Wednesday, April 13, 2011

my mihimihi

I recently took a brief, one day, introduction to te reo Māori, or the Māori language.  In this class I learned about basic pronunciation, how to say some colors, and how to construct my mihimihi.  A mihimihi is and introduction, a way to make links with others, a statement of who you and where you are from in relation to several things.  Some of these things include a mountain and water source that you associate with being home, your nationality or ethnicity, and your whakapapa (family and genealogy/ancestry).
Mt. Washington, one of my mountians
Mendenhall Glacier, one of my rivers

I often struggle when people ask me where I am from, and someone inevitably does nearly everyday, as my accent gives me away as not being from here.  So I say different things to different people in different contexts.  On the one hand, I am from the US, on the other I feel as though I am from Alaska, but I also am from New Hampshire, I was born in Michigan, and when we return to the US we will move to Oregon.  When someone asks where are you from they are not looking for a several sentence response but rather a short and sweet one word response, in much the same way you expect someone to respond the question, "how are you?"  

Great grandpa Bartek with my sister and I
5 generations of women on my mother's side:  my great-great grandma Rose Marique, great grandma Elizabeth Bartek, grandma Joyce Wheeler,  mom, Cathy Skellenger and my sister and I

Grandma Bette as a child

My dad with his brothers and his father

My mother and her immediate family
This is not the case in regard to giving a mihimihi and I found this to be so refreshing!  At the start of the class our instructor offered his mihimihi and then we all went around the room and introduced ourselves based on our affiliation with the university, where we were from, and what are interests were.  Some people spoke extensively and others kept it quite short, either way was appropriate.
Some immediate members of my husband and my families.
Some members of my extended family on my mother's side
My mom and dad
This class challenged me to not only learn to pronounce and remember some words in te reo Māori, but also challenged me to think of those places that I most associate with home and the family members who have influenced me in becoming who I am.  This is what I came up with, this is my mihimihi:

Ko Mount Juneau me Mount Washington ngā maunga.
Ko Mendenhall glacier me Ammonoosuc ngā awa. 
Ko American te iwi. 
Ko Skellenger te whanau. 
Nō Juneau, Alaska me Maunga mā, New Hampshire ahau. 
Ko Mark Skellenger rāua ko Cathy Wheeler ōku mātua. 
Ko Kelly Skellenger tōku ingoa.


Laureen said...

Kia ora, Kelly!
That was a fascinating read, thank you! Another letter to you is forming in my mind....enjoy your day!
Pomarie (I can't type the little thing above the "o")

Laureen said...


Sarah said...

I love it! Not living where I grew up, and where I grew up not really where my family is from... I find myself in the same conundrum all the time...never quite know what to say. Refreshing is a good word.

Skelly said...

I commend you on your continuing quest for knowledge and understanding of your current surroundings and culture.
I dare say, most travel to see, you travel to experience.

Molly said...

i'm inspired to do the same Kelly - create my mihimihi - how wonderful to be able to introduce yourself with something that ties you to your family and all the places you are connected to... And another thing I appreciate about Maori introductions and welcomes is the acknowledgement of the dead and our ancestors...