Becoming a Parent

The best gift for tamariki is time

Kirihimete is a time of celebration; the sharing of kai, the giving of gifts, laughter, and remembering whānau members who have passed. As parents, do we sometimes focus too much on the gift giving and push the basics to the side?

We seem to set ourselves up with the expectation that we have to purchase all the new, top-of-the-line, whizz-pop items for our tamariki. But is that really what our tamariki want or need? Parents have a gift for their tamariki that does not cost anything, and that is their time.

We chatted to Awarua Whānau Services in Invercargill to see what their most treasured childhood memories of Kirihimete were.

We didn’t get presents at Christmas. We went home (Tai Tokerau, Northland). It was important for us to know who our cousins were, and them us. We were the whānau from the south.” (Jamie Roberts, Ngā Puhi)

I remember hanging our Christmas stockings, which were Dad’s work socks. We used to fight over which colour we got. On Christmas morning, we were excited to see what was in our stocking. Usually we got an orange or cherries and a couple of small toys that would keep us entertained all morning.” (Mata Cherrington, Ngāti Hine)

These words remind us that the wrapped gifts under the tree are not necessarily the most important memories kept by our tamariki.

In Aotearoa, we are so incredibly lucky to be able to enjoy the gifts of our Atua, which for many are right on our back doorstep and are a part of our ko wai au – our identity; a swim in the moana, a hīkoi in the ngahere or up a maunga, gathering kai in the awa or from Papatūānuku.

Most of all, these are activities that can be enjoyed by whānau, creating lasting memories that will be shared through the generations.

Te Ao Māori reminds us of key messages that are often misplaced. Whānau – which is not just you as parents and your tamariki, but also grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, the next-door neighbour or the kuia three doors down – coming together to enjoy fun, laughter and the sharing of kai. Manaaki is the concept of giving without the expectation of receiving. Being receptive to the warm fuzzy feeling in knowing that you have made someone’s day and didn’t need to receive a tangible item in return.

Kirihimete is the perfect time to instil in your tamariki the values that will set them in good stead when they are raising their own tamariki – your mokopuna.

Create your own traditions

Kirihimete is a time to create traditions that can be shared through the generations to come. Here are some free or low-cost ideas. „

  • Ditch the old chocolate advent calendar and create your own with personalised whānau activities, such as ‘donate an item to the food bank’.„
  • Attend a carols event in the park.„
  • Visit the Kirihimete lights.„
  • Attend a Kirihimete parade.„
  • Watch a movie together and read a Kirihimete story. „
  • Create tree decorations that can be passed on through the generations.„
  • Have Kirihimete at the beach.„
  • Enjoy a day of whānau games.

Perhaps it’s time that we go back to basics and remember that the best gift we can give our tamariki this festive season is our time… and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Learn Māori at home this raumati

Moana Sea
PapatūānukuThe land


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