12 Dec 2022

Whānau 2021 | KaHana

From Whānau 2021, 6:00 am on 12 December 2022

Content Warning: Contains graphic images of birth.
Series Classification: PG 

KaHana’s mum Renei was 19 when he was born, and she raised him with the support of her parents. KaHana shares the story of his upbringing and reflects on love and loss.

“Whānau 2021” is the latest instalment in a very special documentary series following the lives of whānau who had babies in 2000.

We’ve revisted them every seven years and in this update, three of the ‘babies’ invite us back into their lives and to their 21st birthday celebrations. They reflect on their upbringings and what it’s like to be Māori in the 21st century.

KaHana cleaning up his koro’s grave at urupā

KaHana cleaning up his koro’s grave at urupā Photo: Tūmanako Productions

We reconnect with KaHana when he is living in West Auckland with his mother Renei and three much younger siblings:  Hinerakeimauroa (7), Uruwhakareia (5) and Te Hiringa (2). He’s working long hours as a commercial roofer.

In 2000, as a pregnant teen Renei said she was determined to not be a statistic – a stereotypical single mother, and although she is disappointed to find that she is once again raising small children on her own, she has worked hard to achieve post graduate qualifications and continues to study and contribute to the wellbeing of Māori within her work in Health Promotion.

Kahana cleansing himself with wateroutside urupā

KaHana cleansing himself with water outside urupā Photo: Tūmanako Productions

Renei: “It hasn't been easy…I did have an expectation that you give your children exactly what we got. It was a big wake- up call for me that not every family has a mum and a dad and lives in the same whare for your whole life, cos that's what we had. So, when that didn't happen, it took me a long time to reconcile it.”

We join the whānau for very busy 21st birthday celebrations, as the very same weekend Renei is packing up to move to Rotorua with the younger children, meaning KaHana is about to embark on life as an independent adult. 

KaHana: “ I’m not really keen to turn 21. I just want everything to stay the way it is. It's all part of growing up I guess… It's hard being financially independent. What you get paid is what you get till the next pay. Yeah. It is a challenge, you know, try to keep myself on my feet moneywise.”

KaHana and mum listening to kōrero in wharenui

KaHana and mum listening to kōrero in wharenui Photo: Tūmanako Productions

We also join the whānau for the first hui to kick off the ten year Reo Māori development plan for their hapū at Te Rito Marae in Otiria.  KaHana feels his reo has largely dropped away, as although he went to kohanga reo, most of his schooling was in mainstream settings.

KaHana: “Everyone in the whānau knows I’m not the one to do the whaikōrero, I just pass it on to the the cuzzies. I can’t speak it, but I can feel it.”

KaHana hongi with uncle at 21st

KaHana hongi with uncle at 21st Photo: Tūmanako Productions

His grandmother Carol Ngawati reflects on the burden of expectations:

Carol:  “I think there's lots of pressures on young Māori men. And sometimes, you know, the pressure of  sitting on the pae isn't them and they might they'll do it when they're 50 or 60, you know? Well, let's wait till then.”

NZ On Air

NZ On Air Photo: NZOA

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