazing gift of whiteware and Rotary and Lions for the gift of furniture and to the wonderful neighbours who have been great to work with.

The blessing also gave us an opportunity to thank those staff working as navigators and at the community hub who continue to support our community.

We are thankful for Mana Whenua’s support, in what was a very special moment to share. It’s not often moments like these present themselves  for people to be a part of, people who have given so much for the creation of these houses and who continue to support our flood–affected hapori (community).

Acknowledgement – A big thanks to Daimon from NomadAv for donating his time and resources in photographing the blessing.